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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Wake Up! It’s time for Gender Parity not Patriarchy

DIG Bimshani Jasingha Arachchi

ECONOMYNEXT – In filing a Fundamental Rights petition against the appointment of a woman officer to the post of Acting Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), the thirty-two aggrieved Senior Superintendents of Police have placed the spotlight on a glaringly discriminatory practice in the country’s police department.

The petition which is to be heard on May 18 states that the appointment of Bimshani Jasin Arachchi as the Police Departments first female DIG violates the standard procedures followed in the promotion of senior police officers. The petitioners, all males, also claim that Jasin Arachchi’s appointment is irregular as the provisions that allow for the appointment of DIG’s do not include the word ‘woman.’

And that indeed is the crux of the matter; that the police department has, up to date, failed to address this anomaly which does not allow women police officers to rise beyond an SSP.

The petition has naturally caused quite a stir, not only amongst women, but amongst the general public who uphold the right to equal access and equity between genders. The United National Party it was reported was standing with Jasin Arachchi, while female parliamentarians crossed party lines to express their support for the woman DIG.

According to a Sunday Times article published soon after her appointment as DIG in September 2020, Jasin Aarachchi had, in the year 2000 been denied a promotion to Assistant Superintendent of Police, even though she had cleared both the exam and interview, because she was slightly shorter than the requisite height. The article which profiles her period with the police, from her recruitment as a Sub Inspector 1997 states that she had fought and won that battle in the courts.

One wonders whether police recruiters missed the fact that she lacked the height requirement, when she was first hired to the police force!

Her appeal to the National Police Commission saw her appointment as an ASP being backdated to December 31, 2007. While the case meandered through the courts, other female cadre who had risen through the ranks were also appointed as ASP’s but their letters had been dated January 1, 2008, making her their senior.

Then, swiftly promoted to SP and SSP between 2016 and 2019, she was appointed Acting Deputy Inspector General and assigned a field position in 2020. The quick promotions meant she has not met the required number of years a police officer must serve in the ranks of SP and SSP, therefore making her ineligible to be made a full DIG, the report states.

And now she faces yet another battle, brought about by some of her male colleagues.

The Sri Lanka police first recruited women to the force in 1952 states the Police Website. And here we are today, sixty-nine years since that first woman was recruited, with no provision within police regulations for women to go beyond the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police. Had Jasin Arachchi not been appointed to the post of Acting DIG, her male colleagues and superiors would have been quite happy to continue with the status quo.

The National Police Commission meanwhile has attempted to address the imbalance of cadres in the Police Department. With a plan to ensure both genders are better represented in the Police, the Commission had made provision to increase the female cadre in the Force from 11 to 15 per cent beginning January 1, 2019. Explaining the reason, the NPC website states that this policy had been launched to ‘ …..ensure that there were more female police officers who could deal with issues specific to women and children. Another reason for this increase was also to even the promotions given to both men and women.”

Obviously, the Commission had noticed the discrepancies in terms of gender balance and the need to address it. Moreover, the contention of the petitioners that police regulations do not include the word ‘woman’ when appointing DIG’s, does not seem to have been seen as a drawback by NPC.

To begin with, why is it necessary that the regulations allowing promotions or appointments to the position of DIG should include the word ‘woman’? Should it not be a given that irrespective of one’s gender, one could hold the topmost position of the department as long as the required education, experience and ability etc. are met?

Sri Lankans are proud of producing the world’s first woman Prime Minister, even though Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected to that highest office of the land, following the death of her husband. If education and experience were the criteria to be elected to that office, she pretty much had little of either, having been suddenly thrust into the role of being the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and then the Prime Minister. And, when she and her daughter, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) were elected to those positions, did the rules and regulations of this country include the word ‘woman’, thereby clearing the way for them both? What of the many other high positions women in this country hold? Are those clearly marked as cadres for ‘women’? We have women holding the positions of Governors of Provinces, Mayors and Chairpersons of Local Government, Heads of Department and School Principals to name just a few. So, why not in the Police Force? CBK as she is popularly known was the fourth woman in the world to be elected president, and the first woman to hold the post of Executive President. If we are to go by the argument put forth by the petitioners, then neither mother nor daughter would ever have had the opportunity of becoming Heads of Government!

Of course, Sri Lankans never miss the opportunity of reminding the world Sri Lanka holds the first place in electing a woman as Prime Minister, and that too way back in 1960, each time a woman is appointed to a similar high office in some other country. US Vice President Kamala Harris’s election was one such, even though our numbers of women politicians is dismally low.

Perhaps the police department has forgotten, or would rather prefer not to know that Sri Lanka’s women were amongst the first in Asia to win the right to vote. And that was way back in 1931!

The petitioners, according to media reports is seeking a revocation of Jasin Arachchi’s appointment as DIG, claiming that it violates their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Public time and money would have been better spent if the petitioners fought to win the right of their women colleagues to be treated on equal footing and afforded equal opportunities. If they believe their fundamental rights are being violated, the same argument holds for all women deprived of aspiring to hold any high office, not just in the police force.

The police department and the rest of society that fails to accept gender parity needs to get over their patriarchal attitude at least now; wake up, it is 2021! (Colombo, February 22, 2021)

By Kshama Ranawana Courtesy

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Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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