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Sri Lanka to seek $400 million financial facility from RBI to meet short term financial needs

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Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's former secretary of defense, speaks during an interview at his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka. | Photographer: Tharaka Basnayaka | Bloomberg
File image of Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa | Photo: Tharaka Basnayaka | Bloomberg


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Colombo: Sri Lanka is set to enter into an agreement with the Reserve Bank of India for a currency swap worth USD 400 million to boost the foreign reserves and ensure the financial stability of the country which is badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, a top minister has said.

The Cabinet has approved a proposal made by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Finance Minister to enter into an agreement with the RBI for the financing facility to meet short-term international liquidity requirements, Co-Cabinet spokesman Information and Communication Minister Bandula Gunawardena said.

Sri Lanka will enter into the agreement with the RBI for a Bilateral Currency Swap Arrangement worth USD 400 million, Gunawardena said, adding the facility from the RBI is aimed at boosting the island nation’s foreign reserves.

Sri Lanka has placed critical economic measures to save the resources hit badly by the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected 373 persons in the country and the death toll reached 7.

Addressing the Cabinet media briefing yesterday, Gunawardena said the Cabinet meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa paid special attention to the control of the coronavirus pandemic, its success and the distribution of goods and relief to the people.

The minister pointed out that the whole world is now experiencing the economic collapse since World War II resulted from the COVID-19 outbreak and a single country alone cannot find a solution to the crisis.

So the Cabinet of Ministers has approved this proposal in order to ensure the financial stability of the country, Gunawardena said.

The country has ordered imports restrictions to prevent non-essential imports.


Also read: Indian Army to send teams to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan & Afghanistan to fight Covid-19


This is in view of the local rupee falling to its historical low against the US dollar. The rupee now hovers over 195 to the dollar gaining somewhat from being down to 200 mark.

The government has also announced talks with Asian Development Bank and China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. A USD 300 million budgetary support is anticipated from the ADB, officials said.

The announcement for getting the USD 400 million financial facility from India came as the rating agency, Fitch on Wednesday warned Sri Lanka to reform its soft-peg and block the ability of its domestic operations department to inject large volumes of cash below the ceiling policy rate to stop monetary instability.

Last month, during a video conference of Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with leaders and representatives from SAARC nations, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, “Our economy has taken a severe blow due to the coronavirus, particularly in tourism… Our exports are also adversely affected.”

Tourism is the third-largest earner of foreign exchange in Sri Lanka. The decline in tourist arrivals has hit the island nation’s tourism industry in a big way.

Largely owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank recently forecast Sri Lankan economy to contract by 3 per cent this year as against a 2.4 per cent estimated growth last year, whilst the IMF predicted the global economy to contract by 3 per cent as well.


Also read: Navy remains ‘combat-ready’ after 26 sailors test positive for Covid-19


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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