Sri Lanka has faced a turbulent economic journey in recent years, with 2022 witnessing an unprecedented crisis marked by a staggering 8.7% GDP contraction. The economy slowly but steadily pulled back from the abyss over the course of 2023. These positive developments are a result of the implementation of economic stabilisation measures and groundwork for institutional and regulatory reforms to support future growth. But there are concerns about the impact on the most vulnerable groups. As a country that faces years of weak growth, IPS’ ‘Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2023’ report, explores the complex policy choices Sri Lanka faces as it navigates the path to economic recovery.
Successive Sri Lankan governments have correctly identified the importance of MSMEs as one of the main drivers of growth and development. However, while this sector makes up the backbone of the Sri Lankan economy, it continues to be one of the most vulnerable to local and global economic disruptions.
As of January 2018, there were six million active social media users in Sri Lanka, accounting for 30% of the population. Given the complete cessation of usual business practices in Sri Lanka for the past six weeks, due to prolonged curfew, businesses of all sizes have begun to use social media as their preferred platform to continue commercial activities. For instance, many major supermarkets and other vendors have also started connecting to their customers directly via platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Similarly, social media based Micro, Small, and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) have also attempted to restart their service provision, amidst several limitations. This blog discusses the impact of crises on social media based MSMEs in Sri Lanka.
Despite its growing importance, women are highly underrepresented in Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, with females accounting for less than 10% of the workforce. Moreover, female enrollment in hotel schools in Sri Lanka is disturbingly low. These figures do not bode well in the context of a growing sector and the country’s already low female labour force participation rate. Within Sri Lanka’s hospitality sector, men are found to outnumber women in all occupational categories, except for Guest Relations and Front Office staff and Marketing functions. Thus, attracting more women into the sector will help to address the growing labour shortage, a crucial deterrent to the industry’s growth.
The importance of 4IR and Sri Lanka’s preparedness for it has gained growing prominence in policy discourse, albeit at a superficial level. As such, Sri Lanka needs to focus on both technological preparedness as well as creating a complementary economic ecosystem. To do so, policymakers and private sector stakeholders alike should be cognizant of three critical pillars of 4IR readiness: digital readiness, human capital readiness, and economic agility. This blog by Kithmina Hewage briefly discusses Sri Lanka’s position against these three pillars.