In the run up to elections, Sri Lanka is once again witnessing various news activities highlighting how the government is losing revenue due to increased consumption of illicit cigarettes and beedi. However, the wider government policy on tobacco control is aimed to reduce smoking rates and the related direct and indirect costs – which was estimated to amount to 6% of government revenue in 2015 – through taxation. This blog argues that although controlling the availability of illegal cigarettes in the market is important, this should be done through regulation so that both legal and illegal cigarette consumption remains low in the country.
The primary issue that arose at the plenary on ‘Promoting Innovation and Disruption in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)’, at the 12th South Asia Economic Summit (SAES XII), organised by the IPS, was the role of disruption in the status quo. The panel deliberated on whether governments and corporations should embrace and utilise disruption despite its drawbacks, or regulate extensively to curb it.
Although tax evasion by individuals and corporates has been recognised as a burning issue, especially in the context of Sri Lanka trying to increase its direct tax take, there is little empirical work on tax evasion for policymakers to make evidence-based decisions when setting tax rates. This is mostly due to limitations in the data. In her research, Harini Weerasekera attempts to measure ‘border tax evasion’, since export and import data is well recorded for the country, and can act as a source of measuring evasion that could be taking place at its border.
Diversification of the export basket, a more effective communication strategy to build support for reform initiatives, and addressing the skills constraints of the labor force are the top priorities for Sri Lanka. This blog, based on the closing session of the Saman Kelegama Memorial Conference, discusses the stifling bottlenecks that Sri Lanka faces in its transition towards a high middle income country (HMIC) and how to overcome them.
The first ever “Labour Demand Survey” in Sri Lanka recorded nearly half a million vacancies in the private sector. A large portion of these vacancies are found to be in routine and non-routine manual jobs. However, most of Sri Lanka’s job-seekers are educated youth, searching for white-collar jobs. This blog discusses “sectoral mismatch” between the demand and supply of labour in Sri Lanka, using LDS data, and looks at ways in which it can be resolved.