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Tuesday May 21st, 2024

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

Minister Prof G L Peiris speaking to reporters

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government is not in a position to provide “instant solutions” to the issue of teachers’ salary anomalies and instead hopes to present proposals that cover the gamut of the public service in the upcoming budget come November, Education Minister Prof G L Peiris said.

Responding to a question by main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Rohini Wijeratne in parliament Tuesday (03) morning, Peiris said Sri Lanka’s ongoing economic woes brought about by the pandemic will not allow a quick fix to the teachers’ demands.

School teachers and 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 organised by teachers’ unions attracting large crowds of teachers have led to fears of new outbreaks of COVID-19.

Despite warnings from doctors, the government on Monday (02) resumed state services, with all public servants including teachers directed to report to work.

MP Wijeratne asked Peiris if teachers were being called back to work along with other government workers because the government was afraid of the wave of protests.

The education minister said the matter was discussed extensively at a cabinet meeting Monday evening. Minister Gamini Lokuge told reporters at the end of the meeting that teacher salaries will not be increased.

Said Prof Peiris: “We accept on principle that teachers are not where they ought to be right now. They need some redress. As a policy, we accept there’s a need for a pay rise.

“The government’s position is that we have to think of parallel services too. Otherwise other complications will arise. We would have to talk with the Salaries and Cadre Commission too.”

Insisting that the government is sincerely interested in solving the crisis, Peiris said: “We have great respect for teachers. But the most apt time to do this is when the budget is being presented, taking all other [government] services into account.”

That Sri Lanka is facing economic issues must also be noted, he added.

“So we cannot give an instant solution today. The government expects to present practical solutions for the gamut of the public service with the budget in November,” he said.

Responding to Peiries, Wijeratne said the teachers are not in fact asking for an immediate pay hike but for a timeline on when the salary anomalies will be removed.

Peiris reiterated that solutions will be proposed in the budget, adding that it’s Sri Lanka’s underprivileged who are suffering as a result of the ongoing trade union action. (Colombo/Aug03/2021)

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Sri Lanka declares May 21 as National Mourning day over Iranian President’s death

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka declared a national mourning day on Tuesday, May 21 in view of expressing its solidarity with Iran after sudden death of Iran President Ebrahim Raisi following a helicopter crash.

President Raisi and eight others including Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were killed in the crash when the helicopter had a “hard landing” reportedly due to adverse weather conditions with heavy fog. However, President’s two convoy helicopters reached the destination safely.

“The Sri Lankan government has declared a national mourning day on tomorrow (May 21) on behalf of the sudden death of Iranian president Mr. Ebrahim Raisi,” the Department of Government Information said in a statement.

It also urged all the state institutions have to hoist the national flag half mast.

Raisi was in Sri Lanka on April 24 to launch the Uma Oya dam on a one-day official visit amid tight security. His helicopter crashed when he was returning to Iran after launching a dam in the Azerbaijan border.

President Raisi is seen as a hardliner and a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said the island nation will deal with Iran for investments and trade without being caught into the United States-led sanctions.

Sri Lanka was unable to receive $450 million from Iran for a recently opened Uma Oya multipurpose project started before the sanctions.

Sri Lanka now exports tea to Iran for no dollar payment. Instead, Sri Lanka tea producers are paid by the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) in rupees for the pending crude oil import payments for Iran.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his condolences on the tragic incident.

“Sri Lanka is deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian and other senior Irani official,” he said in his official X-platform.

“I express my deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the bereaved families, the government and the people of Iran.”

Raisi, a Muslim jurist, served as the eighth president of Iran from 2021 until his death. (Colombo/May 20/2024)

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Sri Lanka helps launch Global Blended Finance Alliance

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has joined a group of nations led by Indonesia which aims to mobilise capital to achieve carbon neutrality, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman said.

The Global Blended Finance Alliance mooted by Indonesia in 2018, was formally launched at the World Water Forum in Bali today.

Among the other founding members are Fiji, France, UAE, Kenya, Luxembourg and Canada.

“Through our collective efforts, the Global Blended Finance Alliance aims to mobilise both public and private capital to help nations achieve carbon neutrality and the SDGs,” Thondaman said on social media platform X (twitter).

“The world has a USD 2.5 trillion funding gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” he said.

Blended finance is the strategic use of development finance, such as public and/or philanthropic funds, for the mobilisation of additional commercial finance towards sustainable development in developing countries. (Colombo/May20/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes slightly stronger at 299.60/75 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee appreciated slightly to close at 299.60/75 to the US dollar on Friday, from 299.70/80 the previous week, dealers said. Bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed up at 10.15/35 percent from 10.05/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed up at 10.45/55 percent from 10.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 10.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2030 closed at 11.70/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed up at 11.90/12.05 percent from 11.85/12.00 percent. (Colombo/May20/2024)

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