POPULATION IS A CRITICAL FACTOR FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN SRI LANKA
Posted on May 11th, 2021

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Economic development has been talking since independence in 1948 focussing on various strategies and at the school level, this topic was broadly discussed to educate the young generation. Since early 1960, the government policy focused on a variety of issues that affected economic development. There was a theoretical explanation that the population grows geometrically despite the economy seems to be growing arithmetically. Many economists showed this situation using data related to the Philippines and government policymakers in Sri Lanka advised to project a population control plan with the support of foreign countries. When looked at the problems faced by large families at the rural level the implementation of a population plan was an impressive idea despite minor talks against population control.

Nordic countries assisted in implementing a population plan. However, cultural and religious views were influenced contrary to the population plan, and some religious leaders made open talks against the plan based on mythical views.    The economic growth of Sri Lanka during the 1960s has recorded as lower than population growth and this nature of growth had considered as one of the major factors that higher population growth for the economic backwardness of Sri Lanka.  Alternatively, policymakers could have to think about major constraints economic growth, most probably other factors such as productivity, application of technology, investment and savings, and other factors that would have contributed to lower economic growth with a higher rate of population growth. The economic plan for five years presented in 1972 identifies a large gap between saving and investment, and the leftist politics of the government at that time was not concentrating on attracting investment to absorb increasing labor.

The import of labor from India for plantation business and as coolies for government and private sector business offices contributed to change the population density, and in the 1950s the government tightened the immigration rules and associated with the policy of population control. In the late 1960s, the concept of a small family is golden came into the mind of people as the government promoted the idea, and the census of 1972 recorded a notable decline in population growth (The difference between birth rate and Death rate as a percentage). The imported labor from India had been a factor for the increase and change structure of population in many African and Pacific countries.

It was recorded a 0.9% growth in 1971 that was affordable to Sri Lanka. Why quickly declined the population growth was not interpreted to public, but many imagined that the death of young people during the JVP insurrection contributed to the situation? In addition, the concept of small family golden has been working in society.  

The census after the JVP insurrection provided the best information for policymakers of Sri Lanka that the population level of the country should be maintained at the level of 1971.  Honestly speaking, many people considered maintaining a lower rate of population growth was good for Sri Lanka, if Sri Lanka has been maintaining a lower level of population growth and increasing trend of GDP, and now Sri Lanka would have achieved a developed nation status if economic development mainly focused production and exports. At this analysis, we should not ignore the structure of regulation and market strategies that negatively impacted the growth. The radical changes in economic strategies in 1978 were motivated by the weakness of existing growth strategies.  

This assumption is based on the point that if the population growth is lower rate while the gross domestic product has an increasing trend, the economic growth would support to overcome many problems.  Sri Lanka needs an economic development model despite unnecessarily mentioning or comparing to Singapore, where was contributed different factors for economic development and growth. Many factors that contributed to the development of Singapore are not relevant to Sri Lanka and the regulatory culture in Sri Lanka has not been going with the development purposes, and they were associated with many others such as politics, market, regulation, incentives, culture, religions, and many others. This comparison of Sri Lanka’s development strategy with Singapore is a weak analysis and politicians’ popular point to mislead people.    

The population policymaking process has been badly influenced by the attitudes of people.  Especially, we can see that racial attitudes of communities (Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim) influence the population policy, and many mythical beliefs and ethnical and racist attitudes attempted to influence the management of the population.

Sri Lanka has small land areas and a lower population would be an incentive for rapid economic development and growth.  The current experience of exporting labor for overseas jobs indicates that Sri Lanka’s investment in health and education has gone to other countries than Sri Lanka while Sri Lanka is looking for foreign Investments.

The use of the population for the economic purpose of the country with a good population plan is the right policy.

One Response to “POPULATION IS A CRITICAL FACTOR FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN SRI LANKA”

  1. Nimal Says:

    In all third world countries people come to power and do their own things without getting the people’s consent who have elected them to serve the people. That’s why people and the countries are in trouble, and their people are not welcomed in the developed world. People are the poor of the world resulting in severe visa restrictions and besides we haven’t got our currency convertible like the Singapore currency.
    We really could entertain much needed investments but our country’s fundamentals are not right and to put it right much sacrifices have to be done and it will be very painful. I invested a lot and my foreign born wife’s right to own part of that investment and to co own the NRFC was suddenly taken away and my foreign born siblings have no right to inherit them.
    I tried to reach the politicians for years but they are never to be seen in their local constancy, wouldn’t even answer the letters but it is very different in a decent country like UK.
    We are going back to the dark medieval times where a very few people in the country matters. Some countries in Africa and other third world countries are appealing to the developing world to come to their rescue.
    See Modi ,hoodwink the country with is Ambuda culture, thus misleading the people, spending little on their welfare like the urgent vaccines while he spends money on his palace, just like guy who built the Taj Mahal.What a balu culture?

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