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Sri Lanka awaiting foreign expert to fix Coronavirus PCR machine

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Sri Lanka is awaiting an expert from abroad to fix a high capacity Coronavirus testing machine which is out of order and is delaying test results the island’s anti-Covid task force chief General Shavendra Silva said.

“Our technicians tried very hard to fix it but could not,” he said, speaking to Sri Lanka’s privately-run Derana Television.

“We have worked at a diplomatic level to get down the technical officer. Most likely he will arrive tomorrow.”

He said the machine had been running without a break for almost a month since the outbreak.

As a result some test results were delayed, creating difficulties in making real time decisions, he said.

This was partly the reason for putting Coronavirus curfews in Maharagama and Panadura when a higher number of cases were found in Moratuwa he said.

However, there is a fall in the numbers in North Gampaha areas which are now under curfew, he said.

Sri Lanka found 335 new Coronavirus cases on October 28 taking the total in new clusters to 5,731, health ministry data showed as authorities continued to trace contacts and do targeted sample tests and new curfews.

The total went up to 9,205 on October 28.

Despite this on October 27, Sri Lanka labs had conducted 8,831 Coronavirus tests and 457 cases were found Deputy Health Director in charge of Laboratory Services Ananda Jayalal said.

The numbers in North Gampaha was starting to fall, General Silva said. Gampaha had been under curfew for almost a month.

Sri Lanka’s public health inspectors have said there is a two to three day delay in results coming out in some areas.

Researchers in Vietnam has said that there is on average a 06 day window to stop a confirmed person from infecting the next level.

Sri Lanka is placing the entire Western province under curfews.

Officials have asked the public not to cross district borders and stay in their own districts.

Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana said they had information that some people were planning to leave Colombo before the curfews.

He said the curfews were announced before hand so that people will not leave and hotels in Ella and other areas would not have to buy food and prepare.

“We have placed roadblocks already,” he said. “We have information that people are planning to leave before the curfew

“The curfews were placed to stop the spread of the disease from the Western province.”

Curfew is to lifted for the areas which will come under curfew tonight on Monday at 0500 hours.

Other areas will be under curfews and will open as scheduled for people to buy goods. (ECONOMYNEXT)

 

 



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Domestic debt restructuring will cripple EPF, ETF – JVP

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By Sirimatha Rathnasekera

The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) will lose about 600 billion rupees during the proposed domestic debt structuring, Co-Convener of the JVP affiliated National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) Wasantha Samarasinghe claimed.

Samarasinghe is of the opinion that the government is planning not to pay 20 to 25 percent of the loans it has taken from domestic sources. Successive governments have borrowed significantly from the EPF and ETF, he said.

Samarasinghe said that due to the depreciation of the rupee, the real value of EPF and ETF funds had decreased by half. “In such a context, can these institutions take a 20 percent haircut? This might be a big problem to the workers,” he said.

The NTUC Co-Convener said that a number of domestic banks, too, had lent to the government and domestic debt restructuring might lead to a collapse in the banking system.

However, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says that they are confident of reaching debt sustainability without re-structuring domestic debt, which would lead to problems in the banking sector.

“There have been concerns among domestic bond investors about rupee debt/internal debt to be restructured following comments made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to the effect that financial advisors were looking at domestic debt. However, there has been no request to restructure domestic debt. We are confident that we can make debt sustainable without restructuring domestic debt,” Dr. Weerasinghe told the media at the CBSL’s 6th Review of the Monetary Policy stance for this year, at the CBSL head office auditorium, in Colombo, on Thursday.

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Powerful CEBEU says yes to restructuring but on its terms

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Sri Lanka will experience periodic power cuts until 2027 if the government did not take steps to increase electricity production, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) said yesterday.Due to electricity shortages, the Norochcholai Power Plant had been operational non-stop, sometimes even without scheduled maintenance, CEBEU President, Saumya Kumarawadu said.

“A generator is down. We will get it back online within 14 days. We had started maintenance on another plant in June and it was to be back online in September. But it has been delayed till November,” he said.

Kumarawadu said there would be 10-hour power cuts without Norochcholai. However, the power cuts could be reduced in two weeks when the generator was restored, he said.

He added that while they support restructuring of the CEB, they oppose de-bundling and selling the CEB to various private actors.

“Power cuts might have to go on till 2026 or 2027 unless new plants come up. A proposal to build an LNG power plant is still languishing in the Cabinet,” he said.

The CEBEU President also said that the electricity tariff was last increased in 2012. In 2014, the tariff was reduced. Without increasing electricity tariffs, the CEB will have to get increasing amounts of money from the treasury.

“The government should have increased the tariff at regular intervals. We haven’t increased in a decade and suddenly we have increased by a large amount.That’s why it has come as a shock to people,” he said.

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SJB opposes blanket privatisations

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… questions logic of selling cash cows like Telecom and Insurance

The SJB was opposed to the privatisation of profit-making government entities, Chief Opposition Whip, MP Lakshman Kiriella, said yesterday, in Colombo.Kiriella said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had told The Economist magazine that they are thinking of privatising Sri Lanka Telecom and Sri Lanka Insurance.

“These are two institutions that make a profit. What is the point in privatising these?” he asked.

MP Kiriella said that they are not opposed to privatizing SriLankan Airlines, which has been making losses for years.

“We can talk about these things in Parliament. Even when we privatize loss making entities we have to take a number of things into consideration. What will happen to the workers? How will we compensate them? How will we re-skill them? We have to talk about these things openly before doing anything,” he said.

The Chief Opposition Whip said that one of the main reasons why people oppose privatization is because everything is done in secrecy.

“People wonder why things are hidden from them. We need to be open and transparent when we restructure,” he said.

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