Telling Tewari!

  Published : 12:26 am  February 26, 2014  |  4,855 views  |  4 comments  |  Print This Post   |  E-mail to friend
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  • Singapore-based World Bank expert ugres Sri Lanka to focus to be competitive
  • Five hubs plus tourism too much?
  • Need for clear goals, public and private sector should tango
  • Encourages transparency and accountability, KPI for Govt.
  • Calls to jettison failed policies, champion innovation

By Uditha Jayasinghe
Advocating moderation and clarity on Sri Lanka’s five-hub strategy, a top international expert called for clearer goals and stronger collaboration between the Government and private sector, comparing it to a “tango at lockstep”.
Private Sector Development Specialist of the Competitive Industries Practice at the World Bank Group P.S. Tewari in his impressively insightful address posed the question of whether Sri Lanka’s Government had bitten off more than it could chew by selecting five hubs and tourism to spearhead the economy.
“Six could be too much because even one would take immense planning, resources, focus and time.”
Drawing many parallels with Singapore, he pointed out Singapore’s Government took a pragmatic view of its policies and jettisoned ones that did not bring economic benefits. Because Singapore identifies its economic policies proactively, its economy has room to evolve and remain competitive, resulting in a staggering export value of 200% of GDP, a per capita income of US$ 52,000 and economic growth at 10.2% on average for a staggering 50 years.
While making the standard observations that Sri Lanka needs more foreign investment and greater coordination between the public and private sectors, Tewari also called for competitiveness to be evaluated on a range of principles, including smart design, clear rules and transparency and accountability.
“Singapore does not have a single drop of oil, but it is Asia’s biggest oil hub. This is because it has the capacity to design in detail, even to the extent that a separate island is built, to have every single conceivable infrastructure need. If one oil company wants to buy something from another, they just need to open a tap; it’s intricate to that extent. Blueprint design is critical to whether a project will work or not,” he told the gathering.
He called for an apex coordinating body with vision, authority and accountability to be set up where the public and private sector can work together to formulate policies and regulations. “You cannot give the excuse that it cannot be done because it has been done in other countries. An apex body is critical to deliver on industrial roadmaps. Malaysia is a great example of that.”
While macroeconomic fundamentals are important, Tewari also suggested the two sides work to define what each company will have to contribute to the hub concept, thus breaking down the goals of the Government to tangible levels. “Cross pollination” of the two sectors would also fast-track research and development.
“Key Performance Indicators are not just for the private sector, they are also for the Government. They can be honest, weekly indicators. The Government has to honestly decide on its goal. Is Sri Lanka trying to be a shipping hub? Or is the aim to be a great destination for FDI? The goal is not clear.”
Tewari also expressed the idea that existing development projects be evaluated along the criteria of design, regulations, collaborations and accountability to see how they measure up. This would be the true test of competitiveness.

 Opportunities and challenges from five hubs – Cabraal

  • Stresses five hubs strategy is beneficial as it touches more people but need to improve productivity, equip workforce, create jobs and ensure seamless transition

