Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Monday, October 23, 2017

1 year on, Jaffna University remembers two students killed by police


Staff and students at the University of Jaffna paid tribute on Friday to the two students killed a year ago by Sri Lankan police.

Media faculty students Nadarajah Kajan and Vijayakumar Sulaxan were shot dead by Jaffna police officers in Kokkuvil on October 20th 2016, sparking protests across the North-East, further around the island and internationally.

The tribute event on the first year anniversary of their deaths was organised jointly by students, academic staff and non-academic employees at the university.

MMDA Reforms: Ulema Insists Women Must Play Second Fiddle 

logoAll Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulema (ACJU) in its latest submission to the Muslim Personal Law Reforms Committee Chaired by Former Justice Saleem Marsoof, rejected any key changes to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act of 1951 (MMDA) instead bringing in strong theological support to the first report which came into severe criticism from the Muslim intelligentsia.
The new 37 page document, outlines the position of the ACJU with regard to the proposed changes, all of which have been rejected on the grounds of non-conformity with Sharia. 

Rizwe Mufthi
The ACJU is an unelected body with its head Mufthi Rizwe holding the post of chairman for over a decade. The submission by the ACJU renounces all theological and interpretational advances made in Islamic jurisprudence and instead used pre medieval comprehension to assert its view, again.
Rizwe in repeated Jumma sermons had insisted that females should wear the Nikab and has been a strong opponent of any reform to the MMDA Insisting on ideals such as marriage at the age of 6 being permissible.
Rejecting the need to introduce females as Quazi’s (judges) into the Quazi Court System, the ACJU is of the view that as per all major Islamic schools of thought “it is not permissible for a woman to be appointed as a judge, and if she is appointed, the one who appointed her is sinning, and her appointment is invalid, and her judgements carry no weight, no matter what ruling she passes.
They further quote the hadith “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of their affairs,” which according to the ACJU is general in meaning and applies to all positions of public authority. So it is not permissible to appoint a woman, because the word ‘affairs’ is general in meaning and includes all the public affairs of the Muslims.”
Rejecting the appointment of females to be appointed as marriage registrars, the ACJU expresses that the appointment of a woman would lead to compromise on important “shari’ah concerns” since marriages are recommended to be held at Mosques and are conducted in the presence of males. The document does not specify the “Shariah aspects”. The document further notes that in the case of a marriage happening outside a mosque “the traveling of women alone, the mingling of women with non-mahram men and processing the registration will no doubt have practical and Shari’ah concerns.” Mahram male is one who falls within the prohibited degrees of marriage for a woman as per Islam
Further, according to these submissions, for a valid marriage to happen, Islam requires four people, none of which includes the bride herself. The four accordingly are the guardian of the bride referred to as the wali (usually father, uncle, or brother of the bride)the bridegroom, and two Muslim male witnesses who are familiar with the two contracting parties.
Unlike the rest of the country where the bride herself signs her marriage form signifying consent, the MMDA requires the guardian of the bride to sign for and on behalf of her. Women’s groups have been demanding for the right to be given to the bride herself, however, the ACJU in its document recommends the brides signature in addition to her guardians signature stating “in no circumstance it should indicate that without the consent of Wali, a bride on her own free will, can proceed with her marriage.
 The requirement is in line with pre medieval practices in which women were betrothed by men who believed they were chattel of men.
The ACJU further notes “the father is generally the Wali of the bride, and he may marry her off without her consent, if she is a virgin, provided certain conditions are met. It is, however, Mustahab (recommended) to acquire the consent of the bride prior to marriage.
The MMDA unlike the General Marriage Law of the Country does not recognize 18 as the minimum age of marriage. Under the MMDA a girl below 12 years can be wedded off with the authorization of the Quazi. This practice has been criticized at various forums for not being in line with international standards. The ACJU in their submissions recommends the minimum age to be raised to 18, however lays out that approval should be obtained from a Quazi for marriages between age 16-18. It further states that marriage below 16 if occurred, should not be invalidated under the MMDA. Thereby stating that the status quo of child marriage should remain intact. 
Rejecting that limitations should be placed on entering into polygamous marriages the ACJU opines that a proper reading of the Quranic verses on polygamy permits the practice without exceptions of circumstance. The ACJU sees no reason to place restrictions on such practice “due to few unfortunate situations that arise in polygamous marriages”. Some Muslim countries have banned this practice as outdated and women’s groups have been lobbying for the same in Sri Lanka. 
The ACJU further states that the equal treatment of wives as prescribed in the Quran is limited to what is  under mans control and that “love and the tilt of the heart are something out of man’s controlProgressive interpretations of Quranic verses has accepted that the stringent requirement of treating women equally in effect was a move towards restricting polygamous marriages and setting the standards for monogamous unions.
The document further states that according to Islamic Jurisprudence there is no requirement that Talaq should be only pronounced in the presence of the Quazi and if pronounced in the absence of the Quazi, the Talaq is invalidTalaq is the divorce option of divorce a man is entitled, which is a unilateral form of divorce, which does not require the statement of reasons and is recognized under the MMDA. 

