Blog — Page 50 of 337 — LIRNEasia


As a civic duty more than as the more mundane CSR, LIRNEasia has been assisting the Elections Commission on Sri Lanka since 2015 March by donating intellectual work on various aspects of improving the functioning of the electoral system, including a Constitutional changes and the working through of a strategic plan. Thus when I was invited to present the Indian Constitution Day Lecture at the University of Colombo, representation and stability was the topic that I picked. The lecture is on Friday, 25 November, 2016 at 5.00 p.m.
So the Daily Mirror, the leading English language daily, carried my comments on the illogical tax proposals. “Around 2010, the Government considered the complexity of taxes affecting the telecommunication sector and exempted telecom from the Value Added Tax. Instead a twenty percent tax was imposed for telecommunication which was remitted to the Government” said Former Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and Telecommunication Expert Prof. Rohan Samarajeeva. “The previous Government also considered the data issue as separate from voice and value added services.
    The 2017 budget proposals for agriculture speak many right and necessary words. However, one would wonder whether they carry the essential implementation characteristics. The attempt of the article therefore is to critically evaluate five most significant agricultural budget proposals of 2017. Please read more from the below link: http://www.ft.
Europe has been the fount of data protection absolutism. Not a problem for anyone else but countries such as Thailand and Indonesia are well on the way to model their legislation on the European model. But Chancellor Merkel has seen that the absolutist approach poses dangers to European consumers and businesses as well. Europeans are famous for banning things, Merkel said. These bans are put in place for good reason, she said, but can be damaging if taken to excess.
  Research shows many reasons for agricultural value chains to fail. Some popular reasons are: lack of motivation, lack of financial strength, lack of planning, little evaluation of market opportunities and even lack of business management skills. However I argue that transaction costs are the main reasons for agricultural value chains to fail. LIRNEasia’s research work on transaction costs dates back to 2006. These research works looked at identifying key transaction costs in agricultural value chains, especially the smallholder vegetable growers associated with the largest wholesale market of the country.
I understand that smartphone penetration is even higher according to the 2016 survey, where the analysis is almost complete. But here is what the ITU says about Myanmar’s ICT progress, using LIRNEasia’s 2015 data: These improvements in affordability and network availability help to explain the country’s fast Internet uptake, supported by two other trends that distinguish Myanmar from neighbouring markets. Firstly, smartphone penetration is very high, reaching 66 per cent of phone owners in early 2015 according to a survey by the independent research institute LIRNEasia.18 According to Ooredoo, as many as 80 per cent of mobile-phone users opt for smartphones (Oxford Business Group, 2015). Secondly, growth in data usage has overtaken growth in voice traffic.
Myanmar is ranked 140th in the ITU’s ICT Development Index, just 0.16 away from India, which is ranked 138th. It is now ahead of all South Asian countries, except Maldives (86th), Sri Lanka (116th), Bhutan (117th) and India (138th). It is no longer the lowest ranking country within the ASEAN; Lao PDR is ranked 144th. Sri Lanka is running in place.
Various players are speculating about and trying to come to terms with the “pause” in Fiber initiatives by Google. Hopes that Google would establish a nationwide model for fiber Internet service were dashed last month, when the company suddenly declared a “pause” in its plans to lay fiber in as many as 18 municipalities, beyond the eight metro areas where it already is building or has completed its system. The disappointed suitors will have to wait for this strategy to play out or move ahead on their own. They would be well advised to keep an eye on San Francisco. What of its developing world counterpart, Loon?
Following the online posting of my articles on the government’s 2017 Budget proposals affecting the ICT sector a rich discussion occurred over Twitter, which included participation and fact gathering by one of Sri Lanka’s leading journalists, Namini Wijedasa who writes in the highest circulation English newspaper. Thanks mostly to a valiant social media spokesperson from the Ministry of Public Enterprise Development who tried, to the best of his ability, to defend the indefensible. Examples below. Lot more Tweets. @Nimilamalee @samarajiva @groundviews 2013-2014 saw an increase of 1.
“The digital economy will empower our nation – through providing affordable and secure Internet connectivity to every citizen in any part of Sri Lanka, removing barriers for cross-border international trade.” The above quotation from the Prime Minister’s Economic Policy Statement in Parliament on 27 October 2016 suggests the government sees ICTs playing a vital role in the country’s progress. Sri Lanka has been a leader in ICTs in the region. The Prime Minister gave enthusiastic leadership to the e Sri Lanka initiative, which when launched was a pioneering effort. It is known that he played a valuable role in connecting Sri Lanka to the Internet in the 1990s.
As can be seen, the language used by Sujata Gamage in her op ed on the education proposal in the 2017 Budget Speech was very nuanced and academic. But the problem was that politicians tend not to read to the end, choosing to form their opinion from the headline. In this instance, the headline was “Can tabs do what PCs or bricks could not do for education?” But looking at that headline, I do not see anything near the kind of attack common in many of mine. It after all ends with a question mark.
The legislation creating the Public Utilities Commission and the Telecom Regulatory Commission specifically provide for the regulatory bodies to have their own funds. The Minister of Finance in the 2017 Budget has announced he intends to expropriate the money in the funds and give it out on request. My response in today’s Daily FT: It is customary for independent, sector-specific regulatory agencies to have a separate fund. The agency is operated with fees and other payments from the entities that it regulates that go into this fund. The principal rationale is insulation from pressure that could be exerted by the Government which could use disbursements from the consolidated fund as a carrot or a stick.
The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is in charge of national policies and economic affairs. The Minister of Finance is in charge of finance, the money the government raises and the money it spends. As a result, the Prime Minister presents an economic policy statement before the budget is read. So it was with some surprise that I saw many policy proposals that did not have direct revenue/expenditure implications in the 2017 Budget, such as extension of the duration of visas issued to spouses of Sri Lankan citizens. The digital commerce proposal is also a policy proposal, but given the objective of ensuring the collection of relevant taxes, one could see a rationale for it being in the Budget Speech.
The Tamil mediasphere in Sri Lanka has been over-determined by the political. Now that we’re reverting to a more normal country, it’s time for economic issues to be covered. A group of volunteers including LIRNEasia’s Suthaharan Perampalan assembled a group of eager Tamil media personnel for training program today. I was one of the speakers. Here are the slides I prepared but was not able to use because the projector went on the blink.
My talk at the International Research Conference on Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura has been published in a newspaper. I described two critical issues facing our country and highlighted the dearth of good evidence. In the concluding part, from which the excerpt is taken, I discussed the challenge of maintaining quality. We must do these hard things, subjecting ourselves to the highest levels of quality control. Because the only thing worse than not being engaged with the policy process is its pollution by the introduction of bad research into it.
The University of Sri Jayewardenepura is organizing an International Conference on Humanities and the Social Sciences, 10-11 November 2016. A principal focus is taking research to policy. That was why I accepted their invitation to be the Chief Guest and to moderate the media symposium. Here is a short excerpt from what I plan to say tomorrow. Hopefully the full speech will be published.