Columnists,W. A. Wijewardena,Opinion and Issues

The role of applied statisticians in a digitalised world

Views - 3209 Monday, 2 December 2019 00:20

Sri Lanka is passing through a phase in which applied statisticians are pretty much in demand. Statistics were used or in the proper sense, abused, by political contenders recently like a drunkard using a lamppost. It is said that a drunkard uses a l


Gotanomics: Can it turn around the ailing Sri Lanka’s economy?

Views - 9270 Monday, 25 November 2019 00:50

Gotanomics from the new President I have argued in this column repeatedly that Sri Lanka’s economy was in a dire state, moving from bad to worse on each passing day. It was a warning to economic policy managers that they should take effective measu


A child’s guide to MCC Compact Sri Lanka

Views - 8316 Monday, 18 November 2019 00:55

Intelligent children, unlike some of the adults, are curious, probing and questioning. They do not jump to conclusions until and unless they are convinced of facts that have been presented to them. Asani, a student in the Advanced Level class in a le


Rienzie factor in banking: The Renaissance Man who revolutionised the banking world

Views - 5030 Monday, 11 November 2019 00:02

Rienzie: the man of the hour During my long attachment to the Central Bank, there was one banker with whom I had a close association. That was Rienzie T. Wijetilleke, known only as Rienzie in the banking circles, who rose to the pinnacle of the Hatto


Presidential aspirants and voters: Read IPS’s SOE 2019 before you make your next move

Views - 9109 Monday, 4 November 2019 00:00

Election manifestos versus State of the Economy Report 2019 The four leading presidential aspirants have presented their manifestos to voters in a bid to lure their votes at the forthcoming Presidential Election. These manifestos contain, among other


IBSL comes of age: Joins with AIT to offer degrees in banking and finance in Sri Lanka

Views - 4250 Monday, 28 October 2019 00:00

The humble beginning as Bankers’ Training Institute Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka or IBSL, during its 55 years of service as the single most important professional body providing qualifications to bankers in Sri Lanka, has produced more than 20


Fixing lending rates and waiving farmer loans: two policies that do not augur well for borrowers

Views - 5474 Monday, 21 October 2019 00:28

Recently, there were two policy pronouncements relating to lending, one already implemented by the Central Bank and the other being proposed for implementation by the SLPP presidential hopeful, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, that if he is elected to presidency.


Bankrupt Sri Lanka Incorporated: Prospective rescuers should come up with a common policy

Views - 6298 Monday, 14 October 2019 00:00

The case of a bankrupt company What do you think of a private company which is indebted to the hilt, does not earn enough to repay its debt and experiences a low sales growth which is declining year after year? Surely, it is a problem company needing


Democracy at a crossroads: Sri Lanka has not narrowed corridor of liberty but effectively blocked it

Views - 7719 Monday, 7 October 2019 08:30

The latest book by the duo of ‘Why Nations Fail’ fame – Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James Robinson of Chicago – titled ‘The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies and the Fate of Liberty’ was released on 24 September.


Dr. Anura Ekanayake: Journey from top bureaucrat to top private sector leader

Views - 6113 Monday, 30 September 2019 00:00

Man from the plantations industry I met Anura Ekanayake, Anura to his friends, in early 1990s when he was the Director of Planning at the Ministry of Plantations Industry. There, he was engaged in modernising Sri Lanka’s three tree crops – tea, r


The demand for a dictator is on the rise and it is a dangerous sign

Views - 7348 Monday, 23 September 2019 00:43


Industry 4.0, disruptive technology and MAS Matrix: An example for way forward in Sri Lanka

Views - 6830 Monday, 16 September 2019 00:40

Technology has always been disruptive. When a new technology is introduced, it changes the way the humankind lives, behaves, earns, interacts and communicates. Some 10,000 years ago, when agriculture and animal breeding were domesticated through the


Ravindra Fernando does it again: Releasing two books on forensic analyses of crime and torture

Views - 3438 Monday, 9 September 2019 00:25

Perhaps, it is only the LSE based economics don – the late Harry G. Johnson – who might have beaten Ravindra Fernando, emeritus professor of forensic medicine and toxicology of the Colombo Medical School, off his book publishing track. Johnson wa


Indrajit Coomaraswamy: The boy from Cambridge who rose to the pinnacle of the Central Bank

Views - 7191 Monday, 2 September 2019 00:45

It was the year 1974. The Central Bank had recruited a new batch of staff officers. News soon came that, among them, there was a boy from Cambridge University who spoke English with a foreign accent. By that time the bank’s lower rank inhabitants,


STG who became SDG of the Central Bank

Views - 6194 Monday, 26 August 2019 00:00

When Dr. S.T.G. Fernando, fondly known as STG, was appointed as Director of Economic Research of the Central Bank in 1979, his fame – or perhaps, notoriety – as a hard taskmaster had travelled to us in the Department before he made his physical p


Shanta Devarajan: Economist who cannot get disconnected from his motherland

Views - 7115 Monday, 19 August 2019 00:25

For me, Shanta Devarajan, formerly the Acting Chief Economist of the World Bank Group succeeding the Nobel Laureate Paul Romer and presently Professor at Georgetown University, USA, was a legend by himself. When I met him in early part of the new mil


The issue of an independent Central Bank: Should it be or should it not be?

