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Workplace violence, harassment costs Lankan businesses millions: IFC Study

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Workplace violence and harassment has cost nine Sri Lankan businesses surveyed 1.7 million US dollars in work hours lost, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said.

“The impacts of workplace violence and harassment has led to the loss of six working days per employee every year, costing the nine Sri Lankan companies surveyed at least $1.7 million, according to a new report by IFC,” the orgainsation said in a statement on Thursday(15).

The study ‘Business Case for Creating Respectful Workplaces in Sri Lanka’—under the Women in Work partnership between IFC and the Australian government—highlights that three out of every five people surveyed experienced some form of workplace violence or harassment, while nearly one out of five people felt unsafe at work.

Employees of the nine companies surveyed across genders and age groups reported they were impacted by bullying, sexual harassment, or online violence. Employees with a disability were more likely to experience all forms of workplace violence. The study found that sexual harassment and online violence tended to be underreported forms of workplace violence, the IFC said.

“Workplace violence and harassment is universal, affecting all countries, occupations, and work arrangements. For businesses to successfully deliver their missions and goals, an inclusive workplace culture is a must,” the statement quoted Acting Country Manager for IFC in Sri Lanka and Maldives Victor Antonypillai as saying.

“The IFC report clearly spells out the economic impacts of workplace violence and harassment. Given the present economic context, Sri Lankan businesses cannot ignore them. We hope that the recommendations from the report will promote Sri Lankan companies to create safe and respectful workplaces,” he said.

According to the IFC statement, the report recommends the need for Sri Lankan businesses to adopt policies and implement good practices to proactively address workplace violence and harassment. The importance of managing risks of online violence—an emerging workplace issue—as well as encouraging staff to use available support in the community has also been highlighted. The report also recommends steps to improve workplace diversity and inclusion, the statement said.

Over 1,600 employees from nine Sri Lankan companies representing different industries, including manufacturing, banking and finance, fast-moving consumer goods, and tourism, were surveyed for the report. Extensive discussions were also held with business stakeholders, trade unions, employee rights’ activists, and the Sri Lanka police.

Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Paul Stephens was quoted as saying: “With this latest study, we want to encourage more Sri Lankan businesses to introduce better workplace practices that support employees affected by violence and harassment. Creating respectful workplaces that are free from all forms of violence and harassment is vital for Sri Lanka to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.”

The findings have been used to develop tools and resources to help companies prevent and address violence and harassment in workplaces. The report also reiterates the importance of employers’ measures to tackle these issues, including through implementing measures which are consistent with International Labour Organization Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment.



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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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The 75th Anniversary of National Independence celebrated under the patronage of President, PM

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(picture Presidents Media)

The 75th National Independence Day celebration was held under the theme “Namo Namo Mata – A Step towards the Century”, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Saturday morning (04) at Galle Face Green.

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Lanka sovereign bond holders write to the IMF

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s bondholders have written to the International Monetary Fund expressing their willingness to engage in debt re-structuring talks but also raising matters related to the domestic debt re-structuring and economic assumptions and forecasts.

The group, styling itself as the “Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the Bondholder Group) has written last week to the IMF Managing Director from New York said inter alia that the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

The letter concluded with the paragraph: Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

Following is the text of the letter:

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2023

Dear Managing Director Georgieva,The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the “Bondholder Group”) acknowledges the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledges that such engagement has recently resulted in the Government of India (in its letter to the IMF, dated January 16, 2023 (the “India Letter”)) delivering letters of financing assurances, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement (the “IMF Programme”) and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India Letter.

Similarly, the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as

(i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032,

(ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and

(iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA.

We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability.

Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

While we recognize that the determination of the economic assumptions underpinning the IMF Programme Targets is ultimately the responsibility of the IMF and that the overall design of the IMF Programme is one that is negotiated between the IMF and Sri Lanka, it is nevertheless important that the Bondholder Group has the opportunity to express its views on both the economic assumptions underpinning these IMF Programme Targets and the adequacy and feasibility of the adjustment efforts contemplated under the IMF Programme.

When considering any restructuring proposal that is made to the Bondholder Group, it is the Bondholder Group’s intention to take into consideration the extent to which the economic assumptions and the adjustment efforts are consistent with these views.

Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

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