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IPS’ proposals for Budget 2022 – Part II



Food Security

Ensuring national food security

National food security is not only a question of availability, but includes the other factors like food prices, food usage, and food supply stability. Hence, all these aspects influencing food security should be considered in policy formulation. While the government’s policy framework, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ (VPS) recognises the importance of introducing an agricultural crop management system, there is no proper mechanism to monitor how this will affect food usage, prices, and supply. At present, the farming community is compelled to suffer massive losses during the harvesting season because of the seasonal glut in supply. Meanwhile, intermediaries and the other players in the high end of the value chain gain because they can control prices through controlling supply. This has implications on the food security of the country and the welfare of farmers.


Establish an electronic-based monitoring system for the food systems so that domestic food production, imports, market prices, input availability etc., could be continuously monitored to ensure national food availability and household access to food. A regular monitoring system can safeguard the local food supply from international trade restrictions and possible malpractices by local traders. Give priority to establish a holistic, coherent mechanism to ensure high-quality information is important. This information should be easily accessible across sectors for monitoring risks to food security. Such a system can provide valuable information for policy makers to take action to ensure food security. Big data tools such as satellites, telecommunication networks, sensors, drones, and smartphones have the potential to address the food system challenges by improving availability of information.

Developing e-commerce for food system resilience

As communities are increasingly dependent on markets for their food security and nutrition, properly functioning market chains and the uninterrupted flow of agricultural products are key elements within food systems. Shocks that disrupt market activities such as disasters and pandemics can cause considerable damage to households’ food availability, as well as their access to and utilisation of food.

VPS recognises the importance of introducing a new strategic plan for product marketing including systems of pre-contracts between producers and exporters. However, at present, the farming community is poorly connected with markets and intermediaries gain arbitrage opportunities while rural producers receive lower prices due to the lack of market information, poor infrastructure, weaker bargaining positions, and lengthy marketing channels.


IPS proposes to increase the capacity of e-commerce to minimise the problems in food supply chains and to ensure food system resilience. The increased demand for digital marketing platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic could be capitalised to promote the capacity of e-commerce at both ends of the food supply chain. For example: The Govipola Mobile App and the pilot project on Smart Agri Village were funded by EU. Such Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platforms, despite capacity concerns, have already proven useful to increase the resilience of the actors in the food system such as farmers, traders, and consumers.

Further, a mechanism needs to be developed to help connect smallholders to the e-commerce platform to prevent elite capture of the digital marketplace. In this regard, linking farmers’ cooperatives with the e-commerce platform or building Public-Private-Producer-Partnerships (4P) could be crucial. Public investments in developing an e-commerce-platform to create a digital marketplace to connect farmers and markets and to increase the availability of product and price information to buyers and sellers, to improve food availability, and food security while protecting farmer welfare is recommended.

Strengthening the Regulatory and Enforcement Mechanism for Organic Fertiliser Imports

The proposed ban on chemical fertiliser imports will be a significant shock to the agricultural systems of Sri Lanka and most likely will be untenable. Sri Lanka must revisit the import ban before it fails due to its implementation challenges creating massive disruption to the country’s agricultural sector. IPS research suggests that Sri Lanka can adopt a ‘sustainable intensification’ approach that anticipates a gradual reduction of the use of chemical inputs combined with good agroecological production practices, to increase organic fertiliser use overtime. Further to the ban, the government has decided to import organic fertilisers. Unlike inorganic fertilisers, which are inert materials, organic fertilisers are highly environment-specific live materials that could have irreversible environmental repercussions.

Therefore, the regulatory, implementation, and enforcement mechanism of the quality standards must be strengthened with immediate effect (with the coordination of relevant government institutions like National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS); SLSI; Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Agency; ITI, etc) to ensure that food ecosystems in the country are not adversely affected by introducing organic fertiliser.


Prudent application of a combination of instruments in place of the import ban on chemicals is needed such as tariffs on chemical fertiliser imports, tax concessions/subsidies for local production of organic fertiliser to promote the production and use of organic fertiliser. Along with this, the quality of chemical fertiliser imports needs to be regulated to safeguard local agriculture. Programmes to build awareness on efficient use of organic fertiliser can also help farmers with the shift to organic fertiliser use.

Tobacco Taxes

Streamlining tobacco tax increases

IPS research shows that increasing tobacco taxes has the twin benefits of improving health as well as increasing government revenue. At a juncture when government finances are tight, policy solutions such as taxing tobacco can be leveraged to boost government revenue without threatening economic growth. Increasing tobacco taxes in the forthcoming Budget could raise substantial amounts of additional revenue for the government.

IPS estimates that the government could have earned nearly LKR 20 billion in additional excise tax revenue from cigarettes in 2020, if cigarette taxes had been raised by 10% in line with inflation and streamlined to a uniform tax. This amounts to nearly 1.5% of total government revenue in 2020. A similar revenue gain can be expected from a 10% increase in tobacco taxes this year.


