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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2007: “Enhancing Competitiveness Through Productivity”

Daily Mirror: 10/05/2007"

Chaired by Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, The Presidential Secretariat and Co-Chaired by Dr. Kamal Weeraperuma, Director-Operations, Haycarb Limited, Session 4 of Economic Summit 2007 will tackle the timely topic of “Enhancing Competitiveness Through Productivity”.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), in partnership with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI), is organizing the Sri Lanka Economic Summit (themed this time as “Spreading the wings of Development”), for the second year in succession.

Although National Competitiveness is hard to define, it is understood as a Nation’s ability to compete in the international market, while at the same time providing a rising standard of living for its people. Policy makers of a country have a significant impact on National Competitiveness, and it is for this reason that comparative studies of competitiveness levels of countries, such as the Global Competitiveness Report have tremendous value. Our relative strengths and weaknesses are highlighted and could be used for remedial policy formulation. The newly formed Economic Development Council could be the initiator of a policy and strategic plan based on the findings of this reportA National Productivity Policy and a National Quality Policy are already in place. Therefore, this session will cover the political will and the policy frame work being provided by the Government and discuss the areas which need further inputs to ensure a high level of national competitiveness through higher Growth Competitiveness and higher Micro Competitiveness. The business community would be able to gain an awareness on the initiatives already in place and how they could benefit from them and also generate further discussion on what else need to be done as suggestions towards the formulation of national strategies.

Competitiveness can be evaluated at two levels; the Macroeconomic or growth competitiveness and the Microeconomic competitiveness. The latter is more dependant on the industry environment and the ability of the enterprise itself. Therefore any action plan has to essentially tackle both levels as they interdependent. Sri Lankan enterprises have already embarked on many programmes to improve its Microeconomic Competitiveness but much more is required at both levels.

One of the simplest methods of measuring the results of competitiveness is the per capita GDP of a country, and this also reflects the standard of living of a country. Sri Lanka could learn from the experiences of some countries such as Japan which was well below USA in terms of per capita GDP several decades ago and is now closer to that of USA. Japan has “leap-frogged” through a combination of policy measures and the promotion of higher productivity and high quality as a national exercise. Although individual enterprises in a competitive environment would be naturally interested in optimum levels of productivity, a national programme such as the programmes in Singapore and Malaysia are interesting case studies of State Sector led productivity movements which have made a considerable impact in those countries.

Topics brought forward in the Session on “Enhancing Competitiveness Through Productivity” would be “Leveraging on Productivity for the Decade Ahead” (Mr. Sunil G. Wijesinghe, Chairman/ Managing Director-Dankotuwa Porcelain Ltd), “Improving Public Sector Efficiency” (Mr. Upali Marasinghe, Director-National Productivity Secretariat), “Education & Skills Development: adapting to the future” (Dr. T.A. Piyasiri, Director General-Tertiary & Vocational Education Commission) and “Succeeding in a Dynamic World” (Mr. Franklyn Amerasinghe, Director-Emsolve Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, followed by a Q & A session.

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