Advocata Chief Operating Officer Dhananath Fernando won the Asia Think Tank Shark Tank championship in Jakarta for a research study titled ‘Cost of Construction and Protectionism’.
The Asia Think Tank Shark Tank is a championship for Asians to pitch their ideas on creating an impact in public policy to help economic prosperity in Asia.
Dhananath contested in the final round with two fellow contestants from Nepal and Indonesia and won the Asia Think Tank Shark Tank Championship title with a $ 10,000 project grant for Sri Lanka to conduct the study.
Dhananath made a strong case on the high cost of construction in Sri Lanka and highlighted that more than 10 million Sri Lankans would benefit if border taxes were brought down. He explained the total taxes at the border on wall tiles and floor tiles which is 108%, construction steel which is 90% and sanitary ware (commodes, squatting pans) which is 72% were completely unfair for a country where about 10 million people dream their entire life of building a basic house. He added that the cost of construction was 40%-60 % higher in Sri Lanka than the rest of the region which has negatively impacted the entire construction industry.
Dr. Chatib Basri - former Finance Minister of Indonesia and Ash Centre Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University; Prof. Razeen Sally from the National University of Singapore; Linda Whetstone - Chairperson at Atlas Network; Terry Kibbe – CEO and Co-founder of Free the People in the United States; and Siegfried Herzog - Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom were on the panel of judges
Dhananath is currently the Chief Operating Officer and a founding member of the Advocata Institute. He is a volunteer at Candle Aid Lanka, a humanitarian organisation and was a member of the founding team of the AK Lit Fest, a platform for local literature lovers.
He hosts two flagship TV shows on ART Television namely ‘Public Space Sri Lanka’ and ‘Wake Up with ART’.
He is a graduate of the Atlas Leadership Academy, Washington DC and a graduate from the University of Colombo in Bioscience and Biochemistry.