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Wednesday September 27th, 2023

Sri Lanka has spent Rs 260 bn in providing relief since COVID-19 emerged: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has spent over 260 billion rupees in providing relief to the public since the COVID-19 crisis emerged, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.

Some 30 billion rupees spent has been spent to pay a 5,000-rupee allowance to daily wage earners every time the country was locked down, Rajapaksa said in a televised address to the nation June 25 evening.

“Every time the country is shut down due to COVID-19 risks, we spend around Rs. 30 billion in each round to provide an allowance of Rs. 5,000 for daily wage earners who lost their work due to Covid-19 situation.

“At present the government has borne this cost on a number of occasions. The government incurs a number of additional costs related to the health sector in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The government has incurred additional costs to conduct PCR and antigen tests, to treat identified infected persons and to set up a number of new treatment centers,” an official English translation of his speech said.

Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka, like many other countries, had to be shut down from time to time in order to contain the spread of the virus, but added that the repercussions of that decision must be understood.

Related: Sri Lanka COVID-19 third wave due to people travelling during April holidays: President

“Various rules had to be put in place. The number of workers in factories and institutions had to be limited. However, this situation gravely affected our industries. In particular, the apparel industry which brought in about USD 5 billion revenue to Sri Lanka suffered a heavy loss. Their orders were suspended. Many lost their jobs. Export earnings declined,” he said.

Apparel companies continued to operate at great risk to staff and possible risk of quarantine leaks. Trade unions have demanded that garment factory workers are prioritised in Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout the same way frontline workers in the health sector and the military are. Trade unions also complain of stigma against workers, with people fearing that returning workers could bring the disease with them.

Related: How effective has Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 lockdown been?


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Sri Lanka to introduce social security system: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Labour minister has said that they are set to introduce a comprehensive national social security system, covering all workers.

“The system will address the weaknesses of the current system and provide much-needed support to workers and their families,” Manusha Nanayakkara, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment said on X (formerly known as Twitter).
He did not specify the details.

Nanayakkara also spoke of the need for robust social security when he met with exporters last week to discuss labor law reforms, boosting female workforce participation and attracting FDI.

Sri Lanka plans to reform labour laws for an export-oriented economy.

The pandemic and the economic crisis highlighted the need to improve the coverage of social security.

Studies have shown that Sri Lanka’s women are kept out of formal employment by childcare, elderly care and housework, as day care and elderly homes are either too expensive or too few.

The government imposed a Social Security Contribution Levy to increase its revenue last year. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s stocks up in trading on Wednesday morning

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares were picking up in trading on Wednesday morning.

Turnover was at 50 million. Trading in the Capital Goods Industry Group was driving turnover.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.37 percent or 41.78 points to 11,289.94, while the S&P SL20 was also up 0.68 percent or 21.66 points to 3,187.65.

Hatton National Bank, Commercial Bank and LOLC saw gains in morning trade, while Tokyo cement and Lanka Hospitals were trading down during morning trading. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka rupee opens at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar, bond yields stable

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar on Wednesday, after closing on Tuesday at 323.70/324.20 to the US dollar, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 was quoted at 15.50/70 percent on Wednesday up from Tuesday’s close at 15.45/65 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 was quoted at 14.50/55 percent from closing at Tuesday at 14.30/55 percent. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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