What does the country need?

Expressways or rurak roads


It’s heartening to note that the subject of rural development has hit the center stage again. Not many moons ago President Maithripala Sirisena launched the "Gramashakthi Peoples’ Movement" aimed at strengthening the rural economy to alleviate poverty in the country. Ambitious enough, it envisages fulfilling the requirements of the people living in 15,000+ villages across the country. Further, it expects to boost rural agriculture and industry.

Dr. Siri Gamage, writing to "The Island" (on 17.10.2017.) argued a case for rural development vis-à-vis foreign funded mega projects in the context of development in Sri Lanka. His thought provoking article entitled "Rural reawakening to solve socio-economic problems" elaboratively analyzed the merits of rural development as opposed to the demerits of foreign funded development.

Harnessing of rural talent and collective intelligence of people for the greater good of society within a spiritual atmosphere Dr. Gamage identified as the main merits of rural development. This in fact is far-reaching than the mere materialistic, physical development that is thrust on us by the politicians and the foreign development partners, working hand in glove.  In contrary, some of the delimits of the latter model Dr. Gamage identified include dependence on foreign sources of funding, expertise, potential for corruption and ideology that it creates, i.e. idea that we don't have necessary intelligence to conceptualize the problems and solutions. This has provided with enough food for thought for the development planners of this country and their critics.

Mega Projects – Sri Lankan experience

It is equally heartening to see that now at least some segments of the population have come to question the worthiness of some of the mega development projects that were carried out in this country, lately. Needless to say, these were carried out at the expense of colossal sums of money, where the ordinary citizen of the country is the ultimate payer. These include the disastrous Uma Oya and Oluvil (harbour) projects, which in fact are real engineering debacles. The government has now decided to shut down the Oluvil harbour, only four years since its opening in September 2013. Recently, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources minister Mahinda Amaraweera announced that maintenance of the harbour, which is a "white elephant", is unfeasible.

The devastation caused to the social life of the people in and around Bandarawela and its environment by an ill-conceived Uma Oya project is now well known to the people of this country. Enough and more had been said about it in the media. (Environment & Society carried a special edition titled "Uma Oya disaster" on 15.05.2017.) Although now the engineers seem to have embroiled in a never-ending sealing exercise to check the water leak, which to this day had led to the wasteful flow of insurmountable volumes of ground water, according to some "the worst is yet to come".

The impact of Southern Expressway had on the worsened flood situation in the south of the country last May-June is undeniable. Further, the Colombo Port City project has come to have its telltale effect on the western coast, which again as for the predictors is "the worst is yet to come".

Now the people having made to swallow the bitter pill of "development" over and over again by the authorities, have got their act together, in asking unpropitious question "Development, for whom?"

Against this backdrop, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has pounced hard on the controversial Central Expressway project. "The Island" reported last Saturday the Minister claiming that the country would have to bear an additional debt of Rs. 1,644 billion for the construction of the 356 km highway.

The Minister, himself an engineer, doing some number crunching, equated building of one kilometer of the proposed expressway (at Rs. 5 billion per km) to providing sanitary facilities for around 20,000 families in Colombo or to build flats for around 1,000 low income families or to construct condominiums for 5,000 poor families or to rehabilitate 50 hospitals in rural areas. He had further said that with funds to be spent on the expressway 30,000 new technical jobs, a luxury bus service to reduce congestion, construction of the second runway of the Bandaranaike International Airport, a 200MW power plant, construction of east and west terminals of the Colombo Port, the renovation of Sapugaskanda refinery, the construction of two water reservoirs to supply water to Colombo and flyovers and tunnels and new roads for Colombo to ease the traffic congestion could be undertaken.

