Public Discussion :  MCC Grant, Separating  Facts from Fiction
5:45 PM17:45

Public Discussion : MCC Grant, Separating Facts from Fiction

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The Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has become a topic of recent debate. Some claim that it is an effort to hijack Sri Lanka’s sovereignty by the US, whilst others argue that it is an opportunity to create economic prosperity for Sri Lankans. On April 25, 2019, the MCC Board of Directors approved the five-year Sri Lanka Compact, which is currently pending approval from the Government of Sri Lanka. Since the approval of the Compact, conversations around the MCC grant have been driven by misinformation, fear-mongering and petty politics and many valid concerns about the agreement have gone unaddressed.

MCC ගිවිසුම ගැන ඇත්ත නැත්ත will be at the “Lighthouse Auditorium and Lawns” (Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute) this Thursday (19th September) from 5.30 PM onwards. The Advocata Institute will be providing a platform where the general public can raise questions and concerns from the government and technical experts on the MCC compact. 

Speakers include Prof.Amal Kumarage (Head of the Department of Transport and Logistics Management, University of Moratuwa); Dr.Saman Widanapathiranage (Deputy Director, Highway Designs at the Road Development Authority (RDA) and Mr. Sarath Jayatilaka  (Former Deputy Surveyor General).

The event will be followed by a panel discussion with Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka (Minister of Megapolis and Western Development); Dr. Charitha Herath (Former Secretary, Ministry of Mass Media and Lecturer, University of Peradeniya) and Mrs. Jenner Edelman (Sri Lanka Resident Country Director - Millennium Challenge Corporation).

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Capitalism in Asia: What it means for Sri Lanka
5:30 PM17:30

Capitalism in Asia: What it means for Sri Lanka

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Capitalism in Asia has had an astoundingly successful run since the 1950s, especially in East Asia, with China now at its centre, and, to a lesser extent, in South Asia. What will be Asian capitalism’s challenges in the next half-century? And what will it mean for Sri Lanka?"

Date : Tuesday, 19th June 2018
Time :  5.30 PM to 8.00 PM
Venue : Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Auditorium, Colombo 07

"I will look at the three faces – or trimurti – of Asian capitalism: economic, political, and global.
First, its economic face. So far Asia has had successful “catch-up” growth based on mobilising labour and capital, and imitating what the West has already done. Poor Asia (low-income and lower middle-income Asia) still has much room for catch-up growth. But Middle and Rich Asia (upper middle-income and upper-income Asia) have either exhausted catch-up growth or come close to exhausting it. Their challenge is to innovate, to move to more productivity-based growth. They need the “creative destruction” of “Schumpeterian” capitalism. So what are their innovation challenges?
Second, Asian capitalism’s political face. What are the varieties of institutions that underpin Asian capitalism? Are they equipped to move to Schumpeterian capitalism? What are the obstacles? Is Schumpeterian capitalism possible in a Chinese-style autocracy? Or does it need Western-style liberal democracy and “open societies”?
And third, Asian capitalism’s global face. Asian capitalism has been successful in a global and regional environment of stability and openness – the post-1945 Pax Americana. US leadership has provided geopolitical security and the maintenance of a liberal world economy. But these conditions seem to be changing, and faster than expected, with the US in seeming decline and retreat, and China ascendant and more assertive. So what are the relevant global and regional scenarios for Asian capitalism?
I think Asia will find it much more difficult to meet its innovation challenges than it did to meet its catch-up challenges in past decades. I have strong doubts about the ability of Asia’s political and economic institutions to meet future innovation challenges. Not least, I doubt China’s ability to move to Schumpeterian capitalism under “market Leninism”, and to provide effective leadership in Asia – a Pax Sinica to replace the Pax Americana. I believe Schumpeterian capitalism needs stronger liberal-democratic institutions and more open societies in Asia, and a global context of stability and openness that will require continued leadership by the United States. That, I believe, is essential for the preservation and expansion of freedom and prosperity in Asia. But nothing is pre-programmed. There is a battle to fight. And it must also be fought on Sri Lankan soil – in economic policy, in building liberal-democratic political and economic institutions, in relations with foreign powers, and participation in international institutions."

