Development

Sri Lanka’s Economic Policy Choices: From Stabilisation to Growth

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.

Revamping Welfare: Is Aswesuma the Salvation Sri Lanka’s Poor Hoped for?

With the introduction of Aswesuma as a brand-new initiative targeting the poor and vulnerable, social protection in Sri Lanka has been a much-debated subject lately. Aswesuma primarily intends to overcome some key weaknesses of existing social protection programmes – at least on paper – but several challenges prevail. However, opinions regarding its capabilities to accomplish this remain ambiguous. The public has been protesting the scheme, and opposition party critics have called it an unfair political gimmick. Initially scheduled for disbursement in July 2023, the benefits for July finally commenced disbursement last Monday (28th August) for 800,000 beneficiaries. This blog delves into the key areas that warrant clarification, with the hope that authorities will address these concerns transparently.

Sri Lanka’s Palm Oil Industry: Balancing Economic Benefits and Environmental Sustainability

The palm oil industry in Sri Lanka has been a vital policy initiative aimed at reducing palm oil imports and boosting the economy. Oil palm cultivation was allowed initially to reduce reliance on imported palm oil, but concerns over environmental and health impacts led to a decision to phase out cultivation within ten years. In this Q&A Explainer with Author, Dr Erandathie Pathiraja, Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), provides valuable insights into the recently published IPS study, ‘Palm Oil Industry in Sri Lanka: An Economic Analysis’. Dr Pathiraja shares her perspectives on the reasons behind the ban on oil palm cultivation, the potential impact on the economy and environment, the industry’s economic contributions, environmental concerns and their mitigation, health issues related to edible oil consumption, and alternative solutions to meet the local edible oil demand. The study authored by Dr. Erandathie Pathiraja, Ruwan Samaraweera, Hiruni Fernando, and Jaan Bogodage, offers a comprehensive analysis of the economic and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry in Sri Lanka.

Battling Disease and Debt: Financing Non-Communicable Diseases Amidst Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis

Over the last few decades, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become a critical health challenge in Sri Lanka, accounting for over 80% of total deaths and 38% of health expenditure in 2019. The economic impact is particularly challenging for households affected by chronic NCDs as they bear higher costs of medicines, pharmaceutical products, medical laboratory tests, and other ancillary services. With the current economic downturn, preventing and financing NCDs has become even more challenging for Sri Lanka. An ongoing IPS study delves into the implications of the economic crisis on the country’s health system, with a specific focus on NCD prevention and financing. The study conducted an extensive analysis by gathering perspectives from various stakeholders. This blog is based on the information collected from these stakeholders.

DigitALL: Are Sri Lankan Women Abandoned in Digital Transformation?

Technology plays an important role in modern society. It connects, innovates, and transforms economies and societies at large. Yet, women and girls continue to have limited access to technology. This gender bias is also present in Sri Lanka, where women comprise of over 50% of the population.
This year, the United Nations marks International Women’s Day with the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, focusing on the digital gender gap’s impact on widening socio-economic inequalities. This blog explores the factors hindering Sri Lankan women’s access to technology and discusses some ways to overcome them.

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