What Minister Ranawaka had said cannot be taken lightly. After the devastating floods in the south last May-June, he was among the first to point the finger at the Southern Expressway. Had been the minister of Environment and Power and Energy for two back to back terms during the last regimen, undoubtedly, Ranawaka knows well about the nitty-gritty of these mega projects.

Sri Lanka is infamous for the corruption associated with expressway building. Two weeks ago "Environment & Society" ("The Island" of 09.10.2017.) went to town on this aspect quoting the World Bank and University of Oxford estimates. All expressway constructions in Sri Lanka except the Kottawa – Godagama sections of the Southern expressway have been much higher than the recommended maximum accepted cost per km of USD 7.8 million (approximately SLR 1 Billion).

Expressways at Rs. 5 billion per km vis-à-vis Rural Roads at Rs. 2.5 million

The National Physical Plan (NPP) provides the blue print for the country’s physical development agenda from 2011 through 2030. It proposes adding 1,000km more to the highway system of the country. This will further replenish the existing 11,600+km national highways that include the existing Kadawatha-Matara expressway, while connecting it with the Colombo-Katunayake expressway. The low end of the expressway building estimate stands around Rs. 5 billion per km.

As ever, despite the building of highways and superhighways, the fruits of "development" are yet to reach the people. (On the contrary, it has brought in death and destruction to their doorstop, as we saw following the deluge that affected the south in May-June).

One important reason for this developmental paradox is that the expressways lie miles away from the country’s all important and widespread economic foci – the rural areas. According to the 2012 Census and Statistics, 81.8% of the country’s population lives in rural and estate areas of the country. Farming along with home-based and other small scale industries take place there. (And also the biggest contributors to the country’s economy – the women folk. They include the women employed in the gulf, who stitch garments in the factories in the big cities and who toil in the tea, rubber and other plantation industries). Pathetically, almost 70 years after the country’s independence, those areas still remain very much underserved, and the rural road system is a classic case in point.

Rural Roads

According to the National Road Master Plan (2007 – 17) of the Road Development Authority, there are 115,862 km of roads dispersed across the country. Of these 11,671 km roads are termed national roads and come under the central government. They comprise the inter-provincial trunk roads connecting major cities and ports and inter-provincial arterial roads connecting major urban centres. All these roads are well paved.

Provincial roads, which are the second tier of roads, are 15,532 km in length and are administered by the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government and maintained by the provincial administration. By function they connect settlements with markets. Of these, only 67% of these are paved.

The third tier, local authority roads, spread through 64,659 km of length and breadth of the country, is the longest network of road structure. While they too come under the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government, the relevant local government bodies maintain them. Only 13% of these roads, which in practice traverse through the real economic heartlands, are paved. In other words, 87% of the country’s rural roads still remain unpaved.

In addition, a fourth category termed "unclassified" roads is found in the plantation, irrigational and forest areas in the country and it accounts for approximately 24,000km in length.

Rural Road Development

An Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project named "i-road" (for Integrated Road Investment Programme) is underway since 2014 to improve the rural roads in the country. While an estimated 3,000km of rural roads in Southern, Sabaragamuwa, Central, North Central, North Western Provinces and Kalutara district in the Western Province will be improved by this project, it also expects to maintain these roads for three years through civil works contracts. At present this project is underway in the Kalutara, Kegalle, Rathnapura, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Matale districts.

Most importantly, 1,200km of rural road development in the first phase of the project is expected to take place at Rs. 35 billion, just a fraction of what is spent on expressway construction.

According to the ADB’s environmental consultant of the project Mr. Athula Priyantha, this particparticular road buildingproject takes cognizance of manym aspects related to rural development including social and environmental aspects.

This project undertakes to develop the existing ROWs (road of ways) in the selected provinces. These are the roads that come under provincial councils.
The first phase of the project "i-road 1" is now underway in the Southern,
Sabaragamuwa, Central, North Central, North Western Provinces and in Kalutara district. Once that is over the second phase of the project "i-road 2" will be implemented in the Northern, Eastern and Uva Provinces.

