Human Resources and Employment Policy for social protection
The National Human Resources and Employment policy is now under
submission at the Cabinet of Ministers and many issues on social
protection and labour strategies have been addressed, said Human
Resources Senior Minister D E W Gunasekera.
Some of the recommendations in the formulation of the policy are, the
need for the integration of different schemes of the existing social
protection and need to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and
sustainability of the EPF and ETF of the formal sector, he said.
The senior minister was addressing the workshop on Promoting
Productive Social Protection and Labour system in Sri Lanka at the
Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) auditorium recently. The workshop is
held under the patronage of IPS, World Bank and National Planning
Department. It is expected through this consultation process to provide
a feed back to the development of an integrated social protection and
"We must reconsider the feasibility of establishing a pension scheme
for the workers in the formal private sector," he said, adding that an
unemployment benefit scheme is a major gap in the social security scheme
in Sri Lanka.
He also highlighted the need for some security scheme for the
"Action should be initiated for the establishment of a basic social
protection floor to ensure access to basic healthcare income security,"
In so far as unemployment is concerned, there is no protection at all
at present. Sri Lanka being a fast ageing society, we may face
formidable challenges on this front in the future, unless the issues of
social protection are addressed well ahead, he added.
Fund management has become a controversial issue today, he continued.
"We have to consider seriously whether we have reached the point of
diminishing returns in so far as the management of EPF and ETF is
concerned. While we should appreciate the concerns of the workers and
their sensitiveness to changes it is equally important to consider the
long term sustainability of these funds," he said.
"The abortive private section pension fund needed a much more
critical study, analysis and assessment by some professional actuaries,"
He said there are traditional common types of social protection
programmes in force which include, labour market interventions such as
employment creation, promotion and protection of workers etc., social
insurance such as health insurance or employment insurance and social
"There is an imperative need for implementing successful labour
market interventions in the informal sector of our economy, which is
about 62 % of the employed," he pointed out.
This is a significant sector of our economy not covered by any social
security schemes. This segment of the society is the most vulnerable and
disadvantaged strata whose grievances have not received or are not
receiving sufficient attention, unlike the workers in the formal sector
(both private and public) who have the bargaining power to demand, he
It is necessary to look forward to target a minimum level of basic
capabilities of human resource that will impact their quality of life
unlike in the case of public and private sectors of the formal economy,
the senior minister said.
"In our economy of US$ 56 billion, as per Ministry of Finance and
Planning reports, more than 73% of its enterprises in fact belong to
which come under the informal economy," he added.
The absence of a cohesive regulatory, supervisory system for the
micro-finance sector has been one of the constraints to the growth of
the domestic SMEs and micro-finance sectors, Senior Minister Gunasekera
It is necessary to lift the workers in this sector from the present
levels of poverty through a micro-finance network, he emphasised.
He highlighted that even in the formal sector of the economy, the
existing social security system is fragmented - either well established
schemes of old age pensions or lump sum payment at retirement. Those
well established schemes of old age pensions are today barely adequate
for the purchase of their basic needs, not even medicine. The lump sum
payment at retirement are inadequate to generate a flow of adequate
income after retirements, he stressed.