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Sunday June 16th, 2024

UN expert on modern slavery to visit Sri Lanka to assess labour conditions, laws

Tea pluckers in Sri Lanka – file photo

ECONOMYNEXT – United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery Tomoya Obokata will be in Sri Lanka on a seven-day visit to examine labour conditions in various sectors and industries including apparel, tea plantations, tourism, and domestic work.

The Special Rapporteur also intends to assess the implementation of laws and policies and systemic barriers that hamper access to decent work, including for migrant workers in Sri Lanka, the UN said in a statement.

Obokata will assess the government’s commitment and its measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

“I am particularly interested in assessing to what extent progress has already been achieved in this regard, which shortcomings may persist and through which measures they can be addressed,” Obokata was quoted as saying in the statement.

“I look forward to fruitful, substantive discussions on issues related to contemporary forms of slavery with representatives from all branches of the State, representatives of trade unions and civil society actors,” he said.

The move comes as Sri Lanka faces the prospect of losing access to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences plus (GSP+), a lucrative trade concession worth over 500 million US dollars from the European Union, next April due to the island nation’s failure to fulfil some of the 27 international conventions it had agreed to with the EU.

The EU’s special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance also involves issues of human rights which President Gotabaya Rakalaksa’s government has been asked to address by both the EU and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The government, which had earlier vehemently refused to heed the EU’s and UN’s calls, has now slowly started to address some of their concerns as the 81 billion US dollar economy faces an unprecedented debt and foreign exchange crisis.

The government has also started to engage with many Western nations following its repeated reluctance to build stronger tie, charging that Western nations have been backing an agenda to divide the country.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on his visit from November 26-December 3 at the 51st session of the UNHRC to be held in September 2022. (Colombo/Nov24/2021)

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Sri Lanka car import relaxing roadmap given to IMF: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has submitted a roadmap on relaxing vehicle imports to the International Monetary Fund, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siymabalapitiya said as the country recovers from the worst currency crises in the history of its central bank.

The import relaxation will allow vehicles for public transport, goods transport, then motor cycles and cars use by private individuals and after that, luxury cars, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

Luxury cars however attract the highest taxes for each dollar spent on imports.

Economic analysts have characterized vehicle import controls as a ‘cascading policy error’ that follows inflationary rate cuts, which then deprive taxes to the state and triggers more money printing and more forex shortages, requiring even higher corrective interest rates and a contraction of economic activities to save the rupee.

According to the latest IMF report car import controls may have led to revenue losses of 0.7 to 0.9 percent of GDP.

Sri Lanka started controlling imports few years after a central bank was set up in 1950 and also tightened exchange controls progressively, so that macroeconomists using post-1920 spurious monetary doctrines taught at Anglophone universities could print money through various mechanisms to suppress rates.

Sri Lanka is working with the IMF as a guide on many issues and the roadmap was submitted to the agency on June 14, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

The IMF in an economic report released last week the plan was expected to be submitted by June 15.

Whatever the IMF’s faults, which some wags have called ‘progressive Saltwaterism’, the agency does not advocate import controls as solution to balance of payments problems, despite a Mercantilist fixation with the current account deficit in countries with reserve collecting central banks, analysts say.

Import controls have the same effect as import substation on the balance of payments, which is none, classical economists have pointed out and is now mainly a problem associated with macro economists and economic bureaucrats of so-called basket case countries.

Any pressure on the currency or missed reserves targets in the IMF program has come in the past only if the central bank printed money to suppress rates as credit growth picked up from car imports.

Sri Lanka had 3,000 items under import controls when rates were suppressed with printed money from 2020 to 2022 but eventually ended up with the worst currency crisis triggered by macro economists in the history of the country and eventual external default.

A committee made up of the Department of Trade and Fiscal Policy of the Finance Ministry, the Department of Registration of Motor Vehicles, the Central Bank and two associations representing vehicle imports were appointed to come up with the roadmap, he said. (Colombo/June15/2024)

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Chitrasiri Committee presents draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket

ECONOMYNEXT – A draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket, the governing body for cricket in the island, prepared by a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge K T Chitrasiri, was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (15).

The Sri Lanka team were ignominiously knocked out of the Men’s T20 World Cup tournament this week, sparking renewed criticism of the team and the governing body.

Last November, a cabinet sub-committee was appointed to address challenges faced by Sri Lanka Cricket and provide recommendations after consecutive losses became a hot topic in parliament.

After parliament decided to remove the administrators of the sport, the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board suspended Sri Lanka Cricket’s membership.

Based on the sub-committee’s recommendations in its report, the Cabinet then appointed an expert committee to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket.

The committee headed by judge K T Chitrasiri includes President’s Counsel Harsha Amarasekara, Attorney-at-Law Dr Aritha Wickramanayake and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce Duminda Hulangamuwa.

Deputy Solicitor General Manohara Jayasinghe, and Shamila Krishanthi, Assistant Draftsman representing the Legal Draftsman’s Department, and Loshini Peiris, Additional Secretary to the President were also on the committee. (Colombo/Jun14/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Cable Solutions in Rs605mn IPO

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cable Solutions Limited will make an initial public offering of ordinary voting shares on the Diri Savi Board of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE).

The CSE had approved, in-principle, an application submitted by the company, for the listing of its ordinary voting shares by way of an offer for subscription and an offer for sale.

For subscription, 14,666,600 shares would be offered at 7.50 rupees a share.

For sale, 66,120,000 shares would be offered at 7.50 rupees a share.

The opening of subscription list is July 23. Copies of the prospectus would be made available to trading participants on July 9. (Colombo/Jun15/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s ACL Cables wraps up acquisition of Cable Solutions

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