Reforms key to Lanka’s success – ADB
It is crucial that Sri Lanka addresses the root causes of internal and external imbalances, for which an unwavering commitment to reforms is essential, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Deputy Country Director Utsav Kumar told the ADB annual flagship economic publication, the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) April 2023, launch held in Colombo recently.
He said reforms such as enhancing domestic resource mobilization, the performance of state-owned enterprises to reduce their fiscal burden, strengthening public financial management, and encouraging private sector activities through harmonizing trade and investment policies, improving governance and accountability mechanisms, such as strengthening anti corruption legislation, building strong institutions, and increasing transparency, will also be essential to address Sri Lanka’s economic vulnerability.
Kumar said Sri Lanka needs to focus on social safety net, proper communication strategy, reform transparency on SOEs, staying in the course avoiding pitfalls and looking beyond the four years of EFF to put the economy on a stable footing. He said if exports take a hit, it reflects on the overall Sri Lankan economy and therefore the country should build and explore multiple industries to remain resilient to internal and external shocks. Kumar outlined agribusiness, manufacturing, gems, ICT and tourism as potential sectors in 2023 and 2024.
Meanwhile, Chen Chen, Country Director, Sri Lanka Resident Mission ADB urged the country to go for deep, comprehensive reforms and turn the current economic crisis into an opportunity to address the long standing issues inflicting the economy. He said the ADB provided emergency support to sustain Sri Lanka’s basic services and livelihood and to mitigate the impacts of the economic crisis on the people, particularly on the poor and vulnerable groups during the crisis and assured that the ADB will remain steadfast in its support to Sri Lanka.
He said the ADB supported the essential trade facilitating the importation of medicine and fertilizers. ADB worked very closely with the private sector, the civil society and development partners to maximize the impact of its emergency assistance.
Chen Chen said the ADB will continue this collaborative approach in future assistance to Sri Lanka and emphasized that there were lessons to learn from the crisis.