Sri Lanka needs high gear government to drive economic engine: official

Chandi Dharmaratne

June 18, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lankan private sector is the engine of growth and the government should embrace the Japanese example and formulate policies that would help people run their economic lives smoothly, a senior official said. “Private sector is the engine of growth and the public sector is the gear box,” Sunil Jayantha Navaratne, secretary of Sri Lanka’s higher education ministry said.

“The level of economic growth would depend on which gear the government is running on.”

After independence from British rule, Sri Lanka progressively restricted the economic freedoms of the people, violated their property rights by ‘nationalizing’ businesses killing many private businesses, restricted trade.

A series of state monopolies stalled the growth of many sectors and denied services to the people.

Post independence governments also deficit spent, created high inflation and currency depreciation and generally impoverished everybody, including state workers.

There also problems with rule of law, and selective implementation of laws. Citizens have taken up arms against the state three times over the last three and a half decades.

Navaratne was speaking at a ceremony where Dialog Telekom, the island’s larges