Advocata Report

Media coverage on Asia Liberty Forum 2019

The Advocata Institute co-hosted Atlas Network’s Asia Liberty Forum earlier this month from the 28th of February - 01st of March at the Hilton Colombo. The event was graced by 250+ academics, intellectual and leading economic and policy thinkers from over 30 countries. The Freedom Dinner on the 28th of February saw the presence of leading political dignitaries as well. The forum focused on economic challenges facing the Asian region and way forward.

Sunday Observer - Advocata Institute to host Asia Liberty Forum

“Over 200 leading academics, policymakers and intellectuals from over 30 countries will participate in the Asia Liberty Forum 2019 in Colombo to discuss challenges facing the Asian region and to learn from each other on how to advance free-market reforms. The Asia Liberty Forum is an annual event by the United States based Atlas Network, co-hosted in partnership with the Advocata Institute.”

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Lanka Business Online - Advocata Institute to host Asia Liberty Forum 2019 in Sri Lanka

“Over 200 participants, comprising leading academics, policy makers and intellectuals from over 30 countries will come together in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the 2019 Asia Liberty Forum to discuss challenges facing the Asian region and to learn from each other on how to most effectively advance free-market reforms.”

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Daily News - Asia Liberty Forum co-hosted by Advocata Institute, Atlas Network today

“The Asia Liberty Forum brings together over 50 speakers, over 275 thought leaders and intellectuals from 40 different countries to discuss challenges facing the region and to learn from one another how to effectively advance market-oriented reforms. The annual Asia Liberty Forum is hosted by the Atlas Network and co-hosted by Advocata Institute in Sri Lanka this year.”

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Daily FT - Public events at Asia Liberty Forum announced

“The annual Asia Liberty Forum is hosted by the Atlas Network and co-hosted by Advocata Institute in Sri Lanka this year. With the objective of making this year’s forum affordable and accessible to all, Advocata Institute is opening up two sessions to the public, with free admission.”

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Business World - Capitalism and freedom in Asia

“The annual Asia Liberty Forum (ALF) 2019 conference is held this week February 28 to March 1 in this South Asian country. To discuss and promote capitalism and free market policies may look ironic in a country that is officially named “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.” Yet this country has more pro-market policies than many supposedly capitalist Asian economies.”

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Sunday Observer - Expert advocates economic reforms for five years

“Sri Lanka needs to implement much needed economic reforms at least for the next five years, particularly to address the debt burden. It is the responsibility of governments to place the economy on a sound footing to revive growth and to accrue benefits to the people, Executive Director, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja told the first ever Asia Liberty Forum in Colombo last week.”

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Daily FT - Recipe for SOE reform

“Speaking at the launch of the ‘State of State Owned Enterprises 2019’ report compiled by local think-tank Advocata, Resident Fellow Ravi Ratnasabapathy recapped the significant role played by SOEs in the Sri Lankan economy. He pointed out they were vulnerable to mismanagement and corruption because of potential conflicts between the ownership and policy-making functions of the Government and undue political influence on their policies, appointments, and business practices.”

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Media coverage on report launch: Price Controls in Sri Lanka

The Advocata Institute recently released their latest report, “Price Controls in Sri Lanka: Political Theatre”, which finds that consumer price controls lead to unintended outcomes including lower quality.

Advocata advocates abolishing price controls

"Politically-motivated price controls offer very little value to reduce costs and are detrimental to trade, industry and consumers asserts The Advocata Institute, launching its new report ‘Price Controls in Sri Lanka: Political Theater’ in Colombo on Tuesday." 

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Price controls on foodstuffs —a political gimmick?

"The price controls slapped on a number of foodstuffs are of limited value despite their popular rhetoric, given the low adherence of traders towards the administered prices and lax enforcement actions by authorities, a recent survey conducted in Colombo and a few of the suburbs, revealed. " 

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Do price controls reduce the cost of living?

“Last year, the Government imposed price controls on sixteen essential items, including dhal, sugar, potatoes, and imported onions. Has this reduced prices for consumers? Unfortunately not. A recent survey by Advocata found that the controlled prices are not being followed in most instances.”

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Price control - a political stunt

‘A report on competition by the Advocata Institute says that fostering competition and improving productivity are the best forms of price control. The report titled ‘Price Control in Sri Lanka: political theatre’ notes that price controls are of limited value in reducing prices of consumer goods. Such measures rather than benefiting consumers lead only to welfare losses, deterioration in product quality, reduction in investment and in the long term, higher prices.’

