Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo
THE PRODUCTIVITY CHALLENGE
Reggie Yogaratnam calls for drawing a more productive economic blueprint
Q: What are the challenges facing the country today?
A: Lack of economic productivity is the most crucial problem. The burdens of regressive taxation, continued currency depreciation and increases in the country’s current account deficit all tend to stem from the lack of economic productivity.
Political instability too is a grave concern but I do believe that by overcoming the core problem of an unproductive economy, other challenges can be overcome in the longer term.
Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day?
A: Definitely! But only when the nation’s per capita income increases to US$ 12,000 – ironically, this means that living standards will have to improve drastically, poverty must reduce substantially and quality education should be accessible to everyone.
Administration and governance will be in peaceful hands because a community that is educated will only accept a government that offers it unity and is sincere in its nation building initiatives.
Q: And do we have young leaders who can take the country forward?
A: I think that we are deprived of the best primarily due to young intellectuals with leadership qualities not being convinced to serve the nation in this corrupt atmosphere.
These young Sri Lankan potential leaders live abroad and they prefer to do so. The number one quality that a leader should possess is extreme love for the nation; and such leaders must remain in the country to take it forward.
Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?
A: The traditions, culture and natural beauty are the ‘good’ although a lack of discipline among people is the ‘bad.’ Corruption is the ugliest.
In summary, the country has lots of good, a few bad and very little ugly. As Sri Lankans, it is our responsibility to protect and enhance the good and be self-disciplined individuals who are steeped in proper values. There will be no room for the ugly then.
Q: Where do you see Sri Lanka in 10 years’ time?
A: As a developed nation at some level with per capita income of approximately 10,000 dollars. Tourism will drive the economy and perhaps there will be political stability, the absence of which will lead to considerable conflicts. The country will probably be an investment destination with many more foreigners working here.
And hopefully, Sri Lanka will be a pleasant and peaceful country.
Q: How do you view global poverty and gender equality?
A: Global poverty remains the root cause of the modern-day terrorism that we witness in Africa, the Middle East and America. It is also the primary reason for the permeation of debilitating diseases. Despite impactful philanthropic initiatives to eradicate global poverty, more thorough penetrative approaches by leading nations in collaboration with the UN are necessary.
Gender inequality too remains a core challenge as it is prevalent throughout the world. This is not about feminism; but rather, about all genders having rights and equal participation to design their own futures, and the futures of their nations.
Q: How do you view the conflicts that are raging around the world at this time?
A: The tariff war between the US and China, disputes in the Middle East and concerns about North Korea are conflicts that have a cascading impact on the world at large.
The US must take responsibility for a large part of these given its reckless actions and irresponsible policies.
It would be good to see an international movement that would equalise and redress the imbalances in the world.
Q: Where do you see the world in 10 years’ time?
A: It will be a very complicated and complex place. There will be some changes in the geopolitical map primarily in the Middle East, Africa, East Asia, South America and Europe. China will be the economic superpower and India will possibly be in second place.
AI will be the driver of routine processes, replacing humans. There might be a cure for cancer, AIDS may be eradicated, the rich may travel to the moon and we may witness the first spacecraft with humans reaching Mars!