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Sri Lanka to buy Russian coal; LCC will no longer pursue Indonesian order



Sri Lanka is to buy 720,000 metric tonnes of Russian coal from two companies–China’s Combasst Industries Development Ltd and Dubai’s Coral Energy DMCC–after an earlier agreement with an Indonesian supplier fell through.

Lanka Coal Company (LCC) will no longer pursue the order from Indonesia’s PT Arista Mitra Jaya. On Monday, the Power and Energy Ministry secured Cabinet permission to buy the stocks from the other two companies shortlisted along with Arista Mitra and Hans Australia Pty Ltd. Hans Australia was later ruled out on the basis of certain terms they required fulfilled.

LCC first placed its order with the lowest supplier Arista Mitra for US$ 240 per ton with 180-day credit. However, the Mandira Bank of Indonesia rejected the usance Letter of Credit (LC) opened by Lanka Coal Company without providing a reason, a Cabinet paper submitted on Monday by State Minister D. V. Chanaka, said.

Arista Mitra then sought to transfer the LC to a third party “where such a transfer is not possible within the context of the contract,” the Cabinet paper said. LCC would, on the Attorney General’s advice, terminate this contract.

The purchasing matter subsequently went to a ministerial sub-committee and the standing Cabinet-appointed procurement committee (SCAPC), after which Combasst Industries and Coral Energy were selected.

Combasst would sell the coal at US$ 230 per MT with 200-day credit, LCC Chairman Shehan Sumanasekara said.

Twenty percent of cargo value would be deposited by LCC in a non-resident rupee account and the balance to the same account, in equal portions. After the credit period, the rupees would be changed into dollars and remitted to the supplier. Combasst’s price was indexed to the Russian Coal Index (RCI).

Coral Energy was selling at a fixed price of US$ 240 per MT, Mr. Sumanasekara said. Under this agreement, there would be no payment until the cargo was discharged at Lakvijaya in Norochcholai, and disbursement would be according to usage (that is, “storage model”).

“This means that, today if the plant requires 5,000 MT despite having one to eight shipments unloaded, we will pay only for the desired quantity,” the Chairman said.

It was anticipated that the coal from Coral Energy would be used for the first time in early June this year.

“Even then, out of the total payment, 80 percent will be disbursed per usage on the same day and there will be a further 120 days of credit for the usage of the balance 20 percent. Both parties have provided the needed credit terms with two different mechanisms,” he said.

LCC had struggled to purchase fuel since its last competitive tender fell apart late last year. The latest companies were selected on the basis of unsolicited proposals after the Cabinet granted approval to this procurement method, alongside permission to make purchases through government-to-government agreements “considering urgent and exceptional circumstances.”

source – sundaytimes


Presidential poll will be held first as scheduled: President affirms




President Ranil Wickremesinghe affirmed that the Presidential election will be held as scheduled with the General Elections anticipated to be held early next year, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

The President gave this assurance during a meeting with the representatives of the United Republic Front headed by by its leader Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka at Sirikotha today.

The United Republic Front presented a proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning (24), at ‘Srikotha’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo.

After engaging in discussions with the President, the leader of the United Republic Front, Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, along with his delegation, presented this proposal to the President.

Speaking at the event, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. 

Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda on behalf of the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by MP Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debts.

United National Party Deputy Leader and President’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change, Ruwan Wijewardena, along with Secretary General of the United National Party Palitha Range Bandara were also in attendance at the event. 

Representing the United Republic Front were Karu Paranavithana, Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe and Attorney-at-Law, Shiral Lakthilaka.


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Dedicated SLBFE office to be established in Kegalle district




In response to a joint request from the Kegalle Migrant Workers Committee and the Kegalle District political authority, Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara has assured the establishment of a dedicated Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) office in Kegalle District.

The request was presented during the Jayagamu Sri Lanka program organized by the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment in Kegalle. 

The Committee emphasized the need for an SLBFE office in the district, which has the highest number of migrant workers in Sabaragamuwa Province.

Commending the Minister for his prompt action in establishing a new SLBFE office in Nuwara Eliya District following a similar request, the Committee expressed confidence in his swift response to their current appeal. 

Minister Nanayakkara pledged immediate steps to open an SLBFE office in Kegalle and instructed officials from the Ministry and SLBFE to take the necessary actions for its swift establishment. 

This move aims to enhance support and services for migrant workers in the district.

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Parliamentary committee demands CBSL report on salary hike amid criticism




Amidst growing criticism over the substantial salary hike for Central Bank employees, a key parliamentary committee has taken action, demanding a report from the Central Bank regarding the legal basis for such an increment without parliamentary approval.

Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis, MP Gamini Waleboda, disclosed that the issue was raised during a committee meeting where Central Bank officials were present.

The Central Bank is now expected to submit a comprehensive report on the salary increment in the coming week. Following the submission, the Sectoral Oversight Committee intends to summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board for further examination.

MP Waleboda highlighted that the committee expressed strong criticism of the 70% salary increase for Central Bank employees, especially given the ongoing economic crisis, deeming it an immoral act.

“We instructed the Central Bank to provide a report by next week to justify the salary increase. They will need to provide the legal provisions that empower them to effect such an increment. We will summon the Central Bank and its Monetary Board after receiving the report,” stated MP Waleboda.

Both government and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have voiced objections to the Central Bank’s decision to raise the salary scales by 70%, with Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella asserting that the Central Bank Act lacks provisions for such salary increases without parliamentary approval, deeming it illegal.

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