A new report, 'COVID-19 & Beyond - The impact on the Labor Market of Sri Lanka’, urges the Sri Lankan government to modernize its garment and textile industry besides establishing a comprehensive social security system. Prepared by the country's Commissioner General of Labor, Ananda Wimalaweera, the report reveals results of an e-survey of 2,764 private sector businesses, carried out by the Sri Lankan Department of Labor, to assess the scale of the problems faced by employers.
The biggest single sector among those surveyed was manufacturing, with three-quarters of these respondents coming from the key garment and textile industry. The survey found that 53 per cent of businesses had been forced to temporarily shut down their businesses during the pandemic and that only three per cent had been able to remain fully open. The survey found that a staggering 64 per cent of the nearly 600,000 workers employed by the businesses had not been in work during the pandemic. Most were without any form of social security, making them highly vulnerable.
Only two per cent of the business surveyed had been successful in securing working capital loans from financial institutions to help them through the crisis, with another 48 per cent still awaiting the outcome of their applications. The report made a series of short-term recommendations designed to protect workers and reduce the financial pressures on employers, such as the granting of low interest loans.
And, in the medium term, it advised measures including the establishment of a comprehensive social security scheme and adopting strategies to modernize key industries such as apparel and textiles.