Sri Lanka inflation a genuine concern - ESCAP survey

19 Apr 2007

Colombo, April 19, 2007 – The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2007, ‘Surging Ahead in Uncertain Times’ was launched in Sri Lanka today. This UNESCAP's 2007 report contains several issues relevant to Sri Lanka such as poverty reduction, gender and rural infrastructure.
The ceremony was held at UN HQ in Colombo and presided over by Abu Selim UNDP’s Country Director. The special guests present were Dr.Muhammad Hussain Malik, Economic Affairs Officer of ESCAP in Bangkok  and Dr.Saman Kelegama, Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies in Sri Lanka. Representatives of several state institutions,development banks, civil society organizations and members of the media attended the event.
Dr.Malik who made the keynote address observed that despite internal difficulties, Sri Lanka’s economy expanded by 7.4% in 2006, an improvement from the 6%  growth in 2005. However with the recent escalation of ethnic conflict the island’s growth is expected to slowdown slightly,to 7% in 2007.
The report ‘Surging Ahead in Uncertain Times’ says that most countries in South Asia felt inflationary pressures in 2006 on the back of high oil prices. Inflation in Sri Lanka, in particular, increased from 11.6% in 2005 to 13.7% in 2006, with upward adjustments in retail oil prices, rapid credit expansion and higher civil service wages contributing to inflationary pressures.
Dr.Malik said while gender discrimination has had widespread ramifications and clear economic and social costs, the Asia-Pacific region has made good progress in addressing the gender issue in recent years, but disparities do remain. Sri Lanka’s gender participation in economic activities was far better compared to its regional counterparts. Sri Lanka is ranked among top 25 countries in the world based on a global index of gender equality.
The Asia Pacific region loses 42 to 47 billion US $ annually due to the lower rates of women’s participation. Another 16 to 30 Billion US$ is lost because of gender gaps in education which results in lower productivity of women.
Dr.Saman Kelegama, the Executive Director of Sri Lanka's Institute of Policy Studies  presented an overview of the Sri Lankan economy.