After months of hiatus, a new economic policy is currently being developed by a renowned team of economists for the next five years, which will be implemented under a United National Party (UNP)-led government, according to the country’ Policy Planning and Economic Development Deputy Minister.
Dr. Harsha de Silva said the new economic policy, which is based on a social market economy model, will be opened for public consultation before being tabled in Parliament after which will become the ‘white paper’ pertaining to economic matters for the next five years.
“Once it is published and tabled in Parliament, we will open the floor in terms of discussing this document with professionals like you because we would like to get the buy in of all stakeholders to implement our vision,” Dr. De Silva said addressing a packed house of management accountants at the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit this week.
Dr. de Silva went on to say that they had even projected the new gross domestic product (GDP) numbers for the next five years but did not disclose as they were still at the testing stage.
“We want to create the most competitive economy in this part of the world,” he stressed.
A salient feature of the new economic policy would be that subsidizing everyone will be done away with and subsidies will be targeted on needy segments.
A renowned economist in the likes of former Central Bank Deputy Governor Dr. W.A. Wijewardena, former Central Bank Assistant Governor Dr. Anila Dias Bandaranaike, Verite Research Executive Director and Head of Research Dr. Nishan De Mel, JB Securities CEO Murtaza Jafferjee and Sampath Bank PLC Director Deshal De Mel are currently involved in designing the five-year policy.
The unity government, which came into power on January 9, is under flack for lack of economic policy direction and as a result, the business community has begun to demand clarity sooner than later. It was only recently the premier business chamber in the country, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, asked the government to hold the Parliamentary elections soon in order to give much-needed certainty into the business and investment community.
According to Dr. de Silva, the economic policy is based on the social market economy, which will champion competitiveness as well as social justice.
“So, the kind of economy we are trying to create over the next five years is a synthesis between strands of economic liberalism, emphasizing freedom and autonomy and strands of political liberalism that emphasize equity and justice,” he added.