Priyantha stressed, "Social and environmental components are two important aspects of this project. The project has taken all measures to minimize the negative impacts on the social life of people and the environment. For example,roads are widened only if there are safety or severe space issues. Land acquisition, if absolutely needed only,
will take place only with the concurrence of the land owners. There is no
forcible eviction of people. And there is a special grievances redress mechanism embedded in the programme to take care of the communities’ concerns".

Priyantha further elaborated on the grievances redress mechanism in place.
"The people can make their complaints anytime. Even there are complaint boxes put up by the roadside for this purpose. The social and environment consultants, contractor and the RDA, which is the client, comprise the lowest level of the mediation board. If the issue is not redressed at that level, then it will betaken to a higher level where the Grama Niladhari heads the committee that includes a community representative and a women’s representative in addition to the other three. If the issue is not resolved there, then it could be taken to a further higher level headed by the Divisional Secretary."

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Priyantha identified the M&E component
of the project as a special strength."There is a special team to monitor the
progress of the project round the clock. Also they look into a number of social and environmental dimensions and complaints received from pubic".

 Safety of the people is one aspect that the project design has given high priority to. "The number of accidents, their nature and awareness programmes conducted for the communities are monitored and evaluated on monthly basis. The project is also equally concerned about the safety of the workers and has taken all precautionary measures to minimize the risks to the workers," said Priyantha.

Priyantha, commenting on the environmental aspect of the project, said: "Felling of trees are minimal throughout this project. For each tree that is felled, three saplings should be planted. The project takes special precautions not to pollute the waterways and ground water. It also monitors if there is any soil erosion as a result of road construction".

Even the supply of earth and boulders for the construction of roads needs
proper licenses.

Refuse disposal according to Priyantha is another aspect that has received top priority under the project. "The earth removed should be well taken
care of. It cannot be left alone by the roadside, and needs to be disposed of at the identified disposal yard. The disposal sites should also have a special restoration plan and it is the responsibility of the contractor to see that the restoration has taken place duly before he is paid. The Pradeshiya Sabha has to issue a clearance certificate to this effect."

Roads are needed for the country’s development and more so at places where the economic activities are vibrant and masses live in the backyard of development. In this regard the rural road development project funded by the ADB is a jewel in the crown, and there is many a lesson the bigger projects can learn from it.

Need for tax reforms: Government should not lose it this time but go for them early

An unfulfilled promise of reforming the tax system

Monday, 23 October 2017

logoIn the first economic policy statement, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made a number of pledges related to taxes and tax reforms. One was that the Government would review whether the tax concessions given to investors have really delivered the expected outcome. Instead of tax concessions, he promised to put in place a low tax regime which would be enjoyed by all investors, whether they were local or foreign.

Another was to improve the tax revenue of the Government commensurate with the increase in the country’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP. In the past, that ratio had fallen disappointingly from around 18% in 1980 to 10% in 2014.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
A third was to change the tax structure from the current 80-20 shares in indirect and direct taxes. Since the indirect taxes place a bigger burden on the poor, the ratio would be changed to 60-40 so that the rich will pay more taxes. A fourth was to rationalise the tax policy by doing away with imposing taxes on past earnings. A fifth was to impose taxes only on income earned in Sri Lanka and not outside. Although these pronouncements were short of a comprehensive tax reform policy, they at least sought to address some of the burning issues in taxes.

In the subsequent policy statements made in October 2016 and also in October 2017, there was no mention about these tax reforms though there were references to reducing the budget deficit and the country’s debt levels. In the Vision 2015 released two months ago, the Government had reiterated its commitment to change the tax structure to source 60% from indirect taxes and 40% from direct taxes.
Finance Minister ignoring the promises made by PM

His Finance Minister was supposed to take note of these and many other policy wishes pronounced by the Prime Minister and design a budgetary policy to accomplish them. Instead, what was presented in the budgets for both 2016 and 2017 were policies that would reverse the Government’s expected reforms.

Instead of a promised low tax regime, the businesses continued to be taxed at the same high rates as before. Instead of reducing the reliance on indirect taxes, their share went up to 87% in the first budget which was reduced marginally to 84% in the second budget. Sri Lankans were required to pay taxes on incomes earned both here and abroad.

