Wednesday, 5 March 2014 00:53
With claims that a majority of Sri Lankans are struggling to make ends meet and that only a minority have achieved the Government’s promised miracle, opposition lawmaker Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday using Government statistics revealed what he said was the real increase in costs against the country’s diminishing living standards with the public taken for a ride.
Joining the debate on regulations under the Imports & Exports (Control) Act, MP de Silva used the recent Household Income & Expenditure Survey 2012/13 report published by the Department of Census and Statistics.
“The report outlines the need for Rs. 40,887 by an average family in Sri Lanka to meet their monthly household expenses while an urban household with less than four family members needs Rs. 59,001.
I will now highlight the per capita income of $ 3,000, but the same report says that the average per capita income is Rs. 11,932. There is a considerable disparity between the per capita income of $ 3,000 and what is revealed in this report,” he said.
Based on the Household Income & Expenditure Survey 2012/13, which is conducted every three years capturing a sample of 25,000 houses in Sri Lanka, he said: “This is the key survey conducted since the 1960s to measure the country’s living standards. I will give you an example. In 2009, an average person had consumed 4,127 grams of rice but with so-called development in the background, this consumption has reduced to 3,690 grams now.
“Per capita sugar consumption, which was 1,212 grams in 2009 was reduced to 1,104 grams in 2012. So, tap into your hearts and see how many families out there are bringing in Rs. 59,001 every month? There are no questions about the difficulties people undergo. “Similarly, household incomes have also gone up. In 2006 the average household income was Rs. 26,286, but according to this report that income was Rs. 46,207. This is an increase of 76% in nominal incomes. But on the other hand the cost of living has also gone up where the real income was increased by 5.8%.”
Taking a different angle to explain the basic economics using an average paddy farmer, MP de Silva said: “If a paddy farmer who succeeded selling 1 kilogram of paddy at Rs. 35 is taken as an example, he experienced a certified purchase price of Rs. 17.50 in 2006. They had to sell 6 kilograms of paddy to purchase a tin of canned fish.
“Today, to purchase the same tin he has to sell 7 kilograms. Selling 9 kilograms of paddy enabled this farmer to buy a 400 gram milk powder packet. Today, he needs to sell 11 kilograms to purchase the same packet. You need not be an economist to understand things turning from bad to worse.”
In addition, MP de Silva also highlighted the inadequate salaries state employees receive. “Let us see what has happened to state employees. According to the Central Bank Annual Report 2012, page 108, the real income of state employees has gone down marginally in 2012.
“In 2010, 2011, and 2012 general wages of state employees have gone down by 3.3%. Salaries of non-executive state employees have gone down by 3.4% during the past four years. Salaries of minor employees were reduced by 3.1% during the past three years. Teacher’s salaries were also reduced by 2.4% in real terms during the same period,” he said.