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Public Sector and Governance

Sri Lanka: Building a more resilient economy

Smriti Daniel's picture

At the launch of the Sri Lanka Development Update (SLDU), our Twitter chat #SLDU2017: Environmental Benefits of Economic Management set out to explore how Sri Lanka could meet the twin challenges of increasing its physical and financial resilience.
The panel comprised experts from the World Bank - Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough; Senior Economist Ralph van Doorn and senior environmental specialist Darshani De Silva – and Kanchana Wickramasinghe, a research economist in the Institute of Policy Studies. Together, they unpacked the SLDU, discussed its key findings and fielded questions from across the region around its main themes.
The bi-annual report, notes key economic developments over the preceding months, placing them in a longer term and global perspective; in the Special Focus section, it explores topics of particular policy significance to Sri Lanka. 
Ralph started with the idea that Sri Lanka faces a window of opportunity during which key reforms could transform the country and its economy. He noted that Sri Lanka’s position in the global economy improved its global growth prospects, as well as that of its key export partners. Low commodity prices and the restoration of the GSP+ preferential trade arrangement with the EU had also combined to improve the outlook for the Sri Lankan economy.

For Idah, the country’s mood and the government’s commitment to change were critical to success:   
The panel delved into how natural disasters and extreme weather events posed a threat to Sri Lanka’s growing economy. In the short-term the damage was clear and serious, with losses amounting to several billions a year, as Idah noted in her blog. During the chat, she emphasised how Sri Lanka needed to be prepared for future disasters or it would cost the country enormously.
Kanchana pointed out that in the long-term, disasters could set back poverty alleviation efforts, especially in agricultural and rural areas, adding:

With the chat underway, questions poured in from an online audience who were interested in diverse issues – from managing Sri Lanka’s ongoing drought and its impact on the Northern Province to what insights the SLDU had to offer other countries in the region such as India.

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.

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.

Afghanistan’s energy sector leads the way for gender equality

World Bank Afghanistan's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
Afghanistan's power utility (DABS) has recently taken steps necessary to ensure that women are involved in all business operations within the organization. Photo: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

In Afghanistan, decades of violence, common discriminatory practices, and cultural barriers, including restrictions on mobility, have denied women job opportunities and left them severely underrepresented in all sectors of society.
Despite considerable achievements in the last decade, such as the national Constitution guaranteeing equal rights as well as increased enrollment in public schools and universities, achieving gender equality will require widespread social changes.
Yet, change is happening and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), Afghanistan’s national power utility, is showing the way.
With a workforce of about 7,000, the company employs only 218 women, most of whom at a junior support level. However, under the leadership of its new CEO, DABS management has committed to promoting gender equality.
The Planning and Capacity Support Project of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank, is helping DABS deliver on that commitment. The project organized awareness sessions for DABS staff on gender-related issues and provided specialized training to female employees. DABS has committed to providing internships to female university graduates to ensure women can find job opportunities and fully participate in the energy sector.
Realizing that the majority of its female staff lacked the confidence to compete with men, DABS is facilitating access to new job opportunities for women employees and has taken steps to ensure that women are involved in all business operations within the organization.

இலங்கையின் வளர்ச்சிப் பாதை எவ்வாறு அமைந்திருக்கின்றது?

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Also available in: English | සිංහල

அண்மையில் இடம்பெற்ற சம்பியன்ஸ் கிண்ண கிரிக்கட் போட்டித் தொடரில் இலங்கை அணியினர் சிறப்பாகச் செயற்பட்டதாக சிலர் எண்ணம் கொண்டிருக்கலாம். அதில் நானும் அடங்குகின்றேன். ஆயினும் தொலைக்காட்சிகளிலும், சமூக வலைத்தளங்களிலும், ஏன் எமது அலுவலகத்தில் கூட காரசாரமான விவாதங்கள் முன்னெடுக்கப்பட்டு அவர்கள் அனைவருமே அணியினது பெறுபேறுகள் விடயத்தில் ஒருமித்த நிலைப்பாட்டைக் கொண்டிருக்கவில்லை என்பதை தெளிவாக்குகின்றது. 

