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Sunday December 10th, 2023

More than half of university Arts graduates are unemployed – COPA

COPA MEETING – Prof Tissa Vitarana chairing the COPA meeting on Tuesday/Parliament handout

ECONOMYNEXT – A Parliamentary Committee is calling for urgent action to reform the Arts stream in the country’s universities as more than half of the graduates are unemployed, a statement from Parliament said.

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) members pointed out that the unemployment rate of Art’s graduates should be looked at and “appropriate remedial action should be taken.”

COPA was discussing an audit report on the Propensity to tend Education under the Arts Stream and the Unemployment of Arts Graduates.

The COPA Chair Prof Tissa Vitarana directed the Ministry of Education and the relevant authorities to submit a report to the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) governing the new National Policy on Education to be drafted by May.

The Chairman added that the National Education Commission should seek the support of the relevant Ministry and all parties when formulating this policy.

University Vice Chancellors attending the meeting emphasized that special attention should be paid to the elimination of harassment and ragging within the university system in the formulation of the new National Policy on Education.

Given that the general education system is an integral part of the national development process affecting the lives of all Sri Lankans, the Committee recommended yesterday that the National Policies on School Education should be revised, amended and implemented expeditiously especially at a time as such where acceleration of the economic development is expected.

The Committee also emphasized the need to provide human and physical facilities as required in all parts of the country to promote the teaching of technology. Students should be provided with alternative routes and streams of choice to choose from while they are still in secondary school.

The Committee also brought to the attention of the educational authorities the importance of further strengthening the teaching of English in order to facilitate the development of communication skills in schools and universities.

The Committee also informed the officials that in order to make the best use of the human and physical resources available in the universities, the traditional methods of pursuing degree courses should be changed and higher education opportunities provided by those institutions should be increased to enable more students to enter universities.

Whilst utilizing the distance education system as well as the higher education opportunities provided online the members said.

The Committee also pointed out that the University Grants Commission should consider the possibility of establishing an authority to coordinate and regulate public and private institutions in order to design degree courses offered by universities to suit the needs of the job market.

The Chairman of the Committee said that it was of paramount importance for the Government to establish a system to assess the total manpower requirement of the government, semi-government and private sectors.

Ministers Dayasiri Jayasekara, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Prasanna Ranaweera, Members of Parliament Tissa Attanayake, Ashok Abeysinghe, Mohamad Muzammil, Niroshan Perera, Dr Upul Galappaththi, Ranjith Bandara, Dr Harini Amarasuriya, Shritharan, B. Y. G. Rathnasekara were present at the COPA Committee chaired by Prof Vitarana. (Colombo, March 25, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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ADB USD200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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Sri Lank in blackout as power grid hit by cascading failure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka suffered a blackout as Saturday evening as the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board grid was hit by a cascading power failure.

The cascading failure is believed to have been triggered by the failure of the Kothmale-Biyagama transmission line.

“The Ceylon Electricity Board wishes to inform our customers that due to the failure of Kotmale – Biyagama main transmission line, an island wide power failure has occurred,” CEB Spokesman Noel Priyantha said.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply.”

With hydro plants running flat out, a outage of the line tends to create a big imbalance in the demand and supply, leading to tripping of more lines and generators.

Lines can trip due to lightening strikes, or equipment failures.

Sri Lanka last suffered a cascading failure in December 2021, due to the failure of the same transmission line.

RelatedSri Lanka power blackout as grid hit by cascading failure

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Sri Lanka to host regional Food and Agriculture Organization conference

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will host the 37th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from February 19-22, 2024 in Colombo.

The Conference will bring together agriculture ministers and officials from 46 countries across the region to discuss challenges in food and agriculture.

“The 37th APRC will provide a vital platform for regional collaboration, benefitting the agricultural landscape, fisheries sector and environment of Sri Lanka,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at a press briefing on Friday (8) to announce the conference.

FAO has had an active presence in Sri Lanka for over 40 years. “FAO has supported the country in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and the development of the fisheries sector for growth and climate resilience,” Vimlendra Sharan, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

“The APRC conference will be an opportunity to highlight the innovative approaches introduced in partnership with the government.”

By hosting APRC, Sri Lanka hopes to demonstrate the country’s dedication to the growth of sustainable agriculture, and showcase its commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

The APRC agenda will include a forum on agritourism, especially requested by the Sri Lankan government.

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