Given that cigarette taxes have not been revised in nearly two years, since December 2019, the government should use this opportunity to raise taxes, to attain the twin benefits of improved health and fiscal outcomes.


Developing the creative and cultural industries

Much of Sri Lanka’s creative economy – which comprises of traditional and modern cultural and creative industries – fall into the category of small and medium industries (SMIs). Lack of linkages to connect rural cultural and creative industry artisans with the relevant institutes and public services is an issue, despite programmes to support and encourage creative business activities conducted by different public institutions.

Lack of awareness, lack of coordination among various sectors of government, and limited attention given to emerging cultural sectors – such as fashion designing, software, graphic designing, digital media – are some identified issues in this sector.


Streamlining government programmes relating to creative and cultural programmes and build capacity in public institutions to provide efficient and effective services to artisans in creative industries. The outcomes of initiatives to develop the sector must be monitored and adjusted to improve effectiveness overtime. Special attention needs to be given by public institutions to fill the above-mentioned policy gaps. Proposed actions will attract rural youth into the sector, which will generate new employment opportunities and support the development of the rural sector.

Social Protection

Repositioning social protection

The International Labour Organization (ILO) Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) (ILO C.102) specifies nine key branches of benefits that social security programmes are expected to deliver. These are: medical care, sickness, unemployment, old age benefit, employment injury, family benefit, maternity benefit, invalidity benefit, and survivor’s benefit. Although different social security schemes are available in Sri Lanka to provide some types of benefits under all nine schemes of ILO’s Social Security Convention (ILO C.102), their coverage is very low. Sri Lanka is also yet to ratify the minimum standard in social security as specified in the Convention.


Social security contributions in many countries are channelled to diverse funds for providing various types of social security benefits (i.e., maternity benefits, sickness benefits). Use a similar system to expand life-cycle social security to workers contributing to Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF). IPS calculations show that about 1.5% of the wage bill (or half of the ETF contributions) is sufficient to cover maternity benefits, sickness benefits, and unemployment benefits to meet the minimum requirements specified in ILO C.102 for those contributing to ETF. A further 0.2% of the total wage bill could cover wage support to firms to retain the workers who contribute to ETF in times of disaster. Follow international best practices and optimise the use of ETF funds to provide wider benefits to its contributors. Such a scheme will enable workers to benefit from social security throughout their lifecycle and facilitate the ratification of the ILO C.102 of minimum social security standards. Greater life-cycle benefits will encourage more workers to contribute to ETF. This will have minimum impact on the budget as allocations for the most part will be from the ETF fund. Such a change in focus should be done in concurrence with different stakeholders to maintain transparency and trust.


Read IPS’ Budget 2022 Proposals in Full HERE.

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EU funded SEDR Project launches Policy Brief to strengthen alternative dispute resolution in Sri Lanka



Jacques Carstens (SEDR Team Leader), Beatrice Bussi (Interim) Head of Development Cooperation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms, Krishanthi Meegahapola (Addl Secretary, Ministry of Justice) and Priyanath Perera (Secretary – Mediation Boards Commission)

The Supporting Effective Dispute Resolution (SEDR) project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in partnership with The Asia Foundation, launched a Policy Brief titled ‘Strengthening A Just Alternative’ to strengthen community-based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms in the country.

The launch event, held at the British Council Library in Colombo, was attended by several distinguished dignitaries, including Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Ms. Beatrice Bussi, (Interim) Head of Development Cooperation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Priyanath Perera, Secretary of the Mediation Boards Commission, Hon. Justice Yapa, Chairperson of the Mediation Boards Commission, and Commissioners of the Mediation Boards Commission.

Speaking at the event, Ms. Beatrice Bussi stated that “The importance of mediation in Sri Lanka is twofold, as it ensure an easy and economic access to justice to citizens, while it provides the opportunity to reduce the burden on the Sri Lankan court system. I want to praise the model of Sri Lankan community mediation boards, for its effectiveness and for the value it delivers to communities in addressing local disputes preventing their escalation”.

Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe stated ” One of the main tasks of the Ministry is to ensure the necessary legal, policy, and institutional framework is set up for efficient resolution of disputes. Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, play a major role in this regard.  There are different opinions regarding the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, especially mediation among the community and stakeholders. In the meantime, the Ministry has initiated a number of reforms to improve dispute resolution processes in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the Ministry highlights the importance of surveys of this nature to facilitate evidence-based decision-making regarding alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. As such the Ministry would like to congratulate the SEDR project on this successful initiative.”

The Policy Brief is based on the findings of a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) survey commissioned by SEDR and conducted by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in 2022. The survey aimed to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices of various community-based alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including mediation boards. The survey covered six districts in the country, targeting 1,712 households of all three main ethnic groups.

