Business Times

Aging population: Younger Sri Lankans have to earn more to look after elders

An influential Sri Lankan government minister has identified a grave shortcoming when planning is correlated to people’s needs. Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapakse, speaking as the Chief Guest at the AGM of the Sri Lanka Planning Services Association in Colombo last week, complained that correct advice is not reaching the politicians by the planners.

Quoting several examples, he said that in the Gampaha District most expectant mothers use the services of the maternity clinics and in some of these clinics there were no toilet facilities and even chairs to sit whereas lots of furniture is provided elsewhere.

He said that he was invited to lay the foundation stone to carpet a section of a road, but found that it is a carpeted road up to a certain point and leaving about 6 km of unrepaired road stretch. He said that he refused to lay the foundation stone saying this is not the way to meet the people’s needs.

Mr Rajapaksa said that the political leadership represents the people and the political views should be in line with the professional views to cater to the people’s needs. The public service should advice them how the development and planning process can fulfill the needs of the people. He said that if proper advice is not given this political leadership would fail at the elections.

Dr P.B.Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development making the keynote address said that earlier population growth was booming and the advice was family planning. As a result of family planning the aging population is growing and in another 20 years, 20% of the population would be over 60 years. He asked the planners what needs to be controlled when the dependency ratio is rising and also that of life expectancy.

He said that while the aging population is increasing the population below 60 is decreasing and therefore the number of dependents would also increase. The younger population has to earn more to look after the older population.

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