IPS Annual National Conference, “How Can Sri Lanka Stay on the Growth Expressway?

The IPS Annual National Conference on the theme “How Can Sri Lanka Stay on the Growth Expressway?”, took place at the IPS Auditorium on 7th November 2012.

At the National Conference, IPS released its flagship report: ”Sri Lanka State of the Economy 2012”. The theme for this year is “How Can Sri Lanka Stay on the Growth Expressway?” The programme consisted of a full days programme with two sessions. Session I was on “How Can Sri Lanka Stay on the Growth Expressway?: Bridging Disparities across Sectors, Regions and Population Groups”, while Session II was on “How Can Sri Lanka Stay on the Growth Expressway?: Private Enterprise Growth, Foreign Direct Investment, Innovation, and Competitiveness.’’

The Chief Guest at the event was the Hon. Senior Minister for Scientific Affairs, Professor Tissa Vitarana.

Delivering the opening address, Executive Director of the IPS, Dr. Saman Kelegama stated that the State of the Economy report, now in its 20th year, is “widely quoted by academics, private sector interest groups, parliamentarians, and civil society groups.” The report, which was conceptualized early this year, is a compilation of contributions from IPS research staff on a variety of subjects integral to the economy of the Post-Conflict Sri Lanka. The topics explored in the State of the Economy 2012 include, Sri Lanka’s global presence; reducing inequality while aiming for rapid economic growth; optimizing natural resources; stimulating innovation; and maximizing the human resource potential in the country.

Dr. Kelegama concluded his remarks, by presenting a copy of the State of the Economy report to Hon. Minister (Prof) Tissa Vitarana. Minister Vitarana then proceeded to deliver the keynote address and stated that he was pleased that the State of the Economy 2012 “gave due place to the roles that science, technology, and innovation, have to play in maintaining a sustainable economy.”

The objective of Session I “Bridging Disparities Across Sectors, Regions, and Population Groups” was to explore the disparities and inequalities that could hold back sustained growth in Sri Lanka. Moderator for this session was Dr. Nisha Arunatilake, Research Fellow/IPS, Presentations were made by Sunimalee Madurawala,, Research Officer, IPS, on “Human Resource Development for Sustaining Growth; Roshini Jayaweera, Research Officer, IPS on “Improving Development Impact of Rural Employment for Growth”; and Ayodya Galappattige, Research Officer, IPS, made a presentation on “Social and Economic Risk Management for Sustaining Growth”. Panellists for this session were Dr. Athula Ranasinghe, Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo; L. K. Ruhunage, Consultant to ILO Project Office on National Labour Migration Policy, Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare; Kumari Navaratna, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank; Rizvi Zaheed, Managing Director, Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Limited; and Sathis de Mel, Executive Director, Arthacharya Foundation.

The Annual National Conference, which was organized around the launch of the SOE publication also acted as the platform from which the winner of the essay competition, organized in collaboration with Sri Lankan Universities, was awarded a prize. Mr. Suraj Madushanka, a student from the Uva Wellassa University, was awarded a complimentary copy of the State of the Economy 2012 report as well as a cash gift from Chairman of the IPS, Professor W.D. Lakshman.

This was followed by a forum discussion moderated by Anushka Wijesinha, Research Economist, on the topic, ‘How Sri Lanka Can Stay on the Growth Expressway: Private Enterprise Growth, Foreign Direct Investment, Innovation, and Competitiveness.’ Panellists included: Mr. Suresh Shah, Vice Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; Ms Susan Razzaz, Senior Economist, World Bank; Professor Ajith de Alwis, Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Moratuwa; Mr. W.A. Wijewardena, Former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; and Mr. Ram Rajamohan, Former President, Trincomalee District Chamber of Commerce.

A key feature of the report this year is the launch of the State of the Economy e-book. The e-book will contain concise versions of the chapters highlighting the key messages, and primary visual aids. This book is available for download on the IPS website, www.ips.lk, free-of-charge.

The complete State of the Economy report can be purchased from the Publications section of the IPS, located at 100/2, Independence Avenue, Colombo 7.

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