Sri Lanka has made strong strides towards reducing poverty and is well placed to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), although many challenges still remain especially in the estate sector and certain conflict-affected districts. Meanwhile, a new tool of measurement, the Multidimensional Poverty Index, may hold the key to better understanding what factors are driving poverty in Sri Lanka the most. A ‘Talking Economics Special Report’ titled “Eradicating Poverty in Sri Lanka: Strong Progress But Much Remains To Be Done” authored by Wimal Nanayakkara, Senior Visiting Fellow at IPS gives a valuable insight into the latest analysis on Sri Lanka’s performance on poverty reduction.
As Divi Neguma, the government’s latest grassroots economic development initiative, marks one year since its introduction, we took a look at the key features of the programme, its potential to help livelihood development and raise incomes, and the key improvements that need to be made
With the number of elderly dependents growing faster than the working age population, Sri Lanka will need to create fewer new jobs than it has historically done – just under 30,000 each year – for the next two decades. It is easier to absorb new entrants into jobs of lower productivity. However it will be more challenging, but critical, for Sri Lanka’s future success to meet its people’s rapidly rising aspirations by creating jobs of higher quality. This, then, is the crux of Sri Lanka’s employment challenge. Although the number of new jobs required to be created is less than before, their quality needs to be much better.
The Sri Lankan migrant workforce provides an important contribution to the economy. However, their contribution is being undervalued by a lack of existing institutional frameworks to maximize their potential whilst at the same time provide protectionary measures in the course of foreign employment. This is particularly significant for female migrant workers who are exposed to an alarmingly high rate of physical and sexual abuse. The proposed Budget 2012 changes provide an ample opportunity to rectify and minimize risks that are presently at a high level.
The Budget 2012 presented last month touches on agriculture at several points. However, the proposal to establish “four rice export zones” stands out as the most provocative, in an economic sense, amongst all of them. Sri Lanka has just achieved near self-sufficiency in rice. But the rice sector, including both production and consumption, is still plagued with a multitude of economic and social problems. Against this backdrop, a proposal to commit resources to promote rice export raises a number of questions ranging from “is it possible” to “at what cost and for whose benefit”. This article seeks to take a deeper look into this complex issue.