Sri Lanka: Development decade in the offing in 2011
Posted on December 29th, 2010

By Philip Fernando, Former Deputy Editor, Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka

Positive postures and adjustments following post-war transition had brought on a more upbeat attitude in the country. Most analysts predict a development decade beginning in 2011. It is not a matter of number crunching the robust export earnings or the GDP but a deepened urgency that portends an effervescent mindset everyone is striving to bring about. It is much more than the ability to preserve but the need to critically visualise the future. The fluidity of the paradigm shift from war to peace has finally disappeared. President Mahinda Rajapaksa put it succinctly: “We have the inherited wisdom to tolerate all opinion and take mature decisions. We have a tradition of understanding our problems and conflicts and finding solutions for them.”

 That wisdom accumulated amidst the genocidal rages of war endured patiently for decades. Amidst the grim diagnosis, the need to maximize resources and the will to end the impasse without succumbing to panicky despondency a resiliency was born. The West did not erupt into rapturous joy but revealed an ungenerous stupor while Sri Lanka’s loyal friends provided a cheering paean to people’s determination.

Legacy of lessons learnt

The legacy of lessons learnt is part of the psychological and emotional adjustments that shaped our immediate history. The awareness level has brought on an exchange of views hitherto absent. The usual chattering classes either cling on to primeval anti-Indian sentiments of the past that are an ideological anachronism now.

They exhibit either a visceral fear of the big power hegemony in varied doses or swallow hook, rod and sinker the mindset of Opposition ideologues’ warning of imminent dangers from having good relations with India and China at the same time.

The vast majority has ignored such pessimistic mind-reading and is bent on fashioning a new work ethic to uphold the newly won gains. They see the efforts to tap into the abundance of goodwill flowing into Sri Lanka from all quarters without having to seek leveraged advantages from any source.

Formation of beachhead

Nothing was more symptomatic of the imminent economic surge than the completion of Sri Lanka’s new deep-sea port at Magampura harbour (stage one), on November 18, with the ceremonial docking of the first vessel to use the port facilities. The beachhead for growth is securely established. The strategy to make Sri Lanka an import/export, marine services and transshipment hub at the locus of key worldwide shipping routes is the monumental landmark in economic resurgence.

 It was no coincidence that amidst that landmark even Sri Lanka reportedly climbed nine positions this year in the World Prosperity Index-ranking 59th among 110 nations, well above India, Pakistan and Indonesia representing the Asia Pacific region released by London’s Legatum Institute. The Index is assessed by taking into account both economic growth and citizens’ quality of life, drawing on data from various sources, including the Gallup World Poll 2009 and UN Development Report.

 Among other indicators of economic health the traditional base of the country’s economy – tea production rose 16.51 percent to 274.5 million kilos as at end October 2010 from 235.5 million kilos a year ago, according to Sri Lanka tea Board showed.

Exceptional year

It was also on record that the export sector would become a US$ 20 billion income earner according to the National Chamber of Exports. Export earnings for the first eight months of this year grew by 10.8 percent to US$ 5,040.4 million from US$ 4,551.3 million during the corresponding period of last year. Tea exports grew by 17.8 percent to US$ 869.8 million. Apparel export earnings fell by 4 percent to US$ 2,076.1 million from US$ 2,162.3 million a year ago.

 The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund has commended Sri Lankan banking authorities, “for their satisfactory program performance, which has helped stabilize the economy and improve Sri Lanka’s near-term growth prospects. The current favourable environment offers a window of opportunity to address remaining macro-economic challenges and build a strong foundation for private sector-led growth.”

 Sri Lanka is no longer designated an underdeveloped country, having surpassed the per capita income of $2,000, according to the World Bank. World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that the World Bank would provide a commercial loan of $265 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an arm of the World Bank. The post-conflict environment provided an opportunity for the World Bank to support the Sri Lankan Government’s vision to firmly establish its place in the ranks of fast growing middle-income countries, she said.

One Response to “Sri Lanka: Development decade in the offing in 2011”

  1. Kit Athul Says:

    Philip, please do not mix IMF and World Bank. 85% of the money World bank have is Chinese. So that is why Sri Lanka gets a good rating and no human rights issues attached to it. IMF is a differnt beast. It can put sanctions against any country to bring it down to poverty level so the people will rebel and overthrough the government. It did in Hatti. When Pappa DOC was the head of the government Hatti expoted rice. It was wealthy country, but pappa doc was getting close to Castro, so IMF flooded the market with rice bought at a higher price and sold it in the open market at a low price. Rice framers could not sell their product so they came to the city, camped out side the city and did various odd jobs. Once Papa Doc was overthrown, IMF could not bring back the ecnomy to support it self. Sri Lanka playing with IMF is dangerous. They did it to Mrs. Bandaranayake as well.

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