The Government’s five hub strategy would bring opportunities as well as create new challenges for Sri Lanka such as improving productivity, realigning the workforce, job creation and seamless transition to the new sectors, Central Bank chief Ajith Nivard Cabraal said yesterday.
Speaking to the gathering at the Daily FT and Colombo University MBA Alumni Association forum, Cabraal gave exhaustive details on the formulation of the five hub strategy in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ as a method of maintaining 8% plus growth as well as navigating Sri Lanka out of the middle income trap.
He said that the five hubs + tourism strategy, a brainchild of President Mahinda Rajapaka is benefiucial as it touches more people enabling them towards prosperity.
“Each hub has tremendous potential to create new value and new economic activity,” Cabraal said.
He recalled that just like the apparel sector has grown in 30 years from about $ 20 million industry to a $ 4 billion industry, the new hubs (which he described as ‘new stars’) have the potential to grow as much or substantially more over the new few years.
“We can now envisage the six hubs taking our economy to new heights in the future,” Central Bank Governor added.
Cabraal in his speech noted that the Government had prepared well to unleash the potential. The first step for the Government was to invest heavily in ending the war and achieving peace. Then political stability was gained and maintained. Subsequently the Government concentrated on rehabilitation and reconstruction projects to shore up the war damaged areas.
“We opened up new avenues of investment. We opened up the T-bills market and encouraged banks to borrow from abroad, new financial instruments were brought in, Private-Public Partnerships were promoted and new investors were encouraged to come into the country. This is all because 33% of GDP was needed as investment for 8% growth. So about 22% comes locally, 5% foreign and 6% from the Government,” he said.
To fulfil this demand for investment, Cabraal emphasised each company has to “create stars” – new avenues to supply new investment. This was the thinking that led to the birth of the five hubs strategy and since tourism already existed it eventually became six.
“Each hub targets great potential we have within this country. IT and BPO has grown from a US$ 83 million industry to US$ 600 million today and the Government has set a target of US$ 2 billion by 2020. Similarly, transport has grown from US$ 70 million to US$ 1.9 billion and will be US$ 6 billion in six years’ time.”
Cabraal went on to say the current trend of growth with low inflation will continue to be the main mantra, especially since the current high-performing export industries such as apparel will continue to evolve alongside the five hubs. Other labour intensive industries such as agriculture will have to double productivity to adjust to the brain drain that will take place as sectors from the five hubs siphon off employees.
The Government is also targeting employment creation for 400,000 new school leavers who join the job market each year. “There is no better way to ‘be inspired’ than to know a job awaits you when you leave school,” he said, punning on the seminar’s theme ‘Be Inspired’.


4 Responses to “Telling Tewari!”

  1. Trevor Jayetileke on February 26th, 2014 1:08 am

    Tewari is correct that without one drop of crude oil Singapore is Asia’s biggest Energy Hub.
    But the question is how did that happen?
    In 1961 the Sirimavo Coalition Government Nationalized the Oil Industry and that was the start of our downward trend and the beginning of the upward trend of Singapore.
    All the US/UK oil companies ( Esso, Caltex and Shell ) based in Sri Lanka moved to Singapore. More than 50% of Refining of Crude oil in Singapore is done by US/UK oil majors. Singapore refines one million barrels of oil per day and also sets the benchmark for refined oil price in South Est Asia.
    The Father/Mother of Modern Day Singapore is not anyone else but our Stupid Bandas., the Bane of Sri Lanka.
    If Sri Lanka invites me I will run the Gauntlet that this Expert from Singapore suggests.

  2. N Wimaldasa on February 26th, 2014 3:34 am

    We are compelled to shift path of Capitalist development balance between Rich nation and emerging market comprise more than a ONE THIRD of global GDP. What happen is that emerging countries does not stay there has the full capacity to effect the US EU and Japan as well as Global growth of economy.
    Our policy makers has not only concentration Five Hub stagey ,we are totally different from Singhopore base economy. In fact their action plan have given strength to those who seek money terms profit as well as turn GDP into twice in 2020 in Sri Lanka.
    By doing so we have concentration of whole economy of Agriculture- Tea, Rubber coconut planation to turn into modernization of planting, factories, and manpower and totally improved welfare of plantation work force, as well as marketing of research and development NEW Venture projects by investment massive scale of funds should be injected by local and foreign capital
    Further more we urgently need to address Paddy cultivation- closely cultivated 1.3 million acres land in the whole island. This should move RICH PEASENT ECONOMY of capitalist path of agriculture, shifting from that OLD petty commodity production in fairly large scale one.
    We have to address Rural Poor majority community of Sri Lankan who share 70% population which that economy will serve for self-sufficient in food production and food security in the island.
    An Improve employment more an opportunities for rural poor and Social welfare of rural population is timely important to eradication of ANARCHISM and TERRORISM had been undermine DEMOCRACY NORMS OF POLITICS IN NORTH AND SOUTH.
    In my view which that demonstrate a strange ignorance about our current issue of entire National economy facing in people of Sri Lanka.

  3. Frederick on February 26th, 2014 6:56 am

    Maybe a good starting point would be to compare the top guys in SL(those allocated to do the job) with their counterparts in Singapore. Like comparing two cricket teams and rating them, with regard to qualifications,achievements, experience, and talent for the job .Will get a good idea of( likely) outcomes and chances of success.

    What Iam saying is nothing new.It happens.

  4. Sinhaya on February 26th, 2014 8:29 am

    President and the cabinet should take tution from Mr.Tewari. Daily classes of 8 hours for one year.

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