Sri Lanka is experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cities and urban centres have become the hotspots of vulnerability. With their relatively favourable economic conditions and extensive transport networks, cities attract migrants from rural areas, frequently resulting in overcrowding and greater vulnerability to external shocks such as COVID-19. Hence, strengthening resilience of cities and urban settlements to meet health emergencies is a critical part of the national response strategy to pandemics. This blog explains why cities should be focal points of pandemic response planning, and discusses ways to build pandemic resilience in Sri Lanka’s urban areas.
Amidst the severe disruptions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for economies to formulate and implement effective policies to mitigate the negative impacts induced by the crisis. Given the fact that Sri Lanka is an aspiring upper-middle-income country (UMIC), this blog examines fiscal responses by affected countries including Sri Lanka, at different income levels – i.e. high-income countries (HICs), middle-income countries (MICs), and low-income countries (LICs) in line with multilateral financial institutions’ (MFIs) recommendations.
The Sri Lankan economy is likely to face a contraction in 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic but there is potential for this to be followed by a sharp V-shaped economic recovery. The means of navigating such a recovery path were discussed at a webinar panel discussion held last Thursday (15th October) to mark the release of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka’s (IPS) flagship report ‘Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2020’.
As Sri Lanka’s recent surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) infections shows, there is still no end in sight to the disruptive effects of the virus. Robust policies to deal with the related economic uncertainties can help to contain the fallout without major run long costs for the Sri Lankan economy. These involve short-term emergency actions and more medium-term stabilisation measures.
Reducing Health Costs and Increasing Government Revenue beyond COVID-19: A Case for Raising Cigarette Taxes in Sri Lanka
Increasing and simplifying excise taxes are prescribed by the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and are the most cost-effective tools that governments can employ to reduce smoking rates. However, the tobacco industry strongly opposes raising taxes on cigarettes. Further, Sri Lanka has some misinformed cigarette taxation practices in place. This blog shows the fallacies in these arguments and practices, and highlights the importance of streamlining taxation policies in the country, with the objective of reducing smoking prevalence and reducing smoking related health costs.