Views - 6610 Monday, 12 August 2019 00:30

Public debates on public policy should create informed citizens With the news release that the Government is going to introduce a new Monetary Law Act, commonly known as MLA – the law under which the present Central Bank (CBSL) has been established


Sri Lanka’s debt sustainability: Way out is not just to sustain debt but to come out of it

Views - 6570 Monday, 5 August 2019 00:20

In the previous article in this series (available at: http://www.ft.lk/columns/Sri-Lanka-s-debt-sustainability-Way-out-is-not-by-patchwork-but-by-long-lasting-strategies/4-682828 ), we presented the views expressed by two leading economists, Professo


Sri Lanka’s debt sustainability: Way-out is not by patchwork but by long lasting strategies

Views - 4846 Monday, 29 July 2019 01:55

In a recent panel discussion on Sri Lanka’s debt sustainability – nicknamed A Hole in the Pocket – jointly organised by the Marga Institute and the Open University, two leading economists – Central Banker turned University Don Sirimevan Colom


“Sri Lanka’s future lies in producing exportable manufactured goods”: Dr. Howard Nicholas

Views - 6248 Monday, 22 July 2019 01:30

Drawing lessons from Vietnam’s experiences The Sri Lanka-born economist attached to The Hague based Institute of Social Studies – Dr. Howard Nicholas – addressing a packed audience consisting of the alumni of the Postgraduate Institute of Manag


SL’s future depends not on outdated feudalistic system but on becoming partner of a digital economy

Views - 5668 Monday, 15 July 2019 01:10

Calling Sri Lanka an agriculture-based country is a misnomer A widely-held view by many Sri Lankans is that Sri Lanka was an agriculture-based economy in the past and it should be so even in the future. The first part of this argument is only half-t


Sri Lanka’s elevation to upper middle income status: Attainment is welcome but challenges are more

Views - 8741 Monday, 8 July 2019 00:00

Sri Lanka is now an upper middle income country The World Bank, in its 2019 country classification release, has elevated Sri Lanka from a lower middle income country to an upper middle income country. This has been based on the average income of a Sr


Joan de Zilva Moonesinghe: A tough banking examiner to the end

Views - 3346 Monday, 1 July 2019 00:00

The departure of a tough banking examiner Joan de Zilva Moonesinghe who made a sudden departure from us last week wore many hats in her relations with me. She was my friend, colleague, fan, critic, advisor, and in many respects, mentor. Of late, she


Boycotting Muslim businesses and stoning offenders: Democracy fails when citizens fail to speak up

Views - 8324 Monday, 24 June 2019 00:20

News was out last week that the Chief Prelate of the Asgiriya Chapter of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka had made a controversial public pronouncement. I believe that he has mostly been misunderstood by his critics as well as his followers. The Vener


Those who go by social proof are easy prey to crafty schemers

Views - 6404 Monday, 17 June 2019 00:20

Going after social proof Swiss writer and novelist, Rolf Dobelli, in one of the essays in his 2013 book ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’, has given a fine warning to his readers. He has warned against going by ‘social proof’ or ‘majority view


Nationalism helps democracy to survive, but only up to a limit

Views - 6321 Monday, 10 June 2019 00:20

Claim that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala-Buddhist country Sri Lanka is hailed by many, mainly by those who are ethnically Sinhalese and religion-wise Buddhists, as a Sinhala-Buddhist country. This is not an arrangement which it has got under its Constitutio


Institutionalise macro policy to make it sustainable: Dr. Coomaraswamy

Views - 4162 Monday, 3 June 2019 00:20

Delivering the first memorial oration of the late A.S. Jayawardena in Colombo last week, the incumbent Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy emphasised the need for institutionalising the macroeconomic policy being presently pursued by the


Disregard of governance principles by political leadership should come to an end

Views - 6353 Monday, 27 May 2019 00:20

In this uncertain world, there is one thing about which Sri Lankans can be absolutely certain. That is, they can be pretty sure that they would wake up every morning to news of gross disregard of good governance principles by the country’s politica


Enemies of democracy Part 3: Democracy has no meaning if mobocracy can rob the people’s property

Views - 6299 Tuesday, 21 May 2019 00:00

Property rights are the corner stone of any economy Property rights of people are at the foundation of any economic system, whether it is free-market, statist, or socialist. People do what they do in an economy if they can enjoy the fruits of their l


Educated youth leaving the shores of Sri Lanka: Is it brain drain or brain gain?

Views - 7243 Monday, 13 May 2019 00:20

Many have expressed their concern about the rising incidence of educated youth leaving the country for employment in developed countries. This is specifically a relevant issue in a background of Sri Lanka’s labour force falling as observed by the W


Today's Columnists

Statesmanship and moral leadership

Friday, 6 December 2019

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil?


Trust science and technology to deliver: Let innovation be the key

Thursday, 5 December 2019

A new leadership for the country is at the helm. One that is known to believe in focus and intent as well as the power of execution. While execution of plans is critical – we have seen awful delays and procrastination over what is important – it


The professional leadership selection committee

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The political storm has subsided. A proven veteran has weathered the storm. He is now entrusted with the utmost responsibility to rebuild the nation and to reposition the country in the Asian economic landscape. Living abroad, I attentively observed


What the private sector needs more than tax cuts

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Few things have stood out in the first two weeks of the new President. Firstly the significant tax cuts, ranging from reduction in VAT, reintroducing tax exemptions and abolishing other taxes such as NBT and WHT. Secondly the public announcement that


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