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More than half of SL population’s economy at risk!

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About 12.3 million people out of Sri Lanka’s total population of 22.16 million are economically at risk, a report titled ‘Navigating Vulnerability: Insights from Sri Lanka’s Multidimensional Vulnerability Index’ issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for 2022-23 has revealed.

This was discussed during a meeting of the Committee on Ways and Means held in Parliament yesterday (4).

According to the report, 6 out of every 10 people in Sri Lanka are at risk which is 55.7%. In rural areas this is as high as 82%. Puttalam District is the most vulnerable area with a percentage of 71.8%. The lowest 41.5% is reported from Matale District.

“In Sri Lanka, 55.7 percent of the population grapples with multidimensional vulnerability. Translating to over half of the population, that is a staggering 12.3 million individuals out of the 22.2 million population are deprived in at least three out of the twelve indicators that span the critical dimensions of education, health, disaster, and living standards.

“Almost half of our population (48.8 percent) are both vulnerable and lack disaster preparedness, making this another crucial concern. With climate risks escalating, this poses significant challenges.

“Both male and female years of schooling are key contributors to vulnerability: many households lack any male and/or any female who has completed Ordinary Levels (OL).

“A significant 35.6 percent of our population are vulnerable and lack water piped into their dwelling. This stark fact underscores the necessity to ensure equitable and widespread access to safe water,” the report said.

The Committee on Ways and Means met in Parliament under the chairmanship of MP Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday.

The social welfare programme of the government and the social security network were discussed at the meeting and officials from a number of government institutions including the Department of Social Services, Social Security Board, Welfare Benefits Board, and the Ministry of Finance were present.

According to the UNDP report, the 2019 Easter Sunday attack, the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, the economic crisis in April 2022, the budget deficit, the balance of payments crisis, and the debt obligations, the negative 7.8 GDP growth rate in 2022 have led to this situation.

The Committee Chairman said that the UNDP has indicated this risk situation under the three dimensions of education, health and disaster, and living standards. The Chairman pointed out that currently 6 out of 10 people in Sri Lanka are in the risk zone, and this may increase to 8 out of 10 people in a year.

Therefore, MP Ranawaka emphasized the need to prepare a formal and strong social safety net for the vulnerable people. The report has considered 12 factors including the students’ school attendance, health, water, food, the ability to face disasters, the ability to adapt, the quality of life, property, unemployment, lack of suitable work and indebtedness.

The MP asked the officials present about the progress of the survey conducted by the Welfare Benefit Board regarding the ‘Awaswasuma’ benefit programme.

The officials said that 3.7 million families have sent applications and the data have been collected from 3.5 million out of which 1.79 million have been selected as beneficiaries. More than 20 criteria including education, health and economic level have been considered in this process.

New method is even more unsuccessful than previous one!

The Committee Chairman pointed out that the survey has been unsuccessful as it has considered a large number of criteria.

In addition to this, incorrect criteria in the selection of beneficiaries, improper collection of data and information, complexity of the appeal process and inclusion of incorrect information due to faults in the mobile application were also revealed as issues in the process.

MP Ranawaka pointed out that the new method introduced to streamline the process for the selection of beneficiaries has failed more than the existing method.

He said the use of new officials instead of officers with experience in the field such as Grama Niladhari Officers, development officers and agrarian research officers was the primary reason for this failure.

MP Ranawaka pointed out that the experienced officers have not joined the survey due to professional issues, and that they could have been included in it after looking into their issues.

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5 years marked since the Easter Sunday bombings

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Today (April 21) marks 05 years since the brutal Easter Sunday bombings in 2019.

All churches across Sri Lanka will observe 02 minutes of silence at 8:45 am today (21) to remember those lost in the attacks.

Several memorial events centering the St. Anthony’s church in Kochchikade and the St. Sebastian’s church in Katuwapitiya will be held.

Police spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa says that security has been beefed up to areas where memorial services are being held.

In 2019, a spate of bombings that took place across the country claimed 273 lives while injuring hundreds.

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Govt to give preference for green vehicles

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Sri Lanka may consider lifting the import ban of motor vehicles next year as the country’s economic situation is improving with foreign reserves almost reaching USD 5 billion, said Chief of Staff to the President, Sagala Ratnayake.

“As the country’s economic landscape has improved, the ‘would be’ import bill for motor vehicles is not a big amount that the country should worry about. “But our concern is the protection of the local motor industry which is now making great progress.”

He told a press conference on Wednesday, that the Government may give preference towards the import of Green vehicles. “However, the local infrastructure should be developed first, as one doesn’t see many charging stations in and outside Colombo.”

He said that in Singapore there is a permit system and when a vehicle is over ten years old it is re-exported which ensures that a new vehicle fleet remains in the country. “Sri Lanka too has to follow a similar model for the motor industry.”

Ratnayake said that the high earning tourism industry is given all the assistance as it is being identified as an industry that could take the country to the next level.

The Government has already given permission to import 750 vans and 250 buses to be used for the tourism industry.

Similarly, the maritime sector too has been identified as a key area and this is the reason the Government is investing millions of dollars to upgrade and expand them. “The current geo-politics involving the Red Sea has already given the Port more business and revenue.”

He said that the proposed bridge between India and Sri Lanka too would be a major game changer for Sri Lanka’s economy as it will create more commodities to flow between the two countries.

“This will certainly help reduce some of the food prices in Sri Lanka and create more employment opportunities.”

Ratnayake said that the tax revenue collection is on track and the Government may soon explore the possibility of increasing the Rs. 100,000 tax threshold to a higher level.

(sundayobserver.lk)

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Easter Sunday bombings : Rs. 295 mn. paid as compensation

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The annual reports of the Office of Reparations have revealed that over Rs. 295 million (295,499,069) have been paid as compensation to victims and property damage of the Sunday Easter bombings.

Under this, Rs. 273,747,000  have been paid as compensation for 719 victims while Rs. 21,752,069 have been paid as compensation for property damages.

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