Growth plus equity, the ideal
The news that Sri Lanka has hit an eight percent
growth rate in 2010 is bound to be warmly welcomed by all who
mean well by Sri Lanka. Coming just two years after the crushing
of the LTTE and the restoration of normalcy in the country, this
figure is ample proof that Sri Lanka has lost no time in
recouping the losses it incurred during the long years of the
We are given to understand that this figure is the second
highest growth statistic since political independence and there
is no doubt that a performance of these proportions does the
government proud. Among other things, it is also proof of the
resiliency of the national economy and of the resourcefulness of
Sri Lankans. Evidently, Sri Lankans possess the ability to
bounce back into contention even when the conviction seems to
dawn that economic recovery would be a long while in arriving.
There is food for thought here for those sections, such as
the Opposition, which predicted the worst for Sri Lanka, in
economic terms and otherwise.
The fact is indisputable that the government’s economic
policy is proving effective and that the average Lankan’s
entrepreneurial ability is seeing the country through. Besides,
much relief is afforded by the disclosure that inflation has
been kept within containable limits and that the country has
been making the most from a gradual easing of the world economic
We have in this economic performance the justification for
carrying on with a policy of consistently developing and
upgrading our infrastructure facilities on a country wide basis.
There is no doubt that the expansion and development of our
network of highways and connected infrastructure facilities has
helped greatly in keeping the entrepreneurial sections within
reach of markets and generally aided in the process of keeping
the economy in fine trim.
It is indeed good news that domestic demand for goods and
services is on the rise. This is a sure indication that the
people’s purchasing power is growing and that Sri Lanka is no
longer among the needy countries of the world. A case could
certainly be made that we are a Middle Income Country with a
sizeable middle class.
As could be seen in economic power houses such as India and
China, it is a growing middle class that, among other factors,
keeps an economy booming.
However, a cautionary note is sounded by no less a person
than President Mahinda Rajapaksa. ‘A better lifestyle for our
people is what matters most’, the President told some 2,000
workers from numerous spheres at a public meeting held recently
for the purpose of felicitating them over their efforts to keep
the city of Colombo clean and in a habitable state. Accordingly,
some 500 acres of land would be allocated within Colombo to
improve on the housing facilities of our city workers.
The President went on record that he would not be ‘playing
politics with poverty’. Thus far, it has been a common tendency
among the majority of politicians to turn urban and rural
poverty into votes by contriving to ensure that the poor remain
mired in their misery.
Rejecting these devious stances of the past, the President
said emphatically that his intention was to make living easier
for the poor and the disadvantaged. In other words, he stands
for the alleviation of poverty and other hardships.
The President’s pronouncements are a reminder that much
remains to be achieved in Sri Lanka by way of development.
While there needs to be rejoicing that Sri Lanka’s economy
has proved resilient over the years to ward off the worst by way
of economic downturns and crunches, we should not consider
ourselves as being completely out of the woods.
Comparatively speaking, we have not done too badly for
ourselves in achieving the UN sanctioned Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs), but we would be living in a fools’ paradise if we
believe that the war against want is over and done.
Therefore, the need is great to ensure that growth or the
production of goods and services, combines with equity or the
equal distribution of wealth. It is not the case that this is
not already happening to a degree but more needs to be done to
ensure that wealth ‘trickles down’ to the needy.
Accordingly, growth plus equity is the ideal combine.
Empowering the poor and the underprivileged needs to go hand in
hand with the steady generation of wealth.
Particularly, a great emphasis needs to be placed on
educating the children of the poor because education is a prime
means of empowerment. May these aims be the focus of our
development efforts, is our wish.