Sri Lanka has hired 65,000 unemployed graduates in to the state sector over the past year and 35,000 more youth into a new Department and more will be hired, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said.
“Employment opportunities for unemployed graduates were one of the main demands made to us during the election campaign,” President Rajapaksa said in a national address.
“Accordingly, as soon as the government was appointed, steps were taken to provide government employment to 65,000 graduates who were unemployed at that time.”
Another 35,000 youth with low education had been hired into public sector which will be taken to 100,000, into a new department called Multi-Task Force.
“Under the first phase, 35,000 youths have been recruited and sent to government institutions island-wide for their training,” President Rajapaksa said.
“Upon completion of the training, all these individuals will be attached to the primary grade posts in various government institutions.
“We will recruit others as well.”
They will be hired into a Multi-Task Force Department. When a Department is built and not an Authority, the workers will be given unfunded lifetime pensions instead of a contributed provident fund that is found in an authority.
Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa converted the Samurdhi Authority into a Department to give lifetime pensions to thousands of Samurdhi Niyamaka.
Trade Minister Bandula Gunewardene told parliament last week there was hardly any tax money left for other state spending after state worker salaries were paid.
Giving state jobs and pensions to unemployed was one of several key economic strategies promoted by a fiscal-counter revolution started around 2002 by Sri Lanka’s Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.
The policy became a mainstay of an administration led by United National People’s Alliance for almost a decade from 2005 to 2015.
Other JVP flogged policies that led to subsequent economic and monetary instability is fixing oil which was promoted by then-activist and current Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa as ‘removing the World Bank plug’.
When oil prices were fixed with tax cuts, which were replaced printed money or bank credit (which were in turn re-financed through central bank window money by targeting a policy rate), the rupee collapsed.
A third key JVP strategy in the 2001-2004 economic policy counter-revolution was anti-privatization to protect ‘national assets’.
Fixing oil prices, expanding the state with unemployed graduates and anti-privatization became policy planks of subsequent administrations.
In 2011, the anti-privatization policy was taken further to actual expropriation through an ad hominem law.
Sri Lanka raised fuel prices in June and is also trying to privatize though so-called ‘public private partnerships’ and land sales which is drawing opposition from sections of the public who had been fed an alternate line of thinking for many years.