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COYLE urges government to engage business leaders in policy-making process for fair, sustainable, and economically sound decisions



The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE) held its 24th Anniversary Celebrations on 10th March 2023, at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo. The event was attended by the chief guest, Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena; the guest of honour, U. S. Ambassador, Julie Chung; former President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena; Chief of the Defense Staff, General Shavendra Silva; cabinet and state ministers; parliamentarians; commanders of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces; government officials, and business leaders.

The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE) comprises more than 116 prominent individuals who serve as Chairmen and Controlling Shareholders of some of the most influential companies in Sri Lanka.

It has over 500 member organizations and is affiliated with nearly 50 business chambers in the country. The organization is managed and controlled by young entrepreneurs but also boasts a number of senior and respected business leaders who joined the organization during its formative years to help shape COYLE into what it is today.

The Chamber actively promotes entrepreneurship, the development of rural communities, and thought leadership. In adherence to the organization’s strongly held principles and as a mandatory service to the community, COYLE engages in countless CSR initiatives through its member companies around the country. The Chamber provides leadership, learning, and development for its members and stakeholders, and over the years, it has grown into a vehicle for business growth in Sri Lanka via its many local and global networks.

The past year was an exceptionally challenging one for all parties in the Sri Lankan economy. Remarking on this, the Outgoing Chairman of COYLE, Mr. Dimuth Chankama Silva, stated during his address, “This year was the greatest test of our mettle. Even diamonds are born out of pressure. This year gave us the opportunity to shine through pressures from all directions. I believe we shone. We are here alive and kicking, our businesses are growing, we are conquering international markets and territories, and COYLE has grown in leaps and bounds.”

A notable emphasis was given to the introduction of the COYLE theme for the year 2023/24, EVOLUTION: #Resilience, #Agility, and #Transformation. The incoming Chairman, Mr. Rasith Wickramasingha, stated, “Evolution is to upscale capability, enhance skills and increase creativity, innovate at a time of chaos, and re-imagine a new business environment. Evolution requires change: change in mindset, attitude, self-awareness, and acumen of the surrounding environment as well as culture.”

He went on to note that in today’s environment, every five years constitutes a generational gap and emphasized the need for COYLE to evolve as a chamber in order to be relevant and sustainable for the future. He further mentioned that decades of ill-conceived, politically driven policies based on the advocacy of a few, rather than consultative decision-making with recognized business chambers, have led to the current crisis. Elaborating on this point, Mr. Rasith Wickramasingha said, “Policy formulation should be done based on sound economic principles and business acumen. Businesses rely on stable policies so that they may plan ahead. Ad hoc policies which bring no economic benefit have led to losses in the private sector and leakage of foreign exchange from the country.”

He emphasized that it is heartbreaking to see that the individuals who strive continuously for the betterment of the country and persistently do the right thing get penalized while those engaging in unethical practices to avoid taxation are rarely held accountable. COYLE hopes for more genuine dialogue from policymakers regarding these issues and affirms that the organization’s globally exposed and experienced members could be a great value addition to any actions taken to revive the economy. What sets COYLE apart from the rest is that its members are made up of business owners and decision-makers who are passionate about doing something good for the country, who are genuinely aligned with this cause, and willing to embrace the future without diluting our national and cultural heritage.

The 24th Anniversary Celebration of COYLE closely reflected in its overarching tone the state of the country following the Easter Bombings, the pandemic, and the economic and political crisis. The event also honored and recognized the Chamber’s numerous members who weathered the storm by building resilience, being agile, and transforming their businesses. It also highlighted the many CSR initiatives undertaken by COYLE member organizations, many of which were carried out quietly, purely as a service to the country.

These initiatives focus on communities most affected by the calamities of the past years and were chosen regardless of race, religion, or creed. With a host of esteemed and influential guests attending the celebrations, COYLE made this event a platform to convey a strong message calling for sociopolitical change in the country. COYLE believes that the hardline decisions taken by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, were tough but necessary considering the state of affairs. The Chamber also notes that as a result of these decisions, gradual change for the better is apparent in the economy. Considering the massive pool of collective experience, expertise, and connections held by COYLE, it is capable of providing significant value and insight for economic reform. Hence, COYLE urges the government to actively engage and work together with the Chamber to expedite economic revival.

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Once again, AIA Ran for their Lives – proud sponsor for the 3rd consecutive year



AIA Insurance was humbled to be a part of Run For Their Lives 2023, in raising funds for the Apeksha Cancer Hospital. The charity run aligns with AIA’s brand purpose of helping people live healthier, longer, better lives with focus on the prevention and management of Non-Communicable Diseases in Sri Lanka. The company will continue its commitment to fight NCDs and actively engage in creating awareness on leading NCDs in the country.

With AIA’s goal of making a positive impact on one billion lives by 2030, participants at RFTL were encouraged to make a pledge for a healthy habit that could help prevent illness and remain healthy in the long run. The participants also took part in a real-time survey that measured their unhealthy habits and recommended healthy lifestyle habits. Participants were also instantly rewarded for taking part in the wellness games and the free BMI sessions organised by one of AIA’s wellness partner Vida Medical Clinic.

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