Realising Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 requires substantial investment allocation, especially for developing economies like Sri Lanka. A recent IPS study found that Sri Lanka needs an additional investment of USD 1.4 trillion or 12.5 percentage points of GDP by 2030 to achieve SDGs. Despite Budget 2024 allocating 5.4% of GDP for public investment, concerns arise due to the historical average of 3.4% of GDP during 2022-2023.
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.
There are several steps Sri Lanka can take to fast-track the achievement of SDG 1, and extend greater social protection to its most vulnerable groups. This blog analyses the Samurdhi (prosperity) programme, the country’s main poverty alleviation initiative launched in 1995, and argues that addressing its core problem of poor targeting of beneficiaries is essential to end poverty in Sri Lanka.
Although Sri Lanka has managed to reduce income poverty, income inequality has remained unchanged for more than four decades. The richest 20 per cent enjoy more than half the total household income of the country, while the poorest 20 per cent get only 5 per cent. Furthermore, income gaps between different regions is even wider than the income inequality at the national level. In this blog, the author highlights that the imbalances in opportunities and wide gaps in income levels, as well as in living conditions, among regions and between the rich and the poor, should be addressed immediately.
Sri Lanka’s post-conflict development trajectory has been a story of mixed results. In the aftermath of the conflict, Sri Lanka adopted many strategies to improve livelihood opportunities and reduce poverty and inequality, hoping to ensure harmony through better connectivity. However, there are significant regional disparities, especially in the case of previously conflict-affected districts. Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Batticaloa, and Trincomalee record the highest poverty rates in the country. So, what is the way forward for Sri Lanka?