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Decline in labour force in 2020 first half- Part III

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Extracts from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka report, ‘Recent Economic Developments: Highlights of 2020 and Prospects for 2021’

 

Continued from yesterday

Meanwhile, several rounds of discussions were held in 2020 to determine the possibility of increasing the basic daily wage of workers in the plantation sector to Rs. 1,000.

= Nominal wages of the informal private sector employees, as measured by the informal private sector wage rate index (2012=100), increased by 3.5 per cent during the period from January to August 2020 compared to the same period of 2019. Nominal wages of employees in all sub-sectors, namely, agriculture, industry and services increased by 4.1 per cent, 2.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent, respectively, during the period from January to August 2020. However, real wages in the informal private sector declined by 2.8 per cent during the period from January to August 2020 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic amidst the persisting structural issues led the labour market indicators to deteriorate during the first half of 2020. As per the statistics reported by the Department of Census and Statistics, the working age population increased during the first half of 2020 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, led by the significant increase in economically inactive population amidst a comparatively lesser decline in the economically active population.

Accordingly, the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), which is the ratio of the labour force to the working age population, declined during the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019. A considerable decline was observed in the employed population as well. The unemployment rate, which is the share of unemployed population to the labour force, increased notably during the first half of 2020 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. Continuing the trend observed in the recent past, unemployment rates among females, youth and educationally qualified persons continued to remain at high levels during the first half of 2020.

The labour force, which is the economically active population,3 declined to 8.470 million in the first half of 2020 from 8.603 million in the corresponding period of the previous year, recording a decline of 1.5 per cent. This decline in labour force was solely driven by the significant decline of 6.0 per cent in the female labour force during the reference period. In contrast, the male labour force, which accounts for the highest share of the labour force, increased by 0.9 per cent during the first half of 2020 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. In terms of sector wise labour force, declines were observed across all sectors namely urban, estate and rural sectors during the reference period mainly due to the considerable drops in the female labour force. Meanwhile, the male labour force in the urban and estate sectors also recorded marginal declines, though the male labour force in the rural sector recorded an increase.

In line with the decline of the labour force, LFPR declined to 50.6 per cent during the first half of 2020 from 52.6 per cent recorded in the first half of 2019. This considerable decline was mainly driven by the significant increase observed in economically inactive females during the reference period. Consequently, the female LFPR declined to 32.0 per cent in the first half of 2020 from 34.7 per cent in the corresponding period of 2019. The male LFPR also declined to 72.1 per cent in the first half of 2020 from 73.4 per cent in the first half of 2019 due to the higher increase in economically inactive males compared to the increase in economically active males. Accordingly, the gender gap in LFPRs soared to 40.1 percentage points in the first half of 2020 from 38.7 percentage points in the corresponding period of the previous year affirming the persisting issues related to low female labour force participation towards the economic growth in the country.

The employed population4 declined by 2.4 per cent to 7.998 million in the first half of 2020 compared to 8.193 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2019. This decline was led by both industry and services sectors, as an increase in employed population was observed in the agriculture sector. Within the industry sector, declines in employed population were observed across all sub-sectors namely, mining and quarrying, manufacturing and construction, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities, while within the services sector prominent declines in employed population were observed in wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, administrative and support service activities, and public administration and defence, compulsory social security sub-sectors. These declines in employment in industry and services sectors were also reflected in the employment indices of manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ index surveys conducted by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in the first half of 2020. Meanwhile, continuing the trend observed in the recent past, the services sector, which accounted for 46.2 per cent of the total employment, remained as the foremost employment generator followed by the industry and agriculture sectors contributing to 27.0 per cent and 26.8 per cent of the total employment, respectively, during the first half of 2020. yy In terms of the status of employment, the employed population in all categories declined during the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019. With regard to employment status, the employed population is categorised into two major categories, namely, waged and salaried workers (employees) and the self-employed.

The employees category is further categorised into public sector and private sector, while the self-employed category is categorised into employers, own account workers and contributing family workers. Among these categories, a prominent decline was observed in private sector employees followed by public sector employees.

Nevertheless, with the government programme to provide jobs for 60,000 unemployed graduates and for 100,000 persons in the lowest strata of income earners in Sri Lanka with the objective of eradicating poverty, in line with the government policy declaration enunciated as “Saubagyaye Dakma”, public sector employment is expected to increase during the second half of the year.

