On October 14 Woonjin Jeong, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Sri Lanka met with Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army who is also the Head of National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) at the army headquarters. The ambassador donated a consignment of 4000 re-usable fabric masks for distribution among army personnel engaged in controlling COVID-19 especially in the area of Gampaha.
Appreciating the great relationship shared between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea over time, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva stated that both countries should strive to harness the full potential in areas of defence cooperation and military logistics. He looks forward to strengthening the bilateral cooperation in military affairs and technological exchanges in time to come. He also expressed his gratitude to the government of Korea for recruiting a substantial number of Sri Lankan migrant workers annually.
Furthermore as the Head of National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva assured the ambassador that they have devised and operated an efficient mechanism to control the pandemic. They have the ability to predict the number of patients and most cases have been found among those who have been already placed in quarantine.
Ambassador Woonjin Jeong mentioned he was “deeply impressed by the effective measures by the Sri Lankan government to cope with Covid-19. I am confident that the number of COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka will decline due to the effective mechanism adopted by the military and health sectors of the country. Also, there has been no single infection case among the Korean community in Sri Lanka. On behalf of my country, Korea, I would like to thank Sri Lanka Army for protecting Korean residents here in Sri Lanka amid Covid-19 and creating a secure and stable environment for them to reside in. I would like to give my appreciation to all Anti COVID-19 team led by the Army that has been dedicated to the fight against COVID-19 for the Sri Lankan people including Korean residents.”
He further stated that the Republic of Korea has also successfully coped with COVID-19 like Sri Lanka and that there was no single COVID-19 case from more than 1000 Sri Lankan workers repatriated from Korea until now. 23,000 Sri Lankans live in Korea very safely. He emphasized that Korea and Sri Lanka are among the safest countries in the world at present. The Ambassador affirmed his commitment to promote Sri Lanka among the Korean community and strengthen the bilateral ties in the field of tourism, defence and other areas of interest. “Many Korean people are looking forward to visiting Sri Lanka once COVID-19 is curtailed” he said.
The Ambassador stated that the donation of masks as a gesture of goodwill is a reflection that the long lasting friendship and mutual trust between the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka will grow only stronger through the joint fight against COVID-19. Ambassador Woonjin Jeong asserted that “I have no doubt that the Korea and Sri Lanka will persevere because together we will overcome every hardship, The Republic of Korea will always stand with Sri Lanka in the battle against the pandemic”. He mentioned that these masks which were manufactured by a Sri Lankan social enterprise are presented as tokens of appreciation for the Sri Lanka Army for their invaluable services rendered in controlling COVID-19 especially in Gampaha.
The Army Chief Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva in return thanked the Ambassador for the thoughtfulness and the appreciation of the army personnel and this gesture will deepen the bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea.
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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka
SLT-Mobitel, the nation’s ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider recently partnered with Spotify, to mark their launch in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a paid premium music streaming app which allows subscribers to listen to music to their hearts content. Both, SLT-Mobitel Post-Paid and Pre-Paid customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify by activating a monthly recurring subscription or one-time subscription plan and access unlimited music streaming and downloading facilities.
The subscription charges will get added to the user’s customary billing, where payment will be deducted in real time. Starting from the payment date, the user will be able to access Spotify and download their favourite songs, for the next 30 days. Users who sign up for their first monthly subscription will receive an additional one month, courtesy of Spotify. The one-month subscription plan is not applicable with one-time subscription plans. SLT-Mobitel data rates, depending on the user’s respective broadband charges, will apply.
Spotify also has some exciting features that will provide SLT-Mobitel customers with the opportunity to listen to ad-free music, access millions of uninterrupted music under one platform, play any song they like, anywhere they go, and also be able to enjoy their music offline.
SLT-Mobitel customers can select their preferred premium package under four categories; Individual, Duo, Family, Student. Each category has recurring and non-recurring plans. After one month of free streaming, the package will activate once the offer period terminates. While both, the Individual and Student premiums are limited to one account user, the Duo package offers two accounts and the Family premium is accessible through six accounts. To view Spotify plans, users can log on to https://spoti.fi/3aLWvce
Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor
by Sanath Nanayakkare
Anyone conversant with the elements of a political economy would know that Sri Lanka is using its ‘sovereign power’ to manage the different dynamics of the economy in a sustainable manner, Professor W. D Lakshman Governor of the Central Bank said on Wednesday.
