Exposure to poor air quality is ranked among the top 10 leading global risk factors for disease. The lack of visibility of air pollution often results in delay in public policy and personal responses, till the problem is acute. Improving the collection and access of air quality data is the first step, to making it safe to breathe in Sri Lanka.
A key debate during Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is whether the current dollar shortage is a short-term liquidity problem or a more protracted and systemic issue that requires debt reduction. This insight responds to the view that the dollar shortage is a short-term liquidity problem primarily caused by reduced tourism revenue since the onset of COVID-19. As this insight describes, there are three reasons to be skeptical of this argument.
In 2019 the government introduced a policy where taxes and prices on cigarettes would be based on an indexation formula. Forgetting to implement the policy is costly: it has resulted in a foregone revenue of 85 billion from 2020-2022 and will cost a further 45 billion in 2023.
Sri Lanka introduced a ban on chemical fertiliser importation, and a shift to organic fertiliser starting April 2021. As existing stocks were beginning to deplete Verité Research conducted a survey in July to capture the views of the farmers on the policy and its impact on them. The farmers were broadly supportive of the policy; but expected a much reduced harvest due to the lack of knowledge and time to make the transition.
Increased exposure to healthier air is a positive note among the many tragic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. As movement was restricted to prevent the spread of the disease, air quality in Colombo drastically improved leading to a 60% reduction in the average duration that people in Colombo were exposed to unhealthy air.