Sri Lanka must aim for sustainable, inclusive growth: Governor

Nov 25, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka must aim for sustainable as well as inclusive growth, Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said on Thursday, speaking to corporate leaders.

“If we are to have sustained growth, socially and politically stable growth, as we have an aspirational society now, this whole process has to be inclusive,” he said.

“It is not just growth but quality of growth that matters.”

Coomaraswamy was speaking at the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards for 2017, organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The mechanism for sharing the benefits of growth is employment through education, training and skills development, he said: “So you have got to create higher value jobs, as you go along, to meet the aspirations of this rising middle class that we have in this country.”

“The way that the broad mass of our society can share in the benefits of growth is by empowering them through education, training and skills development.”

Coomaraswamy said there is often a false dichotomy between growth and inclusivity.

“When you have growth, you have more tax revenue. Your fiscal envelope increases to deliver basic services like health and education, and also higher growth and taxes allow you to have social safety nets.”

Sri Lanka’s economy is forecast to grow 6.3 percent next year, according to the Central Bank, with the government expected to narrow its annual budget deficit.

Coomaraswamy said plans for regional development in key areas such as Kandy, Trincomalee and a special economic zone in Hambantota would spur growth.

Plans for a 1,500 acre special economic zone in Hambantota, for about 2,000 Chinese companies, and a city for 300,000 to 400,000 people, are part of these plans, he added.