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Saturday March 2nd, 2024

Sri Lanka cabinet firm on not giving in to teachers’ salary hike demand

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers have decided not to give in to a salary increase demand of teachers’ trade unions due to the current economic conditions, a cabinet spokesman said.

The cabinet decision comes as a strike by teachers and principals have crippled online education of government schools for 23 days running. A request by the Education Ministry Secretary for teachers and supporting staff to report to work from Monday (02) has been largely neglected due to the ongoing trade union action.

The cabinet had discussed the demands of the teachers’ union and the government will address the salary issue of the teachers along with all other government servants in the 2022 budget, cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

“A decision will be taken in the budget parallel to the increase of salaries and cost of living of other government servants in the next budget,” Rambukwella told the weekly cabinet briefing on Tuesday (3).

“When you resolve the issue of one sector, it will create more troubles in other sectors. We see a group is trying to exploit this with political motives,” he added.

Over 240,000 school teachers and 15,000 principals in Sri Lanka have been on strike for 23 days running over the question of salary anomalies that they say goes back 24 years – an issue that successive governments have failed to resolve. Daily protests in different parts of the island attracting large crowds of teachers have led to fears of new outbreaks of COVID-19.

Teacher unions have said the salary increase was something the government promised during the run up to the presidential polls and they are asking the government to fulfill only what it had promised.

Teachers have already stopped online teaching and did not resume the primary learning method for hundreds of thousands of students amid the pandemic, despite repeated requests by the government.

“We expect teachers, as learned people, will understand the current economic situation. In principle, we agree with their requests, which were included in our election manifesto,” Rambukwella said.

He further said the government never cut the salaries of teachers during pandemic lockdowns despite a nearly 50 percent drop in the government’s tax revenue.

The education budget was cut down by a third this year to 126 billion rupees, nearly 1 percent of the island nation’s gross domestic product.

Education Ministry Secretary Professor Kapila Perera has said the government will have to spend an additional sum of 67.8 billion rupees to increase salaries of teachers and principals according to the recommendations.

According to demands of teachers’ associations, if their salaries were increased by 15 per cent, it would be calculated that the salary of a given teacher will increase by Rs.10,000.

Education minister Prof G L Peiris told the parliament that the government is “unable to provide an instant solution”.

Related: Sri Lanka to address teachers’ salary anomalies in November budget, no quick fix: Minister

The government also said it has not taken any decision to suspend any teachers who have not reported to work since Monday.

“Both the president and the finance minister have pledged to look into the reasonable issues of teacher unions. But due to the country’s economic situation, we have limited funding. We believe the teachers will realise this and report to the work in the future,” Co-Cabinet spokesman Ramesh Pathirana told the weekly cabinet briefing. (Colombo/Aug03/2021)

 

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Sri Lanka eyes SOE law by May 2024 for better governance

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to pass a Public Commercial Business (PCB) Act improve governance of state-owned enterprise by May 2024 as part of an anti-corruption efforts following an International Monetary Fund assessment.

Sri Lanka’s state enterprises have been used by politicians to give ‘jobs of the boys’, appropriate vehicles for personal use, fill board of directors and key positions with henchmen and relatives, according to critics.

Meanwhile macro-economists working for the state also used them to give off-budget subsides or made energy utilities in particular borrow through supplier’s credits and state banks after forex shortages are triggered through inflationary rate cuts.

The government has taken billons of dollars of loans given to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation from state banks.

There have also been high profile procurement scandals connected to SOEs.

An SOE Reform Policy was approved by Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers in May 2023.

The Public Commercial Business (PCB) Act has now been drafted.

A holding company to own the SOEs will be incorporated and an Advisory Committee and Board of Directors will be appointed after the PCB law is approved, the statement said. (Colombo/Mar01/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 308.80/90 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 308.80/90 to the US dollar Friday, from 309.50/70 on Thursday, dealers said.

Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.65/75 percent up from 10.50/70 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.05 percent from 11.90/12.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 12.15/35 percent down from 12.20/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.25/40 percent up from 12.30/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.30/45 percent down from 12.35/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.50/13.00 percent from 12.55/13.00 percent. (Colombo/Mar1/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up 0.37-pct, Expo to de-list

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up 0.37 percent on Friday, and SG Holdings, the parent company of Expolanka Holdings Plc, said it was taking the company private.

Expolanka is the largest listed company on the Colombo Stock Exchange.

“Expolanka Holdings PLC has, at the Board Meeting held on 1st March 2024, considered a request from its principal shareholder and resolved to initiate the de-listing of the Company’s shares from the Official List of the Colombo Stock Exchange subject to obtaining necessary shareholder approval and regulatory approvals,” the company said in a stock exchange filing.

As per arrangements with SG Holdings Global Pte Ltd, the Company’s majority shareholder, it will purchase its shares from shareholders who may wish to divest their shareholding in the Company at a purchase price of Rs 185.00 per share. The share closed up at 150.50.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.37 percent, or 39.47 points, at 10,691; while the S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.64 percent, or 19.59 points, at 3,037.

Turnover stayed above the 1 billion mark for the sixth consecutive day, registering 1.4 billion.

Crossings in Melstarcorp Plc (135mn) up at 89.50, Hatton National Bank Plc (64mn) up at 158.00, Hemas Holdings Plc (53mn) up at 75.00 and Central Finance Company Plc (26mn) up at 103.50, added significantly to the day’s turnover.

“The upward trend is continuing, with more retail buying also coming in, the number of trades was more than 10,000 today,” a market participant said. “Investors are looking for undervalued stocks and buying in quantities.” (Colombo/Mar1/2024).

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