An Echelon Media Company
Wednesday July 24th, 2024

Sri Lanka bears Rs.50bn in disaster damages annually: World Bank

ECONOMYNEXT- Disasters are annually costing Sri Lanka 50 billion rupees, or around 0.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in damages, which requires preventive measures to reduce climate risks, the World Bank said in a report.

“On average, Sri Lanka experiences LKR 50 billion (US$313 million) in annual disaster losses related to housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and relief,” the report titled “Contingent Liabilities from Natural Disasters: Sri Lanka” said.

Around 32 billion rupees of damages are from floods. Cyclones and high winds cause 11 billion rupees in losses, while droughts and landslides cause 5.2 billion rupees and 1.8 billion rupees in damages respectively.

Disasters are costly on human lives as well, with the 2017 floods leading to 213 passing away and the 2018 floods leaving another 13 persons dead.

The state provides the thousands who become homeless 1.2 million rupees each to build a house and 0.4 million rupees each to procure land or settle on state-owned land.

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most at-risk for climate-related disasters. The country was ranked second most affected by extreme weather events over the past 20 years in the Global Climate Risk Index.

The disasters disproportionately affect the poor, with 77 percent of the population in areas highly vulnerable to floods and droughts employed as smallholder farmers, the World Bank said.

This also disrupts Sri Lanka’s protected rice production.

In Decemer 2017, food inflation rose to 14.4 percent due to disruptions to agricultural supply chains from droughts.

Tea, rubber and coconuts, key export crops, also face reduced production as they are in areas which experience high rainfall and long dry spells, the World Bank said.

Droughts also force the state to switch electricity production from cheap hydropower to expensive thermal, which cost 560 million US dollars in higher oil import costs in 2017, worth around 0.7 percent of GDP.

Industrial activity is not beyond disruptions as well. Lion Brewery, one of the country’s largest tax payers, had to halt operations in 2016 due to flooding.

The report said Sri Lanka is prone to low frequency of high impact events such as the tsunami or high frequency of low-impact events such as floods.

The World Bank estimates disaster-related liabilities for the government on average at 11 billion rupees a year, or 1 percent of government expenditure.

Contingent liabilities are on average 20.5 billion rupees, after rising to 25 billion rupees in 2018, from 6 billion rupees in 2015.

Contingent liabilities are mainly for rehabilitating infrastructure and public assets. At a smaller scale, the state incurs contingent liabilities for relief payments, resettlement and premiums for disaster insurance.

However, these levels of contingent liabilities could be understated, as multiple agencies are responsible for post-disaster activities, the World Bank said.

When disasters strike, the government has to halt capital expenditure projects and reallocate funds to respond to emergencies and rehabilitate communities, the World Bank said.

Some ministries, such as Disaster Management, Irrigation, and City Planning and Water Supply have dedicated budgets for relief, but other ministries, such as Education, have to be reallocated funds from other ministries, or through passing of supplementary budgets, to rehabilitate schools.

The World Bank recommended preventive measures such as investment in disaster mitigation and climate-proofing public investment projects. Greater co-ordination between ministries was also recommended to improve preventive measures.

Financially, the government was asked to enhance risk management capacities at the ministry of finance, maintain dedicated budget lines to prevent spending cuts for other programs and transfer risks through insurance.

As Sri Lankan is facing tight fiscal space, disasters add greater strain to the Treasury, the World Bank said.

The multilateral lender said the World Bank–Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program is collaborating with the government to define, assess, and quantify the costs of disasters to the state.

“Increased understanding and accurate quantification of post-disaster liabilities will help the government make informed decisions about how to best to manage these liabilities.”

If the risks are properly assessed, the government could better secure financing, monitor funding and reduce financial risks arising from disasters, the World Bank said. (Colombo/Jan22/2020)

Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Bhagawaan says:

    I think it need to be clarified further that “this amount not including the losses due to political disasters and corruption”

View all comments (1)

Comments (1)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Bhagawaan says:

    I think it need to be clarified further that “this amount not including the losses due to political disasters and corruption”

Sri Lanka presidential candidate cash deposits not updated in 43 years: MP

MP Dullas Alahapperuma

ECONOMYNEXT — The cash deposits Sri Lanka’s presidential candidates are required to pay have not been revised in 43 years, opposition MP Dullas Alahapperuma said, calling for a significant increase in order to save money and to prevent proxy candidates.

