The foundations of the state and private sectors need a shakeup

The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Deshamanya Prof. W. D. Lakshman says in this edition’s Cover Story that “COVID-19 could be effectively used as a turning point in the structural change of the Sri Lankan economy.” And as he notes, “the government’s reaction to the pandemic has brought into question the criticism of the state sector being an inefficient goliath that wastes more than it contributes to the national economy.”

Meanwhile, Nihal Fonseka – a former banker of repute who was until recently a member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank – urges Sri Lanka to “consider what new industry and service segments can be ventured into instead of relying on legacy businesses. This is a good opportunity as many of our competitors have also been affected.”

It goes without saying that these statements reflect the priorities that our nation must now focus on – and if there’s a silver lining to holding a costly election that risks jeopardising the hard work put in by our forces and the medical community to contain the deadly virus, not to mention the forthright national leadership of the president, it is that we will soon have a fresh government with a new mandate delivered by some 16 million voters.

Numerous committees, watchdogs, international lenders and some sections of the media have long called for a shakeup of Sri Lanka’s state sector, which makes a habit of delivering bad news: corruption, mismanagement and waste are commonplace in our public service, and it isn’t as if we the people are served with dynamism, efficiency and even courtesy by those whom the taxpayers pay for.

Indeed, the same goes for those who have run government over the decades – but that’s another story, which is best left for airing post 5 August!

The need to reassess and realign the foundations of legacy businesses is also apparent in the wake of the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated. It is a fact that we will live and work in an entirely new world order where the ‘new normal’ takes precedence over what has thus far been tried and tested; and to this end, the scope to reengineer business is endless.

In this context however, the choice (if there’s such a thing today) isn’t only one that the business leaders will have to make; the workforce must come to the party by upping the ante – new ideas, out-of-the-box thinking, dynamism and an ability to think on one’s feet will be called upon more than ever before. There will be little room if any for excuses.

So yes, it is time to stop complaining… let’s get on with it.

– Editor-in-Chief