Contrary to the promise that no taxes would be imposed on past incomes, a special levy was imposed on state banks to transfer funds to the Treasury which amounted to taxing them on past earnings. The only accomplishment was the increase in the tax revenue as a percentage of GDP from 10% in 2014 to 12% in 2016.
Book on tax policy released by IPS should be guide for new Finance Minister

Hence, the new Finance Minister needs guidance as to how he should reform the tax policy. Such guidance is now found in a volume titled ‘Tax Policy in Sri Lanka: Economic Perspectives’ edited by the late Dr. Saman Kelegama and released by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) recently.

It contains nine papers authored by an array of Sri Lanka’s leading economists who have interest in the subject.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera
Sri Lanka’s failed attempts at reforming taxes

In fact, Sri Lanka is known as a country which does not have a consistent and logical tax policy. Throughout its history, Sri Lanka had used taxation to attain narrow political objectives and taxes that have been imposed by one administration following the logic of taxation had been abolished by another. Several taxation commissions had been appointed by various governments and reports, prepared after careful deliberations, had also been submitted. But none of the recommendations were implemented though in some cases the reports were released to the public domain.

The latest of such episodes had been the report, released in 2010, of the Presidential Taxation Commission of which Kelegama was a member. In his introduction to the volume, Kelegama admits that the report was limited in coverage. Hence, the purpose of the volume he edited was to fill the gap.
Sri Lanka’s competitive populist politics

An ominous feature of Sri Lanka’s taxation has been the decline in tax revenue as a percentage of GDP as was also noted by the Prime Minister in the Government’s economic policy statement. There have been times in the early 1980s when tax revenue was as high as 18% of GDP. But over the years, the Government’s efficiency of raising tax revenue has fallen drastically to a level of around 10% of GDP by 2014.

Though it increased to 12% in 2016, the current challenge is to sustain that better performance and improve it further in the coming years. Kelegama has diagnosed that the ailment has been due to “unplanned ad hoc tax incentives in the form of exemptions, tax holidays, reliefs, duty waivers, etc.”

These are all unsound political decisions which Sri Lanka could have avoided. Yet, government after government has resorted to the same tactic which Kelegama has called “competitive populist politics” to please voters even when there has not been an adequate resource base to accommodate them.

Ministry of Finance 
It in fact vindicates Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s assertion some time back that Sri Lanka was a country which auctions unearned resources. But Sri Lanka has continued to do so and is still doing so.

This policy is based on the popular belief that Government expenditure programs are better than private expenditure programs and could therefore deliver miracles for an economy. However, the past data, as shown in the graph, have shown that budget deficits and economic growth rates have moved in the opposite direction.
Present Government is committed to reforming taxes

The present Government, according to the pledge it made to the IMF when securing the Extended Fund Facility in mid-2016, is committed to reforming the tax system to generate adequate revenue while maintaining equity in taxation. In this context, all regressive taxes where the poor have been called upon to pay more taxes in terms of their income relative to the rich have to be abolished.

Kelegama notes in the introduction that the significance of direct taxes in the total tax revenue has declined, while that of indirect taxes has increased. Yet all available research has shown that indirect taxes are highly regressive and should be reformed to ensure equity in taxation without compromising its ability to generate a good income. These are known facts. But the present Government, which is committed to reforming the tax system, appears to be repeating the same mistakes.

The volume is divided into four parts: how macroeconomics has been influenced by taxes, economic perspectives of tax revenue, how taxes affect the production base and how to ensure equity and assess elasticity in taxation.
Taxes creating macroeconomic instability

The macroeconomic side of taxation has been handled by Dushni Weerakoon and Kithmina Hewage in a paper titled ‘Fiscal Policy, Growth and Macrostability’. A salient finding by Weerakoon and Hewage has been that, contrary to the popular belief of policymakers, economic growth has occurred during 2011-2015 due to private consumption and not due to public expenditure programs.

Hence, money spent excessively during this period through public expenditure programs has not been translated into output but has caused inflation, pressure for the exchange rate to depreciate and augmentation of the debt stock. Hence, they have recommended that the budget should be consolidated via an increase in revenue, the curtailment of expenditure, reduction in the deficit and lower addition to the debt stock. These recommendations are in line with the visions of the Vision 2025 document released by the Government recently. What it should do now is pursue a concrete plan to convert words into deeds.

