High levels of inequality impede sustainable growth and development of a country. Sri Lanka made impressive strides to reach an upper middle-income country (UMIC) status in July 2019, only to slip back a year later. The COVID-19 crisis, amid growing inequities, is likely to make the task of regaining UMIC status even harder. This blog highlights the main sectors and social groups that are adversely affected, and explains the need for inclusive economic growth (IEG) post-COVID-19 for Sri Lanka to emerge as a peaceful and developed country.
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.
A recent study by IPS projects that government tax revenue can be boosted by LKR 37 billion by 2023, if taxes on cigarettes are streamlined and raised in line with inflation. Although the government assumed a policy stance of cutting taxes across the board when they came into power, excise taxation of sin-goods such as cigarettes is one area where it is still politically feasible to raise taxes in order to boost much needed revenue. This month’s budget is therefore an opportune moment to increase tobacco taxation, which will simultaneously help raise revenue at a critical time for the country, and generate significant and positive health benefits that would flow from reducing smoking.
As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic and works towards recovery, Sri Lanka should explore ways of halting the spread of future pandemics, stimulating recovery, and building resilience in underprivileged urban settings. This blog discusses how Sri Lanka can address these challenges.
Disasters such as COVID-19 can significantly impede development. While it is difficult to avoid being affected by disasters, disaster preparedness can reduce the costs, and quicken the recovery.