■ SRI LANKA
Gas prices up again
Sri Lankan oil companies said yesterday they had raised gas pump prices by 17 percent, the sixth increase this year amid high crude oil costs. Gas now costs 117 rupees (US$1.05) per liter, Ceylon Petroleum Corp chairman Asantha de Mel said. The price hike also covers fuel retailer Lanka IOC, which controls a third of the local gas market, managing director K. Ramakrishnan said. Other refined fuel prices have also increased this year. Diesel has risen 16 percent to 75 rupees per liter since April.
Travel industry seeks help
The US travel industry and its allies are pressing Congress for a marketing program of as much as US$200 million to help restore the US' "brand image" with international visitors. With overseas visits still below levels from before the 2001 terror attacks and the US' image battered, the travel industry is pinning its hopes on a new promotional effort led by the federal government. Industry leaders are lobbying for legislation to create a government-led corporation for travel promotion. This would be funded by voluntary business contributions and a US$10 fee imposed on visitors from countries qualifying for visa "waivers."
Carmaker eyes merger
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, parent of China's biggest carmaker, will discuss a merger of its publicly traded unit with the country's oldest automaker to boost sales in the world's fastest-growing major economy. Nanjing Automobile Group Co and Shanghai Automotive Industry agreed on Friday to form a committee to discuss a partnership, including "related asset restructuring" and a "complete union," the Shanghai-based company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. No timeframe has been set for the start of talks, it said.
Strike forces mine closure
El Teniente, the world's largest underground copper mine, remained closed on Saturday as a security measure after subcontracted workers went on strike, a company official said. On Thursday El Teniente managers closed down operations until they could be guaranteed security from the strikers, who blocked roads and hurled rocks at passing vehicles. The mine, owned by the Chilean state-run consortium Codelco, is located some 80km south of Santiago. "We are keeping it closed for security reasons," a company spokesman said on Saturday. Codelco executive president Jose Pablo Arellano said earlier the strike was resulting in losses of US$9 million a day. Normally the mine produces some 418,000 tonnes of copper a year.
LLC seeks more debt
Lend Lease Corp (LLC), Australia's biggest property developer, will increase its borrowings to as much as 40 percent of assets to fund projects, making it difficult for private equity firms to mount any takeover. The Sydney-based company is committed to about A$50 billion (US$43 billion) in construction projects and will need to raise more debt, chief executive officer Greg Clarke told the ABC's Inside Business program yesterday. The company has a debt ratio of about 15 percent. Speculation that private equity firms are poised to bid saw credit default swaps on Lend Lease debt rise to the highest since August 2005 earlier this month.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a