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.
SLIIT Business School hosts first International Conference on Sustainable and Digital Business 2022
SLIIT Business School conducted the first-ever International Conference on Sustainable and Digital Business 2022 (ICSDB) on 1st and 2nd December. The Conference presented ICSDB Excellence Awards to selected winners, recognizing distinct sustainable and digital business initiatives.
Keynote speakers at the event included Professor John Bessant, Emeritus Professor of Exeter University, Professor Jaideep Prabhu of the Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge and Professor Muthu De Silva of Birkbeck, University of London. The main address on the second day of the conference was delivered by Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
The ICSDB Excellence Awards 2022, recognized Sri Lankan enterprises who had initiated digital business initiatives, and were established as beneficial to various stakeholders under the ICSDB Index criteria of Ingenuity, Continuity, Scope, Deployment and Benefits. The ICSD Excellence Awards presented accolades under Gold, Silver and Bronze categories. An eminent group of judges including practicing managers from industries, representatives of industry bodies, and academics comprised the panel to select the winners.
USAID launch Island Plastic Challenge to help consumer goods companies address plastic waste
Island Climate Initiative
In support of the Ministry of Environment’s policy on plastic waste reduction, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) partner, Island Climate Initiative (ICI) under USAID’s global Clean Cities Blue Ocean Program, is calling on innovators around the world to design solutions to help Sri Lanka’s leading consumer goods companies reduce their plastic footprint.
Successful applicants whose solutions best address consumer goods companies’ top single-use plastic challenges will get the opportunity to pitch their technology to leading companies at a solution showcase that will be held in early 2023. Winners’ solutions may be implemented contributing to global efforts to reduce the more than eleven million tons of plastic that enter the ocean each year. The online challenge platform is now publicly open for applications at www.islandplasticchallenge.com. Innovators and start-ups, both local and overseas, are all invited to apply.
“USAID strongly believes that successful development initiatives are achieved through partnerships and collaboration. We look forward to working with Island Climate Initiative as they identify and facilitate the piloting of viable and scalable solutions to change the way we produce, consume, and manage plastic packaging waste to stem the tide of ocean plastic pollution.,” said USAID Sri Lanka and Maldives Economic Growth Advisor Mark Peters.
Cinnamon Hotels inks MoU with Skills for inclusive growth
Cinnamon Hotel Management Ltd. (CHML) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Government-funded Skills for Inclusive Growth Program (S4IG), managed by Palladium International Group, to achieve several strategic results through cooperation recently signed at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. S4IG is a program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in accordance with the terms of a subsidiary agreement signed on March 31, 2022, between DFAT and the Sri Lankan State Ministry of Skills Development, Vocational Training, Research, and Innovation.
The MoU sets out the terms on which S4IG will plan and implement specified activities to support the reality TV show Supreme Chef Season 03. It is an exciting collaboration between the Australian Government’s aid program and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training. The intervention’s goal is to promote the hospitality industry, specifically cooking, as a viable career option for Sri Lankans. Following the success of seasons 1 and 2, this season is being delivered on a national scale. Through food experiences and culinary art challenges, the season brings together government agencies and private training institutes to support industry and highlight tourism in the country and specifically to address chronic skills shortage in kitchen.
By signing the MoU, CHML acts as the hospitality partner in providing a location for filming related to the show and assisting with the wider goals of the show, mainly to promote the local destinations and regional food specialties as well as provide internship and employment opportunities to the public. CHML will provide six-month internship opportunities for on-the-job training for the top 20 contestants of Supreme Chef Season 3, with the possibility of long-term employment at the end of the internship, and also one year of guaranteed employment for the top three female contestants of Supreme Chef Season 3. The future of the hospitality industry and, indeed, the economy depends on the quality of its human capital, and this partnership aims to elevate the skills and knowledge of the youth. Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, as a hospitality trendsetter, intends to remain at the forefront of improving and upskilling the industry where possible, and this partnership with S4IG is one such shining example.
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