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Thursday April 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka plantation wage hike still under discussion: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – The decision to raise the daily wage of plantation workers to 1000 rupees per day is still under discussion, Minister of Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture, Ramesh Pathirana has said.

“We have conducted three discussions with the Planters’ Association so far,” Pathirana told Parliament on Wednesday.

“There are some issues from their end about income and expenses, we have to consider, therefore it is still under discussion”

Pathirana said the association, which represents managers of private plantations companies have agreed with the cabinet decision to improve the standards of living of the plantation workers.

“We have not arrived at a final decision yet,” Pathirana said.

State Minister for Tea Industry Development, Kanchana Wijesekara said: “At the last meeting with the president’s secretary P.B. Jayasundera, the planters’ association came to an understanding to raise the wages from March onwards.

Wijesekara said some of the main issues to raise the wage are due to the various agreements signed during the tenure of the previous government. Workers are under a two year collective agreements with plantations companies.

Wijesekara said the government has asked to give the raise from the basic salary.

“Associations asked our permission to give the raise including other allowances,” said Wijesekara.

“But as the government, we stand strong with our decision.”

Sri Lanka’s plantations were expropriated by the state, and became burdens on the taxpayer with salaries paid by the state. They were then privatized and are now paying leases rentals to the state.

Wijesekara said another issue pointed out by the associations was shortfalls in income due to low productivity.

He said as a solution the government has decided to provide lands to the farmers who are interested in planting trees.

“It can be state-owned Elkaduwa, SPMC or Kurunegala plantations” Wijesekara said.

“We are ready to provide two to five acres of lands under long term leasing facilities for the farmers who are interested in the industry”

Wijesekara said the government will take immediate action after the general elections.

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered plantations workers’ wages to be hiked to 1000 rupees a day from March 01, on January 14, 2020 at the cabinet meeting.

Plantation companies and workers signed a collective agreement in February 2019 under the previous government, agreeing to a daily wage of 700 rupees, up from 500 rupees.

The previous government later said a supplementary 50 rupees a day would be provided with taxpayer money for a year.

Plantations companies said the 300 rupees a day wage hike would cost about 350-450 million rupees per company or about 9 billion rupees a year for all companies.

There are 20 regional plantations companies of which 18 are publicly traded. (Colombo/Feb 06/2020)

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Sri Lanka’s discussions with bondholders constructive: State finance minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan authorities continue to engage all debt restructuring negotiations in good faith, within principles of equitable treatment among creditors, and with maximum transparency within the norms of such negotiations, State Minister of Finance, Shehan Semasinghe has said.

“It is standard practice, when a representative group of bondholders is formed, to entertain confidential discussions with such group and its appointed advisors. In the case of Sri Lanka, the Ad Hoc Group of Bondholders represents holders controlling more than 50% of the bonds, which make them a privileged interlocutor for Sri Lanka,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“It is well understood that given the price sensitive nature of the negotiations, and according to market regulations, discussions with the Group and its advisors are to be conducted under non-disclosure agreements. This evidently restricts the ability of the Government to unilaterally report about the substance of the discussions.

“The cleansing statement, which was issued on the 16th of April, at the conclusion of this first round of confidential discussions with members of the Group, aims at informing the Sri Lankan people, market participants and other stakeholders to this debt restructuring exercise, about the progress in negotiations. It provides the highest possible level of transparency within the internationally accepted practices in such circumstances.

“As informed in this statement, confidential discussions held in recent weeks with bondholders’ representatives proved constructive, building on the restructuring proposals presented by both parties. During the talks both sides successfully bridged a number of technical issues enabling important progress to be made. Sri Lanka articulated key remaining concerns that need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner.

“The next steps would entail further consultation with the IMF staff regarding assessments of the compatibility of the latest proposals with program parameters. Following these consultations, we hope to continue discussions with the bondholders with a view to reaching common ground ahead of the IMF board consideration of the second review of Sri Lanka’s EFF program.”

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Sri Lanka rupee weakens at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Tuesday, from 299.00/10 on Tuesday, dealers said. Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.05 percent up from 11.95/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent down from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2031 closed at 12.30/50 percent. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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Sri Lanka Treasury Bill yields down across maturities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields were down across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 3-month yield moving down 7 basis points to 10.03 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

The debt office sold all 30 billion rupees of 3-month bills offered.

The 6-month yield fell 5 basis points to 10.22 percent, with 25 billion rupees of bills offered and 29.98 billion rupees sold.

The 12-month yield dropped 4 basis points to 10.23 percent with 18.01 billion rupees of bills sold after offering 23 billion rupees. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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