- Says SL requires multi-year programne of policy reforms and institutional strengthening
- Points out need for investment in better identification and delivery systems
- Prolonged periods of low fertility and lower mortality rates identified as key reasons for fast-growing ageing population
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sri Lanka having reached the advanced stage of a demographic transition, where it now has a fast-growing ageing population, will require increased focus to cater to that group as current measures by the government remain inadequate.
Highlighting Sri Lanka’s changing demographics in their latest development report, the World Bank (WB) said the country needs the right strategies and policy reforms to better handle the transition.
“Formulating a strategy to improve old age income and poverty protection will require a multi-year programme of policy reforms and institutional strengthening,” WB stated in their development report that was launched last week in Colombo.
The report noted that all programmes must be conceptualized to include measures to improve the equity and sustainability of the public sector pension scheme, extension of voluntary pension savings opportunities in the Employees’ Provident Fund to informal workers without labour contracts and strengthening of the elderly benefits through improved targeting adjustments in the amount and age of eligibility.
While asserting that the government could also act as a steward in the elder care sector to improve the supply of affordable and high-quality services, the WB pointed out that investments in better identification and delivery systems would help broaden coverage and efficiency of savings and insurance mechanisms to protect elders.
A large ageing population is expected to have long-lasting implications for service delivery on health, education, pensions, employment and public finances. The WB noted that it is essential for Sri Lanka to focus on these factors during policy planning.
The World Bank has identified two key factors that lead to the fast growing ageing population in Sri Lanka.
The first is the prolonged periods of low fertility, contributing to narrowing the base and placing a cap on the growth of the next generations.The second is the lower mortality rates and rising life expectancy of the population over time that results in an increasing mass of population at the top of the pyramid.Right strategies,...
With regard to the impact of this demographic change on the labour force, a panel discussion held following the report launch proposed to extend the current retirement age, which is 65 years.
Former University of Colombo Chair of Demography, Professor Indralal de Silva saud during the discussion that Sri Lanka will soon have to consider elderly persons as those who are 65 years and above as opposed to the current 60 years, which is specified by law of the country.
According to him, with the life expectancy for females having increased to 79 years, and males to 73 years, the current definition is not acceptable.