Economic Association unveils ambitious plan to mark 30th anniversary

Thursday, 29 January 2015 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Economic Association (SLEA) completes three decades of service to the nation as a professional body this year. It was in 1985 when eight first generation economists of our country belonging to the immediate post-colonial era comprising Dr. GamaniCorea, Professor A.D.V. de S Indraratna, Dr. JayanthaKelegama, Dr. H.N.S. Karunatilaka and four othersmet together and formed the Sri Lanka Economic Association. Since its establishment, it has become a member of the International Economic Association (IEA) in 2008, and has been incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 2011. In its first 20 years it had Dr. GamaniCorea (Founder President), Dr. H.N.S. Karunatilake and Dr. SamanKelegama at the helm of its affairs. In the past few years, its membership expanded rapidly and now the number stands well over700, who are drawn from academia, research institutes, public sector organisations, banking and the business sectors. SLEA has been and continue to be actively engaged in providing a wide forum for intellectual discussions of economic and social issues of the country over the period. It has been conducting seminars, workshops and public lectures, on contemporary socio-economic issues, on a monthly basis. Its biennial journal, Sri Lanka Economic Journal (SLEJ) has been coming out regularly. Its Annual Sessions generally held on a crucial socio-economic theme have continued to draw appreciable audiences, the published proceedings of which have been made available to the policy makers, administrators and the public. From the beginning of this year it commenced a quarterly e-news letter to provide a forum for the discussion of current economic issues in a more regular manner. Speaking at a networking event organised by SLEA with media professionals and senior and council members of SLEA at the Organisation for Professional Associations (OPA), its President Professor A.D.V. de S.Indraratna said that SLEA has laid down an ambitious plan from this year.This event was organised by the SLEA’s Publicity, Media and Web Committee headed by Vice President of SLEA, Malraj B. Kiriella. Prof.Indraratna stated that 2015 was important for SLEA since it is marking the 30th year of its existence. “One of our plansis to publish a series of articles in leading newspapers and journals/magazines authored by SLEA memberson a more regular basis to make the public aware of important economic and social issues.” It is a need of the day, he stated, which would cater to a lacuna where most of the people are unable to distinguish what is correct and true, from what is biased and misleading, information in regard to the polity and economy of the country. Noting that “SLEA aims to play a lead role in this area,” he urged the support of the media in this exercise. Prof.Indraratna also stated that it is planned to offer services of its members to the Government in their respective areas of expertise. “SLEA has a bounty of expertise in the field of economics and some of our members even have received global accolades and recognition in the area.” SLEA also aims to increase its membership by attracting more young members to the Association he said. “We are targeting at young professionals and students and we believe that this would help to cultivate the importance of economics in the young minds who will take up greater responsibilities in the future. It is important to enhance the professionalism in the country which has been eroded over the past years.We as seniors aim to take the lead to enhance the professionalism in the field of economics and hope that it would be carried forward by future generations,” he added. Interested new applicants seeking SLEA membership could obtain information from its website SLEA hopes to achieve a pinnacle of activities this year with the laying of the foundation stone for its proposed headquarters. “This is a milestone since the major constraint faced by SLEA in the planning and execution of its activities has been the absence of its own premises and of having to confine its office activities to a small rented room in the OPA building. SLEA was fortunate in getting from the Government a 30-perch block of land by ColombageMawatha, Colombo 5.With the generous assistance of Dr. LocanaGunaratna, Architect/Planner, a Vice-President of SLEA, it has been possible to have a schematic design prepared for the building complex.Its main components include:A four-storey office block; an auditorium with about 125 seats; a common entrance lobby; and, few other miscellaneous facilities. The estimated total floor area will be around 10,000 sq ft. with some outdoor space being reserved for parking of vehicles. A very preliminary estimate of construction costs is in the region of Rs. 50-70 m. The SLEA is now planning to raise funds or to seek investors for a collaboration to put up the headquarters building.