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Mervyn Silva quits UNP, joins SLFP once again

Former Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva became a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) this afternoon (01).

Silva was presented his membership by former President and SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena, at Sirisena’s official residence in Colombo.

While having contested under the United National Party (UNP) in his last election, Silva also previously represented the SLFP and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

He later criticized the Rajapaksa regime, and withdrew from active politics for a short while.

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Ranil needs time to save a country subjugated to devastation for two years :Ruwan Wijewardene

A country that was subjugated to devastation for two years cannot be saved overnight and Ranil Wickremesinghe the Prime Minister, therefore, will be needing a sufficient time to work on it, said Deputy Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ruwan Wijewardene.

Addressing a discussion with a group of scholars and professionals in Colombo today (28), the former MP questioned why the factions of the Opposition who boast about their so called capacity of saving the country within six months do not allow the Prime Minister to do the same within a same period of time.

The Opposition shall not be dragging the Prime Minister back but supporting him to save the country from the crisis befallen it, Wijewardene went on, adding that the Opposition, however, has not exhibited such a support from their end to date. He alleged that the Opposition is attempting to gain the political advantage of the crisis.

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LITRO procures consignment of 100,000 MT of LP Gas

LITRO Gas yesterday (30) procured a consignment of 100,000 metric tonnes of Liquified Petroleum (LP) Gas, LITRO Chairman Muditha Peiris said.

Issuing a statement, LITRO, under the Ministry of Finance, signed an agreement with the World Bank procuring a consignment of 100,000 MT of LP Gas, worth USD 90 million.

While USD 70 million was finded by the World Bank, the remaining USD 20 million was funded by LITRO.

The consignment is expected to suffice for four months.

Accordingly, 70% of the consignment, an estimated 5 million 12.5kg cylinders, 1 million 5kg cylinders and 1 million 2.5kg cylinders, will be provided to domestic consumers, while the remaining 30% will be used for commercial purposes.

Litro Gas, under the Ministry of Finance, has successfully procured 100,000MT of LP Gas, Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

Furthermore, an initial consignment of 33,000 tons of LP Gas procured by Litro at a cost of USD 20 million is scheduled to reach Sri Lanka in the first week of July, after which distribution will commence immediately.

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Bus fares to increase, mimum fare to go up to Rs.40

Bus owners have requested the National Transport Commission (NTC) to increase bus fares by 30% from 01 July.

They also proposed that the minimum fare be increased to Rs.40.

The decision was reached following a round of talks between the NTC and private bus operators this afternoon (28).

Accordingly, the representatives of the private bus unions were instructed by the NTC to hand over the proposal on the price revision to the Ministry of Transport tomorrow (29).

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Nandalal Weerasinghe appointed CBSL Governor for Six more years

Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank for the next six years by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday (30).

Dr. P. Nandalal Weerasinghe first assumed duties as the 17th Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) on the 8th of April 2022.

Dr. Weerasinghe is a career central banker, with extensive experience in Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy.

Dr. Weerasinghe was promoted as Deputy Governor on 27 September, 2011 while he was serving as an Alternate Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund and assumed office as Deputy Governor of the CBSL on 01 September 2012.

Dr. Weerasinghe holds a PhD and Master’s Degree in Economics from the Australian National University and a B.Sc. Degree from the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka.

As Deputy Governor, Dr. Weerasinghe has served as the Chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee and the Foreign Reserve Management Committee of the CBSL and has overseen the Departments of Economic Research, Statistics, International Operations, Domestic Operations, Macroprudential Surveillance, Exchange Control, Currency and Communications.

Prior to being released to the International Monetary Fund as the Alternate Executive Director for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan, from January 2010 to August 2012, Dr. Weerasinghe served as Assistant Governor from August 2009 to September 2012 as well as the Chief Economist and Director of Economic Research from January 2007 to August 2009.

Dr. Weerasinghe also served as Visiting Lecturer for the Master’s Degree Course in Economics at the University of Colombo, Visiting Research Economist at the SEACEN Centre, Malaysia and Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National University. He is also an Advisory Board Member of the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University.