Alahapperuma told parliament on Wednesday July 24 that, as per the Presidential Elections Act No. 15 of 1981, a candidate nominated by a recognised political party has to deposit only 50,000 rupees while an independent candidate, or a candidate nominated by any other party or by an elector, must pay only 75,000 rupees.

The MP said the cabinet of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa had approved an amendment to the act to increase these amounts.

“The election commission proposed that this be increased to 2.5 million rupees for political parties and 3 million for independent candidates. This was a pertinent proposal. There were 35 candidates who contested the last election,” he said.

The Act notes that “Where the number of votes polled by any candidate does not exceed one-eighth of the total number of votes polled at the election, the deposit made in respect of such candidate shall be declared forfeit and shall be transferred by the Commissioner from the deposit account to the Consolidated Fund, and in every other case the deposit shall be returned to the person who made the deposit, as soon as may be after the result of the election is declared.”

At the 2019 presidential election, said Alahapperuma, the deposits made by all candidates besides the top two contenders were transferred to the Consolidated fund.

“The number of candidates might be 80 or 85 this election. Many candidates have no basis for contesting, and it costs a vast sum of money to print ballots and other expenses, not to mention the time consumed for counting votes. This is not just to prevent proxy parties from contesting but also to save a lot of national wealth,” he said.

Leader of the House Susil Premajayantha responding to Alahapperuma said, however, that it would not be possible to pass the proposed amendment in time for the 2024 presidential election.

“The election commission made this proposal some time ago. But we know that to gazette a bill, we need to first draft the bill, the cabinet has to decide on it, send it back to the Legal Draftsman, and receive clearance from the Attorney General. So there is no time to bring this amendment for the upcoming presidential election. You can propose it at the next one,” he said. (Colombo/Jul24/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka deaf driver license project to be expanded islandwide

ECONOMYNEXT – A pilot project that allowed hearing-impaired persons to obtain light-vehicle driving licenses has been successful and will be rolled out island-wide, Sri Lanka’s Motor Traffic Department said.

The project was implemented in the Gampaha District initially where 50 licenses were provided to drivers who qualified.

The project was expanded to the Kurunegala District, where 150 drivers obtained licences. The drivers were given a probation period.

“Actually, this was a very successful project. It has been almost a year and we haven’t received a single complaint yet,” Motor Traffic Department Commissioner – Driving Licence Wasantha Ariyarathna told reporters on Wednesday.

“We plan to roll it out to all 25 districts islandwide.”

The issuance of driver’s licenses to hearing impaired persons will be done on a bi-annual renewal basis.

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka election commission to announce poll date before weekend

File photo of polling booth

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s Election Commission will announce the date of the election before the end of this week, commission chairman R M L Ratnayake told a private news network.

Ratnayake told the privately owned NewsFirst Wednesday July 24 morning that the gazette notification in this regard would be published before the weekend.

“As I stated before, we will announce the date before the end of this week. There is no backtracking at all. We have selected a date that is nearest and most suitable after September 17 for the election,” he said.

Ratnayake told the media at a press conference on July 16 that the commission will publish the notice announcing nomination and election dates before the end of July.

“Our first task is to publish the notice on the election. From the day the notice is published, nominations have to be accepted between 16 and 21 days. The election should be held within four to six weeks of from the day of accepting nominations,” said Ratnayake.

“The candidates must have enough time to do their campaigns after handing over nominations. Time is also needed to cast postal votes and carry out other duties. The election date should also be convenient for the voters. For the acceptance of nominations, we have to consider cultural factors unique to a country like Sri Lanka. Some people consider things like the Rahu period. So we have to find a date that is suitable for everyone,” he said.

Ratnayake said the election commission intends to issue the notice before the end of July.

“This notice will contain the nominations date and the election date. We plan to then hold the election on the most suitable day after September 17.

“Some people had suggested that we have delayed this to end July to the benefit of one party or another. I want to point out that we can delay we can extend it to August 20 if needed,” he said. (Colombo/Jul24/2024)

Continue Reading