 - Prof.Razeen Sally


5.30 PM -  Registration and Refreshments
6.00 PM -  Introduction to the talk
6.05 PM -  Lecture by Prof. Razeen Sally
7.00 PM -  Q&A with Prof Sally Moderated by Eshini Ekanayake - Economist, JB Securities ltd.

Speaker Profile 

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Razeen Sally is Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies, the main economic-policy think tank in his native Sri Lanka. Previously he taught at the London School of Economics, where he received his PhD. He has been Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, a global-economy think tank in Brussels. He has held visiting research and teaching positions at Institut D’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, the Australian National University, the University of Hong Kong, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, and Dartmouth College in the USA. He was also Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Competitiveness. He is an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, and on the advisory boards of the Institute of Economic Affairs (UK) and the Centre for Independent Studies (Australia). He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society.
Razeen Sally’s research and teaching focuses on global trade policy and Asia in the world economy. He has written on the WTO, FTAs, and on different aspects of trade policy in Asia. He has also written on the history of economic ideas, especially the theory of commercial policy. He is a senior adviser to the Finance Minister of Sri Lanka and his new book on Sri Lanka will be published in 2019.

Moderator Profile


Eshini Ekanayake is an Economist at JB Securities focused on macroeconomic research and analysis on Sri Lanka. She has also worked as an Associate at Moody's Analytics Sri Lanka, supporting economic research of several leading global financial institutions. Eshini has over 6 years of experience in Macroeconomic Research, Economic Forecasting, and Applied Econometrics. She holds a BSc in Economics and Finance from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Economic Policy from University College London.


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A Public Lecture by Prof Ricardo Hausmann: Accessing Know-how for Development
5:30 PM17:30

A Public Lecture by Prof Ricardo Hausmann: Accessing Know-how for Development


"Accessing know-how for development"

In a new lecture series by Echelon and Advocata Institute, Prof Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard Uniersity's Centre for International Development speaks about how to access know-how for economic development.  

Economies grow by adding new products and services to their production portfolio, and not by producing more of the same kinds of products. The key to such diversification is access to know-how, but know-how often has to come from abroad. This is because it is often easier to move brains to new countries than to move new know-how into brains. In the experience of Singapore, India, Vietnam and most other dynamic economies, three channels of know-how transfer stand out: FDI, immigration and diaspora networks.

In this lecture, Professor Hausmann explores the relationship between economic development and the accumulation of know-how. He will in particular discuss how to tackle Sri Lanka’s limited export diversification.


Who is Prof Ricardo Hausmann? 

Prof Ricardo Hausmann is one of the most sought after experts in development economics in the world.  He is the Director of Harvard University's Center for Development and Professor of the Practice of Economic Development at the Kennedy School of Government. Previously, he served as the first Chief Economist of the Inter-American Development Bank (1994-2000), where he created the Research Department. He has served as Minister of Planning of Venezuela (1992-1993) and as a member of the Board of the Central Bank of Venezuela. He also served as Chair of the IMF-World Bank Development Committee. He was Professor of Economics at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administracion (IESA) (1985-1991) in Caracas, where he founded the Center for Public Policy. His research interests include issues of growth, macroeconomic stability, international finance, and the social dimensions of development. He holds a PhD in economics from Cornell University. His team at CID has been studying Sri Lanka’s economy, it’s constraints for growth and how to reform it’s trade policy. 


5.30 PM -  Registrations and Refreshments
6.00 PM -  Introduction
6.10 PM -   Lecture by Prof Hausmann
6.45 PM -  Q&A with Prof Lawrenece moderated by Murtaza Jafferjee
7.45 PM -  Closing

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 Public Lecture #6 Prof Robert Lawrence on Path to Prosperity :  Protectionism or Free Trade?
5:45 PM17:45

Public Lecture #6 Prof Robert Lawrence on Path to Prosperity : Protectionism or Free Trade?


