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ILO gives personal protective equipment to micro and small enterprises

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Keeping workplaces safe and healthy

Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) play a vital role in the Sri Lankan economy and their effective business continuity despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Workplace safety and health measures form an essential element for business continuity where workplaces do not become places of COVID-19 spread. MSEs ordinarily employ less than 50 workers, and many are in the informal sector.

In a bid to ensure that hundreds of MSEs in the Kalutara and Gampaha districts, where a majority of such enterprises are concentrated, are safe and healthy spaces to work, the International Labour Organization (ILO) together with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), purchased and kick-started the delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth Rs. 47 million.

With funding from the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN COVID-19 MPTF), this timely response is among the many interventions underway by the ILO to assist the healthy socio-economic recovery of the micro and small enterprise sector of Sri Lanka.

The distribution of PPE kits commenced on November 18 and is being carried out with the support of the Small Enterprise Division (SED) of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The PPE kits include handwashing stations, bottles of hand sanitizers, first aid kits, face masks, visitor record keeping books, cakes of soap, packets of paper tissue, packets of paper towels, hand-held digital thermometers, bottles of toilet sanitizer, hand gloves and bins with lids.

The Gampaha and Kalutara district-based enterprises and their specific PPE requirements were identified through swift assessments carried out by SED officers, with the support of the Ministry of Labour. Assessments targeted enterprises, particularly economically hard-hit and women-owned, across various sectors such as tourism-accommodation, food and food processing, textile, craft and agri-business industries.

The enterprises are located in Kelaniya, Mirigama, Negombo, Katana DS Divisions in the Gampaha district, and Beruwala, Kalutara, Panadura, Bulathsinhala DS Divisions in the Kalutara district.

A further batch of PPE kit distributions are planned for before the end of the year, reaching all remaining divisions of the two districts.

The PPE kit distribution is being complimented by OSH risk assessment of MSEs; training entrepreneurs on how to implement OSH measures and how to use PPE; enterprise level training programs with a focus on business development, psychosocial support, and facilitating access to finance. This will be coupled with a national campaign focused on bringing awareness of the occupational health and safety (OSH) risks and measures for MSEs, psychosocial risks faced by MSE owners and workers, and how to access state provided financing.

The initiative enjoys solid partnerships with many government entities for its effective implementation particularly the Ministries of Labour, Industry and Commerce, Small Enterprise Development Division of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Central Bank, and the Ministry of Health. Others include WHO, WFP, the Employers Federation of Ceylon, various Commercial Banks, the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Institute for Mental Health, medical anthropologists, psychologists, the media, and filmmakers.



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U.S. Ambassador to UN Agencies in Rome Cindy McCain to visit Lanka

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Colombo, September 23, 2022: United States Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome Ambassador Cindy McCain will visit Sri Lanka from September 25-28 to highlight U.S. food assistance programs in Sri Lanka and reinforce the U.S. commitment and lasting partnership with the island nation.

In addition to meeting with senior government officials and aid organizations in Colombo, Ambassador McCain will join U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to travel to Central Province to visit schools, agricultural research facilities, and community organizations and meet with recipients and implementers of relief provided through U.S. government-funded humanitarian assistance programs.

The United States is the single largest country donor to the three United Nations food and agriculture agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP).  U.S.-funded UN projects showcase how the U.S. government, the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the government of Sri Lanka collaborate to reduce food insecurity and advance humanitarian relief, livelihood protection, and agriculture-led economic growth, especially at this critical time of increased global hunger.

The United States has provided partnership and assistance to the people and government of Sri Lanka for more than 70 years.  Since June, Ambassador Chung has overseen the announcement of nearly $240 million in new U.S. government assistance to Sri Lanka, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power’s September 2022 announcements of an additional $40 million to provide Sri Lankan farmers with fertilizer and $20 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the country.

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President urges SL diaspora in the UK to invest in their motherland

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By Sujeeva Nivunhella
reporting from London

President Ranil Wickremesinghe last week urged the Sri Lanka diaspora in the United Kingdom to invest in Sri Lanka projects to revive the economy. Addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, he said that he is proud that the British Sri Lankan community for making a mark in every field of the UK economy such as trading, services, business, and requested them to come together as Sri Lankans and people of Sri Lankan origin to help build the motherland.

The President added that Sri Lanka is looking at transforming its economy to a competitive export-oriented one to meet the current challenges and build social systems and modernize the education system.

He remarked on the special affection Queen Elizabeth II had towards Sri Lanka as the Head of the Commonwealth and the longest serving Head of State of Ceylon for 20 years prior to the nation becoming a Republic and stated that her passing is the end of an era.

The president, first lady and party arrived in London on Sept. 17 via Dubai by an Emirates flight to attend the State Funeral Service of Queen Elizabeth II.They were received at the Heathrow airport by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and were driven to the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane, London where they stayed.

On Sunday (Sept. 18), the President accompanied by the First Lady and High Commissioner attended the Lying-in-State of the late Queen at the Palace of Westminster which was followed by a Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.The President and the First Lady attended the State Funeral Service held at the Westminster Abbey on Monday (Sept. 19).  On the same day, he signed the Book of Condolence. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly MP hosted a reception for the visiting world leaders at Church House.

On 20th September, the President met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland QC. They discussed Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Commonwealth Secretariat and matters of mutual interest. He also visited the London Buddhist Vihara during which Ven Dr Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Incumbent of the Vihara and the Chief Sanga Nayaka of Great Britain invoked blessings on the President and the people of Sri Lanka.

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Families countrywide facing malnutrition, says Cardinal

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By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has warned that the prevailing economic crisis and increasing unemployment and food prices are accelerating malnutrition among hundred thousands of families countrywide.

Addressing a ceremony at the annual get-together of the Archdiocesan Family Apostolate Service held at St Peter’s College Auditorium in Colombo, the Archbishop said that it was a shame that responsible local officials keep denying the prevailing status quo when world humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF continue to warn of the increasing malnutrition levels among children.

Many international organizations have pointed out that malnutrition in Sri Lanka was increasing at an alarming rate but the authorities responsible are hiding the truth and go to the extent of rejecting such reports.

“If they reject the reports of international organizations, then it is their paramount duty of conduct proper surveys to understand the situation. It is no secret that large numbers of Lankan families are starving due to the high prices of food. According to the UNICEF more than six million people consume only a single meal a day. It is so unfortunate that Health Ministry officials who spend their times in the air conditioned rooms in Colombo do not know the plight of the poor in rural areas,” the Cardinal said.He said that 225 MPs were concerned only of their well-being while continuing to ignore the actual and pressing issues of people.

“This country is in dire situation today mainly due to inefficient and corrupt political leaders. It is sad that these so-called people’s representatives are not concerned of the situation of people who are experiencing the worst ever economic and political crisis this country has ever faced,” the Cardinal said.

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