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Thursday, October 6, 2022

#ReformNow Conference tackles Sri Lanka’s biggest policy challenges

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The Advocata Institute #ReformNow Conference

Advocata Institute hosted its economic reform conference, #ReformNow. The two day event discussed the economic reforms needed to recover from this crisis and to promote growth.

The event brought together policymakers, l internationally recognised thought-leaders, the business community, civil society and citizens of Sri Lanka to facilitate this much needed discussion. The sessions focused on themes such as reforming taxation, state-owned enterprises, social safety nets , trade policy and land policy.

The inaugural conference began with the keynote from the President, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe who stressed the importance of implementing the IMF proposal as a starting point in Sri Lanka’s path for recovery. Regardless of some of the austerity based conditions it imposes, these reforms are crucial to instil macroeconomic stability and thus take the first step towards recovery.

The President further emphasised the need to reform SOEs. The Advocata Institute launched their latest policy product tracking the performance of State Owned Enterprises. www.soe.lk allows anyone to track the performance of SOEs through several indicators.

Advocata’s taxation, stability and growth session, highlighted the importance of instilling fiscal discipline to promote macroeconomic stability. The panellists urged the policy makers to consider the efficiency of taxes, providing tax exemptions when only strategic and increasing transparency.

Panellists further spoke about the need for policy solutions to improve the openness of trade and improve the country’s national productivity. Professor Premachandra Athukorala highlighted the implications of how Sri Lanka’s ‘anti-tradable’ bias has made the economy susceptible to the sovereign debt crisis. Panellists including Dr. Sarath Rajapatirana and Dr. Asanka Wijesinghe had a discussion regarding stabilisation and structural reforms required to address such a bias and increase the resilience of the economy.

Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, the former Governor of the Bank of Thailand, drew from his experience guiding the country from the 1997 Thailand economic crisis where reforms included the privatisation of loss-making state enterprises, protecting the most vulnerable and building the strength of the banking sector. He finished his speech with a few words of advice: ‘Make sure you can bite the bullet, reset and move forward’.

Advocata is an independent policy think tank based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. We conduct research, provide commentary and hold events to promote sound policy ideas compatible with a free society in Sri Lanka. Visit advocata.org for more information.

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