"Path to Prosperity :  Protectionism or Free Trade?"

With the election of Donald Trump as the President of the US, the topic of trade protection has dominated the economic and business pages of the international press.
Long before the topic came into vogue, Sri Lanka was practising what Trump preached. For over a decade the Government intervened heavily to promote import substitution and local industry. Most Sri Lankans will be surprised to learn that the effective rate of protection is now at a similar level it was in the 1980’s,  reversing almost two decades of liberalisation.
The Fraser Institute which measures and ranks openness of trade amongst countries rank Sri Lanka 135 out of 159 countries mainly owing to complex procedures and high 'para tariffs'.

Is protecting local businesses from foreign competition the way forward for Sri Lanka ? Or should the country embrace globalisation and free trade?  In this lecture Prof Robert Lawrence from Harvard University's Kennedy School of government explores the topic.  

Who is Prof Lawrence? 

Robert Z. Lawrence is Albert L. Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment, a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

He currently serves as Faculty Chair of The Practice of Trade Policy executive program at Harvard Kennedy School. He served as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1998 to 2000. Lawrence has also been a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He has taught at Yale University, where he received his PhD in economics. His research focuses on trade policy. He is the author of Crimes and Punishments? Retaliation under the WTO; Regionalism, Multilateralism and Deeper Integration; Single World, Divided Nations?;andCan America Compete? He is coauthor of Has Globalization Gone Far Enough? The Costs of Fragmentation in OECD Markets (with Scott Bradford); A Prism on Globalization; Globaphobia: Confronting Fears About Open Trade; A Vision for the World Economy; and Saving Free Trade: A Pragmatic Approach. Lawrence has served on the advisory boards of the Congressional Budget Office, the Overseas Development Council, and the Presidential Commission on United States-Pacific Trade and Investment Policy.


5.45 PM -  Registrations and Refreshments
6.00 PM -  Introduction
6.10 PM -   Lecture by Prof Lawrence
6.45 PM -  Facts and Figures on Tariffs by Murtaza Jafferjee
7.00 PM -  Q&A with Prof Lawrenece moderated by Murtaza Jafferjee

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5:30 PM17:30

Public Lecture #5 Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta on Economic Rights in the Constitution

"When Rights do us Wrong"

There is a proposal to incorporate Socio-Economic rights into the proposed new constitution in Sri Lanka.  In a latest contribution to the growing debate,  Prof Pratap Bhanu Mehta will offer his insights on the issue.  The Lecture will be followed by a Public Forum with Q&A from the audience.  The event is free and hosted jointly with Echelon Magazine.

Who is Pratap Bhanu Mehta? 

Pratap Bhanu Mehta is a leading political scientist and a public intellectual from India. He leads the Centre for Policy Research, one of India's top think tanks.  

Prof Mehta has taught at Harvard University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and the New York University School of Law. His areas of research include political theory, constitutional law, society and politics in India, governance and political economy, and international affairs.

Prof Mehta has served on many central government committees, including India’s National Security Advisory Board, the Prime Minister of India’s National Knowledge Commission, and a Supreme Court-appointed committee on elections in Indian universities. Mehta is a prolific writer; he is an editorial consultant to the Indian Express, and his columns have appeared in dailies including the Financial Times, the Telegraph, the International Herald Tribune, and the Hindu. He is also on the editorial boards of many academic journals, including the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Democracy, and India and Global Affairs.

Prof Mehta holds a BA (first class) in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford and a PhD in politics from Princeton. He received the 2010 Malcom S. Adishehshiah Award and the 2011 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences - Political Science.


