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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka to stop emergency procurement of drugs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will stop the emergency procurement of drugs with immediate effect, its Minister of Health said on Monday (2).

“During the Covid pandemic, the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) and the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) fell into great difficulty. We didn’t have flights to airlift medicines. So, we couldn’t bring medicines and we had to make do with what we had,” Minister of Health, Keheliya Rambukwella, told reporters at a press conference.

The minister said that due to the conditions in the country at the time, they had to resort to emergency procurements of drugs.

“Due to what we were facing at the time, we had to go for emergency procurements. We also had an economic crisis,”

At the time, banks were refusing to lend money to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka had to purchase medicines through the Indian credit line worth 1 billion dollars.

“We are short of 170-200 drugs. We are managing this. This can drop to 70-100,” Rambukwella said. He added that the government was working with the Bangladeshi government to procure medicines in the next three months.

While the shortage of essential medicines stemmed from the economic crisis, it persists due to the lack of a robust and transparent procurement system, trade bodies have said.

The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) must play a much stronger, transparent, and independent role in ensuring that high-quality medicines are procured, including essential medicines that are procured through an emergency process, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said earlier. (Colombo/Oct2/2023)

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Sri Lanka airport will need tech to cope as volumes set to top pre-Covid levels: SITA

ECONOMYNEXT – Passenger traffic at Sri Lanka’s main airport in Katunayake is set to exceed pre-pandemic volumes by year-end and technology can be used to address congestion, an international aviation technology company said.

Self-service check-in, biometrics, reducing passenger touch points and off airport processing are some of the strategies now used to boost efficiency.

Passenger traffic, which includes regional transit passengers, at the Bandaranaike International Airport has topped 4 million by April and is likely reach 9.5 to 10 million passengers by year, which is more than the pre-pandemic level in 2019.

“The message is positive on Sri Lanka,” David Lavorel, Chief Executive, Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), a company that was founded by airlines and is currently serving carriers, airports and border agencies.

“You have growth coming. Of course, you have challenges if you do nothing. But I think your authorities are working on taking action.”

Sri Lanka airport agency, the immigration department and SriLankan Airlines have a unified approach to solving coming challenges, Lavorel said, after meeting Sri Lanka authorities.

SITA provides communications backbone that allows airlines to check-in passengers and move and track baggage across global airports.

ITA technology is also used by airline back-office and air traffic controllers to track and manage aircraft as they move around the world, using Inmarsat and Irridium satellite services as well ground stations that are contracted with the company.

Sri Lanka is building a second terminal with Japanese funding which was delayed after Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt and is now three to four years away. Meanwhile an attempt to build an interim airport is also bogged down.

Sri Lanka to build temporary terminal at BIA

The airport can use existing space more efficiently by using new technology and re-engineering passenger processing by reducing ‘touchpoints’ which is currently at seven, according to SITA officials.

SriLankan Airlines has deployed self-service kiosks using SITA technology.

Already about 20 percent of SriLankan passengers are using the self service check-in kiosks, Sumesh Patel, President, Asia Pacific said.

Biometrics is another technology that is used to process passengers fast, by border agencies as well as airlines.

Using biometrics British Airways reduced boarding an Airbus A380 from 50 minutes to 20 minutes, Patel said.

SIA has also discussed using optimal technology in the second terminal but detailed design of technological deployment is perhaps two years away.

Deployment of passenger processing, including self service depends on the needs of airlines, where some budget airlines prefer more self service and the strategy of the airport.

“Once the airport airport has decided, and we come with advice on the technological side,” Lavorel said.

SITA was already serving airports across the world, passenger profiles and help airports come up with optimal tech use.

Sri Lanka’s airport in addition will could also continue to grow 10 to 12 percent year on year, until the second terminal came in. All over the world airports faced infrastructure constraints as it was simply not possible to expand terminals to keep up with passenger traffic.

“We look at what current constrain on the infrastructure is, what is the passenger growth expected, what are the technologies that can be deployed and also the passenger profile.

“Not all airports we can do 100 percent self-service, because there are different passenger profiles.” (Colombo/July18/2024)

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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