Sri Lanka not doing enough to communicate reforms to masses: World Bank

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

September 27, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is not doing enough to communicate reforms to the masses, making it difficult for investors to do business here, the World Bank said Wednesday. “Our studies have shown that countries that embrace reforms, reduces taxes, brings businesses and workers into the formal sector. People benefit from jobs, pension benefits, goods are of a high standard and companies have cheaper access to credit.” The South Asian nation was one of the first to embrace open economic policies in the late 1970s, privatizing loss making state entities and making it easier to access markets, credit.

But issues like corruption and business deals for favoured few soon followed and pro-reformists governments were subsequently voted out of office.

The present government was elected on a platform of anti privatization, but its coalition partners have blocked reforms on key institutions like electricity, labour, petroleum, fearing job losses and back door privatisation.

Instead, the government has raised taxes, put limits on foreign ownership of land, which makes it a challenge for investment climate to flourish.

“People don’t seem understand or see the need fo