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Reforms Sri Lanka needs to boost its economy

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
 Joe Qian/World Bank
The Colombo Stock Exchange. Credit: Joe Qian/World Bank

Many Sri Lankans understand the potential benefits of lowering trade costs and making their country more competitive in the global economy. The majority, however, fear increased competition, the unfair advantage of the private sector from abroad and limited skills and innovation to compete.

Yet, Sri Lanka’s aspirations cannot be realized in the current status quo.  

While changes in trade policies and regulations will undeniably improve the lives of most citizens, I’m mindful that some are likely to lose. However, many potential gainers of the reforms who are currently opposed to them are unaware of their benefits.

Implementing smart reforms means that government funds will be used more effectively for the people, improve access to better healthcare, education, basic infrastructure and provide Sri Lankans with opportunities to get more and better jobs. Let me focus on a few reforms that I believe are critical for the country.  First, Sri Lanka needs to seek growth opportunities and foreign investment beyond its borders.    

First, Sri Lanka needs to seek growth opportunities and foreign investment beyond its borders.

Experience shows that no country in the world today has been able to create opportunities for its population entirely within its own geographic boundaries. To succeed in this open environment, Sri Lanka will need to improve its skills base, better understand supply and demand chains as well as produce higher quality goods and services

Experience shows that no country in the world today has been able to create opportunities for its population entirely within its own geographic boundaries. To succeed in this open environment, Sri Lanka will need to improve its skills base, better understand supply and demand chains as well as produce higher quality goods and services.

Horticulture offers hope for growth and jobs in rural Afghanistan

World Bank Afghanistan's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Until the late 1960s, Afghanistan was a major exporter of horticulture products, particularly dried fruits. Photo Credit: World Bank

Afghanistan is struggling with unemployment and poor economic performance because of drastic reductions in foreign aid and continued social instability. While efforts have been made to improve the private sector, including several sectors like mining and manufacturing, the gains have been modest as Afghanistan remains beset by conflict and instability.
 
Yet investments in agriculture, particularly horticulture, have produced tangible returns as unique weather conditions are favorable to growing produce that are in-demand in local and regional markets. 

An example can be found in Mullah Durani, a farmer from Mohammad Ali Kas village in Qarghaee district in eastern Laghman Province, who converted his field to growing grapes for fruit consumption in 2015 that is paying off in creating jobs and boosting income. “My land has generated eight times higher returns, while I can use the local workforce on my own farm instead of sending them to cities to work for others,” says Mullah Durani. “I have also been able to create seasonal jobs for a number of villagers during harvesting.”
 
The key to his success, he says, was choosing the right variety of grapes instead of grains. “My recently established vineyard produces grapes at a time when there are almost no domestic fruits in the market and in return, I get higher market prices,” he points out. “This year I sold about $4,000 worth of grapes from 2,000 square meters of land.”
 
By converting his field to growing grapes, Mullah Durani received investment support and technical assistance from the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock under its National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP). The project is funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and helps farmers in selected districts adopt better production practices.

بڼوالي د افغانستان په کلیو کې د پرمختګ او کارموندنې لار

World Bank Afghanistan's picture
Also available in: English | دری
افغانستان تر ۱۹۶۰کلونو پورې د سیمې د نورو هېوادنو په مینځ کې د کرنیزو محصولات په تیره بیا د وچو میوه جاتو یو تر ټولو ستر صادرونکۍ هیواد بلل کیدل. انځور:  نړیوال بانک

اوسمهال افغانستان د وزګارۍ له لوړې کچې اود کمزوری اقتصادی ودی د ستونزه سره مخامخ دی، چې د دې ستونزو ستر لاملونه د بهرنیو مرستو کمښت او نا امني ګڼل کیږي. که څه هم د بیلابیلو سکټورونو په ځانګړې توګه د کانونو او تولیدي صنایعو د ودې او پرمختګ لپاره هڅې شوي، خو پایلې یې کمزوري تر سترګو کیږي؛ ځکه کورني تولید کوونکي باید تر دې هم زیاتې هڅې او هلې ځلې وکړي، څو وتوانیږي، چې له هغو سیمه ییزو او نړیوالو لوبغاړو سره سیالۍ وکړي، کوم چې د افغانستان د جګړو او بې ثباتي په کلونو کې یې خپل صنعت او اقتصاد پیاوړی کړی دی.
 
