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Wednesday September 27th, 2023

Sri Lanka to erase Slave Island tag 178 years after British abolished slavery in Ceylon

EMANCIPATION: British liberals cautiously and systematically broke down the institution of slavery in Ceylon and elsewhere.

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has ordered that the name ‘Slave Island’ to be erased from the address books 178 years after the British finally abolished slavery in the island.

The Slave Island is believed to be a place where the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) quartered some of its slaves.

Instead, the area will be called by the Sinhalese name of Companggna Veediya.

Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake has requested the Public Administration Ministry to issue the required gazette.

The move to wipe out the historical name, comes as the country prepares to mark 75 years of gaining self determination from the British and just 178 years and two months after the Colonial rulers finally abolished the ancient custom from the island.

A slave is a person who was owned by a third person who was be bought and who was sold like merchandise under fuedal and Mercantilist rule. A slave cannot quit the job and is not sacked like under capitalism.

By the time the Abolition Gazette was issued by the Government of Ceylon on December 20, 1844, the institution of slavery had been systematically broken down by liberal British civil servants.

The British Empire, under pressure from classical liberals and the Abolition Movement outlawed slavery within its territories and made treaties outside (the US was not a part of the British Empire and slavery continued) sometimes using the Royal Navy (See Preventive squadron or West Africa Squadron).

The Preventive Squadron, which at peak was estimated to have involved 15 percent of the Royal Navy hunted and arrested 1,600 slave ships. Over 1,500 Royal Navy sailors were killed in the operation which ran for over 4 decades.

The VOC had imported slaves (East Indians and Subcontinental Indians) for fortifications and other work and later freed or sold them to natives, adding to the existing stock of traditional slaves, according to historical records.

In Sri Lanka, the British first caused all slaves to be registered so that no new persons could be enslaved. Then a gazette was issued to combine divided slave ownership.

Then children were emancipated. Owners were paid compensation between two to three Rix dollars to ‘buy’ slave kids from tax money collected in the country.


The forgotten history of slavery in Sri Lanka

The Ambivalence of Freedom: Slaves in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Shocking parallels in abolishing slavery and protectionist exploitation in Sri Lanka

Slavery existed in the several parts of the island, including the in the North East and Kandy. In the Maritime Provinces it was breaking down as Mercantilism gave way to freer trade and capitalism.

In Kandy British officials said the institution was ‘mild’ (they could own property, but if a slave died the property went to the owner).

Kandyan slave owners requested 60 years to end slavery, which the officials managed to negotiate down.

The slaves in Kandy were either descendants of enslaved people or persons sold into slavery during bad times (“acquired by purchase of children from their parents in times of great scarcity”) or were enslaved for debts (“in satisfaction of pecuniary claims”), the British civil servants involved in the abolition of slavery noted.

In Sri Lanka the pioneer abolitionist was Chief Justice Sir Alexander Johnston who initiated voluntary emancipation starting with his jurors in 1816. (Colombo/Feb03/2023)

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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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