Question asked by a journalist:
is there any basis for expecting that Sri Lanka’s very successful ICT strategy will in fact help in the economic recovery from the tsunami? For example, could ICT-enabled industries provide opportunities to replace the jobs/industries that have been damaged, or could the telecom structure help speed rebuilding efforts? In other words, have Sri Lanka’s efforts in building a digital economy put it in a better position to recover from this disaster?
The fisheries industry that got almost wiped out had very low productivity. Itll come back, hopefully with better productivity. The railroad that got ripped up belonged to an extremely badly managed govt department that requires LKR 4 in subsidies for every LKR 1 that a passenger spends on a ticket, and carries almost no freight because it is unreliable. Hopefully, what replaces it will be something less dysfunctional. The tsunami can, depending on intelligent management, serve as a force of creative destruction (with apologies to Joseph Schumpeter).
With or without the tsunami SL was moving from a low-productivity, uncompetitive agricultural/manufacturing emphasis (not in the economy per se, but in workforce utilization) to a higher-productivity, competitive services economy (where the share of the economy will also be matched by the share of the workforce). If the e Sri Lanka initiative works (it is still on paper; the test is implementation), it can accelerate and enable this process. The tsunami, by forcing government and the people to abandon certain low-productivity activities, may reinforce the process. So yes, the tsunami can be a force for good, despite the terrible suffering it has caused. By itself, it is nothing. It all depends on how the government, the private sector and the people respond to it.
Any comments? thoughts?