Columnists,W. A. Wijewardena,Opinion and Issues

The Monetary Board should weed out dishonest officers to save its reputation

Views - 11223 Monday, 17 February 2020 00:58

Asani: Since the loss calculations are defective and auditors have not been fully conversant with the Monetary Board’s role in EPF, shouldn’t we dismiss all the reports, Grandpa? Sarath Mahatthaya: It’s not like that. Though they’ve been weak

Demonise the devils, not honest men and women at EPF

Views - 12347 Monday, 10 February 2020 00:08

Asani: Grandpa, of late, many have started demonising EPF for losing the monies belonging to members through fraudulent investments. They have named some devils in EPF in both pre-2015 and post-2015 periods. Their source is the recently-released fore

The reported losses to be taken with a pinch of salt

Views - 13232 Monday, 3 February 2020 00:20

Asani, the bright Advanced Level student and her grandfather – Sarath Mahatthaya – a well-read retiree, are having intellectual discussions frequently on current issues of public interest. Earlier, they had two such interactive sessions, one on M

A child’s guide to price determination in the market: Tax cuts won’t always reduce prices

Views - 5190 Monday, 27 January 2020 00:00

Asani has been an alert student reading for her Advanced Level exam. She is an inquisitive student and makes it her business to probe into matters that are economics about which she has no clear understanding. Fortunately, her Grandfather – Sarath

Limping merchandise exports: Gota should not make the same mistakes as the previous governments

Views - 7182 Monday, 20 January 2020 02:20

Sri Lanka’s sluggish export performance Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports have been limping from around 2011. Exports which amounted to $ 10.6 billion in 2011 have changed at a very slow rate since then. During 2011-18, the average annual merchandi

Central Bank’s Road Map for 2020 and Beyond: Government’s full cooperation is needed to realise targets

Views - 5213 Monday, 13 January 2020 09:40

Last week, the new Governor of the Central Bank, Prof. W.D. Lakshman, unveiled the Central Bank’s Road Map for 2020 and Beyond before a select audience. The speech delivered by Lakshman can be accessed at .

Gota’s economic war: Ferocity of the enemy makes the challenge frightening

Views - 7724 Monday, 6 January 2020 00:00

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – now fondly called Gota by everyone – inherited an underperforming economy. It was just like the economy which the previous administration had inherited from his brother some five years ago. As I had presented in thi

Professor W.D. Lakshman: A social democrat to the end

Views - 7130 Monday, 30 December 2019 01:50

It was 1972 and I was an assistant lecturer at the then Vidyodaya University. The permanent lecturer taking the second-year monetary economics class had fallen ill and was not to come to the university for about one month. I was asked by the Head of

Democratic governance at a crossroads: The enemy to be defeated is within

Views - 5082 Monday, 23 December 2019 00:52

Democracy, as against monarchy or authoritarian rule, has been hailed as the best form of government due to a number of reasons. It permits citizens’ voice in government, allows people to have choice over right to life, career, faith, or property,

Aftermath of Easter Sunday attacks: Tourism needs fixing – and quickly

Views - 3158 Monday, 16 December 2019 00:55

It is a mid-size hotel facing the serene beaches of southern Sri Lanka. One wing of the hotel containing about 100 rooms has been permanently closed since the horrendous Easter bombings. Of the other wing, which also contains an equal number of rooms

Tax cuts: Control the damage before the unconventional stimulus backfires

Views - 8658 Monday, 9 December 2019 00:27

In a background of some contrasting signals from various parties regarding the generous tax cuts introduced by the Government, the Finance Ministry has attempted to do a damage control exercise by issuing a press notice last week. The confusion was o

The role of applied statisticians in a digitalised world

Views - 3696 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 - 9574 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 - 8729 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 - 5085 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 - 9161 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 - 4417 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 - 5535 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 - 6432 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 - 7740 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 - 6164 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 - 7370 Monday, 23 September 2019 00:43

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

Views - 6974 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 - 3463 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 - 7480 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 - 6217 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 - 7146 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 - 6667 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 - 6873 Monday, 5 August 2019 00:20

In the previous article in this series (available at: ), 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 - 4923 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

Today's Columnists

Withering of expectations and prospects of new ones

Friday, 21 February 2020

The election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President at the last Presidential Election can be said to have been the ultimate wish of the majority of Sinhala Buddhist people. Yet, the people were not aware that the President they were electing does not hav

Upsurge of populism

Friday, 21 February 2020

“Populism: denies the pluralism of contemporary societies. It promotes hostility to “enemies” and flirts with violence. It is generally gripped by a territorial mentality that prioritises borders and nation states against ‘foreigners’ and

Diplomatic drone strike, Indo-Lanka equation and constitutional change

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The ‘diplomatic drone strike’, the dramatic US strictures against the Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, tells us that Big Brother IS watching. This isn’t the usual suspects, its way out of their league. This is the Big League, the big b

Solar and wind power can resolve electricity crisis, early and cheaper, if allowed

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The country is facing the worst power situation in the history, with electricity generation being unable to meet the demand, with generation costs among the most expensive in the world. With the current scenario, the country cannot be expected to com

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