AROUND 70% OF SRI LANKAN WORKERS HOLD INFORMAL JOBS. WHY IS INFORMALITY SO STUBBORNLY HIGH, AND DOES IT MATTER IN THE FIRST PLACE
An earnest tenderer for a building improvement at a public sector energy organisation, who arrived at 9 am spent the next six hours to collect bidding documents. Due to the risks associated with the pandemic, employees at some public sector organisations are rostered for work two or three days a week. The officers who eventually attended to the tenderer arrived several hours late carrying bags of groceries evidently having completed weekly shopping during work hours.
Being a small business owner, the tenderer patiently endured another delay to pay a Rs1,500 non-refundable bid deposit. Although the state organisation publishes documents online tenderers must bid on, the originals are collected after paying a bid deposit.
For most small businesses, and private and informal sector workers, Covid has been devastating. Private sector employees endured pay cuts, small businesses went bust and those in informal jobs were without an income during the lockdowns to prevent the Covid pandemic’s spread.