Official poverty line increases to Rs 13,138

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Sri Lanka’s official poverty line (OPL) accelerated for the sixth consecutive month to July, increasing by 6.94 per cent (Rs 694) month-on-month to July to Rs 13,138, Census and Statistics Department (CSD) data released on Tuesday (13 September) showed. In the previous month June, this figure (OPL) was Rs 12,444.

The definition of OPL is the minimum monthly earnings needed by an individual in the country to be considered as being ‘non-poor.’ The meaning of ‘non-poor’ is the amount needed by such an individual to buy the bare necessities of life for a month to keep ‘his nose above the water.’ The OPL at Rs 13,138 in July means that an individual needed to earn a minimum of Rs 13,138 that month (July) to buy the bare necessities of life and thus to be considered as being non-poor.

Meanwhile, the OPL as at last year was recorded at a mere Rs 7,913 by CSD. Therefore, the OPL within a short space of seven months to July of this year (2022) has risen by 66.03 per cent (Rs 5,225) to Rs 13,138, driven by record high inflation.

In related developments, according to the last official poverty survey conducted by the CSD in 2019, it was found that 3.04 million of Sri Lanka’s population was poor. This accounted for 14.3 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population that year. Meanwhile, the OPL in 2019 was a mere Rs 6,966. It has since, that is, in a space of two years and seven months, risen by 88.60 per cent (Rs 6,172) to Rs 13,138 by July 2022, driven by record high inflation, ostensibly, driving more people to poverty.

By Paneetha Ameresekere