In line with the decline in the employed population, the unemployed population increased significantly by 14.8 per cent to 0.471 million during the first half of 2020 compared to 0.410 million in the corresponding period of the previous year attributable to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase in the unemployed population was mainly driven by unemployed females who contributed to 58 per cent of the total increase 4 70

Accordingly, the increase in unemployed females was recorded at 16.0 per cent, while the increase in unemployed males was recorded at 13.4 per cent during the reference period. yy In line with the increase in the unemployed population,5 the unemployment rate increased to 5.6 per cent in the first half of 2020 compared to 4.8 per cent recorded in the first half of 2019. Accordingly, the unemployment rate of females increased significantly to 8.9 per cent in the first half of 2020 from 7.2 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The unemployment rate of males increased to 3.9 per cent in the first half of 2020 from 3.4 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year. yy Unemployment rates among all age categories increased during the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of the previous year. It is noteworthy that among these age categories, youth (aged 15-24 years) unemployment, which continued to remain at a high level, increased substantially to 27.3 per cent during the first half of 2020 from 20.8 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year. Moreover, unemployed youth contributed to 98 per cent of the total increase in the unemployed population. More than a quarter of the youth labour force being unemployed bring to the surface the issues related to underutilisation of the most productive human capital towards the economic growth of the country. 5 Persons available and/or looking for work, and who did not work and took steps to find a job during the last four weeks and are ready to accept a job given a work opportunity within next two weeks are said to be unemployed. yy In terms of education level, unemployment rates increased among all educational categories during the first half of 2020 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.



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CSE Continues Regional Awareness Drive in Negombo

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) successfully concluded yet another virtual forum organized as part of an awareness drive for island-wide Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). The second event of the series which was held for SMEs in Negombo, drew strong interest among the entrepreneurial community based in the region. The series of virtual forums is hosted by CSE with the objective of promoting the advantages of listing on the Empower Board.

Ms. Hansinee Beddage, Senior Analyst at Acuity Partners (PVT) Limited, Mr. Rohan Senewiratne, Managing Director of Atarah Capital Partners (PVT) Limited, Mr. Suraj Surwaweera, Managing Director of Chrissworld Limited and Mr. Nuwan Chathuranga, Manager of CSE Negombo Branch made a strong case on a number of potential advantages available for SMEs through the Empower Board. The speakers further joined in a Question-and-Answer session which fostered an engaging and open conversation with the participating entrepreneurs.

Ms. Hansinee Beddage, elaborated on the process of listing and the relaxed policies applicable to SMEs through the Empower Board. A comprehensive comparison between the growth of listed companies and companies opting for other sources of capital were discussed.

She further commented on the multitude of benefits of listing, including capital acquisition for growth prospects, elevation of business value and defining the market value of the company, investor attraction, improvement of business recognition, business opportunities and regulation of business processes.

Mr. Suraj Surwaweera, Managing Director of Chrissworld Limited, shared the company’s experience in the listing process. He explained the specific and demanding capital requirements of the warehousing industry and how listing on the Empower Board has benefited them. He further elaborated on the recognition among the business community and the national and international stakeholders they have attracted to the company within a short period since listing.

As the advisors and sponsors to Empower Board’s first listing, Chrissworld Limited, Mr. Rohan Senewiratne, Managing Director of Atarah Capital Partners (PVT) Limited added that the main objective of sponsors is not to list a multitude of companies but to bring suitable companies to the correct standard to list.

He elaborated on the importance to ensure minority shareholder protection, sharing his experience in listing Chrissworld and wished that company a successful journey ahead. Senewiratne explained reaching the required standard to list is not a hard process but an organized restructuring process, in order to bring the business to a better standard so that a company gains the trust of investors.

For more information on the Empower Board and CSE visit www.cse.lk or contact Mr. Purasisi Jinadasa, Head of Origination & Issuer Relations at CSE.

(CSE news release)

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LAN and GBAN to promote Sri Lankan startups globally via Entrepreneurship World Cup

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Lankan Angel Network (LAN), the country’s largest network of angel investors, has been appointed the Entrepreneurship World Cup’s Official National Organizer for Sri Lanka.

 This long-term, strategic initiative follows on from LAN joining the Global Business Angel Network (GBAN) as a committee member. GBAN is affiliated with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). LAN and GBAN aim to take local entrepreneurship to a global level with the Entrepreneurship World Cup’s Global Hosts MISK, GEN and TGELF.

 The Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) will offer Sri Lanka’s national champion, to be selected in July, the chance to pitch on a global stage for a share of USD 1 million in cash prizes, plus additional investment opportunities, and another USD750,000 in in-kind support. EWC in 2020 featured 175,000 entrants applying from 200 countries.

