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Call for urgent action by the Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum to alleviate the suffering of the people of Sri Lanka



Sri Lanka is in the grip of a collapsing economy causing immense suffering to its people.

Acute food, medicine and fuel shortages are crippling the day-to-day lives of the people giving way to despair and frustration and driving them to the streets to express their dissent against a government that has failed them. This crumbling economy if not salvaged with strategic thinking and wholesome planning for the future, will eventually bring the country and its people down to their knees. As in all crises, women are the worst affected with multiple roles they play on a daily basis, compelled to deal with long queues for gas, fuel and essential food items. Seven deaths in fuel queues (08/04) and the first death owing to lack of medicine have been reported.

Daily-wage earners and those dependent on micro, small and medium enterprises and other vulnerable, marginalized communities who live on the edge of acute poverty owing to their ethnic, religious, caste, gender and sexual orientation, are the worst affected by this ever-deepening crisis.

Most of these communities are still suffering from the effects of the trauma and tragedy of a conflict and war of over thirty years, the tsunami, Easter bombings and the Covid-19 pandemic.

These vulnerable communities are once again compelled to face another crisis.

Women shoulder numerous burdens – having to earn an income, unpaid care work as well as dealing with the struggles of their children who are already facing challenges in their education, deprived of the pleasures and joys of childhood. All these take their toll on women, their health and their mental wellbeing. The frustrations and fears faced by the families often get translated into acts of violence against women and children and inadequate support services which do not offer lasting solutions to women survivors of violence, almost always push women back to situations of recurrent violence in the home.

Let us keep in mind that this country is overwhelmingly dependent on women’s labour – through the plantation, garment and migrant labour sectors. Let us also keep in mind that women’s labour has been and continues to be exploited through their unpaid care work, lack of welfare facilities and redress mechanisms for rights violations including in their work environment.

Women’s spaces, freedom and aspirations have been curtailed through unfair social and economic practices. Women who contribute to the wealth of this country have the right to demand that their voices be heard.

We demand accountability from those who have been the cause of this plight of our country. We demand a healthy economic and political vision for our country which includes adequate investment in health, education and care services that would improve human productivity and the overall wellbeing of the people of Sri Lanka and urge reduced spending on defense.

We need solutions and interventions that take into account the pressing concerns of women, working people and the marginalised communities of our country, who make the majority of this country.

Call for urgent action:

1. Nominate women and men who have no allegations of corruption, hold a vision and a love for their country, to seats of authority. Appoint a minister of finance who has the relevant expertise in the field. Call for the immediate resignation of all political figures who have failed our country.

2. As an urgent measure, expedite the establishment of the National Commission of Women as proposed in the Sri Lanka Women’s Charter.

3. Strengthen the Samurdhi and Cooperative systems and increase budget allocations to these institutions to enable non-discriminatory distribution of essential ration items to all households.

4. Ensure immediate food security through:

a. imposing strict price controls on goods especially essential food items, kerosene and gas.

b. providing urgent support and subsidies to the farmer and fisher communities.

c. providing nutrition packages for pregnant and lactating mothers as per budget 2022, ensuring school midday meals programme and household level relief for children.

5. Take immediate State action to restore the smooth functioning of the Health sector with adequate supply of medicines, essential medical equipment, health products and reproductive health services throughout the country.

6. Set up urgent support schemes with efficient officers who are not corrupt who would offer their services without prejudice and discrimination and address issues of starvation, homelessness, destitution and all forms of violence against women. Ensure timely responses and a people centered approach at all times.

7. Utilize public revenue to set in motion social security programmes that would ease the present crisis.

8. Ensure equal representation of capable women who are themselves affected, in advisory boards, committees and in all planning measures that address the current crisis.

9. Above all – refrain from using state violence, threats and manipulations on peaceful protests and people’s spaces and urge all politicians to desist from inciting communal violence.