He has represented several Cabinet Sub-Committees on economic matters and was a member of the Committee appointed to review the Power Purchase Agreements, the Financial Sector Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Finance & Planning, the Steering Committee on Market Program for Private Sector Development and the Petroleum Refinery Project Coordinating Committee. He was also a Director of the Board of Management of the Sustainable Energy Authority and the Board of Investment. He was responsible for negotiating Financial Services in bilateral trade and services agreements with China and Singapore. He has published several research papers in international and local journals, including the CBSL Staff Studies.

Dr. Weerasinghe retired from the Central Bank as the Senior Deputy Governor in January 2021 and worked as an Independent Consultant for economic and financial matters for multilateral agencies and Global Investment firms.

News 1st

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US President Biden announces $20 M in additional assistance to SL

At the G7 Summit today, President of the United States Joe Biden announced $20 million in additional assistance to strengthen food security in Sri Lanka.

Building on other recent funding announcements from the United States, this newly posted assistance will target Sri Lankans most in need during the current economic crisis.

The funding aims to support a school nutrition program that will feed over 800,000 Sri Lankan children and provide food vouchers for over 27,000 pregnant and lactating women over the next 15 months.

The effort also plans to support approximately 30,000 farmers through the contribution of agricultural assistance and cash in order to increase food production in vulnerable Sri Lankan communities.

“President Biden’s announcement of $20 million in additional assistance to Sri Lanka demonstrates the United States’ ongoing commitment to food security, public health, and the economic well-being of all Sri Lankan people,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung. “The United States will continue to support Sri Lankan efforts to promote economic stability and will ensure this assistance reaches the communities – and children – who need it most.”

The $20 million of humanitarian assistance announced today builds on nearly $12 million in recent U.S. commitments in economic and humanitarian assistance, totaling $32 million in U.S. support for the Sri Lankan people since June 16, 2022. Funding is provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and will be awarded to partners that adhere to globally recognized monitoring and evaluation standards. This ensures that funding is accounted for and assistance reaches those identified as most vulnerable to food insecurity.

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Bus Fares Increased by 22%; Minimum Fare Rs. 40/-

Bus fares will be increased by 22%, and the minimum fare will be Rs. 40/- with effect from 1st of July, said the National Transport Commission on Thursday (30).

The price hike will apply to both Sri Lanka Transport Board & Private Bus Operators. The previous minimum fare was Rs. 32/-.

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PUCSL to begin public consultation on proposed revision of electricity tariffs

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) says it will accept proposals from the general public on the electricity tariff hike from tomorrow (June 28) for three weeks.

The proposed tariff increase proposed by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) can be viewed on the PUCSL website from tomorrow, its chairman Janaka Ratnayake said.

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has sought the approval of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, the electricity sector regulator, for an 82% increase in tariffs for the year 2022 under Section 30 of the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 20 of 2009.

However, the PUCSL is of the view that the tariff increase should not exceed 57% as a concession to the majority of household electricity consumers, Mr. Ratnayake said.

He added: “There are 3.14 million of household electricity consumers who consumers electricity less than 60 units per month. It accounts for about 50% of the total household electricity consumers. Therefore, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka has recommended to the Government to provide a subsidy of Rs. 65 billion to that category of consumers. By providing this subsidy, the Ceylon Electricity Board will be able to avoid a large increase in tariffs for the category who consumes less than 60 units per month.”

“According to the CEB proposal, the average monthly electricity bill for the category who consumes less than 30 units will be increased to Rs. 507. The average monthly bill for those who consume more than 30 units and less than 60 units, will increase to Rs. 1488.”

“As a result of this subsidy, instead of such a tariff increase, the average monthly electricity bill for consumers below 30 units can be maintained at 227 rupees and the average monthly electricity bill for consumers more than 30 units less than 60 units can be maintained at 658 rupees.”

“The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) points out that although a 138 percent tariff increase has been proposed for the entire domestic sector, it should not exceed 67 percent. The CEB also has proposed to increase electricity tariffs by 45 percent for general purpose consumers, 61 percent for industrial consumers, 43 percent for hotels, 43 percent for government agencies and 189 percent for places of worship,”

The CEB targets to increase the average price of a unit of electricity by 82% from Rs. 18.14 to Rs. 32.48, according to the proposed tariff revision.

