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Sunday September 24th, 2023

Unpaid care work keeps Sri Lanka’s women out of workplace: Researchers

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka women are kept out of the workforce due to unpaid care work for the children and the elderly, researchers told a public forum in Colombo.

“Currently, women bear a disproportionate burden of care work,” Thathsarani Siriwardena, a researcher at Advocata Advocata Institute, a Colombo-based think tank said.

“In comparison to men, women spend three hours and twelve minutes more engaging in domestic work.”

Female workers compensation is also low, putting day-care out of their reach.

The cost of day-care in Sri Lanka is between 22,400 and 27,000 rupees a month, while the median income of a woman is 25,500, Dissanayaka said.

She was speaking at a forum hosted by Women’s Policy Action Network, a policy action group supported by the Netherlands, and Advocata Institute.

Unequal responsibility of unpaid care work has kept women out of the workplace, a World Bank report also said.

“That’s one of the reasons the female labour force hasn’t gone beyond 30 to 35 per cent,” former Mayor of Colombo, Rosy Senanayake, told the forum.

A report by the International Labour Organisation showed that about 62.8 percent of women stayed economically inactive due to domestic responsibilities and unpaid care work.

“Also, in comparison to men, women spend 54 minutes providing unpaid care services such as taking care of elderly and children,” Siriwardena said.

Elderly care was also a contributing factor as there were limited elderly care facilities in the country.

Advocata confirmed that there are 225 elders’ homes in the country; five of which are State-run. 50 percent of these elderly care centres are in the Western Province.

“In provinces such as Sabaragamuwa and Southern, the elderly population is higher than in the Western Province,” Siriwardena said.

The care of the elderly in Sri Lanka is regulated by the provisions of the Rights of Elders Act and the Protection of the Rights of Elders Act. In 2017, the National Elderly Health Policy of Sri Lanka was launched.

“Elderly care should be regulated by the State,” Siriwardena said. “The existing infrastructure is just five State-run care centres. Secondly, the State should increase their funding for more elderly care centres. Thirdly, elder care centres should be more accessible, not just to the Western Province.” (Colombo/September16/2023)

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Sri Lanka India industrial zone around Trinco, maritime links mooted

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had highlighted the desire of both the Governments to work closely to develop the industrial zone at Trincomalee, after accepting an invitation to participate in a maritime summit.

The Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) will be held in India from October 17-19, 2023 at Mumbai where Sri Lanka has been invited at a partner country.

At a curtain raiser event on September 22, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay had said both countries were working on enhancing sea connectivity according to a vision document launched during a recent visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India.

Minister de Silva will lead a delegation from Sri Lanka to the summit.

Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, T K Ramachandran said the Global Maritime India Summit aims strengthen the Indian maritime economy by promoting global and regional partnerships and facilitating investments.

The event will give an opportunity to the Government of Sri Lanka to attracting greater investment from India in development of its maritime infrastructure, Ramachandran said.

It will also facilitate greater business to business interactions. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka brings back import para tariff on milk

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has brought back an import para tariff called the Ports and Airports Levy, to several grades of milk powder.

Milk powder has been removed from a list of PAL exemptions, making them liable for a 10 percent tax.

The PAL para tariffs are also a contentious issue in terms of export competitiveness, and the government has previously given undertakings that they will be eliminated.

Trade freedoms of the poor figure in an IMF/World bank reform program with the governments.

Milk is a protein rich food, in a country where children of poor families are facing stunting and malnutrition.

Economic nationalism is seen at high levels in food, with several businessmen are pushing for trade protection, amid an overall autarkist (self-sufficiency) ideology, going directly against policies followed in East Asia, which the same as hold up as examples.

Sri Lanka keeps dairy product prices up ostensibly to bring profits to a domestic dairy company and farmers.

Sri Lanka also keeps maize prices up, ostensibly to give profits to farmers and collectors. (Colombo/Sept22/2023)

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Sri Lanka govt warns liquor manufacturers: pay defaulted tax or lose licence

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government which is struggling to raise the state revenue despite   higher taxes, has warned liquor manufacturers to pay defaulted taxes or lose their licence.

The government is now getting tough with past tax defaulters amid concerns over falling short of this year’s revenue target agreed with the International Monetary Fun (IMF).

“Liquor manufacturing firms owe us 660 crore rupees (6.6 billion rupees),” Siyambalapitiya told  reporters on Thursday (21).

“Most of this or around a third is the only excise tax amount to be paid. The rest is penalty. If a liquor manufacturer does not pay on time, we impose a penalty of 3 percent per month This means 36 percent (penalty) per annum,” he said.

“We have given them deadline to repay the basic excise taxes. If they don’t pay, we will cancel their licence.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government committed an ambitious revenue target among many other reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return to a $3 billion loan package.

However, the revenue could face a short fall of 100 billion rupees, State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has said.

A new Central Bank Act also has legally prevented the government of printing money at its discretion as  in the past.  (Colombo/September 24/2023)

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