We urge all citizens’ collectives – women’s collectives, trade unions, student movements, religious institutions cooperatives, farmer & fisher collectives, NGOs, all professional bodies and progressive political movements to join us in our call for urgent action in addressing this nationwide humanitarian emergency that if left unattended will destroy our country and our future generations.

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SL’s hard default status impacts CSE negatively



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The CSE slipped in the first hour of trading yesterday after opening over 2.0 per cent up due to SJB lawmaker Dr Harsha de Silva informing that Sri Lanka has now become a hard default country with the failure to pay loans raised from other countries, stock market analysts said.

Sri Lanka’s impending default on US $12.6 billion of overseas bonds is flashing a warning sign to investors in other developing nations. Besides surging inflation is set to take a painful toll. The current petrol crisis has driven the CSE to negative territory, analysts said.

Following the previous day’s momentum, the market opened the day gaining over 2.28 per cent or 192.88 points. Amid those developments, the All- Share Price Index slipped 0.39 per cent or 40.44 points and S and P SL20 went down by 7.76 points. Turnover stood at Rs 3.5 billion without a crossing.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Holdings Rs 1.1 billion (8.86 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 585 million (66.7 million shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 527 million (49.5 million shares traded), Softlogic Life Insurance Rs 169 million (2.3 million shares traded), Softlogic Holdings Rs 145 million (16.3 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 116 million (210,000 shares traded) and Lanka IOC Rs 87.1 million (21 million shares traded). During the day 268 million share volumes changed hands in 33659 transactions.

The country’s manufacturing and services sectors suffered a sharp dip in April as per the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by the Central Bank.

The manufacturing PMI decreased by 21.4 points as against March whilst the Services PMI was down by 7.5 points. CBSL said the Manufacturing PMI declined significantly in April 2022, following the seasonal pattern and indicating a contraction in manufacturing activities on a month-on-month basis. This would impact the manufacturing and services sector counters in the stock market, analysts said

Sri Lanka’s commercial banks quoted Rs 364 for the dollar against telegraphic transfers yesterday while the Central Bank set a daily guidance rate for interbank spot trade for Rs 359.65 plus or minus Rs 2.50.

Banks could quote Rs 2.50 plus or minus under the new direction and the rate is set below the market rates. The kerb rate has also eased after spiking last week.

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ComBank’s ‘Anagi’ partners with insurance companies to offer affordable insurance to female customers



The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has announced it has partnered with several insurance companies to offer special Life and General insurance products with unmatched low premium rates exclusively for women customers, under the Bank’s ‘Anagi Women’s Banking’ portfolio.

Extending the scope of the Bank’s services to support this segment, the insurance cover comprises of Life insurance, Business insurance, and Home insurance options, the Bank said.

Besides the special premium rates that apply, the insurance can be obtained via an extremely simplified process, and can be extended to the spouses of women customers. The Bank said the scheme is expected to promote financial inclusion, one of the primary objectives of the Anagi Women’s Banking portfolio, through insurance protection.

The policy value of the Life insurance cover provided under this scheme ranges from Rs 1 million to Rs 5 million and covers eventualities of ‘natural and accidental death’ of the life assured during the policy period.

Under this Life insurance facility, a female customer of Commercial Bank between the age of 18 and 45 can sign up for a Rs 1 million policy by just paying an annual premium of Rs 1,100. The spouse can obtain the same policy for Rs 1,500. Women between ages 46 and 65 can opt for the same sum assured with an annual premium of Rs 2,200, if the policy is taken for themselves, or Rs 2,750, if the policy is taken to cover the spouse. The cover can be purchased at multiples of the unit rates of Rs 1,100 or Rs 2,200.

Quoting the 2020 report of the Insurance Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (IRCSL), the Bank said these are incredibly affordable life insurance policies for women, considering that the average sum assured in Sri Lanka is only Rs 1.4 million for which long term insurance policyholders pay an average annual premium of Rs 28,655.

