- Urges private sector to take lead to escape middle income trap
- Asks businesses to drive growth instead of waiting for economy to turnaround
- Says driving sustainable economic growth will ultimately benefit businesses
By Nishel Fernando
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) chief this week called the private sector to take the lead in breaking out of the middle income trap with positivity and greater focus on inclusivity, instead of waiting for the economic growth to return.
“When we complain of slow economic growth, we wait rather than drive. This is an externality that we need to take into our own hands. There is no denying that business growth comes from economic growth and equally business growth will drive economic growth. I believe instead of waiting for economic growth, we must create that growth ahead,” CCC Chairman and Axiata Group Bhd’s Chief Executive Officer - South Asia Region and Corporate Executive Vice President, Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya said.
He made these remarks delivering the keynote speech at the inauguration of the 40th National Conference of Chartered Accountants themed ‘Finding Your Mojo: A Journey of Self Discovery’ held in Colombo on Monday.
As Sri Lanka struggles to break out of the middle income trap with continuous subpar economic growth, Dr. Wijayasuriya stressed that business leaders in the country must take it up as a challenge with a positive mindset.
“That’s a challenge we should take with positivity as opposed to despondence and with energy as opposed to inertia. It’s about taking greater risk instead of being dormant with empathy for all around us including businesses large and small as well as the government. This sense of apathy takes us nowhere,” he went on to say.
Dr. Wijayasuriya also highlighted the importance of addressing the disparities in income distribution in Sri Lanka to achieve sustainable economic growth.
According to the World Bank (WB), the income share held by top ten percent increased from 29.9 percent in 2009 to 32.9 percent by 2016 in post-war Sri Lanka while the income share held by bottom ten percent had declined from 3.2 percent to 2.9 percent during the same period.
After Maldives, Sri Lanka has the second highest wealthiest top ten percent income share in the South Asian region.
“The majority of the population has to share the minority of wealth in this country. This is not a sustainable equation and it certainly will not let the mojo to be created to the required level. The mojo is about opportunity, hope, aspiration and it’s about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel which enables us to do better today and tomorrow,” Dr. Wijayasuriya stressed.
He urged business leaders to take the leadership in driving sustainable economic growth while encouraging all citizens to join in to become a part of this journey.
“Lets us not keep what we have at the top of the pyramid, but use our skills, use our mojo, technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to allow everyone to participate in the economy of the future. This could be called a form of socialism, nouvere socialism or inclusive capitalism,” he said.
Dr. Wijayasuriya pointed out that business would also ultimately benefit by driving the sustainable economic growth in the country.
“We as business leaders can ignite and spread a nation’s mojo, if we are positive. If we take challenges before us with a positive mindset and it is the determination that will ultimately benefit our homes, organizations, nation and society at large,” he added.