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Friday March 1st, 2024

UNICEF welcomes amendments to Sri Lanka’s Children & Young Persons Ordinance

ECONOMYNEXT — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed an amendment to Sri Lanka’s Children and Young Persons Ordinance (CYPO) that came into effect on January 01.

UNICEF said in a statement on Wednesday February 07 that the amendment marks a significant step towards protecting the rights and welfare of all children in Sri Lanka.

The CYPO, a legislation governing justice for children in Sri Lanka since 1939, previously only covered those up to the age of 16. The amendment now extends its protection to all children under the age of 18. The amendment also repeals the section of the CYPO which permitted the use of corporal punishment on children and adolescents by parents, teachers, or guardians.

“These amendments contribute to the alignment of Sri Lanka’s laws that address children’s rights with international standards, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), but also addresses the evolving needs and challenges faced by children and adolescents in the country,” UNICEF said.

“The operationalisation of the amended CYPO marks a significant milestone for child rights in Sri Lanka, ensuring a justice system that upholds the rights and dignity of every child. This noteworthy progress also underscores the importance a comprehensive ban on corporal punishment in all settings including homes and schools, as we strive to create safer and nurturing environments for every child in Sri Lanka,” UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka Christian Skoog was quoted as saying.

The UN agency said the amendments further signify a paradigm shift in the treatment of children in conflict with the law. Previously, children between ages of 16 -18 years who committed offenses were placed in adult prisons, lacking appropriate rehabilitation and care. With the amended CYPO now in effect, UNCIEF said, such children will receive rehabilitation under the supervision of the Provincial Departments of Probation and Child Care, emphasising a rehabilitative rather than punitive approach.

“The CRC however notes that the detention of a child should only be a last resort, and for the shortest period, as evidence shows that institutionalisation could hinder a child’s development and reintegration, leading to perpetuating cycles of violence and poverty.

“For juvenile offenders, UNICEF calls upon stakeholders in the justice, probation and child-care sectors to prioritise the application of non-custodial measures such as family-based rehabilitation, as they are more effective and protective of children,” the organisation said.

UNICEF’s support for the amendment is rooted in its longstanding commitment to advocating for the rights of children worldwide, the agency said, adding that a 2023 UNICEF study on Sri Lanka’s justice system for children had highlighted important data gaps and the urgent need for reforms to ensure the adequacy and effectiveness of legal protection for children.

“The amendment to the CYPO represents a key step towards addressing these recommendations and building a justice system that prioritises the best interests of the child. The Government of Sri Lanka’s decision to operationalise CYPO amendments underscores its commitment to fulfilling its obligations under international law and prioritizing the well-being of its youngest citizens.

“UNICEF, with support from the European Union, is working with the Ministry of Justice and other partners to strengthen inclusive access to justice, improve transparency and accountability in the sector as well as enhance quality and efficient services delivery.” (Colombo/Feb07/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s RAMIS online tax collection system “not operatable”: IT Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s online tax collection system RAMIS is “not operatable”, and the Ministry of Information Technology is ready to do for an independent audit to find the shortcomings, State IT Minister Kanaka Herath said.

The Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS) was introduced to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when the island nation signed for its 16th International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in 2016.

However, trade unions at the IRD protested the move, claiming that the system was malfunctioning despite billions being spent for it amid allegations that the new system was reducing the direct contacts between taxpayers and the IRD to reduce corruption.

The RAMIS had to be stopped after taxpayers faced massive penalties because of blunders made by heads of the IT division, computer operators and system errors at the IRD, government officials have said.

“The whole of Sri Lanka admits RAMIS is a failure. The annual fee is very high for that. This should be told in public,” Herath told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Thursday (29)

“In future, we want all the ministries to get the guidelines from our ministry when they go for ERP (Enterprise resource planning).”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government said the RAMIS system will be operational from December last year.

However, the failure has delayed some tax collection which could have been paid via online.

“It is not under our ministry. It is under the finance ministry. We have no involvement with it, but still, it is not operatable,” Herath said.

“So, there are so many issues going on and I have no idea what the technical part of it. We can carry out an independent audit to find out the shortcomings of the software.”

Finance Ministry officials say IRD employees and trade unions had been resisting the RAMIS because it prevents direct interactions with taxpayers and possible bribes for defaulting or under paying taxes.

The crisis-hit island nation is struggling to boost its revenue in line with the target it has committed to the IMF in return for a 3 billion-dollar extended fund facility. (Colombo/Feb 29/2024) 

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Sri Lanka aims to boost SME with Sancharaka Udawa tourism expo

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is hosting Sancharaka Udawa, a tourism industry exhibition which will bring together businesses ranging from hotels to travel agents and airlines, and will allow the small and medium sector build links with the rest of the industry, officials said.

There will be over 250 exhibitors, with the annual event held for the 11th time expected to draw around 10,000 visitors, the organizers said.

“SMEs play a big role, from homestays to under three-star categories,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu told reporters.

“It is very important that we develop those markets as well.”

The Sancharaka Udawa fair comes as the Indian Ocean island is experiencing a tourism revival.

Sri Lanka had welcomed 191,000 tourists up to February 25, compared to 107,639 in February 2023.

“We have been hitting back-to-back double centuries,” Gajabahu said. “January was over 200,000.”

The exhibition to be held on May 17-18, is organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators.

It aims to establish a networking platform for small and medium sized service providers within the industry including the smallest sector.

“Homestays have been increasingly popular in areas such as Ella, Down South, Knuckles and Kandy,” SLAITO President, Nishad Wijethunga, said.

In the northern Jaffna peninsula, both domestic and international tourism was helping hotels.

A representative of the Northern Province Tourism Sector said that the Northern Province has 170 hotels, all of which have 60-70 percent occupancy.

Further, domestic airlines from Colombo to Palali and the inter-city train have been popular with local and international visitors, especially Indian tourists. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 309.50/70 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 309.50/70 to the US dollar Thursday, from 310.00/15 on Wednesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were slightly higher.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.50/70 percent down from 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.10 percent from 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 12.20/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.30/45 percent up from 12.20/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.35/50 percent up from 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.55/13.00 percent up from 12.50/90 percent. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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