“Some critics are saying that we adopt a so-called modern monetary theory. That’s not the case. In fact, Sri Lanka is using its sovereign power in a number of economic aspects to honour its external debt repayment commitments as well as to reduce its debt burden in the medium term as well as achieve resilient growth in the medium to long term, he said.
“We make policy decisions to boost our gross foreign reserves, meet our external debt servicing, to facilitate monetary expansion, to boost our GDP growth, to strengthen our current account balance and manage our domestic and external economic variables in a sustainable manner. This is not a modern monetary theory. This is an age-old tool used by central banks around the world when the circumstances demand it, he said.
“Certain trade-offs will be necessary when dealing with an economy which has a big fiscal gap to bridge. There are efforts to push Sri Lanka towards the IMF again which would in turn have influence on our policymaking. We have taken policy measures to stabilize the economy and we have adequate reserve levels to meet our debt repayments. Meanwhile, we are in negotiations with overseas central banks and multilateral agencies to further boost our reserve level and it would materialise within a matter of weeks,” he noted.
“One of the tools the Central Bank has introduced is in respect of repatriation of export proceeds into Sri Lanka and conversion of such proceeds into Sri Lankan rupees in order to strengthen the foreign exchange situation of the country,” he said.
The Governor made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative led by its Managing Director Luxman Siriwardene – the former Executive Director of Pathfinder Foundation.
The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?’
Professor Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Nishan de Mel and Dr. Ravi Liyanage were the other speakers on the panel.
CSE on the rebound; indices close positive
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE produced signs of a rebound yesterday with both indices closing positive, though turnover remained low. Central Bank Governor W.D Lakshman’s recent statement on managing foreign reserves gave some boost to the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.
The index experienced a zigzag movement within the early hours of trading; thereafter, it recorded a slight up-trend as it reached its intraday high of 7,439. Later, the market witnessed a down-trend at mid-day, followed by a sideways movement and closed at 7,372, gaining 43 points during the month of February, market sources said.
It is said the banking sector dominated turnover with a contribution of considerable parcel trades in Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and HNB.
Further, the Commercial Bank’s impressive quarterly results during the recent turbulent period also built investor confidence. Commercial Bank was able to register a18 percent net interest income when other banks were reporting a decline. Its share price increased by Rs. 3 or 3.5 percent. On the previous day, its shares started trading at Rs. 85 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 88. Due to the positive growth results, the bank announced a Rs. 4.40 dividend per share, plus a Rs. 2 script divergent for every share.
Further, Sampath Bank shares also appreciated in both crossing and retail. In crossings its shares appreciated by Rs. 1.At the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 154.50. In the retail market, its shares moved up by Rs. 2 or 1.3 percent. Previously, its shares fetched Rs. 154 and at the end of yesterday they moved up to Rs. 156.
Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 104.48 points and S and P SL20 rose by 67.78 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, where 3.9 million shares crossed for Rs. 602.2 million, its share price being Rs. 154.50, HNB 375,000 shares crossed for Rs. 39.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 105, Pan Asia Power 9.5 million shares crossed for Rs. 33.2 million, its shares traded at Rs. 3.50 and Access Engineering 1.2 million shares crossed for Rs. 28.2 million; its shares traded at Rs. 24.
In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 450 million (10 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 205 million (1.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 199 million (34.9 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 191 million (1.2 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs. 137.7 million (2.8 million shares traded). During the day 101 million share volumes changed hands in 18046 transactions.
During the day, Expolanka, the biggest contributor to the turnover, saw its share price appreciating by Rs. 6.20 or 15 percent. Its share price quoted on the previous day was Rs. 41 and at the end of trading yesterday it moved up to Rs. 47.
Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted wider at 193.50/195.50 levels to the US dollar in the spot next market on Thursday while bond yields remained unchanged, dealers said. The rupee last closed in the spot market at 194.50/195.00 to the dollar on Wednesday.