- Beyond Pomp and Pageantry: Looking at Public Markets as Lived Spaces
- New Platform Initiated for Young Professionals in Public Policy
- Breaking Point: Impact of Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis on Colombo’s Working Class Poor
- Valuing the Catch of the Day: Towards a more Humanised Food Value Chain
- New Publication: ‘Debt for Nature Swaps: A Primer for Interested Stakeholders’
June 18, 2022
Should Civil Service Reform and Public Finance Reform Go Together?
Sri Lanka has let public financial management slip dramatically over the last couple of decades, resulting in weak government finances and the lack of fiscal space to support the economy during times of economic downturns and distress. As the ongoing public protests have also shown, people have lost confidence in the ability of successive governments to effectively manage people's money collected via taxes. As an IMF programme agreement draws closer, tax increases and spending cuts have already been implemented, and ad hoc changes to public sector work (like cutting down the working week by 1 day, with no change in pay) are tried out, more sustained and urgent reforms to public finance remain unfinished. In this discussion, an international public financial management (PFM) expert - who has worked in Sri Lanka and in over 14 other countries around the world - shares some insights on the challenge of PFM reform, the imperatives in doing it, and the need to couple it with meaningful civil service reform.
June 2, 2022
Austerity and Vulnerability: Better Solutions to Support the Poor During Economic Crises
As Sri Lanka's economic crisis worsens and tax increases, utility price hikes and budget cuts begin, the need for a meaningful social safety net for the poor has become a key public policy focus. Yet, Sri Lanka has a bad track record of properly identifying, and providing support to, vulnerable population groups. Current approaches to welfare design risk replicating existing problems. In this in-depth interview, featuring key data points, Dr. Anila Dias Bandaranaike (a former senior Central Banker, and poverty data expert), speaks about the problems with our current approaches and ideas for better solutions. It is essentially viewing for anyone interested in this topic - whether you are a researcher, public policy professional, or civil society organization leader.
April 9, 2022
Sri Lanka needs a ‘sensible’ fiscal adjustment plan – CSF Co-Founder
CSF Co-Founder Anushka Wijesinha was interviewed by Andrea Sanke of the leading Turkish global news channel TRT World, on their show 'Newsmakers' to talk about the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka, along with history researcher Shamara Wettimuny, and activist Ruki Fernando. During the panel, he recalled one of the turning points for the economy - the irresponsible tax cuts that led to the ratings downgrades and locking out of international capital markets - and the cascading policy errors and the false bravado that followed. He argued that while the structural problems with the economy will take longer to resolve, the immediate macroeconomic stabilisation needs to take centre stage and the IMF programme will be the first baby steps towards that, and avoid a sovereign debt default.
March 23, 2022
Credit lines would provide temporary respite but sustainable solutions needed
CSF Co-Founder Anushka Wijesinha was interviewed by Gargi Rawat of NDTV (India) to explain to an Indian audience the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka and what prospects in the near-term. He emphasised that while the Indian credit line recently signed would provide some temporary respite to the ongoing shortage of fuel and may see queues ease up in the short-term, it is far from a sustainable solution.
September 22, 2021
Attracting Good FDI Starts with Designing Good Incentives Regimes
Sri Lanka is on a renewed push to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) following a poor performance in the last decade, post-war. Fiscal incentives regimes have changed from time to time, laws and regulations have been introduced, investment promotions missions have been held in major capitals. Yet, attracting FDI remains a struggle, amidst heightened competition from regional competitor locations. In this interview, former Deloitte consultant Danindu Udalamaththa outlines some key areas for Sri Lanka to focus on and learn from. He draws from his experience advising global clients on the investor side, and argues that to attract good investment, Sri Lanka needs to design good incentives frameworks.
September 12, 2021
Solving SME Development Challenges:
Looking Beyond Easy Loan Schemes
Like many countries in the region, SME development remains prominently on the policy agenda of successive Sri Lankan governments, development projects, and private sector support programmes over the years. Yet, a thriving, dynamic, and internationally-competitive SME sector remains elusive. Various schemes to address SMEs’ access to finance issues is a popular, and often dominant, part of most SME development initiatives. In this interview with finance and investment specialist Sharini Kulasinghe we explore some new perspectives on solving SME development challenges, going beyond the common wisdom.
September 11, 2021
Shift to Organic Agriculture Must be Staged and Strategic – Agri Expert
Sri Lanka's President announced a policy directive of moving to 100% organic farming this year, and an immediate ban on importing any chemical fertilisers and agro-chemicals. Since the announcement, there has been a fervent debate on the decision, ranging from fears around food security and impacts on exports, to a celebration of the potential to create a unique value for the country. In our first video interview in the 'Smarter Sustainability' series agriculture economist Chatura Rodrigo discusses how to manage the transition better, implications for farmers, and gaps in the policymaking process.
Tags: Natural Capital Forum
August 31, 2021
ECONOMICS x ENVIRONMENT:
Are Marine Conservation and Sri Lanka’s Maritime Hub Ambitions Compatible?
In this interview in the 'Economics x Environment' series of Smart Future Forum (SFF), Nishan Perera - Sri Lanka's leading marine ecologist, an avid diver and underwater photographer - shares some vital insights on. Nishan is a marine ecologist with an interest in coral reef ecology and Marine Protected Area management. He is a co-founder of Blue Resources Trust, a Sri Lankan marine research organization, where he currently heads the coral reef programme. His recent work has included research on impacts of climate change on coral reefs, small scale fisheries management and supporting Marine Protected Area management in Sri Lanka. He has previously worked with IUCN, Project Seahorse and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.
August 10, 2021
Sri Lanka Must Use GSP+ for
Smarter Positioning on Sustainability
When Sri Lanka regained the GSP+ trade concessions to the EU, exporters from a range of sectors got a renewed opportunity to compete in this lucrative market. Yet, prospects for future growth will rely on Sri Lanka boosting its sustainability and governance credentials, to position exports more strongly, for the longer term. In this interview in the Smarter Sustainability series, Anisha Rajapakse explores key issues for Sri Lanka in strengthening its positioning as a trusted and preferred sourcing location for EU buyers, using GSP+ and beyond.
August 8, 2021
Interview with Leonora Milan,
Mexico’s Leading Young Science Communicator
Leonora Milan, a leading science communicator in Mexico and featured prominently in Mexican media, shares her thoughts on the shape of the public debates on science, climate change, environmental issues, and policy in Mexico. She observes that in Mexico people have a newfound interest in scientific topics than a few years ago, but there are still gaps in bridging the science-policy divide. Some 'bright spots' have emerged, however, in training young people in climate change negotiations and breeding new technical advisory on environmental policy issues. This interview is part of the 'Global Voices' series, which brings to Sri Lanka the views of young professionals from around the world.