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Saturday March 2nd, 2024

Sri Lanka drafting fresh legislation for people with disabilities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ministry of social empowerment is “actively crafting” new legislation aimed at improving the rights and well-being of disabled people, State Minister Anupa Pasqual said.

The state minister said speaking to reporters on Wednesday November 08 that a new bill is being designed to “better the lives of differently abled people”, as part of the government’s commitment to “ensuring that differently abled citizens are no longer considered a dependent population and are treated as equal citizens, not relegated to second-class status”.

Pasqual said the bill is being drafted at the recommendation of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Discussions on the matter have been ongoing since 2004, but concrete progress has been elusive, said Pasqual.

“We are now committed to drafting and presenting the bill to parliament within the first quarter of the next year. We have also organised a special conference on International Disability Day, set for December 1, under the leadership of Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe,” he said.

According to the state minister, among the tasks assigned to the Ministry of Social Empowerment is the empowerment of one million beneficiaries from underprivileged backgrounds.

“It is crucial to highlight that the 1.6 million differently-abled community members have not received the empowerment they deserve thus far. Under the dedicated guidance of President Wickremesinghe, we are committed to completing these initiatives in the coming year,” he said.

The state minister said in September that Sri Lanka is also  aiming to boost employment opportunities for people with disabilities, targeting 10 percent this year from the current 3 percent.

Government data show around 4 percent of the island nation’s 22 million population has some disability while the government has increased the allocations for the disabled to empower them.

Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Open and Responsible Government Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi said in October that Sri Lanka also plans to issue special identification cards to disabled persons to make it easier for them to vote in elections.


Sri Lanka to issue special identification for disabled persons to make voting easier

A new initiative titled Empo 2023, to be launched on December 01, involves disabled individuals from across the island traveling by train from Colombo to Kandy, with a visit to the Dalada Maligawa and a special ceremony planned at the Peradeniya Botanical Garden, the state minister said, noting that the event will bring together differently abled communities from around the world, including China and Japan.

“It is a fundamental aspect of our government’s policy to ensure that the differently abled community is no longer considered a group dependent on others. To achieve this, we are actively working to enable their participation in the development and education sectors. The differently abled community should be treated as equals, with the same rights, technological resources and accessibility as the rest of our population.

“As we embark on the journey into January, our ministry’s primary empowerment goal revolves around productivity. We are keen on exploring how our community can contribute to the overall Gross Domestic Product. Our objective is to establish a micro-level production network involving one million participants,” said Pasqual.

“In addition, we have included proposals in this year’s budget. These proposals entail making the empowerment process mandatory, implementing a pension system and incorporating disability studies into university syllabi,” he added. (Colombo/Nov09/2023)

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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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