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Saturday June 3rd, 2023

Preschools to be free under Sajith

Outlining wide-ranging policy proposals pertaining to children and the elderly, presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa promised today to reform preschool education, address malnutrition and revitalise care for the elderly in Sri Lanka, if elected.

At a press conference held in Colombo this afternoon, on World Children’s & Elders’ Day, Premadasa proposed a complete overhaul of preschool education, promising to standardise and regulate it and incorporate it into the country’s free education system.

A presidential task force operating out of the Presidential Secretariat will oversee this process, he said, with the goal of making preschool education free of charge and accessible to all, through state intervention and sponsorship.

According to Premadasa, out of nearly 19,000 preschools currently operating in Sri Lanka, only about 10,000 are registered with the government. This demonstrates the need to bring it under the wider umbrella of free education, he said, and transform it into a regulated system that employs a curriculum following international standards. Preschool students, he added, will be taught by qualified teachers who, under the proposed reforms, will go on to receive a government salary.

Asked to clarify the fate of the unregistered 9,000 or so preschools, the presidential candidate said they would not be shut down but will instead be regularised and incorporated into wider system.

A national nutrition policy will also be introduced, said Premadasa, in conjunction with the preschool reform drive. This, too, shall be overseen by the same presidential task force in what he called a ‘time-targeted’ programme.

“According to multiple nutrition indices, malnutrition in Sri Lanka has led to stunting, anaemia, dwarfing and various deficiencies. Between 70 to 80% of human brain development also takes place from birth to the age of five. Eliminating malnutrition is, therefore, essential,” said Premadasa, warning that failing to do so could lead to reduced production capacity in the future.

The proposed national nutrition policy will be implemented across all 14,022 Grama Niladhari divisions in the country, he said.

A second presidential task force will also be appointed, said the Housing Minister, to ensure a dignified existence for the country’s elderly. In 2012, he said, 12.4% of the population was elderly – a figure that’s projected to double by 2050.

“The government needs to provide a social safety net for the nation’s elderly. Right now, we live in a society where some of them are compelled to move to a home for the aged. Whether or not this is in line with our family values is a question we as a society must ask ourselves,” he said.

Until then, said Premadasa, the state would have to intervene and ensure that the rights of the elderly are protected. Noting that the state has a special obligation in this regard, he said human resources must be allocated for adequate care for the aged. Their nutritional needs, too, would need to be addressed, he said.

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Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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