|Saturday, 5 April 2003|
by Ravi Ladduwahetty
Sri Lanka has the largest social safety net in the S. Asian region which amounts to 1.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, World Bank's Human Resources Development Specialist Christine Allison told the Daily News yesterday.
Sri Lanka is also the most industrialised and urbanised country in this region where people engaged in agriculture is the lowest, she said.
However, Sri Lanka also has another major challenge in that it has an ageing population in a middle income earning economy and should be concerned about pensions ahead of the other countries in the region.
A workshop organised by the Bank for resource personnel in the South Asian region towards eliminating poverty and vulnerability in South Asia was held at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. It was also the first time that Afghanistan had participated in such a conference.
Discussion had centred on the effects of globalisation and how economies opening up creates opportunities for growth while also creating vulnerability for certain sectors and how to create ways of protection.
It is not merely sufficient to give poor people the opportunities to move up, but the need has been realised to opportunities to help these people to insulate themselves the day to day shocks to which they are vulnerable. We have to understand that poverty and vulnerability are mutually reinforcing and the World Bank needs to assist South Asia's Governments in developing policies to stop this devastating cycle, World Bank's Vice President for South Asia Micko Nishimitsu has said in a news report which has been released on Poverty and Vulnerability in South Asia.
Senior Economist in Colombo Dr. Harsha Athurupane said that only 25 percent of the Sri Lanka population were legitimately eligible for Samurdhi support during the last regime, but as much as 60 percent of the population was receiving these benefits.
It is heartening that the current Welfare Benefit Law under the Financial Sector Reforms Programme will overcome those, he said.
Produced by Lake House