Finance

COVID-19, Fiscal Policy and Public Debt in Emerging Economies

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.

Sri Lanka’s Health Financing Challenge: Why Smarter Spending is Key

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.

Beyond Turmeric: How Import Controls are Impacting Sri Lanka’s Economy

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.

Affordable Housing for Sri Lankans or Castles in the Sky?

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.

The Credit Dilemma: Monetary and Financial System Stability in Sri Lanka

February 2014 marked five consecutive years of single-digit rates of inflation in Sri Lanka – supposedly the longest spell in the country’s post-independence history. Quite rightly, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) can take its share of credit for this success, especially in view of historic high and volatile inflation rates of the past. Indeed, the scale of monetary stability becomes clear when considering the fact that inflation rates hit a peak of 22.6 per cent in only 2008 before settling to single digit levels from February 2009. Despite five years of a moderate inflationary environment and higher average economic growth during that period, private investment trends have been modest. The monetary authorities are struggling to revive credit appetite in spite of signaling the end of a tight monetary policy stance way back in December 2012. Credit growth to the private sector was extremely sluggish at 7.5 per cent in 2013. It has continued in the same vein so far in 2014, recording a growth of only 4.4 per cent year-on-year in February.

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