5.30 PM -  Registrations and Refreshments
6.00 PM -  Public Lecture by Prof Mehta
6.45 PM -  Q&A 

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5:30 PM17:30

Public Lecture #3 Prof Razeen Sally on Sri Lanka's Future : 3 Scenarios

Sri Lanka had a golden opportunity for a fresh start with regime change almost two years ago. Has it been squandered, like opportunities before? What lies ahead? In this lecture Razeen Sally presents three scenarios and the conditions, political, economic and social, that would make them happen.  Scenario One is 'take-off': a stable liberal democracy, sustainable and broadly shared economic growth, ethnic reconciliation and balanced international relations. Scenario Two is 'drift': populist, incompetent governance, crony economics, social discontent and China-tilting foreign relations. Scenario Three is 'relapse' -- back to Big Man illiberal democracy, a statist economy, ethnic strife and servitude to China. Now Sri Lanka hovers around Scenario Two, with Scenario One on the distant horizon and Scenario Three lurking around the corner. What needs to change to realise Scenario One and consign Scenario Three to history? And are Sri Lankans capable of making those changes?


Razeen Sally is  Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is also the Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies, the main economic think tank in his native Sri Lanka. He was on the faculty of the London School of Economics for eighteen years, where he also received his PhD. He has held adjunct teaching, research and advisory positions at universities and think tanks in the USA, Europe, Africa and Asia. He is on the Global Agenda Council for Competitiveness of the World Economic Forum, and was awarded the Hayek Medal by the Hayek Society in Germany in 2011. He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society and co-founded ECIPE, an economic think tank based in Brussels. 

Razeen Sally’s research and teaching focuses on global trade policy and Asia in the world economy. He has written on the WTO, FTAs, and on different aspects of trade policy in Asia. He has also written on the history of economic ideas, especially the theory of commercial policy.


This event is co-hosted by Echelon Magazine, who's editor Shamindra Kulamanage will moderate the Q&A Session.

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5:30 PM17:30

Public Lecture #2 Prof Prema-Chandra Athukorala on FDIs and Manufacturing for Export

Professor Prema-Chandra Athukorala will deliver the 2nd Public Lecture in our series of public lectures on the theme of 'Fixing the Sri Lankan economy'. 

The Professor will be speaking on the topic of  Foreign Direct Investment and Manufacturing for Export : Emerging Global Patterns and Opportunities for Sri Lanka

Professor Athukorala is a professor of economics at Australian National University and an expert on international trade. He is also on the board of advisors to Advocata Institute. 

Anushka Wijesinha, Chief Economist at Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will moderate the Question and Answer session.  

The event will be held on August 18, at Excel World Auditorium at 5.30 pm and is open, free of charge, to the public.  However,  attendees are to register online

Stay updated with the news about the events on the Facebook page dedicated to the event or on @Advocatalk on twitter

Full Profile of Prof Athukorala

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5:30 PM17:30

Public Lecture #1 - What's wrong with Sri Lanka's Economy? Public Lecture by Deshal de Mel

Economist Deshal de Mel is to deliver the first talk on the Advocata Institute's series of public lectures on the broad theme of "What's wrong with Sri Lanka's economy (And how to Fix it)".    In this first talk Deshal will take an overall look at the issues in the macroeconomic picture and suggest possible reforms on how to remedy it.

Who is Deshal de Mel?

Deshal de Mel is an economist who at present works for the Hayleys Group. Prior to joining Hayleys, Mr. de Mel worked for the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka. Mr. de Mel’s research has been published in a number of books and journals. Along with policy research, Mr. de Mel also represented the Government of Sri Lanka in inter-governmental trade negotiations. 

Mr. de Mel has a degree in Philosophy, Political Science and Economics from the University of Oxford and completed his Masters in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics.

Mr. de Mel serves on the Board of Directors of Sampath Bank PLC as a Non-Executive Director. He is also a Non-Executive Director of SC Securities (Pvt Ltd). He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA). He also serves on the Economic Policy Committee of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. 


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