Harsha de Silva

Senior Policy Fellow


Harsha de Silva is a Senior Policy Fellow at LIRNEasia. His primary interest is in development economics, with a focus on economics of information and communication technology in emerging Asia. He is particularly interested in rural agricultural and financial markets, and the political economy of Sri Lanka. Since April 2010, Harsha is also a Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka and he currently represents the main opposition party.

From 2015 to 2019, Harsha held a number of ministerial portfolios within the Government of Sri Lanka. These included the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as the Deputy Minister of Policy Planning, Economic Affairs, Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs. As the Deputy Minister of Policy Planning, Economic Affairs, Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs, he was responsible for development of policies to introduce a social market economy to Sri Lanka. In 2016, Harsha spearheaded the establishment of Suwa Seriya, a modern EMT and Ambulance service in Sri Lanka that now covers the entire island and is free of charge. He was also instrumental in setting the groundwork for the development of a cold storage system in Sri Lanka.

Prior to joining politics, his career ranged from development banker, international consultant economist and successful entrepreneur. He was also a media personality in Sri Lanka. In 1994, Harsha co-founded Survey and Market Research Team (SMART), and sold his stake to Nielsen in mid-2000. At LIRNEasia, Harsha was involved in Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid (T@BOP) 1, 2 and 3 studies. This research was a unique series of cutting edge demand-side studies on ICT use among the BOP. Harsha was also instrumental in developing the research on the nexus of agriculture and ICTs at LIRNEasia. He founded a not-for-profit called Govi Gnana Seva (GGS) or Farmer Knowledge Service, which is currently the main source of wholesale agricultural market prices in Sri Lanka.

Harsha holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Missouri and has an executive training from MIT.  He also received Eisenhower Fellowship in 2011.


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