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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka to declare protesting teachers, principals “closed service” to end long strike

FILE PHOTO – Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is set to recognise school teachers’ and principals’ services as a “closed service”, according to Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, in a bid to resolve a crisis that has brought online education to a standstill, without stirring other public services.

Though the move, the result of a proposal approved by the cabinet of ministers on Monday (30), could help end a long strike by teachers and principals and restart online school education, it will open many a can of worms in the future, two government officials said.

Both teachers’ and principals’ services are under the public service. But declaring them a closed service will allow the government to treat teachers and principals separately from the rest of the public service when resolving their demands of salary anomalies, wages, transfers, and other benefits.

This will also mean that cadres from the teachers and principals services cannot be transferred to any other public services, government sources explained.

“The implementation of the national decision to close down the teachers’ service will be implemented in the next few months,” Gunawardena said, adding that the cabinet decided to issue a gazette before November 20 declaring the services a closed service.

“All these decisions are taken to provide solutions to existing problems and the decisions are made taking into consideration the 4.3 million children in the country and their teachers who will pave the way for their future.”

The closed service move comes in line a the recommendation by a four-member cabinet subcommittee which looked into the salary anomalies of teachers and principals.

However, two senior government officials warned the move could be detrimental to the public service in the future.

“The government is setting a bad precedent,” said one official who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“Tomorrow doctors or nurses or another pubic service can also demand to declare them as a closed service and resolve their issue.”

Another official said Sri Lanka Railways had demanded a similar request two years back.

Forced decision

The government was forced to look into the teachers’ protests as a raft of trade unions of teachers and principals have been on strike since July 11 and have withdrawn from online education and from issuing results of the GCE Ordinary Level exam held early this year.

The education minister said despite financial difficulties, a special allowance of 5,000 rupees will be granted for teachers and principals who will be on duty during September and October 2021, the months in which the government has planned to hold GCE Advanced Level and grade 5 scholarship examinations.

The government has postponed the two key exams that help students select a national school for grade 6 and university entrance, drawing public criticism.

The minister, however, said, implementation of the salary revisions will be done in stages through a 2022 budget proposal. Full implementation will be done in the next four years.

“A decision was taken on Monday (30) to implement these measures in parts before the next four years to find a permanent solution,” he said.

A key teacher trade union welcomed the government’s decisions on “closed service” and salary hike through 2022 budget proposals.

“But we do not accept the 5,000 rupee allowance. We want our salary anomalies to be fixed as a part of the previous Subodhini committee report,” Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of Sri Lanka Teachers’ Union told EconomyNext referring to a report which teacher unions had demanded the most.

“We don’t accept these increments or allowances otherwise. We will continue our strikes if that does not happen,” said Stalin. (Colombo/Aug31/2021)

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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