By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Sri Lanka’s private sector has to lead the country’s growth with exports, the country’s Central Bank Governor, who himself has no private opinion on the matter, explained last week.
“Over the next 2 years, the impetus for driving growth has to come from the private sector. Think about unzipping your wallets and investing, and reinvigorating your risk appetites,” Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.
He said that the private sector should step up since they have heard the recent budget speech and the continuation of IMF support for Sri Lanka.
Further, he added that the government was fulfilling its obligations to the private sector as the government is in the process of creating preferential market access to over 3 billion people, facilitating trade, attracting and investments, and improving the ease of doing business. He noted that after 3-4 years, the mega urban development public-private partnership projects for Colombo, Kandy and Trincomalee will gain enough traction as well. However, Dr. Coomaraswamy said that he personally has no preference towards private sector-led growth, having worked for the public sector for most of his life.
“I don’t have any commitment to say that the private sector is a panacea for everything, because when you actually look all around the world, you can get good developmental outcomes with different models, with different mixtures. There’s China and Vietnam on one side and far more market-oriented countries on the other. So, I’m very agnostic about the model for development,” he said.
However, he noted that in the specific case of Sri Lanka, with its location, small population and other attributes, private sector exports and foreign direct investments have to play a major role, despite the world moving towards more mediocre international trade and growth.