தமது கருத்துக்களில் வேறுபாடுகளைக் கொண்டிருந்த போதிலும் உலகின் பல்வேறு பாகங்களில் இருக்கும் எனது பல சகபணியாளர்களும், நண்பர்களும் போட்டிகளில் உற்சாகத்தை வெளிப்படுத்தியும் எதிரணிகளை ஆதரித்தும் போட்டிகளை ஆய்வுக்குட்படுத்தியும், போட்டியைப் பாதிக்கும் களத்திற்கு வெளியிலான அரசியல் நிலைகுறித்து கருத்துக்களை வெளிப்படுத்தியும், வெற்றி ஈட்டியவர்கள் தோல்வியடைந்தவர்கள் குறித்து தீர்ப்பிடும் வகையிலான கருத்துக்களை வெளிப்படுத்தியும், தமது ஆர்வத்தைக் கண்ணுற்றிருந்தேன். ஏனைய அணிகளுடன் இந்தப் போட்டித் தொடரில் பங்கேற்பதற்கு இலங்கை அணியானது சர்வதேச ரீதியில் முதல் எட்டு  இடங்களுக்குள் இடம்பெறவேண்டியது அத்தியாவசியமானது என்பதே இங்கு முக்கியமான விடயமாகும். எவ்வாறு பொருளாதாரம் வளர்ச்சி காண்கின்றது மற்றும்  அங்கீரிக்கப்படுகின்றது என்பதற்கு இந்த ஒப்பீடானது பொருத்தமானதாக அமைந்துள்ளது. ஆகவே இந்த சிந்தனைகளை நினைவில் நிறுத்திவைத்துக்கொள்ளுங்கள்.

பத்திரிகைகள் இணையத்தளங்களில் பல கட்டுரைகளைப் படித்தபோது சமூக வலைத்தளங்களில் பல்வேறு கருத்துப் பகிர்வுகளை வாசித்தபோது ஒரு விடயம் தெளிவாக புலனாகியது. அது என்னவென்றால் இலங்கை எவ்வாறு வளர்ச்சி காண்கின்றது என்பது தொடர்பாக எந்தவகையிலான ஒருமித்த கருத்துக்களும் கிடையாது. இவற்றுடன் 4.4 சதவீத வளர்ச்சி வீதம் தொடர்பில் அபிவிருத்தியடைந்த நாடுகள் திருப்திப்பட்டுக்கொண்டாலும் இலங்கையில் அது ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளக்கூடியதற்கு மிகவும் குறைவானதாகவே நோக்கப்படும். இது வளர்ச்சி காண்கின்றதா என சிலர் கேள்வியெழுப்புகின்றனர். மாறாக அது தொடர்பில் பல்வேறு கருத்துநிலைப்பாடுகள் காணப்படுகின்றன. நம் ஒவ்வொருவரின் வாழ்விலும் ஏதோ ஒரு வகையில் தொடர்புபட்டுள்ள இந்த விடயம் தொடர்பில் குழப்பமான நிலைமைக்கு இது வழிகோலிநிற்கின்றது.

ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ආර්ථික වර්ධන ප්‍ර‍ගතිය පිළිබඳ හැරී බලමු

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Also available in: English | தமிழ்

මෑතකදී  නිමාව දුටු ශූරයන්ගේ කුසලාන තරගාවලියේදී ශ්‍රී ලංකා ක්‍රිකට් කණ්ඩායම හොඳින් ක්‍රීඩා කළ බව ඇතැමෙක් සිතන්නට ඉඩ ඇත. රූපවාහිනිය හා සමාජ මාධ්‍ය තුළ ද, මා ද ඇතුළු අපගේ කාර්යල සගයන් අතර අපගේ කාර්යාලයේ දී ද මේ ගැන ඇති වූ දැඩි විවාද පැහැදිලිවම යෝජනා කළේ ඔවුන්ගේ තරගකාරී බව ගැන සැවොම සතුටු නොවන බවයි. මේ විවිධ වාද විවාද අතරතුර, ලෝකයේ විවිධ කලාපවලින් පැමිණි මාගේ වෘත්තීය සගයින් සහ මිතුරු මිතුරියන් උණුසුම් ලෙස ජයඝෝෂා නගන අයුරුත්, තරග සමාලෝචනය කරන අයුරුත්, එකිනෙකට ප්‍ර‍තිවිරුද්ධ කණ්ඩායම්වලට සහයෝගය දක්වන අයුරුත්, ක්‍රීඩාව කෙරෙහි බලපාන දේශපාලනය ගැන විමසා බලන අයුරුත් සමග ජයග්‍රාහකයින් හා පරාජිතයින් පිළිබඳ පූර්ව විනිශ්චයන් ලබා දෙන අයුරුත් මම දුටුවෙමි. මෙහි ප්‍ර‍ධානතම කරුණ නම් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට ජාත්‍යන්තර ක්‍රිකට් වර්ගීකරණයේ අටවන ස්ථානයේ රැඳී සිටීමට සෙසු රටවල් සමග තරග වැදිය යුතුව තිබීමයි. ආර්ථික වර්ධනය සිදුවන ආකාරය ද විවිධ මතවාදවලට ලක් වෙමින් මෙම ක්‍රිකට් සම්බන්ධ උදාහරණය සමග හොඳින් ගැලපෙයි. අපි ඒ සිතුවිල්ල පිළිබඳ සාකච්ඡා කරමු.

