Taking the economic revival forward | Daily News


Taking the economic revival forward

Sri Lanka’s citizens, especially of the economically pivotal Western Province, must be commended for their relatively disciplined ‘coming out’ in last week’s full-scale resumption of business activity. After yesterday’s full all-island curfew, the country resumes the economic revival this week.

Despite the burst of public activity in the country’s most populous province and manufacturing and services metro hub, the contagion has not shown a steep expansion. The number of infections climbed to just 960 as at yesterday afternoon. This is in stark contrast to the exponential contagion growth curves in many comparable developing countries and the continuing pandemic devastation in some developed industrial powers.

Although people were encouraged to step out and begin public economic activity, Sri Lankans are understandably cautious. Impressively, there was no mad rush disregarding the social hygiene requirements. Commuter loads on the public trains system reportedly did not exceed planned restricted passenger capacity. It was actually much less.

Everyone conscientiously wore masks and, businesses, industries and offices strictly enforced the hygiene rules – social distancing inside and at entrances, hand sanitation, even footwear and bag sanitation in some places. Of course, alongside their intensive efforts to treat COVID-19 victims and shield any directly exposed groups, the authorities have no capacity to additionally undertake a blanket enforcement of public compliance. The citizens’ spontaneous co-operation, therefore, is all the more admirable.

Unlike their pampered counterparts in the rich countries, ordinary Sri Lankans, despite far greater livelihood pressures, have largely observed the social hygiene rules. True, there would have been rule-breakers, mainly because of the need to revive micro businesses and seek income, but the streets remained far less crowded than they would have been in the pre-pandemic days.

Such discipline is not only encouraging to the authorities but is also a challenge by the citizenry to the political class for their own future compliance with rules in general.

Sri Lanka’s successful moderating of the normally swift contagion continues to be hailed by the world community with our Health Minister being invited to speak on behalf of the Asian region at the recent Commonwealth special online meeting on combating the pandemic. The WHO has already recognised the country’s success so far in its pandemic management.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, meanwhile, is addressing various dynamics of the economy’s sustenance and revival. Earlier this week he challenged bankers to innovate in their sector’s post-pandemic strategies.

The need for greater liquidity to avoid too much economic contraction is the Government’s expectation from the banking sector. This, however, must be done while managing inflationary tendencies.

Reports from the garments manufacturing sector indicate some continuity of productivity more than originally expected. The country’s biggest textile exporter has announced profitability up to end March despite the pandemic’s then explosion across the world. A garment export major has already begun shipping a massive face mask order from the United States, now the epicentre of the global contagion. Thousands of our workers in numerous ancillary plants are benefitting.

While there is likely to be an all-round impact on the economy in general, it is clear that the pandemic is affecting different sectors differently. Some services and production sectors are surviving better with their ability to meet new needs arising from the pandemic and its social and economic repercussions.

The telecommunications industry, for example, has met huge market demand generated by the new needs and higher usage levels due to the health crisis and accompanying adjustments in economic and domestic life. The Tourism Authority has reportedly begun receiving early inquiries from some of our neighbouring and regional tourist markets. Any significant revival in tourism is, however, anticipated only towards the end of 2020, while full scale industry activity is not expected till the 2021 summer season.

There is always the risk of fresh surges in the contagion due to the new mass public movements and concentrations necessitated by economic activity. We are already seeing this happen in Wuhan, China, where the contagion first broke out. As and when such a contingency occurs, our Health authorities are likely to make further ad hoc changes in the hygiene restrictions, including the curfew schedules.

If the economic revival is to proceed apace, the social hygiene discipline must also continue without any lapses.

Last week also saw the celebration of International Nurses’ Day. Although the events were appropriately subdued, it was nevertheless a timely occasion to appreciate the heroic role of the country approximately 40,000 professional female and male nurses on the frontline of the pandemic. On this day the founder of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale is commemorated along with a general celebration by nurses’ communities around the world.

The Government also participated in the celebration of the Day. The long established Public Services United Nurses’ Union (PSUNU) held its function at the Abayaramaya Vihara, Colombo. The Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) held its function at the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital.

The world’s citizens are united in their appreciation of the dedication of nurses in fighting the pandemic.

Visit Kapruka.com Sri Lanka's Largest online shop. Over 125,000 unique categories such as Fresh Flowers, Cakes, Food, Jewllery, Childrens Toys and other Sri Lankan e-commerce categories. Low delivery cost to most cities here and free delivery in Colombo.

Add new comment