 سربیره پر دې ستونزو د کرنې په سکټور کې په ځانګړې ډول د بڼوالي په برخه کې پانګونه توانیدلې، چې د افغان کروندګر او بڼوالانو لپاره د پام وړ پایلې ولري، ځکه د افغانستان اقلیمي شرایط د هغه کرنیزو محصولاتو د تولید لپاره برابر او مساعد دي، چې په کورني او سیمه ییزو بازارونو کې ورته ډیره تقاضا یا غوښتنې شتون لري.
 
د دې ادعا ښه بیلګه د لغمان ولایت د قرغه یي ولسوالۍ د محمد علي کس د کلي له اوسیدونکي ملا دراني څخه کولای شوو، ومومو. نوموړي په ۱۳۹۵ کال کې خپله کرونده د انګور د تاکونو په کینولو سره په تاکستان بدل کړ، چې په پایله کې یې عواید زیات او د هغه د تمې پر خلاف د زیاتو کاري فرصتونو د رامنځته کولو لامل شوو. ملا دراني وايي: " زما د انګورو بڼ له یوې خوا زما د عوایدو کچه د تېر په پرتله اتې ځلې زیات کړ او له بلې خوا؛ د دې پرځای چې زما د کورنۍ غړي ښار ته لاړ شي او د نورو لپاره کار وکړي، نن ټول په خپله ځمکه کې په بڼوالي کې بوخت دي. " هغه همدارنګه وايي:" د بڼوالي له لارې زه توانیدلی یم، چې د کلي نورو اوسیدونکو لپاره د حاصلاتو د ټولونې پر مهال موسومي کاري فرصتونه هم رامنځته کړم".
 
د ملا دراني په وینا، د نوموړي بریا په دې کې ده، چې د غوره انګورو ډولونه یې  دغله جاتو د کښت پر ځای غوره ګڼلي. " زما د ځمکې د انګورو د تاکونو حاصلات له دې امله زیات عواید لري، ځکه چې د هغو حاصلات هغه مهال رسیږي، چې په بازار کې نورې کورنۍ میوې موجودې نه وي، چې په پایله کې زما انګور په لوړه بیه پلورل کیږي. " ملا دراني د سږ کال د انګورو حاصلاتو د عوایدو کچې په اړه وايي: " سږ کال ما د انګورو له خرڅلاور څخه د ۴ زره امریکايي ډالرو په ارزښت عواید لرل، چې د بڼ پراخوالی یې شاوخوا ۲۰۰۰ متره مربع دی. "
 
نوموړي د انګورو د دې باغ په جوړولو کې د کرنې، اوبو لګولو او مالدارۍ وزارت څخه د بڼوالي او مالدارۍ د ملي برنامې له لارې مالي او تخنیکي مرستې ترلاسه کړي دي. دا برنامه د افغانستان د بیارغونې د صندوق لخوا تمویل کیږي، چې موخه یې د ټاکل شویو ولسوالیو له کروندګرو سره مرسته ده، څو هغوی ته غوره تولیدي لارې ور وپیژندل شي.

باغداری روزنهٔ برای انکشاف و اشتغال زایی در روستا های افغانستان

World Bank Afghanistan's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
تا سال های ۱۹۶۰ افغانستان یکی از بزرگترین صادر کنندگان محصولات زراعتی بخصوص میوه جات خشک در منطقه محسوب میگردید. عکس: بانک جهانی

افغانستان در حال حاضر با مشکلات ناشی از میزان بلند بیکاری و رشد ضعیف اقتصادی  مواجه بوده که عوامل عمدهٔ آن کاهش در کمکهای خارجی و ادامهٔ نا امنی ها محسوب میگردد. با آنکه تلاش ها به منظور بهبود و انکشاف سکتورهای مختلف  بویژه معادن و صنایع تولیدی همواره صورت گرفته است، اما دست اورد ها ضعیف به نظر میرسند، زیرا مولدین داخلی  باید تلاشهای  زیادی انجام دهند، تا با بازیگران منطقوی و بین المللی که صنعت خود را در جریان سالهای که افغانستان درگیر جنگ و بی ثباتی بود تقویت کرده اند، رقابت کرده بتوانند.  علل الرغم آن، سرمایه گذاری در سکتور زراعت، بخصوص در بخش باغداری، توانسته است نتایج ملموس را برای دهاقین و باغداران افغان به ارمغان بیآورد، زیرا  شرایط اقلیمی افغانستان مساعد برای تولید محصولات زارعتی که  در بازار های محلی و منطقوی  تقاضا زیاد برایشان وجود دارد، میباشد.
 
