Lack of NIC cause of poverty
in estate sector Ė WB
by Suranga Gamage
The failure by the Department of Registration of
Persons to issue National Identity Cards (NICs) to the majority
of plantation workers, even two decades after they were given
citizenship rights in the early eighties, has become a major
cause for poverty in the estate sector, a World Bank Economist
Ambar Narayan, the World Bankís Senior Economist
on Poverty Reduction and Economic Management for the South Asian
Region, told a press conference on Tuesday,
organized by the World Bank Institute and the
Sri Lanka Press Council, that, a recent survey in the plantation
sector revealed that 85 per cent of plantation workers above 25
years of age havenít been issued NICs by the government.
The survey had also revealed that 35 per cent of
estate youth between 16 and 19 years age did not possess NICs.
Narayan said that due to the security situation
in the country, the NIC has become a crucial factor in the
economic success of a plantation worker as it is crucial for
them to access tertiary and vocational education and opt for
lucrative jobs outside the plantations including overseas
"Not having an NIC restricts the mobility of
plantation youth, who prefer to get even a low paid outside job
than getting employed on the estate because of the stigma
attached to the plantation worker," Narayan said.
He said that the job opportunities in the
plantation sector were shrinking after privatization as the
total number of plantation workers had been reduced from the
pre-privatization figure of 400,000 to about 225,000.
The research had also shown that dependency in
plantation families was on the verge of increasing as working
parents have to feed their grownup but jobless children as well
as the elderly and invalid.
The survey also indicated that 14 per cent of
children in the plantation sector donít go to schools and 46 per
cent of that figure are suffering from malnutrition.
It also revealed that after privatization, the
general welfare activities in the sector had declined and
plantation companies had failed to improve the living conditions
of the workers contrary to expectations that privatization of
estates would make their lives better.