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Critical recipe for economic prosperity

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By Dinesh Weerakkody 
 Business savvy Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinge speaking at the American Chamber on Wednesday observed that the quality of a nation’s manpower resources is one of the most important factor determining national competitiveness. 
According to the Prime Minister it is people’s innovativeness, entrepreneurship, and their work ethic that gives a country that sharp edge in competitiveness. Undoubtedly the PM is spot on, attributes such as entrepreneurship, innovation and management is required to create wealth. Entrepreneurship is required to seek out opportunities and to take calculated risks. Standing still is a sure way of extinction. 
The second attribute, innovation, is what creates new products and processes that add value. The third factor is good management. To grow, companies have to open up new markets and create new distribution channels. That requires discipline and competence. Economies like China and Germany are driven by new knowledge, new discoveries in science and technology and innovation that are taken to the market by entrepreneurs. So while knowledge is still the greatest factor for economic progress, to sustain that a country needs to focus on discovering new knowledge, engaging in research and development, management and marketing, banking and finance, and the myriad of new subjects that need to be mastered. Those with good minds needs to be encouraged to become inventors, innovators, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs; then only can a country bring new products and services to the market to enrich the lives of people in their country and worldwide.




 Investment
The global landscape for investments is changing. First, advances in technology and globalization have reduced the cost of outsourcing, made distance less of a barrier, and changed the economics of how businesses can best structure their operations across countries. Second, technology and innovation have become more important for business creativity. 
There are truly innovative countries and countries that are merely good recipients of technology transfer, reflecting the weight investors give to the state of technological sophistication, and not simply low wages. Third, competition for investment has intensified, the key to innovation and technology is people. Therefore, we must develop and nurture our talent so that innovation and creativity will be integral to education and training. Our education system should be revamped to nurture innovation and creativity, from kindergarten to university, and for lifelong learning. This would require us to address the current education mismatch.



 Global market place
There is now a global marketplace unlike before for goods and services, as goods, services, capital, and knowledge become even more mobile. These developments have accelerated because of the integration of regional markets. However, in order to benefit from globalization, countries must ensure that their laws and institutions facilitate the global flow. 
There is a fundamental need for the rule of law. It ensures stability and predictability. Next, between participating countries, a congruence of laws and rules governing trade and investment will develop. It eases economic activity by lowering transaction costs. The Roman and British Empire were examples in history of how trade flourished for hundreds of years under the protection of a comprehensive unified system of laws.




 Role of business
Businesses now source for talent and opportunities globally. They invent, collaborate, or acquire technologies and capabilities globally to ensure their competitive edge. As the Internet makes more and more markets accessible, businesses in Asia must compete on this platform or will be swept aside. Most businesses today source globally for talent and resources. 
Therefore we need a progressive government that welcomes foreign talent to deliver new knowledge and can focus on the future skills needs of the country. Societies that will succeed are those, which easily assimilate foreigners. 
Silicon Valley and Singapore is such a place. Not only is it “color blind” and uniquely meritocratic, it has a culture that draws newcomers in. Our business people must acquire these attributes and be globally literate. In addition, we desperately need political leaders who can see the big picture and can engage with all sections of society to sell their story.

(The writer is a thought leader in HR)

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