The World Bank yesterday highlighted that Sri Lanka was facing a new set of challenges in terms of growing forth from a low to a middle income country status.
It was pointed out that in overcoming poverty the country was today facing a new set of challenges as opposed to those they faced previously.
These observations were made by the World Bank Country Director Naoko Ishii during the discussion held following a series of workshops held in and around the country in a bid to assess the position held by the people in those areas.
As such during their visits, participants had agreed with the report’s analysis linking high poverty in rural areas or lagging regions with stagnation in agriculture, and lack of infrastructure, access to finance and other factors that limit the size of markets and firms.
While discussions centred on the explanation for these problems the role played by public policies was brought out in particular regarding the agriculture sector.
“There were also concerns expressed about the allocation of public expenditures to poorer province,” she said.
The World Bank held meetings in Uva, Kandy and Ratnapura areas in a bid to assess the situation and the concerns of the people.
She pointed out that participants had also felt strongly about the shortages in quality human resources in these areas, both inside and outside the government, which affects the quality of services.
This factor, it was pointed out would in turn lead to these areas becoming even less attractive to investors, professionals and service providers.
The estate sector discussions saw a wide diversity of views being presented where discussion were based on the links between productivity and profitability of the industry with the welfare services provided to residents.
“Participants also shared their views about the potential gains and risks of systemic reforms that involve moving away from the current “enclave” system of production,” it was pointed out.
Uva as the poorest province in Sri Lanka was the first choice for the discussion which saw most asserting the view that “everyone tells us that Uva is the poorest province but nobody comes to Uva to share the issues and reasons behind them.”
The second outreach event held in Kandy, involved discussions based on the estate sector with the inclusion of academics and students and professionals.
This was followed by a roundtable discussion with stakeholders in the estate sector, including government officials, estate managers/supervisors, trade union leaders, and NGO representatives.
Here the participants had been very articulate and the development challenge facing this sector and the policy options to address poverty was discussed.