نمونهٔ خوب این ادعا را میتوان در نزد ملا درانی، باشندهٔ قریه محمد علی کس، ولسوالی قرغه یی در ولایت لغمان دریافت کرد. در سال ۱۳۹۵،  وی مزرعهٔ خود را با غرص تاک های انگور به تاکستان تبدیل کرد که در نتیجه درآمدش بیشتر و سبب ایجاد فرصت های شغلی برخلاف انتظار او  گردید. ملا درانی میگوید: "تاکستان من از یکسو درآمد هشت مرتبه بیشتر از گذشته را برایم بوجود آورده و از جانب دیگر، به جای اینکه اعضای خانواده من به شهر رفته برای دیگران کار کنند، امروز همهٔ شان در زمین خود به باغداری مصروف هستند." وی همچنان میگوید که: "از طریق باغداری، من توانسته ام، تا برای سایر باشنده گان قریه نیز فرصت های کاری موسومی را در وقت جمع آوری حاصلات بوجود آورم».
 
به گفتهٔ ملا درانی، موفقیت وی در اینست که انواع درست انگور را انتخاب کرده و آنرا بر کشت غله جات ترجیح داده است. "حاصل تاک های انگور زمین من بخاطر درآمد بیشتر دارد که  حاصلات آن زمانی  اماده میشود که در بازار عرضه دیگر میوجات داخلی  تقریبآ وجود ندارد، که در نتیجه ، انگور به نرخ بلند بفروش میرسد." ملا درانی در رابطه به میزان درآمد از حاصلات انگور امسال میگوید: "من امسال به ارزش ۴ هزار دالر امریکایی درآمد را از بابت فروش انگور که مساحت  باغ آن حدود ۲۰۰۰ متر مربع میباشد بدست آوردم. "
 
در احداس این باغ انگور کمکهای مالی و تخنیکی را ملا درانی از وزارت زراعت، آبیاری و مالداری از طریق برنامه ملی باغداری و مالداری بدست اورده است. این برنامه توسط صندوق بازسازی افغانستان تمویل میگردد که هدف آن کمک با دهاقین ولسوالی های انتخاب شده، در معرفی روشهای خوب تولیدی میباشد. 

Fresh thinking on economic cooperation in South Asia

Nikita Singla's picture
 Aamir Khan/ Pakistan, Sreerupa Sengupta/ India, Sanjay Kathuria/ World Bank, Mahfuz Kabir & Surendar Singh/ Bangladesh) Photo By: Marcio De La Cruz/ World Bank
Young Economists sharing the stage with Sanjay Kathuria, Lead Economist and Coordinator, Regional Integration (Left to Right: Aamir Khan/ Pakistan, Sreerupa Sengupta/ India, Sanjay Kathuria/ World Bank, Mahfuz Kabir/Bangladesh & Surendar Singh/ India). Photo by: Marcio De La Cruz/ World Bank


That regional cooperation in South Asia is lower than optimal levels is well accepted. It is usually ascribed to – the asymmetry in size between India and the rest, conflicts and historical political tensions, a trust deficit, limited transport connectivity, and onerous logistics, among many other factors.

Deepening regional integration requires sufficient policy-relevant analytical work on the costs and benefits of both intra-regional trade and investment. An effective cross-border network of young professionals can contribute to fresh thinking on emerging economic cooperation issues in South Asia.

Against this background, the World Bank Group sponsored a competitive request for proposals.  Awardees from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, after being actively mentored by seasoned World Bank staff over a period of two years, convened in Washington DC to present their new and exciting research. Research areas included regional value chains, production sharing and the impact assessment of alternative preferential trade agreements in the region.

Young Economists offer fresh thoughts on economic cooperation in South Asia

Mahfuz Kabir, Acting Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and Surendar Singh, Policy Analyst, Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS International) presented their research: Of Streams and Tides, India-Bangladesh Value Chains in Textiles and Clothing (T&C). They focus on how to tackle three main trade barriers for T&C: a) high tariffs for selected, but important goods for the industries of both countries; b) inefficient customs procedures and c) divergent criteria for rules of origin classification.

