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Sri Lanka’s daily income earners wonder whether they are gone for now, or gone for good

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By Sanath Nanayakkare

As the power struggle among the political elite still takes precedence over the wellbeing of the ordinary people, the common man on the street wonders how long they can cope with the growing vulnerabilities associated with the ongoing economic crisis.

After Finance Minister Ali Sabry told Reuters on Saturday that Sri Lanka would need about US$ 3 billion bridge financing in the next six months and the new Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said that the Central Bank would need two years to stabilise the economy, The Island Financial Review spoke to several people in the informal sector to get more intimate details from them about their livelihoods as it was necessary to do so than at any other time in the history of Sri Lanka.

Sunil Senadheera, a 42-year-old carpenter from Moratuwa said that he has not been able to find work for many weeks because of ongoing power outages. “My employer is a furniture maker. He laid me off along with three other workers because there’s no electricity for most part of the day. He can’t afford to run a generator for long hours at the increased price of diesel after the rupee was drastically depreciated against the U.S. dollar and fuel prices skyrocketed. Even when one can afford the price, one can’t spend 2-3 days in long queues to get diesel. My wife who worked in a copy shop in the same town also lost her job because they couldn’t print documents as a result of constant power outages. We are in dire straits as we have to take care of three children aged 13, 10 and 8 years. I pawned my wife’s gold jewelry to put the food on the table and settle other bills. We are scared because some people say that this is only the beginning and we have to brace ourselves for more shocks in the coming weeks unless the leaders unite to resolve the crisis soon.”

Randir Perera (44) who owns a bakery in Nugegoda says lack of flour, butter and other key ingredients in the market has badly hit his business, not to mention the lack of LP gas and electricity which are essential for baking.

“My product range has reduced by at least 50% due to this disruption. As prices of tea buns, fish buns, vegetable rotties etc., increased by 30-40% overnight, my customers buy less now. I have six employees and paying their wages has become a real struggle. I don’t think that any small business can go on paying employees’ monthly basic wages let alone pay a percentage of the monthly wages towards EPF.”

Niluka Ranasinghe, a middle aged mother of two young daughters in Kottawa runs a small eatery to support her family. Her eatery is mainly patronised by bricklayers, carpenters, tuk-tuk drivers, street vendors etc.

“My customers are daily income earners who do a hard day’s work for a living. Generally speaking, they would spend money on food, tea and cigarettes without being stingy. They would even eat and drink in a group and one of them would pay the bill for all. That practice is now history of just one month since the food prices have hit the ceiling and all sorts of shortages have led to a decline in their income. Now they don’t walk in together for a chat over a meal. They come individually and try to be so frugal with their money compared to just a month ago. There is no laughter, banter and teasing among them anymore. This goes to show how hard the living costs and shortages have hit the man on the street. I had a helper at my eatery to help me with making string hoppers and short-eats. Now with the LP gas shortage, power outages and low demand for food items, I don’t make as much. So I was compelled to tell her to stop coming to work until things get better. She was such a nice person and I want to see her working in my eatery again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” she said.

Bernard Silva who runs a tailoring shop next to Niluka’s eatery has a story to tell with similar connotations. Bernard says that he only gets to sew a blouse or two for random women customers. “If not for that, I wouldn’t have been able to pay even the rent of my shop space. Hardly any regular customer walks in to get a shirt or a pair of trousers sewn. There is no return on investment for the suit materials I have in stock. In just three days, Sinhala New Year festivities start. This is the busiest time of the year for all small businesses as people prepare for the cheerful holiday season of the country. For all the misfortunes we as a nation faced before, never have I seen a dull and bleak pre-New Year season like this,. It seems that the economic crisis has engulfed even our culture.”

Chathurika Mendis, a trainer of IELTS (International English Language Testing System) said,”The number of students preparing for the IELTS test in Sri Lanka has grown over the last 12 months. They want to get a good result on their IELTS certificate and migrate to the West where they will find opportunities to fulfill their higher education and career aspirations. Many young people have lost hope on their motherland. I know for a fact that they are not looking for greener pastures. It is just that they think the grass here can’t be watered in the foreseeable future.”



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Sri Lanka’s economic confidence index plummets

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‘No one has rated Sri Lanka’s economic condition as excellent. 1.8 % rated it as good and 1.3 % rated it as getting better. The resulting score was a (-) 96. This rating was (-) 83 in January 2022, a wide ranging Verite Research public opinion survey reveals.

