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Lanka’s exports to China up by 111.2% so far this year



Sri Lanka’s exports to China is up by 111.2% so far this year, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong said yesterday in a statement. He said that the two nations have been standing together and helping each other in the fighting against the pandemic.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka’s GDP achieved growth of 8% in the first half of this year, Zhenhong said the cooperation between two countries in trade, investment, finance, etc., also bore fruitful results, with the value of bilateral trade in goods up by 54.7% year on year for the first three quarters

“Major cooperation projects especially the Hambantota Port and Port City Colombo becoming new magnets to attract foreign investment. China looks forward to joining hands with Sri Lanka in defeating the Pandemic and promoting bilateral pragmatic cooperation to achieve new breakthroughs in the days to come; China is also willing to share development opportunities and draw up a blueprint for development with countries around the world to achieve greater and better development,” he said.

Zhenhong said that the Chinese economy is thriving despite the threat of the pandemic and that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached 82.31 trillion yuan in the first three quarters of 2021. This is a 9.8% increase over the same period last year at comparable prices, with an average two-year growth of 5.2%.

“Despite the continuous impact of COVID-19 worldwide, China’s economy was growing steadily. Its optimised and upgraded economy showed extraordinary resilience to pressure, contributed significantly to the stabilisation and restoration of the global supply chain, and injected much-needed confidence and impetus into the current world economy with uncertainty,” he said.

The Ambassador said that Sri Lanka can benefit from this thriving economy by increasing exports to identified areas. Admittedly, the Chinese economy is also faced with some challenges, including the unbalanced and inadequate development, factors restricting investment and consumer demand, structural contradiction of employment, uncertainty caused by the pandemic situation globally, and international commodity prices running high, etc., he said. However, these do not take from the indicators that the coming years would be good for the Chinese economy.

“China is striving to build a new development pattern with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and the domestic and international cycles reinforcing each other. The economic fundamentals that will sustain stable and long-term growth remain unchanged: major macro indicators have stayed within a reasonable range and the national economy maintains the trend of recovery; the economic structure has been adjusted and optimized and the quality and efficiency of development are improved; the deepening of reform and opening-up is advancing and economic development is getting stronger momentum; residents’ income continues to grow and people’s livelihood gets powerful and effective support.” he said.

Given below are excerpts from the statement: “First, the consumer price index (CPI) was at a relatively low level (up by 0.6% year on year). Prices of daily necessities were stable with a slight decline and food prices have dropped by 1.6%. Second, employment was generally stable. 10.45 million new jobs were created in urban areas, achieving 95% of this year’s target; surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5.2%. Third, steady progress was witnessed in the development of industries. The total output of summer grain and early rice increased by 3.69 million tons compared to last year and the sown area for autumn grain also expanded. The value added of high-tech manufacturing industry increased by 20.1% year on year with an average two-year growth of 12.8%. Fourth, foreign trade and investment grew rapidly. The trade value of goods increased by 22.7% year on year in the first three quarters, with widened trade surplus and optimized trade structure. Paid-in foreign investment continued to increase (up by 22.3% for the first eight months) and foreign exchange reserves remained stable, maintaining above USD 3.2 trillion for five consecutive months. Fifth, there was sustained recovery of domestic demand. Investment in the manufacturing industry and private investment achieved average two-year growth of 3.3% and 3.7% respectively. The per capita disposable income rose by 9.7% year on year, basically in line with GDP growth. Sixth, innovation and entrepreneurship gained sound momentum. China has moved up and ranks the 12th in WIPO’s “Global Innovation Index 2021″. Market entities have increased rapidly, with a total number of nearly 150 million and the overall level of activity around 70%. Seventh, the development vitality of enterprises was stimulated. For the first eight months, the value added of medium-sized industrial enterprises and micro and small ones above designated size increased by 16.3% and 14.1% year on year respectively and the total profit of industrial enterprises above designated size recorded an average two-year growth of 19.5%. Eighth, financing cost in general has been steadily decreasing. From January to August, the corporate loan interest rate was 4.63%, down by 0.13% over the same period of last year.”

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Countrywide power outage act of sabotage, claim TU, officials



Unions suspect sinister attempt to call in military

Engineers say technical fault caused power failure

CEBEU suspends work-to-rule protest

By Ifham Nizam

The government was trying to pin the blame for yesterday’s countrywide power outage on the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions in a bid to call in the military, Joint Trade Union Alliance Convener Ranjan Jayalal said yesterday.