Sreerupa Sengupta, Ph.D. Scholar at Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi discussed Trade Cooperation and Production Sharing in South Asia – An Indian Perspective. Reviewing the pattern of Indian exports and imports in the last twenty years, her research focuses on comparing the Global Value Chain (GVC) participation rate of India with East Asian and ASEAN economies. Barriers to higher participation include a) lack of openness in the FDI sector; b) lack of adequate port infrastructure, and long port dwell times; and c) lack of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).

Aamir Khan, Assistant Professor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad presented his work on Economy Wide Impact of Regional Integration in South Asia - Options for Pakistan. His research analyzes the reasons for Pakistan not being able to take full advantage of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, and finds that the granting of ASEAN-type concessions to Pakistan in its FTA with China would be more beneficial than the current FTA arrangement. The work also draws lessons for FTAs that are currently being negotiated by South Asian countries.

When in the eye of a storm….

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Abandoned fishing boats lay on the banks of the dried Siyambalankkatuwa reservoir in Sri Lanka's Puttalam District, Aug. 10, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Amantha Perera
Abandoned fishing boats lay on the banks of the dried Siyambalankkatuwa reservoir in Sri Lanka's Puttalam District, Aug. 10, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Amantha Perera
This year, yet again, flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains came and receded. Meanwhile, this year alone, more than one million people have been hard hit by the worst drought in 40 years.
 
The media, with few exceptions, have moved on to other topics and a sense of calm pervades. 
 
We are in the eye of the storm -- that misleading lull before mother nature unleashes her fury once again. 
 
In Sri Lanka alone, costs from natural disasters, losses from damage to housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and from relief are estimated at LKR 50 billion (approx. USD 327 million).  The highest annual expected losses are from floods (LKR 32 billion), cyclones or high winds (LKR 11 billion), droughts (LKR 5.2 billion) and landslides (LKR 1.8 billion). This is equivalent to 0.4 percent of GDP or 2.1 percent of government expenditure. (#SLDU2017). Floods and landslides in May 2016 caused damages amounting to US$572 million.   
 
These numbers do not paint the full picture of impact for those most affected, who lost loved ones, irreplaceable belongings, or livestock and more so for those who are back to square one on the socio-economic ladder.
 
Even more alarming, these numbers are likely to rise as droughts and floods triggered by climate change will become more frequent and severe. And the brief respite in between will only get shorter, leaving less time to prepare for the hard days to come.
 
Therefore, better planning is even more necessary. Sri Lanka, like many other countries has started to invest in data that highlights areas at risk, and early warning systems to ensure that people move to safer locations with speed and effect.
 
Experience demonstrates that the eye of the storm is the time to look to the future, ready up citizens and institutions in case of extreme weather.
 
Now is the time to double down on preparing national plans to respond to disasters and build resilience. 

It’s the time to test our systems and get all citizens familiar with emergency drills. But, more importantly, we need to build back better and stronger.  In drought-affected areas, we can’t wait for the rains and revert to the same old farming practices. It’s time to innovate and stock up on critical supplies and be prepared when a disaster hits.
 
It’s the time to plan for better shelters that are safe and where people can store their hard-earned possessions.
 
Mobilizing and empowering communities is essential. But to do this, we must know who is vulnerable – and whether they should stay or move.  Saving lives is first priority, no doubt. Second, we should also have the necessary systems and equipment to respond with speed and effect in times of disasters. Third, a plan must be in place to help affected families without much delay.
 
Fortunately, many ongoing initiatives aim to do just that.

Sri Lankan Winners and exciting news: #StoriesfromLKA photo contest!

