Sri Lanka urged to lift land controls by World Bank

Sri Lanka's state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene (L) takes part in a press conference in Colombo on April 24, 2019. - A Sri Lankan security dragnet hunting those responsible for horrifying bombings that claimed more than 350 lives has scooped up a further 18 suspects, police said April 24, as pressure mounted on politicians to explain why no one acted on intelligence warnings. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Aug 25, 2010 (LBO) – A World Bank study has called on Sri Lanka to loosen controls on land ownership and use, saying restrictions tend to keep poor farmers poor. “Land-development ordinances that regulate the use and transfer of land keep a larger proportion of people dependent on agriculture,” the report said.

“They also keep people poorer because they earn less for their labour.”

Relaxing these ordinances is likely to raise agricultural incomes and accelerate poverty reduction and longer term transformation, said the study called Sri Lanka: Reshaping Economic Geography: Connecting People to Prosperity.

It suggests that rather than relocating existing industries from leading areas to those lagging behind, making land more mobile”not across locations but across uses and users”is likely to transform the economy and accelerate growth.

“Particularly important are institutional reforms that can improve the functioning of agrarian land markets,” the report said.

“Targeted incentives to promote economic development work best when they are preceded by institutional reforms improving the fluidity of land markets.”

International ex