Fiscal

Has Sri Lanka’s Crisis-driven Import Controls Incentivised Import Substitution?

In response to the economic crisis, Sri Lanka implemented import controls that expanded significantly by the end of 2022, accounting for approximately 30% of the country’s total import value. But were they necessary or the easiest option? Were they applied optimally to limit damage on growth? Did they distort incentives, thereby promoting domestic production of substitutable products? To shed light on these questions, a comprehensive analysis was conducted using eight waves of import controls. The government’s objectives varied, ranging from curbing currency outflows to promoting domestic production as import substitutes. It is crucial to assess the long-term impact on incentive structures. In this blog, the authors delve into the complexities of Sri Lanka’s import controls, providing insights into their necessity, optimal application, and unintended consequences.

Driving Policy Action in Sri Lanka from Economic Crisis to Recovery

The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) held a seminar on 25 October 2022 to coincide with the release of the Institute’s annual flagship report, Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2022, on the theme Driving Policy Action from Crisis to Recovery. Dr Nandalal Weerasinghe, Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Mr K M Mahinda Siriwardana, Secretary to the Treasury/Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies, delivered the keynote addresses. Dr Dushni Weerakoon, Executive Director, IPS, made a presentation to mark the release of the Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2022 report. Mr R H W A Kumarasiri, Director-General, Department of National Planning and Mr E A Rathnaseela, Addl. Director-General, Department of National Planning chaired/moderated a session on ‘Policy Action for Shared Sustainable Growth: A National Policy Framework’. Under this theme, senior IPS researchers Dr Nisha Arunatilake, Director of Research, Dr Ganga Tilakaratna, Research Fellow and Dr Manoj Thibbotuwawa, Research Fellow, made presentations.

A Fiscal Council for Sri Lanka: Pathway to Regaining Fiscal Credibility

Sri Lanka was once considered a development success story. But within the last few decades, this legacy was lost to governance failures and economic mismanagement. In recent years, the country has been characterised by a glaring lack of fiscal discipline reflected in the inability to raise sufficient revenue even to cover current spending. In this context, institutions have a major role to play in ensuring that governments do not fail. Effective institutions can (1) assure the provision of quality services which is essential for eradicating poverty and promote shared prosperity; (2) guarantee high-quality public spending and minimise corruption; and (3) ensure that all citizens benefit from economic growth and that development is not lop-sided. With this understanding, this blog discusses how a Fiscal Council (FC) can help Sri Lanka regain fiscal credibility and improve its overall economic performance.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Economic Implications for Sri Lanka

The Russian invasion of Ukraine deepens the existing global economic woes – persistent supply chain bottlenecks and associated rising inflation – clouding the prospects of a smooth global economic recovery from the pandemic. The ongoing military conflict in Europe could not have come at a worse time for Sri Lanka given its own prevailing high inflation, rising energy costs, and scarcity of foreign exchange. Against this backdrop, this article discusses the economic impact of the European conflict on Sri Lanka, the sectors that will be hit hard, and ways to mitigate the negative impact.

Sri Lanka’s Macroeconomic Policy Setting: Cohesion or Confusion?

Efforts to attract FDI should be coupled with building effective policy strategies that instill and maintain credibility. Indeed, this is all the more important as Sri Lanka appears to be firmly against an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. An IMF programme is mostly useful in firming up sovereign credit ratings and reviving the sentiments of investors. But investor sentiments can also improve if governments put forward and implement credible policy strategies. By contrast, the CBSL’s policy rate adjustment to anchor expectations, for instance, will not stick if direct financing of fiscal spending is to continue under yield control measures. Instead, market convictions on the credibility of the policy mix will drive economic fundamentals. As Sri Lanka readies to transition out of pandemic-related emergency support, some notion of fiscal and debt sustainability to anchor confidence should be the priority in Budget 2022 preparations.

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