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Economic planning

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 17 May 2018 00:00


Economic planning or any planning for that matter at Government level needs to have clarity, consistency and transparency. It also requires important people at the top giving clear policy direction so that all the nuts and bolts of a system can be pulled together. This results in all parties communicating policy from a informed and common platform that would give crucial direction to implement plans swiftly, reliably and with stakeholder participation. This critical step may finally be taking place.        

President Maithripala Sirisena, it was announced this week, has advised the National Economic Council (NEC) to hold a special one-day workshop on the Government’s comprehensive economic development plan for ministers, Members of Parliament representing the Government, ministry secretaries and Central Bank and Treasury officials.

He had opined that such a workshop would be helpful to make them aware of Government plans and also to obtain their views and suggestions so that plan implementation can be done swiftly without delays that crop up because differences. 

The President had also suggested this at the NEC meeting chaired by him at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday, where the National Economic Program, comprising long-term, short-term and structural reform strategies were taken up for discussion.

The National Economic Program is expected to consolidate and unify all economic plans and programs that have been proposed and implemented so that there will be one comprehensive economic plan for the Government. The aim of the programme is to bring immediate benefits to the people. According to the Presidential Secretariat the program has identified rapid rural development with a three-year implementation period. 

These are the sort of steps that build a strong Government on the basis on shared values and consensus. From both the view of the public and the private sector such clear policy making and communication of policy has been largely absent in the past three years. Policy consistency has also suffered from the challenge of bringing together two vastly different political parties, namely the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) together and putting their different political and economic ideologies on the same page. 

Matters have also not been helped by different parties, including ministers, often giving contradictory statements and further confusing the situation. Add to that the perceived political uncertainty that emerged after the Local Government elections and the subsequent political developments and Cabinet reshuffles that to all intents and purposes seemed to put economic policies on the backburner. 

But for Sri Lanka economic concerns must take precedence over politics because given its debt dynamics, an aging population and global economic developments, the country simply cannot afford to lose sight of its economic challenges. The public are also increasingly demanding better economic management as Sri Lanka struggles with critical economic reforms, which despite their importance will also come with their own discomfort that the masses will struggle to absorb. The latest efforts at fiscal consolidation is a fantastic example of how difficult it is to do what must be done, especially when its benefits are often intangible to the average person. 

Given these complex circumstances it is imperative that the Government brings all stakeholders on the same page by establishing an inclusive and transparent process and move forward to do what is best for Sri Lanka.

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