On Tuesday, the 29th of November, from 2:00 to 3:30pm, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) hosted an event discussing Democracy and Economic Reform in Sri Lanka.
In 2015, Sri Lanka underwent a major political transition, with former President Rajapaksa defeated by his former ally Maithripala Sirisena, ending a slide towards authoritarian dictatorship that began with the end of the country’s nearly three-decade civil war. The causes of the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) – one of the longest-running civil wars in Asia – were religious, ethnic, and regional.
However, many of the underlying drivers and subsequent outcomes of the conflict were economic, as marginalized groups were prevented from engaging equally in the economy. The Sirisena government has promised a new era of transparent government to tackle corruption and advance economic and political reforms, but is the government fulfilling its promises?
Abdulwahab Alkebsi, Deputy Director of Programs at CIPE, provided opening remarks. Dr. Kiran Pervez, Regional Chair of the Foreign Service Institute at the U.S. Department of State, moderated a discussion with Dr. Nishan de Mel, Executive Director of Verite Research, a leading economic think tank based in Colombo. The discussion assessed the depth of democratic change that has occurred in Sri Lanka and the challenges as well as opportunities that the country faces moving forward. As this event was a public discussion, audience questions throughout the event were welcome.