PRODUCTIVITY ENHANCEMENT AND COMPLICATED ECONOMIC ISSUES IN SRI LANKA
Posted on March 9th, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Modernization has been affecting the economic, social and cultural environment of Sri Lanka and it seems that the government policy framework also enthusiastic about going with modernization. Sometimes, people feel that modernization invaded many areas of the country creating distortion or a deformity in attitudes of people and the real behavior of them. The impact of modernization has brought a complexity in economic issues and policymakers have uncertainty on how to approach the productivity-related issues.

After the presidential election in 2019 people expect the president’s intervention for everything in the country and this situation may be a result of election disposition.  The administrators and policymakers cannot depart from the election disposition and work on the reality of the economic condition of the country as it is a culture of Sri Lankan style of democracy that when parliament dissolved many uses the election environment to force the government for winning of various demands.

Administrators and policymakers need especially concentrating on the fact that the productivity of government and private sector both in Sri Lanka are lower than in many country countries.  There is no equilibrium between the productivity of an employee and the payment for the employee.  What is the contributing factor for lower productivity?  It is involved in a range of factors and the major reason is the country has not developed a management culture that supports productivity enhancement.

The lower productivity is a historical issue in the economy and a general knowledge question popular among small kids in villages is that if a woman weaves 20 coconut branches in a day, how many branches would be weaved by 10 women in a day, the answer is zero.  The reason for the answer is ten women will be talking gossips than working and no productivity will be generated in the workplace.  It is not a skill or knowledge related problem, but a problem related to workplace values and management related questions. The changing this environment is a massive task.

The lower productivity has spread to the entire work environment in Sri Lanka which means that government and private sector spending are not productively using in the country.  According to the Keynesian theory, it may positively impact the aggregate demand, however, the government considers productivity of employees spending macroeconomically more effective in the country. The government in fact needs to determine to generate productivity for each rupee spending and then only the country achieves its expectations.  Despite many changes in workplace attitudes administrators of Sri Lanka are still in a conservative environment to get the service from employees without harming their behavior and it shouldn’t be the policy priority.  Policymakers need clearly understand that have the cake and eat the is an impossible task.

If it looks back the policy management in Western countries after the cold war many countries used microeconomic reforms to increase productivity in organizations and operated effective plans in the individual organization according to the practical environment.  The following practical policy actions were popular.

  • Invitation of private capital and management knowledge and skills in government enterprises to modernize them with new capital reducing fiscal spending of the government.
  • A sharp control of executive payments in private companies and the productivity of executives became the major factor to determine the reward and executives of private companies gave company shares to maintain a higher and increasing share value.
  • The technology used organizations with a difference either government or private without a difference to generate efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Individual organizations used management techniques to give promotions and salary increments and the most effective measure was the evaluation of daily work performance by supervisors.
  • The crackdown of trade union power and the use of various techniques to reduce members of unions
  • Establishing seven days week thereby reducing the cost of employing people such as overtime, penalties, and many others.

Politics and culture of Sri Lanka might restrain the application of the measures used in Western countries; however, such measures could be used in a different format. Some measures adapted to the country and the effectiveness of such measures seem to less effective.

Corruptions in public and private organizations remain higher and the president had to intervene such as in the motor vehicle registration office and other places.

The recultivating neglected paddy lands appear to be highly successful and the effort will positively impact the productivity in the country.  A similar type of motivation in public and private office needs and building a movement would be an option for productivity in Sri Lanka.

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