- Prof.Razeen Sally takes a jab at government for its unwavering faith in foreign academics and agencies
The Sri Lankan government ignores local economic policy expertise in favour of foreigners who make the same arguments, a leading economist said recently.
“There’s actually enough core expertise available right here in Sri Lanka to put together core reforms. We do not need a white man or a well endowed foreign aid worker to come in and tell us what to do as if we’re not capable of thinking of these things ourselves,” Institute of Policy Studies Chairman, Prof. Razeen Sally said. He said that in some cases, Sri Lanka is forced to deal with foreign expertise due to receiving development assistance and bailout packages from multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank.
However, the rest is a case of the government not being able to utilize top quality local expertise, he said.
“It’s just that Sri Lankan politicians are very good at not tapping the right people domestically, and rather going for the white face from Harvard or the McKinsey man from whatever regional office,” Prof. Sally said.
His audience was the Young Professionals’ Organization of the United National Party, which is the leading party in the unity government.
The United National Party’s penchant for favouring foreign expertise has antagonized academics at local universities who say that they have for decades been recommending policies which foreigners now come and recommend and which the government believes as the holy truth.
Local media too is coming under fire by some academics for blowing recommendations made by foreigners out of proportion.
Meanwhile, Prof. Sally, who is Sri Lankan born but found success in Europe and Singapore, described himself as ‘having one foot in and one foot out’.