Sunday, 30 May 2021 21:14

New management plan to meet Covid-19 financial obligations Featured

The government is to implement a new management programme with containment measures based on a contingency financial (budgetary) plan for the containment of the third COVID-19 wave, Finance Ministry sources said.

The need of such a plan has arisen as the government has spent Rs. 138 billion so far for direct expenses up to now to provide services and relief measures to the people affected by the pandemic. So far no financial estimate has been prepared for the new plan.

The impact of the deadly virus has intensified in the third wave with all the previous plans including the Preparedness and Response plan gone haywire, several senior officials who wished to remain anonymous told the Business Times.

Under the current plan, cash transfers to vulnerable groups amounted to around Rs. 6 billion, 0.6 percent of GDP in 2020 and around Rs.15 billion – 0.1 percent of GDP so far in 2021, Treasury data showed.

A sum of Rs.96.1 billion in 2020 and Rs.41.9 billion up to May, 2021 was provided as relief facilities (cash food stuffs and other essential items) to the people.

According to estimates of experts Sri Lanka should vaccinate around 80 percent of its population numbering 17.5 million people.

Sri Lanka has received or is expected to receive vaccine donations and other financial assistance from countries like India, China and Russia.

According to provisional estimates the total cost to inoculate another 60 percent of the population is around Rs 27.4 billion. The earlier vaccination of 20 percent of the population cost Rs .9.1 billion.

With 66 per cent of the labour force working informally, many women undertaking domestic labour require the limited provision of social protection support across the lifecycle, including for those in the formal economy, a UNICEF report revealed.

Large segments of society are without access to any social protection and, therefore, were vulnerable in the COVID-19 crisis.

To address the recession and protect families, it will be necessary for Sri Lanka to put in place a large fiscal stimulus package, comprising social protection transfers to families, the report suggested.

Hence, food security issues of the country need to be addressed with a holistic policy approach with near to long-term strategies to ensure food security to withstand possible future shock


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