පුවත්පත්වල නොඑසේනම් අන්තර්ජාලයේ සංසරණය වන බොහෝ ප්‍ර‍වෘත්තිමය ලිපි කියවීමෙන්, නොඑසේනම් සමාජ මාධ්‍ය හරහා හුවමාරු වන පුරවැසියන්ගේ අදහස් විමසා බැලීමෙන් එක් දෙයක් පැහැදිලි වේ. එනම් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ආර්ථික සංවර්ධනය සිදුවන ආකාරය පිළිබඳ සියල්ලන්ම එකඟ වන අදහසක් දක්නට නොමැති බවයි. සංවර්ධිත රටවල් සළකා බලන විට ඉහළ වර්ධන වේගයක් වන 4.4%, සංවර්ධනය වෙමින් පවතින හා ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ හැකියාවන් මට්ටමෙන් ගත් කළ පහළ අගයක් ලෙස ඇතැමුන් තර්ක කරයි. මේ අතර සමහරෙක් ‘ ඇත්තටම වර්ධනය වෙනවාම දැයි‘අසති! මෙහි ප්‍ර‍තිඵලය වී ඇත්තේ සෑමදෙනාටම කුමන හෝ ආකාරයකින් වැදගත් වන ගැටළුවක් ගැන අපැහැදිලි චිත්‍ර‍යක් නිර්මාණය වී තිබීමයි.

වසරකට දෙවරක් ලෝක බැංකුව දිවයිනෙහි ආර්ථික පසුබිම පිළිබඳ දත්ත සහ විශ්ලේෂණ ඉදිරිපත් කරයි. ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ආර්ථික වර්ධනය කුමක් ද? ආර්ථික වර්ධනය වේගවත් කිරීමට සිදු කළ යුත්තේ මොනවා ද? ඒ සඳහා සහාය වීමට පුරවැසියන් සිදු කළ යුත්තේ කුමක් ද?  වැනි ගැටළුවලට පිළිතුරු දීමට එහිදී අපි උත්සාහ දරමු. ක්‍රිකට් ක්‍රීඩාව අනුව අතිදක්ෂ ක්‍රීඩකයකුට වුව කිසිවකුගේ දිරිගැන්වීමක් නොලැබේ නම්, ඔහුගේ උනන්දුව හීන වී ගොස් ඔහු අසාර්ථක වන බව අපි දනිමු. එවැනි තත්වයක් අවසානයේ ක්‍රීඩාව පිළිබඳ උද්යෝගයද වියැකී ගොස් කණ්ඩායමේ ශ්‍රේණිගත කිරීම්වලින් පහත වැටීමට ද හේතු විය හැක. දෙපාර්ශවයම කුමක්, කෙසේ, කා විසින් දිනාගත යුතු දැයි වටහාගත යුතු අතර තරගයකදී කණ්ඩායමක් සාර්ථක නොවූ විට තරගයේ කුමන අංශය වෙනස් කළ යුතු දැයි පැහැදිලි කරගත යුතු ය. ශ්‍රී ලංකාව ක්‍රිකට් ක්‍රිඩාවේ දැවැන්තයෙක් බවට පත්වූයේ එපරිද්දෙනි.  

How does Sri Lanka score in growth?

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Also available in: සිංහල | தமிழ்

While some may think the Sri Lanka’s cricket team did well in the recent Champion's Trophy, myself included, vigorous debates have been going on, on TV and social media and even here in our office which clearly suggests that not everyone agrees on their performance. Despite these differences in perspective, I witnessed the excitement of many of my colleagues and friends from different parts of the world as they cheered, supported opposing teams, analyzed the games, and mulled the behind the scenes politics that affect the game, and also passed judgements on winners and losers.  The key point here is that for Sri Lanka to be in the top 8 internationally they had to play other countries. This analogy fits well with how economies grow and are recognized; so hold on to this thought. 