Key findings of the survey:

Government approval rating drops from 10% to 3%

The second round of the Gallup Style “Mood of the Nation” poll was conducted in June by Verité Research. It assessed the approval, satisfaction, and confidence of the nation in relation to the government, the country, and the economy.

The poll was conducted as a part of the syndicated survey instrument by Verité Research. This instrument also provides other organisations the opportunity to survey the sentiments of Sri Lanka.

1. Government approval rating | 3% | To the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the current government is working?” only 3% said they approve. In January 2022 this rating was at 10%.

2. Sri Lanka satisfaction | 2% | To the question, “In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in Sri Lanka?” only 2% said they were satisfied. This rating was at 6% in January 2022.

3. Economic confidence | negative (-) 96 | Multiple choice questions on the condition and trajectory of the economy are used to generate an economic confidence score. The score can range from negative (-) 100 to positive (+) 100. A score above zero means more people see the economic conditions positively rather than negatively. If everyone thinks the economy is in either excellent or good condition, and everyone also thinks it is getting better, the score will be (+) 10. If everyone thinks that the economy is in a poor condition, and everyone also thinks it is getting worse, the score will be a (-) 100. No one rated the economic condition as excellent. 1.8% rated it as good; and 1.3% rated it as getting better. The resulting score was a (-) 96. This rating was (-) 83 in January 2022.

Implementation of “Mood of

the Nation”

The poll is based on an island wide nationally representative sample of responses from 1,052 Sri Lankan adults, conducted in June 2022. The sample and methodology was designed to ensure a maximum error margin of under 3% at a 95% confidence interval. The polling partner was Vanguard Survey (Pvt) Ltd.

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Decline in share market in the wake of rate hike reports

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading activities began on a positive note yesterday but during the latter part of the day the market experienced a dip on account of the overall supply chain economy being subjected to a contraction, stemming from the fuel crisis. Consequently, CSE activities were relatively low keyed, market analysts said.

“We are reverting to the negative. There is uncertainty on all fronts, from the political to the economic. Therefore, we are expecting a rate hike on Thursday. This is creating a bit of a cloud and we may see this continuing further, a top market analyst said.

Even if top level decision- making is happening in Sri Lanka the impact is not felt at the grassroots level. This has resulted in unrest in the country, the analyst said.

Amid those developments, both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 97.9 points and S and P SL20 declined by 34.3 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.3 billion with one crossing. The crossing was reported in JKH, which crossed 600,000 shares to the tune of Rs 73.2 million, its shares traded at Rs 122.

In the retail market, the top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Lanka IOC Rs 611 million (7.3 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 173.9 million (one million shares traded). LOLC Holdings Rs 47.4 million (120,000 sha4es traded), Hayleys PLC Rs 46.5 million (697.000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 46.3 million (6.4 million shares traded), JKH Rs 21 million (173,000 shares traded) and Softlogic Holdings Rs 20.5 million (794,000 shares traded). During the day 109 million share volumes changed hands in 15000 transactions.

The International Monetary Fund said last Thursday its talks with crisis-hit Sri Lanka had been “constructive”, thereby raising hopes it would soon grant preliminary approval for a desperately needed financial support package, observers said.

Meanwhile, the Colombo Consumer Price index rose 54.6 per cent year-on-year in June against a 39.1 per cent rise in May, according to the Statistics Department.

Yesterday the US dollar rate was Rs 360.73, which is now being controlled due to the prudent fiscal and monetary policies of the Central Bank.

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Dialog Club vision members receive access to an exclusive screening of ‘Jurassic World Dominion’

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In a bold and breath-taking new global adventure, the epic conclusion to the Jurassic film franchise ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ hit theatres across the world on June 10. Just a day after its global premiere, Dialog Club Vision Red members and their loved ones received special access to an exclusive screening of the film at the Kandy City Centre Multiplex on June 11.

The explosive end to the Jurassic era sees two generations of the film’s franchise unite for the first time with Hollywood’s Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard joined by Oscar winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill. Dialog Club Vision members were some of the first to witness the utopian world where Dinosaurs and humans co-exist.

With the best interests of its members and their loved ones at heart, Dialog Club Vision continues to deliver a world of exclusivity and privileges such as personalized care, exclusive discounts and offers, lifestyle and entertainment events and more. To explore more exciting offers available for Dialog Club Vision members, and to learn more about Sri Lanka’s premier loyalty programme, customers can visit the MyDialog App or visit dialog.lk/club-vision

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