Commercial Bank’s female customers who become life insurance policyholders under this scheme are also entitled to value added services such as access to free fitness classes conducted by leading online fitness provider Fitzky, and a 15% discount on consultations at any ‘My Dentist’ clinic, the largest dental clinic chain in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the life cover, business women can also benefit from a Business Insurance under ‘Anagi.’ It offers protection against fire or lightning, explosions, malicious or aircraft damages, a series of natural disasters, burglary, acts of terrorism and commotions among other incidents. The policy covers losses to buildings including permanent fixtures, fittings, machinery, stocks, cash, and personal property of the policyholder and the cost of workmen’s compensation, hospitalisation, loss of rent, removal of debris, architect’s, surveyor’s, and engineer’s fees due to damage or accidents, and damage to service lines, to name a few. It also includes Personal Accident cover for employers and employees in the event of death or permanent disability, as well as legal liability cover.

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LOLC General Insurance named Best General Insurance Company of the Year



Ushan Goonawardane, Chief Strategy Manager, LOLC General Insurance accepting the award in Kolkata, India from Sudhin Roy Chowdhury, a Jury Member.

The 3rd Emerging Asia Insurance Awards 2021, recognized LOLC General Insurance PLC as the ‘Best General Insurance Company of the Year’ amongst the top Insurance companies nominated from South-East Asia. The evaluations were done by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the multinational professional service network and the event was held ceremonially on the 30th of April 2022 in Kolkata, India.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) initiated the Emerging Asia Insurance Awards to acknowledge, honour and to recognise the efforts made by the emerging Asian Insurance companies while creating a platform for them to discuss their common challenges and its ramifications effecting the Insurance sector.

PwC performed the groundwork for the awarding body in reviewing and assessing the applicant profiles. The selection of awards comprised of several criteria and PwC has evaluated the audited financial data (for the last three financial years) of the applicants. Performance on Technical Reserve to Net Premium Ratio, Combined Ratio, Top Line Growth, Shareholder Capital, Number of complaints received, Claim Settlement Ratio and Investment on Training were assessed in gauging the winners.

LOLC General Insurance PLC is a subsidiary of LOLC Holdings PLC, which is one of Sri Lanka’s largest and most diversified conglomerates with operations in 20 countries in Asia and Africa. LOLC General Insurance PLC is currently one of the fastest growing Insurance companies in Sri Lanka and owns 45% of Serendib Micro Insurance PLC in Cambodia. The company has evolved into one of the country’s leading insurance providers of today, in a relatively short period of time.

During the last few years the company continuously streamlined their processes and achieved greater coordination between different units of the company to implement a customer centric approach. The organisation is committed to continuously improve its overall processes, efficiency and relationships to serve the customers better.

During 2021, LOLC General Insurance recorded a premium income growth of 19.2% which was the highest growth recorded by a mid/large sized company in the General Insurance industry and reported paid claims to the tune of Rs. 2.5 billion. LOLC General Insurance has always maintained an undisputed and unsurpassed reputation for speedy settlement of claims. The amount of money provided in lieu of claim reimbursements during the last financial year itself, reflects the company’s commitment to timely claim settlements.

Commenting on the remarkable achievement Chief Executive Officer of LOLC General Insurance, Mr. Kithsiri Gunawardena said “It’s indeed an honour to be adjudged by PwC as the Best General Insurance Company of the Year at the Emerging Asia Insurance Awards 2021 organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce. Winning the award among Pan-Asian giants this year is all the more precious to us due to all the challenges faced globally as well as within our island nation. I wish to take this opportunity to thank our untiring staff who are key in the success of the organisation and of course our invaluable customers who we strive to give the best service at all times. We will continue to provide innovative risk solutions and create value to our customers, employees and stakeholders!”

LOLC General Insurance aims to help the customers understand and to manage the risks they face, be it individual, family or business. The company works hard to offer the customers a range of products and services coupled with expert support. The solutions assure protection against numerous risks and support all classes of products in the General Insurance space. The organization is supported by Swiss Re, one of the largest reinsurers in the world.

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