“Lanka should re-evaluate social security and pension systems’ | Daily News


“Lanka should re-evaluate social security and pension systems’

Outgoing World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough said that although Sri Lanka has many human development indicators that are well above its regional neighbors, COVID-19 poses a threat to some of these gains.

Speaking about the highlights of her four years in Colombo she said that the country will therefore need to continue its concerted focus in these areas, while adjusting to a new normal.

Increasing fiscal space, managing debt and furthering competitiveness and trade too would be a challenge for Sri Lanka as well as many other countries.

“With a population that is rapidly ageing and women living longer than men, there is a need to re-evaluate the country’s social security and pension systems.”

Since the impacts of COVID-19 have led to a loss of overseas jobs - and hence lower remittances - replacement jobs that capitalize on the participation of both men and women will need to be rapidly created.

“Space will also need to be created to attract the private sector, which is the engine of growth in many emerging markets.” She said that it will be equally important to address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, including its impacts on the financial sector, particularly on SMEs which are the backbone of the country’s tourism and manufacturing industries. Commenting on opportunities for Sri Lanka she said that the COVID pandemic has demonstrated the country’s capacity to manage a health emergency of severe magnitude.

“Despite the crisis, Sri Lanka managed to sustain its food security. With more investment, the agriculture sector can grow into a sizable export industry, going beyond self-sufficiency in food.”

Sri Lanka has done an amazing job with respect to developing its hydropower. “Its next opportunity will lie in developing renewable energy, especially since technological advances have now made it possible to store solar energy in batteries for many hours.”

Sri Lanka has a high human capital index, the highest in South Asia. “Continued investment in the country’s youth and upskilling the current labor force will increase the number of workers that have the ability to perform higher-order and more resilient jobs – including becoming entrepreneurs who create jobs for others.”

“It is not surprising that Sri Lanka was nominated the best place to visit by the Lonely Planet magazine. Rebuilding the tourism industry post-COVID will ensure that the country once again enjoys this special honor.”

The World Bank is an apolitical and non-partisan development institution with vast global knowledge and expertise that can be tapped easily for a nation’s development. “It will continue to partner with the government of Sri Lanka as it works for the well-being of the people and the country.” (SS)


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