Stop Sri Lanka from being a failed State and start generating new revenue streams of $ 8 b for economy
Historically since 1965, Sri Lanka has received IMF assistance on 16 occasions, which has been a necessity. However, the next question should be, when is Sri Lanka going to be self-sufficient?
First and foremost the primary objectives; should include effective leadership from the front. Because; with economic development realities dawning upon the nation, good strong leadership is vital for the growth of the economy. The civil servants really have to recalibrate the doctrine of being more proactive with executive powers to drive through economic growth. Cutting down the existence of red tape, unnecessary bureaucratic procedures to increase the ease plus efficiency of doing business on the island both internally and externally.
Sri Lanka needs to improve the ease of doing business so that the international investment community can take an active role without bureaucracy. Currently, Sri Lanka stands at 99th place in the most recent valuation conducted by the World Bank. It has to be highly transparent, efficient and structured showing that it’s fighting against corruption. By doing the above effectively, one can then stabilise, rectify, unify and create a nation with the brightest future for its citizens while restoring credibility to the rest of the world.
The second objective is to stop lawless violence and systemic kleptocracy, corrupt elected and unelected officials enriching themselves secretly outside the rule of law, through kickbacks, bribes, and special favours from lobbyists, corporations, or directing state funds to themselves and their associates from the government to the private sector. Law and order is of primary importance to be carried out by the policing authorities. While initially, they might be perceived as inefficient and untrustworthy, major reform transformation is required to strengthen the institutions. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is languishing in the 85th position in the Global Law and Order Index Rankings. In the same rankings, first place is Finland, second place Norway, third Denmark and fourth place goes to Singapore.
The importance of having the right structures in place is that foreign investors will have a level of comfort that there is law and order, without that international investors won’t be attracted to do any investment in the island. The training needs to be increased for officers with a focus on maintaining public order and safety. While enforcing the law, preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities. The institution should be subject to external oversight by other governmental and civilian committees, to show transparency. Forward-thinking reforms require the police force to work in conjunction with their communities by frequently broadcasting their objectives. Setting up toll-free anonymous phone lines and actively asking the community for information on how to better prevent crime. If these reforms are executed effectively Sri Lanka will have some of the lowest crime rates in Asia. This in turn will have positive ramifications economically and socially. The Global ranking would be significantly improved.
The third objective develops commercial diplomatic ties with frontier economies such as in Africa strengthening relationships with these countries beyond diplomacy into loyalty and developing alliances.
To illustrate this point the DRC Congo, where Sri Lanka could possibly sell their goods and services to generate a per annum minimum of $8 billion. That’s just one country Sri Lanka does not have commercial relationships with. This would undoubtedly become a new revenue stream for the Sri Lankan economy. Sri Lanka has a commercial advantage compared to western nations as the cost of their labour is expensive compared to the Sri Lankan labour force, who are as good and as highly qualified as any in the world. They could win tenders to construct infrastructure and a whole host of other opportunities.
Sri Lanka vision 2027 should be based on 7 Key priorities including:
1. Good governance
2. Developing commercial relationships with frontier economies in Africa
3. Expand the private sector for export orientation
4. Education, as Sri Lanka has an educated population
5. Internet expansion; with the swift development of the internet things such as description of physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software, other technologies that connect plus exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks would be of most benefit: Including artificial intelligence (AI) as this is another area that could be exploited which is about adding the feature of intelligence to machines and making them as smart as humans.
6. Food security
7. Finally, Agricultural self-sufficiency has to be paramount.
Currently, there have been speculations that the current government led by President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has a golden opportunity to transform the negative into a positive. The only way they could build and maintain political legitimacy is through providing food security, stabilising economic growth while eliminating at all levels the systemic corruption which is eating into the fabric of the nation and making Sri Lanka less competitive in the global marketplace.
With the ongoing economic crisis which has beset Sri Lanka. A fairly unique situation and history therefore are necessary to heavily motivate those in charge to establish corrupt free, transparent, effective governance which will stabilise and encourage steady economic development.
By achieving these objectives Sri Lanka would be less corrupt and would be equal in ranking with countries like Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand as stated in the Corruption Perceptions Index with a scorecard of 88 out of 100.
This objective has to be fundamental. It will have tremendous positive tangible and intangible benefits to the nation as a whole. Therefore, major corporations and companies would be attracted to Sri Lanka as the destination to conduct business, which will start the new renaissance of turning the negative into a positive economy.
Sri Lanka lacks any substantial natural resources, similar to Japan, South Korea and Singapore. The most valuable commodity that Sri Lanka has in abundance is, its human capital which needs to be deployed correctly and efficiently without nepotism or corrupt practices, the footsteps leading to success, similar to the countries which have been mentioned above did this quite successfully.
If this element can be achieved the theory will become reality and provide a more productive international beacon to attract substantial global investors to the economy. This in turn creates positive circumstances where the international investment community is more than happy to invest in a transparent environment where there is no systematic corruption or nepotism.
Where capital is not siphoned which gives confidence to investors and foreign governments to recommend to their captains of industry compatriots to invest, which in turn leads to the ripple effect of further investments coming through to the economy.
The perfect foundation for which the government is able to implement policies to unlock Sri Lanka’s untapped economic potential and diversify its financial system to withstand future volatility will stand the test of time.
The writer is an influencer and aficionado.