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One out of six Lankans now multi-dimensionally poor and bulk of them are in rural areas



Launch of ‘Sri Lanka’s Multidimensional Poverty Index 2019 Results: National and Child Analyses’ at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo. From left: Noala Skinner - UNICEF’s South Asia Regional Director, Beatrice Bussi - Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Hema Perera - Additional Secretary to Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment, Dr Dilshanie Deepawansa - Deputy Director (statistics), Department of Census and Statistics, and Anura Kumara - Director General, Department of Census and Statistics

Approximately one out of every six (16 percent) persons in the country is multi-dimensionally poor, says the Sri Lanka’s first official national Multidimensional Poverty Index (national MPI).

The National MPI, using data from the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2019, launched last week, shows that more than eight out of every 10 (80.9 percent) persons who are poor live in rural areas.

The National MPI, prepared jointly by UNICEF, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the European Union, the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) indicates that poverty levels in districts vary significantly, from a low of 3.5 percent in Colombo to 44.2 percent in Nuwara Eliya. Even for districts with similar MPI values, high-impact policies must consider the indicator composition of poverty, in order to plan the most cost-effective response. Estate areas are pockets of poverty, requiring policy attention, as more than half (51.3 percent) of all people in these areas are living in poverty.

The Executive Summary of the report, titled ‘Sri Lanka’s Multidimensional Poverty Index 2019 Results: National and Child Analyses’ shows that 17.9% of the people, aged 65 years and older, are the poorest age group in Sri Lanka, with the highest headcount ratio (17.9 percent), as well as intensity of poverty and MPI. . Deprivation patterns – and therefore policy and budgetary responses – vary by district and age. The deprivations that require immediate policy attention are the lack of access to health facilities and basic facilities, clean cooking fuels, and safe drinking water.

It says: In 2021, in close consultation with various ministries, the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) developed the first official national Multidimensional Poverty Index (national MPI) for Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan national MPI is an official permanent statistic of multidimensional poverty that will be updated and published regularly, reported as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 1.2.2, and used to complement the monetary poverty measure. A key population of concern around poverty is young children, whose deprivations in nutrition and cognitive development have lifelong effects. To further probe and support child poverty policies, DCS crafted an individual child Multidimensional Poverty Index (child MPI) for children aged 0-4, which includes exactly the same indicators as the national MPI, plus undernutrition and early childhood development. The national MPI and the child MPI are both based on data from the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2019 (HIES 2019). The HIES 2019 was modified to include key MPI indicators, and will do so in future, permitting updates of both MPIs. Sri Lanka’s child MPI is the first official measure of child poverty that links directly and precisely with the national MPI. The MPI is not just a statistic, it is a policy tool. It provides relevant information to accelerate poverty reduction with limited resources – by informing high-impact budget allocation, focused interventions, policy design and coordination, and poverty monitoring. This report presents the key findings of Sri Lanka’s official permanent national MPI and its linked child MPI, further disaggregated by location, age and sex, and the policy implications of these findings. This report explains why Sri Lanka was motivated to develop multidimensional poverty indices, the process followed to design these policy-salient measures, and the measurement methodology. The national MPI results convey the level and composition of multidimensional poverty, disaggregated by age, area, district, and sex of the household head. The child MPI results delve further into an individual measure for children aged 0-4 that is directly linked to the national MPI, but which exposes particular needs of young children.

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Mullaitivu judge resigns citing death threats



By Saman Indrajith

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was in Berlin on Friday issued directives to his secretary, Saman Ekanayake, for an immediate and comprehensive investigation into the abrupt resignation of Mullaitivu District Judge and Magistrate, T. Saravanarajah, who presided over the controversial Kurundimale Viharaya case. The judge cited receiving death threats as the reason for his resignation, sources of the President’s office said.

The President’s decision to order an investigation stemmed from the fact that the Judge resigned without formally informing the police or the Judicial Service Commission about the alleged death threats against him, according to sources.

In a letter dated September 23, 2023, addressed to the Judicial Services Commission, Saravanarajah conveyed his decision to step down from various judicial roles, including District Judge, Magistrate, Family Court Judge, Primary Court Judge, Small Claims Court Judge, and Juvenile Court Judge.

Reports circulating on social media and online platforms suggested that he had left the country for India. In these reports, he allegedly informed web journalists that he had received death threats in connection with the Kurundimale Viharaya case.

President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake held discussions regarding the incident with Minister of Justice Wijayadasa Rajapaksa and Minister of Public Security, Tiran Alas. It was revealed during these discussions that the magistrate had not lodged any formal complaint about the alleged death threats prior to his resignation.

The magistrate left the country on September 24 and sent his resignation letter to the Judicial Service Commission the preceding day (Sept. 23).State intelligence agencies have apprised the President’s office of the magistrate’s purported close associations with officials from several foreign embassies.

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RW says great power rivalries and geopolitics emerging threat to Third World



The West has labeled China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a cohesive program, and the participating countries like Sri Lanka are looked upon with suspicion, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday (28) at the Berlin Global Conference.

“This will further hurt economic prospects in the global South, and the polarization will become more evident,” he said.

Great power rivalries and geopolitics have been an emerging threat for open access to trade, investment, capital, and technology that are vital for the economic recovery of the developing world, Wickremesinghe said.

He said that recently Jake Sullivan, United States national security advisor to President Joe Biden, rejected the Washington Consensus at an address at the Brookings Institute.