Tashaya Anuki Premachandra's picture

The three winning pictures of the online campaign #StoriesfromLKA

World Bank Sri Lanka launched an online campaign titled #StoriesfromLKA during the month of June celebrating World Environment day “Connecting People to Nature”. The campaign included online interactions to learn about World Bank operations related to the environment and a photo competition to appreciate the natural beauty of Sri Lanka that needs to be preserved while Sri Lanka pursues a development drive.
This competition began on the 21st of June and aimed at showcasing the many talented photographers from Sri Lanka as well as celebrating the rich flora and fauna of the country. After the contest ended on June 30th, 167 entries were shortlisted. We asked you which photos were your favorites and you voted on your selections through social media. Your votes helped us narrow down the top three winners, here they are:

Twitter chat: Economic benefits of environment management in Sri Lanka

Ralph van Doorn's picture

Join us for #SLDU2017: Economic Benefits of Environment Management. This Twitter chat will be hosted by World Bank South Asia

What’s happening?

Join us for #SLDU2017: Economic Benefits of Environment Management. This Twitter chat will be hosted by World Bank South Asia (@WorldBankSAsia) in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Studies IPS (@TalkEconomicsSL).
 
When is it?
August 21, 2017 from 5.30 – 7.30 pm
 
Unpacking #SLDU2017
The chat will explore the findings of the Sri Lanka Development Update (SLDU), published this June.
 
I look forward to engaging with you together with a panel from different areas of expertise.
 
We’ll be discussing priority reforms with a focus on how Sri Lanka can better manage both its business and natural environment to bolster economic growth and sustain development.
 
In recent years, natural disasters have left parts of this island nation devastated, exacting a significant economic, fiscal and social toll. The SLDU identifies other challenges as well, pressing the case for fiscal consolidation, a new growth model, improved governance and programs to buffer against risk.
 
The latest update cautions against adopting piecemeal solutions, noting that the challenges facing the island nation are inter-linked and require a comprehensive and coordinated reform approach.
 
In the end, we also hope this Twitter chat will allow us to learn from you as we begin our preparations for the next SLDU.
 
How can you participate?
Never taken part in a Twitter chat before? It’s simple. Just think of this as an online Q&A. @WorldBankSAsia will moderate the discussion, posing questions to panellists. You are encouraged to join in too! Follow along, retweet and engage. If you have a question, simply tweet it out using the hashtag #SLDU2017. We’ll see it and try to get you some answers.

Bangladesh: Building resilience in the eye of the storm (Part 3/3)

Sameh Wahba's picture


This is the third of a three-part series, Resilience in the of the Eye of the Storm, on how Bangladesh has become a leader in coastal resilience.
 
Over the years, Bangladesh has taken major strides to reduce the vulnerability of its people to disasters and climate change. And today, the country is at the forefront in managing disaster risks and building coastal resilience.
 
Let’s compare the impact of the Bhola Cyclone of 1970 to the far stronger Cyclone Sidr in 2007. The 1970 cyclone was then the deadliest in Bangladesh’s history, and one of the 10 deadliest natural disasters on record. Official documents indicate that over 300,000 lives were lost, and many believe the actual numbers could be far higher. 
 
By contrast, Sidr was the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall in Bangladesh. This time, fewer than 3,500 people lost their lives. While tragic, this represents about 1% of the lives lost in 1970 or 3% of the nearly 140,000 lost lives in the 1991 cyclone.
 
The cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were unprecedented in scale. Yet, they steered the country into action.

How much should Bhutan worry about debt?

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Bhutan hydropower
Construction of the Dagachhu Hydropower Plant in Bhutan. Photo Credit: Asian Development Bank

In many respects, Bhutan has been a development success story. Its people have benefitted from decades of sharp reductions in poverty combined with impressive improvements in health and education. The country is a global model in environmental conservation. It is the first carbon negative country; Bhutan’s forests, which cover over 70% of the country, absorb more carbon dioxide than is produced by its emissions.

The Kingdom of Happiness also must grapple with the reality of managing budgets, creating infrastructure, and preparing its citizens to be able to create and take advantage of jobs of the future. To do that, we are working with closely with Bhutan to build the foundations for a more prosperous future through the cultivation of a vibrant private sector economy and supporting green development.

At the same time, Bhutan has invested generously in hydropower energy production to create a reliable and lasting source of green energy for its people. It also benefits from exporting excess electricity to neighboring India, whose energy needs continue to increase at a rapid pace with their growing economy.

In large part due to the hydropower investments, Bhutan’s public debt was 107 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of March 2017. Hydropower external debt was at 77 percent of GDP with non-hydropower external debt accounting for 22 percent of GDP. Questions have arisen on whether this level of debt is sustainable and what should be done to address it.

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