Explaining further, Mr Ratnayake says, “The Ceylon Electricity Board is targeting an annual revenue of Rs. 512 billion through this tariff revision. However, the recommendation of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka is that the price of an average unit of electricity should not exceed Rs. 28.14. We also recommend that the Ceylon Electricity Board should reduce their operating costs by 10 percent by increasing its efficiency and use that savings to get more renewable energy for the system.”

In addition, the PUCSL has observed that the conditions imposed on the Ceylon Electricity Board with the revision of tariffs in 2014 have not yet been fulfilled.

Those conditions were:

  1. Implementation of a proper agreements to generate and supply electricity from power plants owned by the Ceylon Electricity Board.

  2. Implementation of a proper agreement method for electricity transactions between the Transmission and Distribution Divisions (between licensees) of the Ceylon Electricity Board.

  3. Introduction of a proper system for keeping separate accounts for the financial activities of the various divisions of the Ceylon Electricity Board (Generation, Transmission and Distribution) and determining the subsidy requirements.

  4. Introduction of an independent audit system for the process of purchasing electricity.

The PUCSL points out that the cost and efficiency of the CEB could not be properly identified due to the failure of implementing above steps.

The PUCSL also asks CEB to accept the monthly electricity bills in dollars from the companies who earns their income in dollars.

Relevant information regarding the proposed tariff revision (Public Consultation Document) will be published on the website of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka requests all parties, including the public, to submit their views and proposals regarding the tariff revision. Written comments can be submitted by the email or fax until July 18, 2022, and details of the date and venue for the oral public consultation session will be announced in due course. The oral session will also be facilitated online.

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500 inmates escape Kandakadu rehabilitation centre

Around 500 inmates of the Kandakadu rehabilitation centre at Welikanda have escaped following a tense situation.

Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that a group of inmates had resorted to unruly behaviour following the suspicious death of an inmate at the rehabilitation centre. They had escaped the centre earlier this morning (29).

Sri Lanka Police and the Army have launched a joint operation to arrest the inmates who had escaped.

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US to provide technical assistance for fiscal management; High-Level delegates meet PM

The United States has agreed to provide technical assistance for fiscal management in Sri Lanka, said the Prime Minister’s Media Division.

Kelly Keiderling, Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asia at the U.S. State Department, who arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday, held a discussion with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today (27).

The US Diplomatic Group also stated its support for the ongoing talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund.

Robert Kaproth, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Asia in the United States and Julie Chung, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, also participated in the discussion held at the Prime Minister’s Office.

In addition, Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake and Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. R.H. Samaratunga was also present.

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NO Petrol Shipment until 22nd July; 100,000 MT LP Gas available for next four months – Sagala Ratnayake

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will NOT be able to source a petrol shipment until 22nd July, said Sagala Ratnayake the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister on Wednesday (29).

He told a gathering of news media personnel that even if the CPC has funds, it is unable to access a fuel shipment.

The Chief of Staff of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka currently has 11,000 MT of Diesel, 5,000 MT of Petrol, 30,000 MT of Furnace Oil, and 800 MT of Jet Fuel.

He said that 38,000 MT of Diesel will be received between the 11th and 15th of July.

Ratnayake said the existing stocks of Diesel will only be available for essential services, until the new shipment reaches the country.

He went on to note that there will be no issue with regard to the supply of gas, as Litro will procure 100,000 MT of gas for the next four months and shipments of 33,000 MT will arrive on the 6th, 10th, 16th, 19th, 21st, and 31st of July.

Litro will be purchasing LP Gas with the Assistance of the World Bank and the purchasing agreement will be signed on Wednesday (29) or Thursday (30).

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Colombo, and City schools closed from 27th to 1st

The Ministry of Education has decided to NOT open schools in the Colombo Zone and City schools across all provinces from 27th June until 1st of July.

The decision has been reached in view of the difficulties faced in fuel distribution.

However, the Education Ministry states that schools not located in cities and rural areas will open as usual if the students and teachers do not face difficulties due to transportation issues.

If such a problem persists, the Ministry has instructed for schools to operate only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Teachers with transportation issues in the said schools should be given flexible timetables by the principal, without penalising their holidays.

Moreover, if any G.C.E. Ordinary Level term examinations have been scheduled to be held from 27th June onwards, they should be postponed for two weeks, the Ministry of Education adds.

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