Nine Things from Nine Experts on the Sri Lankan Economy

The 2012 Annual Sessions of Sri Lanka’s top body of economists, the Sri Lanka Economic Association, was held over the weekend on the theme ‘Export Growth for Sustained Development’. It isn’t easy to capture all of the rich discussion, but here are nine interesting facts that The Curionomist picked out for you, from presentations and speakers of the experts at the Sessions.

1. Sri Lanka’s Exports to GDP ratio has declined from around 33% of GDP in 2010 to 18% of GDP in 2011 – Dr. Saman Kelegama (Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka)
2. The Sri Lankan economy has been increasingly trading with the world less than before. From a trade (exports and imports) to GDP ratio of 80% of GDP in 2000, it had halved, to around 44%, by 2010 – Sarath Rajapatirana (Fmr. Economic Advisor, World Bank and Senior Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute).
3. Sri Lanka spends only around 0.11% of its GDP on R&D, whereas in a middle income country like Malaysia it is more than 0.6% and in a high income country like USA nearly 3.0% – Anushka Wijesinha (Research Economist, IPS and Editor ‘Talking Economics’).
4. Sri Lanka will have massive infrastructure needs in order to grow at 8%+, and the infrastructure sector will need a total investment of around 3.3% of GDP over the 2013-2020 period by middle income standards, and 6.1% of GDP to be on par with advanced middle income standards – Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy (Fmr. Director Economic Affairs, Commonwealth Secretariat).
5. The Sri Lankan apparel industry has lost around US$ 1 billion due to the loss of the EU’s GSP Plus concessions afforded to the country – Rohan Masakorala (Secretary General, Asian Shippers’ Council and Fmr. Secretary General, Joint Apparel Association Forum).
6. The annual cost of corruption in Sri Lanka could be around 9% of the country’s national income (calculated at 2006 GDP) according to a report by the Sri Lanka Economic Association – Lloyd Yapa (Vice President, Sri Lanka Economic Association).
7.  As Sri Lanka’s tourist industry gears itself for rapid growth, 90 new hotel projects have received approval from the country’s tourism authorities adding 4,524 new hotel rooms of varying star classes – Dr. Srilal Miththapala (Immediate Past President, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka).
8. Sri Lanka’s IT sector is showing strong growth with 3-4 new companies joining the membership of SLASSCOM, the country’s premier body of software and IT services firms, each month. Most of these new firms are small start-ups, employing less than 20 people – Sujiva Dewaraja (Chairman, SLASSCOM and Vice President, John Keells Holdings).
9. Sri Lanka ranks low in respect of technological sophistication and firm level technology absorption – of 102 countries examined, the country is placed 66 and 62 in comparison with India’s 25 and 31 and Singapore’s 6 and 5 respectively, and a symptom of this is that of the total manufactured exports from Sri Lanka only around 1.5% comprises ‘high-tech exports’ Prof. A D V de S Indraratna (President, Sri Lanka Economic Association).



The media have already highlighted more extensively the comments by some of the key speakers

‘Sri Lanka can up exports by moving to complex products: economist’ –

‘Sri Lanka Economic Association Annual Sessions highlight poor focus, productivity, competitiveness, governance’ –

‘Citizens losing control of public finances – Eran’ –


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