Dr Asanka Wijesinghe Discusses Crucial Policy Reforms for Economic Recovery on TV1’s ‘The People’s Platform’

23 January 2024

Participating in ‘The People’s Platform’ discussion telecast over NewsFirst – TV1, IPS Research Fellow Dr Asanka Wijesinghe shed light on the impact of economic reforms on Sri Lanka’s marginalised and vulnerable populations. He traced the root causes of the ongoing economic crisis back to the country’s independence, citing persistent trade deficits and budget imbalances that have led to an unsustainable debt burden over the years.

On the path to economic recovery, Dr Wijesinghe advocated for a shift towards export-led economic growth, emphasising the positive influence of free trade agreements (FTAs) on the country’s exports. He stressed the importance of mutual openness to liberalising trade, suggesting the removal of sensitive items from the list to fully realise the benefits of FTAs.

The discussion also highlighted the need for trade policy reforms, focusing on measures that do not impose a significant burden on the public. Dr Wijesinghe recommended predictable tax policies, reforms in State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and land policy reforms as feasible reforms with a minimum political and social cost. He emphasised the pivotal role of the public in supporting these reforms, urging an understanding that populist policies may have detrimental effects. While acknowledging historical tendencies to reward politicians for populist measures, he noted that achieving economic recovery will require sacrifices from the public over the next few years.

Watch the full discussion here.