February 2014 marked five consecutive years of single-digit rates of inflation in Sri Lanka – supposedly the longest spell in the country’s post-independence history. Quite rightly, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) can take its share of credit for this success, especially in view of historic high and volatile inflation rates of the past. Indeed, the scale of monetary stability becomes clear when considering the fact that inflation rates hit a peak of 22.6 per cent in only 2008 before settling to single digit levels from February 2009. Despite five years of a moderate inflationary environment and higher average economic growth during that period, private investment trends have been modest. The monetary authorities are struggling to revive credit appetite in spite of signaling the end of a tight monetary policy stance way back in December 2012. Credit growth to the private sector was extremely sluggish at 7.5 per cent in 2013. It has continued in the same vein so far in 2014, recording a growth of only 4.4 per cent year-on-year in February.
A new report prepared by the IPS and UNFPA titled, ‘Investing in the Demographic Dividend: Successes, Challenges and Way Forward for Sri Lanka’, launches at a special side event on the final day of the World Conference on Youth 2014 today. It suggests measures for Sri Lanka to get ready for a post-demographic dividend phase in the country, and makes recommendations on where critical investments need to be made. In this blog, IPS Research Economist Chatura Rodrigo (CR), lead author of the report gives Talking Economics (TE) a quick overview of the report and how its findings can be used in future policymaking.
Sri Lankan authorities often point out that Sri Lanka has not been as badly affected by the Federal Reserve’s tapering of quantitative easing (QE) as other emerging/frontier economies. In a conventional sense, this may be correct. Yet, this article considers how QE tapering affecting world gold prices impacted Sri Lanka through the gold pawning channel. It argues that US tapering has in fact had a very significant impact on the Sri Lankan economy, in terms of monetary contraction, consumption, bank asset quality and also in terms of financial inclusion.
Last week, a team of Korean experts, who had been tasked with making recommendations on five policy areas for Sri Lanka (including SME development), submitted their final report to the authorities. I was particularly interested when I heard of this visit as I just completed a Visiting Fellowship at the KDI where my key research area was industrial policy in Korea, with a focus on SMEs. In the final research paper, I put forward some aspects of Korea’s SME development that may hold lessons for Sri Lanka. This article highlights some of those ideas for further debate.
The Talking Economics Editorial Team met with Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director of the IPS, to get his views on the outlook for 2014 for the global economy and for Sri Lanka. We reproduce the interview here…