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Price control through taxation, self-defeating

‘The government’s price control practice  through taxation on essential items does not serve the purpose because it limits the value in reducing cost and damage markets by preventing the supply of products from rising to meet demand, a top market research company said.’

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Advocata Report on SOEs makes an impact at Chamber event

Photo Courtesy  Kithmina Hewage   

Photo Courtesy Kithmina Hewage 


According to the minister, a top corporate sector CEO has also been appointed to lead the Public Enterprise Board but fell short of disclosing who the official was. The minister said he was in the audience leaving the participants to guess.

According to Advocata, an independent policy think tank, 55 strategically important SoEs in Sri Lanka have made a cumulative loss of Rs.636 billion during 2006 and 2015.  The cumulative profit of the profitable SoEs during the same period has been Rs.530 billion, excluding the Employees’ Trust Fund.  The statement by the minister suggests that the government is ready to go the whole hog in privatizing both the strategic as well as non-strategic SoEs despite the immense political risk forthcoming.  Speaking at the final session under the theme titled, ‘The Future of Public Enterprises’ Samarawickrama said the government had reached the final leg of entering into a public-private partnership (PPP) to restructure the loss-making national carrier, SriLankan Airlines but did not disclose the party involved.

Meanwhile, Chief Opposition Whip and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said if the government could take over the liabilities of SriLankan Airlines prior to the sale of the carrier to a private party, they should also be able to take over the assets and run the airline. 


SOEs were used to give off-budget subsidies and they borrowed from banks, pushing up interest rates and depriving funds and raising the borrowing costs of small enterprises.

Although some SOEs made profits, they do not reflect the returns for the investments made. Anushka Wijesinghe, Chief Economist at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, said that a report by Advocata, an independent think tank, found that from 2006 to 2015 it cost taxpayers Rs640 billion.  

A part of the losses made by SOEs were financed by the budget. 

"That means the government has to find tax revenues. Or else, the government has to borrow the money domestically or from abroad. 

"These debts also have to be repaid by the people through future taxes. One way or the other the people have to bear the financial cost of these losses."

Advocata Institute's Report on SOEs is available in our research section.

Privatization & Public Private Partnerships Of SOEs In Sri Lanka

Arundathie Abeysinghe writes on Colombo Telegraph on SOEs In Sri Lanka,

In many Asian countries including Sri Lanka State-owned Enterprises (SOE) continue to control vast swaths of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the state as their biggest share holder. As such, they control about 1/3 of total enterprise assets and SOEs are larger than their non-SOE peers. There is a great variety among Sri Lankan SOEs. Meanwhile, SOEs in the sectors that are monopolized by the state yield good income and profitability, while those that are not supported by the state record poor performance. To better understand the profitability of Sri Lankan SOEs, a deeper analysis should be done by looking into individual sectors.

Shares of SOEs in different sectors are diverse. The majority of SOE profits are contributed by sectors that are monopolized by them, whereas, sectors which are dominated by non-SOEs are major sources of non-SOE profits. The majority of the SOE profits are contributed by state-monopolized sectors and such SOEs record a respectable rate of return.  At the same time, profitability of SOEs in sectors with less state domination is much poorer.

According to the Treasury Annual Report 2014, at present Sri Lanka possesses 245 State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), of which 55 have been identified by the General Treasury as strategically important SOBEs under the clusters of Banking and Finance, Insurance, Energy, Ports, Water, Aviation, Commuter Transport, Construction, Livestock, Plantation, Non Renewable Resources, Lotteries, Marketing & Distribution, Health and Media.

Read The entire article on Colombo Telegraph

Opinion - Sri Lankan Airlines, sour or to sour?

J. Lorenz writes on Lanka Business Online, about Sri Lankan Airlines:

"Although the government inherited a profitable business in 2008 they successfully managed to run it into the ground due to mismanagement and corruption. The two explanations available are the Jensen and Meckling (1976) theory of ‘principal-agent problem’ and the free-rider problem, both of which concern self-seeking individuals, as discussed at the launch of Advocata Institute at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute earlier this month.

Managers of state owned firms are aware that salaries would be paid regardless of performance of the company hence motivation to perform is taken away thereby embodying the free-rider problem. Further, tax-payers would continue to pump money into failing SOEs whereas a private company would pump their own money into the business risking everything, hence increasing the commitment to perform well. The budget funds given to SOEs in 2014 is equivalent to every household paying 24100 rupees to keep SOEs afloat. This is while around 40% of Sri Lanka’s households earn less than 24000 rupees a month"

Read the entire article on LBO