Need for changing the tax structure

Three papers authored by D.D.M. Waidyasekera, Kopapillai Amirthalingam and Mick Moore have dealt with the economics of taxation and the falling tax revenue as a percentage of GDP. With historical data, they have concluded that the current tax level is not the optimal level and it should be increased to gain the maximum benefit for the Government.

It is a policy point at which there is consensus among the Government policymakers, international agencies and researchers. Further, the three writers have drawn the need for changing the tax structure which is heavily oriented towards indirect taxes to a system with more revenue from direct taxes. This is also one of the visions in Vision 2025 and needs to be pursued consistently and steadily.
Tax incentives have not promoted FDIs

The volume contains two papers one by Anushka Wijesinha and Jayani Ratnayake highlighting the impact of taxation on foreign direct investments (FDIs) and the other by Anushka Wijesinha and Raveen Ekanayake on taxes and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The first paper has found that though generous tax incentives have been given to FDIs, the actual realisation of same by Sri Lanka has been dismal as revealed by FDI inflows since the early 1980s. This is disappointing since FDIs have been termed the saviour of Sri Lanka today. It is also not surprising since tax incentives are not an integral element in the decision-making parameters of a foreign direct investor. They would value government policy consistency, stability of the government, quality and talented labour and the regulatory structure of the country more than the tax incentives offered.

Wijesinha and Ratnayake have argued that the best structure for a country is a low tax regime and both local and foreign investors should be given the same tax treatment. But they have warned that the elimination of tax incentives should be done cautiously over a period of time.

SMEs are to be incentivised through structural support and not through tax exemptions

Wijesinha and Ekanayake have produced their paper on SMEs and taxation based on a field survey conducted. SMEs are important for any economy since they constitute the largest segment of enterprises, provide employment to the majority of workers and contribute a sizeable volume to the country’s national output.  Though there is a general belief that tax incentives would cause to promote SMEs, Wijesinha and Ekanayake, through their survey, have found that about 93% of SMEs in Sri Lanka do not pay taxes. Hence, tax incentives are immaterial to them. Since the future role of SMEs is to be a part of the larger global supply chain, it is better to incentivise the large manufacturers who outsource their products from them.

Tax reforms should not compromise social security concerns

Nisha Arunatilake and Priyanka Jayawardena, in a paper titled ‘Accounting for Social Effects of Tax Reforms’, have argued that any tax reform to be introduced should take into account how it would affect the vulnerable groups and there should be a social security system to alleviate their misery.

They have used a model to estimate the incidence of taxation across households, impact on tax revenue and welfare of people. In the empirical findings, they have found mixed results, implying that all tax reforms should be carefully thought out.
Statistical validation of low tax yield

Yuthika Indraratna has estimated the tax elasticity in Sri Lanka using the data from 1960 to 1994 in her paper titled ‘Measurement of Tax Elasticity: A Times Series Approach’. She has found that the tax elasticity during this period has been less than 1, meaning that tax income of the Government has not increased at the same rate as the growth in the income.

The main culprits for the poor results, according to Indraratna, have been tax exemptions, duty waivers, tax incentives, low compliance and the emergence of non-tax paying vibrant sectors in the economy. All these are shortcomings of policymakers who have failed to follow a consistent and logical tax policy. However, the statistics used by Indraratna are somewhat dated and it will be useful if she or some other researcher tests her model against the data from 1994 to ascertain whether it is a continuous phenomenon in the country’s tax system.
A book worth being read by all policymakers

Overall, the present volume edited by Kelegama is a good attempt and it certainly adds knowledge and helps policymaking. Thus, Kelegama should be posthumously congratulated for bringing out this volume. However, these policy prescriptions will remain mere policy prescriptions on paper if they are not used in public policy. Sri Lanka’s public policymakers are known for ages for working in isolation from the rest of the free thinkers in society.   Hence, it is useful if policymakers, especially those at the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Affairs, devote some time to study these policy recommendations and adopt them for the betterment of the country’s economy. 

(W.A. Wijewardena, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at