Our primary funder IDRC is having a big gathering of all its Asian fundees in Penang. As one of the main plenary events, they conducted a “talk show” with representatives of three of their leading projects in the region. Helani Galpaya participated in this talk show from LIRNEasia. At the conclusion, she was asked the following question: “we do not just fund good research, we ask what it will yield for development; we ask so what?”
She answered, saying that the good use made of resources entrusted to LIRNEasia could be illustrated through three examples:
1. The 2007 intervention that resulted in the rolling back of the regressive LKR 50 tax that was to be imposed by the government of Sri Lanka on all SIMs, resulting in all mobile users paying below LKR 1800 keeping more money in their pockets and not being blocked from teleuse.
2. The multi-year effort to remove distortions from the Indian Universal Service funding mechanism that collected money from those at the bottom at the pyramid and did not spend it as intended, directing most of it to an inefficient government-owned incumbent.
3. The protracted effort to convince the government of Indonesia that leased line prices that were 48 times that of India were harmful to the ICT sector and the economy, resulting in the halving of these prices.