“With the new concept of de-risking and decoupling, the developing South, which was compelled to follow the Washington Consensus, is now asked to do a 180 degree turn even without consultation with us. With decoupling, whatever it is, we have been asked to change the system. We were compelled to get into it. Now we are told this is no longer relevant,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said the global south is now looking for alternative leadership, given the expansion of the BRICS and the downgrading of G20. In 2024, the US leadership might change and that people are wondering what policy changes would ensue.

“We know in 2024, the US leadership may not be there. Then who is going to act? So I think it’s a chance for the EU to come up and work with the other countries. There’s no one else. So I am suggesting that the EU, together with G20 BRICS, certainly USA, and some selected other Asian and African nations, the IMF and the NDBs, and you can bring in the big financial institutions, private ones, sit down and find urgent solutions,” he said.

The President said the world requires a constructive dialogue between the West and China.

“We need a constructive dialogue between the US and China. We need a constructive dialogue between the EU and China. Otherwise we will not move forward. So this is the stark reality. It’s a question of how we get together and how we work, and who’s going to take the lead in 2024,” he said.

Below are excerpts of the speech : “I don’t think in any other period of modern history have we gone through this type of a crisis. And in all these instances, it’s the developing economies and the global south that has suffered extremely. We are now faced with stubbornly high inflation in advanced economies, oil prices edging towards US $100 a barrel, and monetary tightening by the global central banks.

“One example is that Sri Lanka’s export to Europe has not increased at all this year, so far this year. That’s an indication of how we are being affected as we try to recover from the crisis we face. The confluences of factors face serious risk for many developing countries. In the global south, we are facing rising import costs, food, energy, insecurity, and the problems of our exports. The resulting balance of payment stress translates into a weaker economy for all of us. The difference between the advanced economies and the developing nations is that you all have all the buffers and reserves to deal with these shocks. We haven’t. And it’s from here that the sovereign debt crisis started.

“In this context, I think the world may be in another crisis if corrective measures are not taken immediately. Many developing countries find themselves with large debt burdens. For example, the IMF has no mechanism to face this new situation. When Sri Lanka declared bankruptcy, all foreign funding ceased and that started the political crisis. If not for the help given by the World Bank in re-graduating Sri Lanka, and the help given by my old friend Samantha Power in funding us with fertilizers, the chances are that I may not be, I would not be able to come here today.

“The funding on the table is woefully inadequate to address the vast challenges at hand. So we haven’t got any money. But we do have 100 billion with the IMF. Let’s start with that money. 100 billion is better than nothing. Then let’s see how we can raise the rest of it. Because though I talk of Sri Lanka, I must say Africa’s needs, especially of the low-income countries, are far greater than ours. The problems Africa faces need not be described by me because I think there are enough representatives here.

The developing countries require financing up to US 5.9 trillion to fulfil their nationally determined contributions. Then a further US 4 trillion, for clean energy technology to achieve net zero emissions, look at Sri Lanka’s financing needs for our climate prosperity plan to succeed. We need five billion US dollars by 2030.

“This is a country that’s bankrupt. And the IMF states, we’ll have for the next few years a growth rate of 3.5% if you are lucky. Here again, global coordination and leadership to resolve these challenges have simply not been sufficient to address the magnitude of the urgency of the problem. So what we need here is a new architecture.

Now we’ve been talking of the many crises and shocks we have discussed today. And we’ve been talking about what we have to do. First, we’ve all agreed that the core of the international financial architecture today was designed almost 80 years ago. The world has seen dramatic changes since then with many emerging economies in Asia, Middle East, South America, and Africa becoming global economic powerhouses.”

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“No fixed timeline” to disburse 2nd tranche of $3 bln loan, IMF official says




ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s second tranche of a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund is likely to be delayed as the country has failed to meet the program objective and a global lender’s official said there is no fixed timeline on the disbursement of second tranche.

Sri Lanka’s government revenue is likely to face a 15 percent fall from the target agreed with the IMF, the global lender said, due to poor tax administration and lower collection.

An IMF delegation was in Colombo over two weeks for the first review of the loan before the global lender’s Executive Board approval for the second tranche.

“There is no fixed timeline,” Peter Breuer, Senior Mission Chief for Sri Lanka at the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, told reporters at a media briefing on Wednesday after concluding the first review of the loan.

“We are confident that it (the GOSL) will be able to do so with a little bit more time,” he said referring to Sri Lanka’s effort to raise revenue.

The IMF in March this year approved a 48-month, $3 billion extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) to support Sri Lanka’s economic policies and reforms with the main emphasis on increasing the government revenue, boosting the international reserves, and reducing inflation.

Soon after the approval, Sri Lanka which is going through an unprecedented economic crisis received the first tranche of $330 million. The first review was to assess the country’s performance against the IMF programme objective. Breuer said Sri Lanka is yet to satisfy two key objectives.

“We need two important things to be satisfied. We need to reach agreement on set targets, policies, and reforms that will allow us to go forward… with the understanding that the objective of the programme can be reached,” Breuer said.

“So, now we have discovered there was a little bit of shortfall on one area during this year. So, we are looking to try and find ways to address that shortfall and compensate.

He said working in a direction of having agreement on these policies is an “important prerequisite.”

“Then the other one is in the area of debt,” Breuer said adding that reaching agreement with creditors will help store debt sustainability in Sri Lanka.

“When these two conditions are met, we can go forward. Of course, there is a little bit of administrative process also. It will take some time to write the reports that actually assesses the performance of the first review before steps to be considered by our executive board which will make the final decision on this.

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