China sets up Emergency Reserve: Lanka among the beneficiaries
China has set up an ‘Emergency Reserve’ at Chengdu to speedily dispatch supplies to some countries in South Asia, including Sri Lanka.
The following is the text of a statement issued by the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry: “Ambassador of Sri Lanka to China Dr. Palitha Kohona attended the opening of the China – South Asia Emergency Supplies Reserve in Chengdu on 09 July, 2021. The emergency reserve was the result of a zoom meeting convened by Foreign Minister Wang Yi in April and attended by the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Given the regularity with which natural disasters seem to afflict the South Asian region, the creation of the emergency reserve would enable the reserve to dispatch emergency supplies with the least delay. Today the mobilisation of emergency supplies takes too long.
Vice Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao, a former Ambassador to Colombo, presided over the ceremony. The Vice Governor of Sichuan and the Mayor of Chengdu attended the event.
Ambassador Dr. Kohona in his remarks said that South Asia suffered regularly from natural calamities and the emergency reserve would be a great response mechanism and an asset. With climate change increasingly causing climate related emergencies with unpredictable and unusual weather, the creation of the emergency reserve was timely. President Xi Jinping has committed China to be carbon neutral by 2060 and was leading the world’s response to climate change by example. China was an example to the world. The leadership provided by the Communist Party of China was exemplary.
Ambassador Dr. Kohona thanked China for coming to Sri Lanka’s assistance so generously with vaccines when the Covid-19 situation was threatening to slip out of control. He also said that Sri Lanka had a well mobilised public health care sector which bore the brunt of the national Covid- 19 response. It was a resource that Sri Lanka would be able to share with the world when the pandemic comes under adequate control in Sri Lanka.”
Lanka’s poor surge by 4 Mn to 31-pct of population: Survey
ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s poor has surged by 4 million to 7 million since 2019 to 31 percent of the population in 2023, a survey has found as the country was hit by the worst currency crisis in the history of its central bank.
A 10,000 person survey by LirneAsia, a regional policy research organization, found that 33 percent of the respondents had skipped a meal and 47 percent reduced their meal sizes, after the currency crisis.About 27 percent of adults restricted their meals to feed children. The survey was conducted from October 10, 2022 to May 12, 2023.
Sri Lanka started an output gap targeting exercise (Keynesian stimulus) printing large volumes of money and a so-called flexible exchange rate backed by inconsistent policy collapsed in 2022 from 200 to 360 to the US dollar, tearing apart the monetary foundations of families, destroying real salaries and jobs.
Food prices soared partly due to a global commodity bubble fired by the Federal Reserve and also import restrictions from forex shortages and disruption to agriculture from a fertilizer ban.
Agro-chemicals were bannd to ‘save’ 300 to 400 million dollars in foreign exchange, the government said at the time.Rohan Samarajiva Chair of LirneAsia said he searched for historical data and found a thesis done by one M Salgado, which estimated gross domestic product during the Great Depression.
“He talked about the Great Depression affecting Sri Lanka and how our per capita income, which was about 80 dollars, went down by about half over a period of four years,” Samarajiva told a forum where research findings was released.
The Great Depression was a ‘deflationary collapse’ during the 1930s came in the wake of the Federal Reserve firing the ‘roaring 20s bubble’ after accidentally inventing the policy rate giving power to economists to mis-target interest rates, analysts have said.
Sri Lanka at the time however did not have a central bank to trigger a currency collapse. Food prices fell steeply during the Great depression. In a central bank currency crisis, the worst hit are wage earners whose salaries do not go up as prices rise with a collapse of the value of domestic money.
From March 2023, Sri Lanka central bank has appreciated the currency with deflationary policy, allowing food prices to fall.
In Sri Lanka poverty among Sri Lanka’s plantation worker families was already high at 31 percent by 2019, based on a household income and expenditure survey (HIES 2019) of the state statistics office.
“This has worsened in 2023. Now more than half our estate workers are living below the poverty line,” Tharaka Amarsinghe, a researcher at LIRNEasia said.
“Now more than half our estate workers are living below the poverty line.”
In the rest of rural Sri Lanka poverty has doubled from 15 to 32 percent from 2019 to 2023.In urban areas, which are densely populated, poverty tripled to 6 to 18 percent.About 32 percent of families had sold household assets and 50 percent had run down their savings.
Another 6 percent did not send their children to school, indicating that 203,000 children did not attend school. Parents had mentioned that they did not have exercise books and had to make up books from empty pages of old books, according to a panelist.Sri Lanka has a number of government income support programs, chief among them known as Samurdhi.
The survey found that 1.7 million families got Samurdhi benefits but only 40 percent were poor or below the official poverty line Gayani Hurrulle, Senior Research Manager at LirneAsia said. About 4 percent were in the richest income decile, 5 percent were in the next.
Only 17 percent who were on Samurdhi benefits have exited the program. Opaque criteria including attending political meetings were used by Samurdhi officials to admit new applicants, respondents to the survey had said.
Institute of Analytics UK launches in Lanka, paving way for Data-Driven Innovation
The Institute of Analytics UK was officially launched at Courtyard by Marriot, Colombo City Center last week (5). The event marked a significant milestone in the country’s journey towards harnessing the power of data analytics to drive innovation, growth, and societal progress, said a press release.
It said: Imperial College of Business Studies, one of the robust higher education institutions in the higher education domain in Sri Lanka having its undergraduate and postgraduate campuses in both Colombo and Kandy, with their strong established connections with IOA and their partners in India, supported with the initial inauguration of IOA-UK, Sri Lanka Launch.
The inauguration ceremony brought together distinguished guests, Senior members from State and non-state universities, Senior leadership of both local and international professional bodies offering qualifications in Sri Lanka, Heads of private higher education institutions, academics, and senior government officials, all eager to witness the birth of a new era in Sri Lanka’s analytics landscape. The atmosphere was filled with anticipation and excitement as the institute’s vision and commitment to excellence were unveiled. The Chief Guest of the event was UGC Chairman Snr Professor Sampath Amaratunga. Dr. Clair Walsh Director of Education, Institute of Analytics and Lara Millmow, Head of Membership IOA were also present.
Sinhala translation of the Quran presented to the Tunisian Ambassador in New Delhi
Continuing his dialogue with Heads of Mission of Islamic countries in New Delhi who are concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India Milinda Moragoda presented a copy of the Sinhala translation of the Holy Quran to the Ambassador of Tunisia to India Hayet Talbi Bilel, his New Delhi office said.
The presentation was made last week at the Tunisian Embassy in New Delhi. The Sinhala translation of the Holy Quran presented to the Tunisian Ambassador has been published by the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) of Sri Lanka.
Previously, High Commissioner Moragoda had presented copies of the Sinhala Quran to the Jama Masjid of Delhi, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (Council of Muslim Theologians of India) as well as to the Ambassadors of Morocco, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and the High Commissioner of Nigeria in New Delhi.
The High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi has been promoting dialogue with all major religions in India, in keeping with the policy roadmap “Integrated Country Strategy for Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India.” the high commission news release said.
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