Sri Lanka calls for PPPs, international cooperation to reach UN goals
ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera called for public private partnerships and international cooperation in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"Financial commitments are increasingly challenging for countries like mine that are subject to significant fiscal constraints," he said, addressing the UN Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development during his visit to New York.
"International cooperation therefore is vital including for supporting measures to prevent and mitigate the debilitating impacts of climate change in vulnerable economies," Samaraweera said.
"I therefore urge for greater public-private partnerships and multi-stakeholder initiatives globally, to ensure that no one is left behind."
He said Sri Lanka has provided universal free healthcare and education, which have ensured Sri Lanka’s social indicators are on par with advanced economies.
However, he said that the country faces many challenges in sustainable and equitable growth.
"Measures have been taken to address identified challenges – many of which directly relate to the SDGs."
"The 2019 national budget includes a number of interventions towards this end," he said.
He said that action is being taken to increase women’s labour force participation, with tax cuts on maternity benefits, flexible work, and investments in child care.
Education reforms to enhance creativity and analytical skills, and smart classrooms are being introduced, Samaraweera said.
Better sanitation, and resilience against natural disasters and climate change were also focused on, he said.
"In addressing poverty and vulnerability – measures are being taken to encourage employment of people with disabilities through targeted wage subsidies for companies that hire such individuals."
"Objective and transparent selection criteria have been introduced for welfare transfers to the poor, the elderly, and those vulnerable to natural disasters," he said.
Samaraweera also met the UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore, and discussed matters related to financing for Early Childhood Development.
(Colombo, April 18, 2019-SB)