English Insights

Challenges for Sri Lanka amidst COVID-19 pandemic

As one country, we all need to fulfill our responsibilities to overcome the economic, political and social challenges that our country face as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The curfew time period has allowed the general public to take a break from their hectic lifestyles but people will have to stay under curfew way too long due to the irresponsible behavior of a handful.

Undoubtedly, the coronavirus epidemic has already threatened most parts of the world. The level of risk is increasing every day. It is important to look at the economic, social and political impact of this situation on Sri Lanka in the process of controlling this situation.

It is unquestionable that when a country faces such a pandemic, it is most likely affect the economy of the country. The impact of this health emergency on the world economy will have a direct as well as an indirect impact on the economy of our country. In particular, it will have a major impact on the

  • Tourism industry
  • Apparel industry
  • Banking and finance industry
  • Trade industry
  • Construction industry
  • Education sector

Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange to Sri Lanka hence directly affecting the Sri Lankan economy. This pandemic is likely to have a dramatic impact on tourism, given the global travel ban and the spread of the disease in other countries. Tourist arrivals in the first few months of this year have fallen by 30% compared to last year. That situation is not expected to recover anytime soon according to the industry experts.

The impact on the apparel industry is also considered to be a great hit on the Sri Lankan economy. The apparel sector is one of the major sectors in Sri Lanka’s export earnings. Sri Lanka’s leading apparel retailers have already forecasted a 40% chance of shrinking demand for the garment industry this year alone. According to the forecast report, the industry is expecting a huge employment cut in the short to medium term and that the businesses will incur losses by approximately 80% from April to June 2020.The number of employees is also very high in the apparel industry and all of their jobs are at a risk. Decline in the global demand and delays in import of raw materials are the factors that mostly affect the apparel industry in Sri Lanka.

This collapse will also directly affect the local banking industry. Poor individual economic conditions, difficulties in paying off loans, and reduced deposits will undoubtedly impact the banking industry. The loss of deposits from corporates and loan facilities provided to corporates being halted also plays a major role in the downfall.

Delays in many construction projects are inevitable. Particularly, since many projects are being undertaken by Chinese companies even once the curfew is lifted there will be issues with regards to human resources. Delays in importing raw materials and spooked potential contractors will eventually lead to a longer time of recovery from the negative impact.

With the closure of schools and universities and other educational institutions, the whole education sector is facing a downturn. The reopening of said educational institutes should be done cautiously and ensuring the safety of the staff and children.

Although some schools claim to be using online teaching techniques, it is not a practical method that can be practiced in all parts of the country. Even though such a system is initiated through TV channels, it will not be as effective as classroom teaching and some children will not be benefited due to financial difficulties. Parents have a lot of responsibility towards the education of their children. It is the duty and responsibility of the teachers to devise special methods and plans to cover missed educational activities which will be difficult due to the long time period of absence from school and less resources.

The people of Sri Lanka will face many political challenges as well. The general election is scheduled to be held on June 20th, as per the Gazette. The Election Commission is facing a greater challenge than ever before. The promotional activities of the candidates and the voting procedures need to be carried out with the safety of the general public in mind.

It must be done with greater care to ensure the health of the employees in the Election Commission itself. The Elections Commission has successfully held elections during various diverse periods of its electoral history. However this is an unprecedented time period. The successful conduct of this election will undoubtedly be a turning point in the democratic and electoral history of the country. Another reason why this year’s election is so special is the inability of these thousands of supporters to hold election rallies as in previous elections, making it a challenging election to the candidates themselves. The education sector too is currently facing a huge challenge.

The success or failure of the mechanisms used to overcome these challenges depend on the extent to which we are fulfilling our responsibility towards the nation and human kind. In order to effectively control the impact on the economy, it is necessary to maintain the supply mechanism and the state apparatus by adopting hygienic measures. Above all, safety of the general public is considered to be of utmost importance and it is the responsibility of each individual to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones.

This is a global pandemic which will affect the nations irrespective of financial wealth, race, religion or gender. The time has come to take responsibilities seriously, for the safety of ourselves, our loved ones and society at large.

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