Jayalal told The Island the government’s attempt would tarnish the image of the military and that of the country, but such intimidatory tactics would not deter the CEB unions from continuing with their action against the questionable agreement between the government and the US energy firm, New Fortress, which has been allowed to acquire a 40% stake in the Yugadanavi power plant. “The government is trying to derail our trade union action, scheduled for December 08. Definitely the power outage was an act of sabotage. Two units of the Norochcholai coal-fired power plant and the one at Sapugaskanda had failed,” he added, insisting that the trade unions had nothing do with the power outage. He said union activists had sprung into action to restore power despite their work-to-rule, for the sake of the country and its people.

A senior independent electrical engineer said the power failure was an act of sabotage or attempt at sabotage. “It could have been a rehearsal that misfired,” he added.

Electricity supply in several areas in Colombo and its suburbs were restored around 2.00 p.m. Subsequently, the power supply on Anuradhapura-Habarana, Laxapana-Athurugiriya and Kotmale-Biyagama transmission lines was restored. However, even at 5.30 p.m. most parts of the Gamapaha District experiencing power failures.

CEB General Manager, Eng. M R Ranatunga sand disruptions to the power supply could be considered sabotage. He said CEBEU activists had been dragging their feet on power restoration.

State Minister of National Security & Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa said necessary action would be taken against the CEB engineers if it was revealed that the power outage was an act of sabotage.

Major disruptions to the electricity supply were reported across the country around 11.30 a.m. yesterday owing to a breakdown in transmission lines.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) said the water supply in several areas of Colombo and suburbs had been disrupted due to the breakdown in the power supply as the NWS&D is dependent on the national grid for pumping purposes.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) last night said it had received a favourable response from the government to its demands and therefore decided to suspend its work-to-rule campaign.

The Island learns that President’s Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundara will meet a CEBEU delegation, next week.

A senior electrical engineer expressed concern about CEB General Manager’s statement that the power outage was an act of sabotage by the engineers’ union. He denied as baseless the official’s claim.

CEBEU Secretary Dhammike Wimalarathne confirmed that his union had decided to suspend trade union action following an undertaking given by the government to have talks with them.

Meanwhile, CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu, addressing the media, yesterday, insisted that the power outage had been due to a technical problem.

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Chamal tells Parliament if power failure is due to sabotage, culprits will be dealt with severely



By Saman Indrajith

Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that the government was investigating the causes of yesterday’s countrywide power outage and if it was due to sabotage those responsible would be severely dealt with.

Responding to a question by Anuradhapura District SJB MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake during the third reading stage debate on Budget 2022 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Defence, the Minister said that the government would not tolerate sabotage.

MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake said that while the national security was being debated in Parliament the entire country was experiencing a power outage which could be considered a serious threat to national security.

He said all reservoirs were brimful and there was sufficient water to generate hydro power.

Colombo District SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the entire country was in dark and Parliament was sitting thanks to power supplied by generators.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the government had already called for an investigation and it would not hesitate to take necessary action on the findings of the probe.

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Committee on Public Finance meeting: one-third drop in next Yala harvest predicted



Members of the Committee on Public Finance recently recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be lifted, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the coming Yala harvest.

The Chairman of the Committee on Finance Anura Priyadharshana Yapa pointed out that under the prevailing circumstances, the interest of the paddy farmers and consumers had to be taken into consideration.

In response to MP Yapa’s comment, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that, according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year.

MP Nalin Fernando pointed out that if businessmen were allowed to import rice freely, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than necessary, driving the paddy prices down and affecting the farming community badly. Hence, the Ministry of Finance should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. MP Fernando also pointed out to the officials of the Ministry of Finance that it was important to make rice freely available at reasonable prices. Sri Lankans did not like rice imported from neighbouring countries, he said.

The Committee on Public Finance was urged to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Minister of Finance. MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said officials had to investigate the macro economic impact of such orders given without a proper procedural or logical assessment.

The committee members inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Finance who were present at the Committee meeting whether the 2021 Budget forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the committee observed that if only local funds were used to repay all debts, there would be an increase in interest rates in the near future and that would adversely affect the local private sector, (Dr.) Harsha de Silva said.

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