Reading through the many articles in the news, be they paper, internet or just exchanges between citizens on social media, one thing is clear, there is no one unified view on how Sri Lanka is growing. While developed countries would salivate at a growth rate of 4.4 percent, in Sri Lanka it is considered below potential. Some even question if it’s growing! The result is a confusing landscape on an important issue that touches everyone in some way.   

Twice a year the World Bank adds data and analyses to the many out there. We try to answer questions such as: what is Sri Lanka’s actual growth? Which parts of the economy have grown and which have not? If the country is to accelerate growth, what needs to be done? What can its people do to help? We know from cricket that the players can be excellent but if no-one cheers for them, they lose interest and cannot be successful. Eventually the game loses its luster and the competitive edge of the country’s ranking also slips. Both sides need to understand what needs to be achieved, how, by whom and when the team doesn’t quite deliver in a match, what part of the game should they change. This is what has made Sri Lanka a cricket powerhouse.

Local communities combat climate change in Bangladesh

Shilpa Banerji's picture
Mahfuzul Hasan Bhuiyan/World Bank
Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable countries to flooding and climate change impacts. Photo Credit: 
Mahfuzul Hasan Bhuiyan/World Bank

How can a country vulnerable to natural disasters mitigate the effects of climate change? In Bangladesh, resilient communities have shown that by using local solutions it is possible to combat different types of climate change impacting different parts of the country.
Every year, flash floods and drought affect the north and north-west regions. Drinking water becomes scarce, land becomes barren and people struggle to find shelter for themselves and their livestock. In the coastal districts, excessive saline makes it impossible to farm and fish.
The Community Climate Change Project (CCCP) has awarded grants to around 41 NGOs to address salinity, flood and drought-prone areas. With the help from local NGOs, communities innovated simple solutions to cope up with changing climate and earn a better living benefiting at least 40,000 people in the most vulnerable districts.
Raising the plinths of their homes in clusters has helped more than 15,000 families escape floods, and they continued to earn their livelihoods by planting vegetables and rearing goats on raised ground. Vermicomposting has also helped to increase crop yields. In the saline affected areas, many farmers have started to cultivate salinity tolerant crabs with women raising their income level by earning an additional BDT 1500 a month from saline tolerant mud crab culture in high saline areas.
Watch how communities use these three solutions to tackle climate change impacts.

Our commitment to the people of Afghanistan stays strong

Annette Dixon's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Despite government efforts with support from the international community, Afghanistan's development needs remain massive. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

I am still shaken and saddened by the many lives lost to the attacks in Kabul two weeks ago and since then there has been more violence. As we grieve these tragedies, now is the time to stand strong with the people of Afghanistan and renew our commitment to build a peaceful and prosperous country.

To that end, we announced this week a new financing package of more than half-a-billion dollars to help Afghanistan through its struggle to end poverty, increase opportunity to help stabilize the country, and ensure all its citizens can access basic services during a time of economic uncertainty.

Afghanistan has come a long way since 2001 and achieved much progress under extremely challenging circumstances. Life expectancy has increased from 44 to 60 years, maternal mortality has decreased by more than three quarters and the country now boasts 18 million mobile phone subscribers, up from almost none in 2001.

Yet, the development needs in Afghanistan remain massive. Nearly 40 percent of Afghans live in poverty and almost 70 percent of the population are illiterate. The country needs to create new jobs for about 400,000 people entering the labor market each year. The situation is made more challenging by the return of around 5.8 million refugees and 1.2 million internally displaced people.

Our new support is in line with our belief that Afghanistan’s economic and social progress can also help it address security challenges.  Our financing package meets the pressing needs of returning refugees, expands private-sector opportunities for the poor, boosts the development of five cities, expands electrification, improves food security, and builds rural roads.

What can Bangladesh do to deliver more and better jobs for everyone?

Qimiao Fan's picture
Bangladesh woman working in flourescent lamp section
Bangladeshi woman works in the flourescent lamp section of SEED Bangla Limited. Photo Credit: World Bank

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress toward ending poverty and sharing prosperity with more of its people. As recently as 2000, about one in three Bangladeshis lived in extreme poverty based on the national poverty line; today, this has fallen to 13 percent. The poorest 40 percent of the population also saw positive per person consumption growth. Like in most countries, a key reason was broad-based growth in earnings. With more than 20 million people still living in extreme poverty and many workers with insecure jobs, Bangladesh cannot be complacent. It needs faster economic growth that can deliver more and better jobs for everyone.