Policy Debate

Apr 21, 2010 (LBO) – Dr Harsha de Silva has been an exemplary policy intellectual. He had the greatest impact in contributing to the shifting of the frame for discussing inflation in Sri Lanka from the misguided focus on imported inflation to one that correctly places the actions of the Central Bank and the now commonly understood term, money printing, at the center. His persistence paid off; his words made into the discussions of the Monetary Board. He was called names, but the Central Bank corrected itself.

Dr de Silva’s interventions, along with those of Fuss Budget’s Thrift Column in LBO, served the country well. In particular business and the asset-poor benefited. While LIRNEasia would like to take credit for this stunning achievement, it cannot. Dr de Silva was our Lead Economist, only part of the time. He did all his macro-economic work in the rest of his time. That subject falls outside the remit of LIRNEasia, however broadly defined.

His other great achievement was in advancing the understanding of the role of information in agricultural markets and contributing to well-designed applications that mobilize ICTs, especially the now almost ubiquitous mobiles, to reduce the frictions that characterize the agricultural value chains. Here, LIRNEasia has played a role, but we cannot claim credit for getting Dr de Silva started on this path, or