Despite the pandemic and related difficulties in remitting, inward remittances to Sri Lanka had picked up by December 2020 to record year-over-year growth of 5.8 %, contrary to all expectations. The reasons for such a quick rebound include catching up on postponed remittances, accumulated terminal employment benefits and savings-related remittances of migrant workers laid off due to the pandemic, receipt of counter-cyclical remittances from less frequent remitters and the shift from informal to formal channels. In the current context of the foreign exchange crisis in Sri Lanka, the latter is the most critical factor to focus on.
One year into the pandemic, Sri Lanka’s already tight fiscal space has become further constricted, leaving some tough decisions to be made in the pandemic recovery period. A third wave of COVID-19 that the country is currently experiencing will further delay such recovery efforts. Although some fiscal tools have been included in Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 recovery plan, there is consensus that the size and scale of the country’s fiscal stimulus package have been inadequate against the scale of the crisis. Conversely, wealthier countries have been rolling out some of the historically largest fiscal stimulus packages. This blog discusses the global tilt towards fiscal policy reliance in the aftermath of the pandemic and deliberates on how far the developing world can adopt a similar strategy.
Across the globe, the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a new urgency around healthcare systems and universal health coverage – the access to high-quality and affordable healthcare services for all, as and when needed. The limited resources available to address multiple challenges facing the health system point to the critical need for policymakers to explore smarter ways of investing existing funds. This blog examines some areas in which health spending can be made more efficient, drawing from information collected for an ongoing IPS study.
Historically, the Sri Lankan government has resorted to import controls to counter a balance of payment crisis. The current import controls have the same underlying rationale. However, the trade deficit’s temporary shrinkage may not be sustainable if there is no increase in exports. To increase exports, Sri Lanka needs to remove hurdles on input supply, remove distortionary tariffs, exploit market opportunities under the rule-based free trade system, and in the long run, improve the country’s GVC participation.
Out of the six million families living in Sri Lanka, only 5.2 million have some form of housing. Though steps have been taken to develop the housing sector in the country, such as the formulation of the National Housing Policy, there are issues that warrant attention. This blog aims to inquire into the pressing needs of the sector and discuss whether the 2019 Budget proposals passed by Parliament provide solutions to these problems.