Pathfinder Foundation and Academy of Macroeconomic Research of China Holds Roundtable
Posted on May 10th, 2019

Press Release Pathfinder Foundation

Spatial Planning and Regional Development was the theme of the recently held roundtable jointly organized by the Pathfinder Foundation (PF) and the Academy of Macroeconomic Research (AMR) of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China. The AMR delegation that visited Colombo, was headed by Director General Dr. Gao Guoli.

Established in 1995, AMR is the only national policy-making consulting think tank in China specialized in macroeconomic theory, policy research and providing intellectual support to NDRC. The NDRC is a macroeconomic management agency under the Chinese State Council and has broad administrative and planning control over the economy of China.

The roundtable was attended by Mr. Locana Gunaratna, Chartered Architect, and planning expert; Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne, Professor of Economics at the University of Colombo and Dr. Sisira Pinnawala, Senior Research Associate and the professionals of PF.

Prior to the roundtable, the visiting delegation met with Milinda Moragoda, Founder of the PF for a briefing on the current economic, political and investment climate in the country. Also, teams from AMR and PF had a well-focused discussion on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the context of China-Sri Lanka trade, investment and economic cooperation.

At the discussion, both sides agreed that implementation of projects under this grand initiative should be focused on overall economic development of Sri Lanka to ensure transparency and return on investment of individual projects. It was emphasized by a participating Sri Lankan academic that the BRI needs to be viewed as a new paradigm of international development cooperation departing from development initiatives implemented during the post-World War II period. He added that BRI is considered as holistic and integrated in its approach to development of participating countries. It was stated that both Colombo Port City/Colombo International Financial City and Hambantota development initiatives need to be evaluated within this context.

The roundtable on ‘Spatial Planning and Development Initiatives’ analyzed the experience of Chinese urban planning and regional development as a useful know-how providing many lessons to newly emerging economies. In spite of the differences in scale the achievements of China in developing modern urban centres and addressing issues of rural communities China’s spatial planning and development activities provide inspiration even for countries like Sri Lanka and their urban planning professionals. It was highlighted that a mega urban development project, such as the Colombo Port City, needs to be buttressed with appropriate legal structures such as ‘Special Economic Zones.’ It is also noted that growth impetus to be created by such development may have the potential to accelerate urban migration, which if not dealt with care, will add to the growing urban underclass, which is already a major issue in the Colombo metropolitan landscape. The roundtable concluded on the understanding that the two institutions would expand cooperation in the field of spatial planning.

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