Posted on September 11th, 2021


After reporting Mr. Susil Siriwardane passed away, the debate on the elimination of poverty re-emerged and it might be for a short period because the condition of poverty in the country has not been eliminated so far. Mr. Susil Siriwardane attempted to reduce poverty through his project JANASAVIYA and Mr.R. Premadasa assisted the project and allocated budget funds, however, poverty in Sri Lanka seems to be vicious nature among many people. It is a significant characteristic of the economy of Sri Lanka.

Poverty has been a specific feature of Sri Lanka since economic activities were beginning by humans in the country. Marco Polo, in his report on Sri Lanka, gave short details of poverty in Sri Lanka. According to historical information, no king in the past attempted to eliminate poverty, and although published literature mentioned the term poor people, what type of plans were implemented to eliminate poverty are not mentioned. In history, poverty has been treated as a characteristic of past life or a consequence of sin committed in a previous life.

Poverty is a feature or characteristic of any country in the world and economists have defined people who are gaining income below the poverty line included in the category of poor. The drawing of the poverty line is based on the income levels of people, and it considers many factors and the ways people are gaining economic advantages. All governments in the world have taken policy actions in a variety of ways supporting the poor, and no country has eliminated poverty except the volume of people under the poverty line. Therefore, the elimination of poverty is a complicated task and it can see in some countries many poor, homeless people while rich people are living in a luxury status. 

Poverty elimination is a vital part of the curriculum of economics in universities, and some universities have identified the characteristics of poor countries considering a variety of factors. The University of Sussex made much research on the elevating of poverty and Sri Lanka was also included in such research. What is the most effective policy action to eliminate poverty, it is difficult to define? For example, a person gaining less than $1000 for a month is below the poverty line, but such a person could not be poor in Sri Lanka, it concerned the matter of purchasing power of a currency.     

When assessing the economy of Sri Lanka, the volume of people in the category of poverty has been subjected to variation and the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to change the volume of poverty because the lockdown strategy to control the pandemic was disadvantaged to poor people who were restricted by limiting engagement of economic activities.

The efforts in the elimination of poverty in developed countries composed of various programs and providing subsidies for various expenses such as electricity gas, rent, and many others, and skills development programs to increase earning levels and encouragement in investments in projects that create jobs are major efforts of poverty elimination. The elimination of poverty is an impossible task. Whatever measures are used, many people include in poverty because the general price level, exchange rate, and the value of economic activities are changed for many reasons. When Mr.J.R. Jayawardane elected the prime minister in Sri Lanka in 1977, he started a payment system similar to dole in developed countries after about a few months, the program was abandoned by the government and what was the reason was unknown. Most probably, it was a lack of funds to afford. 

Various factors contribute to poverty in Sri Lanka. Lack of skills training in the education system has been a major reason, and in early the 1960s, education policy had changed to attract skills development in the school curriculum, despite this effort, Marxist political parties protested against policy changes and gave a terrible impression on the purpose of education. This attitude has still not been changed in Sri Lanka. Many people go overseas for education rather than investing in technical and vocational education. It does not kill development but for theoretical knowledge development in business and finance.  

The higher population in the country is another major factor for poverty. I read. A book in 1976 in which showed that the population in Sri Lanka was higher (George, S (1976) How the Other Half Dies, The Real Reason for World Hunger, Penguin Books p.57 and Sri Lanka had a population plan to maintain a lower rate of population growth, however, the plan has not been properly monitored and religions and racism encouraged to increase the birth rate of the country. I noticed a TV Chanel encouraged to increase kids and offering presents to those who have many kids in the family. While the death rate was reduced to very lower for a thousand, the rate of birth for a thousand went above. Now medical officers advise postponing pregnancy for young married women, it might increase the death rate of pregnant women and the spread of the Delta variant. Sri Lanka should have a 15 million population is the best option for the country, if it wants to reduce the poverty. The current population in Sri Lanka is seven million higher than it should be.              

I don’t want to suggest that Sri Lanka needs to implement Malthus’ theory, but the imbalance of female and male population 48:52 also contributes to an increase in population and makes a positive impact on poverty.

The population classification race needs changing and many Muslim populations are subjected to poverty as the religion motivates them to have more kids in a family. 

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