 According to LAN Chairman Mano Sekaram, “Lanka Angel Network is proud to be entrusted with organizing the national finals for the Entrepreneurship World Cup, a testament to our longtime efforts in pioneering and building the local startup ecosystem and promoting local talent worldwide. We are also pleased that the top startups of Sri Lanka are participating in this endeavor, especially considering the challenging business environment experienced by so many both here and abroad.”

 With a goal to grow to 250 angel investors by 2025, with 30% of its membership from abroad, LAN’s future is closely linked with the growth of the local startup ecosystem. During these trying times in particular, LAN relies on the deep domain expertise of its unmatched pool of mentors and investors to assist startups in traversing the difficult business environment they are experiencing.

Most importantly, LAN also strives to provide startups with networking, training, and even follow-on funding, an essential part of its efforts to grow its portfolio.

 EWC is more than just a global pitch competition with a shot at life-changing prizes. It elevates entrepreneurs from all stages—idea-stage, early-stage, growth-stage or beyond— by providing them with tools and resources to grow their venture. EWC Accelerates is a virtual training and mentorship program that helps entrepreneurs hone their skills and increase their chances of winning their national competitions – as well as those who advance to the Global Finals.

 The EWC online platform also offers all contestants who complete an application, access to more than USD 25,000 in perks from partners such as Google Cloud, Hubspot, Stripe and more.

 National Finals competitions are held through June and July 2021. In November 2021, 100 startups will be flown to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to participate in the EWC Accelerates program for an intensive startup bootcamp and to compete in the EWC Global Finals.

 To learn more, visit the Entrepreneurship World Cup at entrepreneurshipworldcup.com

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Amãna Bank’s Dilan Joseph becomes Sri Lanka Toastmaster Champion

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Amãna Bank’s Toastmaster (TM) Dilan Joseph was adjudicated as the Sri Lankan Champion of the Toastmasters District 82 International Speech Contest which was recently held on a virtual platform and will now go on to proudly represent Sri Lanka in the Region 13 Quarter Finals.

Having previously won the Club, Area and Division contests with his enthralling speech, TM Dilan Joseph competed amongst the country’s finest orators in the national competition representing 8 Divisions constituting of 179 corporate and community clubs in Sri Lanka. Titled ‘The Gap’, TM Dilan’s heartwarming speech gave one key message, which is applicable to all, that is accept yourself for who you are.

Going forward with his dream of becoming a World Champion, TM Dilan Joseph, representing the entire Sri Lankan Toastmasters fraternity, will compete amongst country winners from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia at the Region 13 Quarter Finals. District 82 of Toastmasters International is known to be a breeding ground for champion public speakers, witnessing 3 World Champions of Public Speaking during the short span of the last 7 years, including producing Sri Lanka’s one and only world champion TM Dananjaya Hettiarachchi.

TM Dilan Joseph, who is attached to Amãna Bank’s Retail Banking Division as the Manager Digital Customer Experience, is the incumbent President of Amãna Bank Toastmasters Club. Prior to this victory, TM Dilan Joseph also won the Division F Humorous Speech Competition in 2018.

Commenting on his success, the Bank’s Head of Human Resources Farhan Refai said “We are very honoured of Dilan’s achievement. I believe it is a great example in showcasing dedication and hard work to achieve one’s dream. Since joining Amãna Bank TMC in 2015, Dilan has been an active member of the club and has come a long way, having won many other speech competitions. On behalf of the Bank, we would like to wish Dilan all the best as he represents the entire country in the forthcoming Quarterfinals, and pray he becomes successful in reaching his ultimate goal of becoming a World Champion.”

Sharing his views, TM Dilan Joseph said “I am truly blessed to have won this competition and would like to congratulate all other participants who gave out their best at the District contest as well all others who contested in the runner up from Club level onwards. I am thankful to the support extended by Amãna Bank and Amãna Bank TMC to me in this journey. Toastmasters is a wonderful program that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. I am humbled to say that I have come a long way and benefitted immensely from the Toastmasters program.

Amãna Bank PLC is a stand-alone institution licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange with Jeddah based IsDB Group being the principal shareholder having a 29.97% shareholding of the Bank. The IsDB Group is a ‘AAA’ rated multilateral development financial institution with a membership of 57 countries. The Bank was recently recognized with the Best Employer Brand Award at the Sri Lankan edition of the Best Employer Brand Awards 2020 organized by World HRD Congress. Amãna Bank does not have any subsidiaries, associates or affiliated institutions, other than its flagship CSR initiative ‘OrphanCare’ Trust.

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