The broad objective of LIRNEasia is to bring evidence to the policy process and thereby improve it. The means by which we achieve this objective range from directly taking evidence to the policy process, through advocacy and dissemination, to building up policy intellectuals. We never quite thought that the means would extend to actually placing researchers within the supreme legislative body of a country, but with the entry of Dr Harsha de Silva to the Parliament of Sri Lanka representing the United National Front, the principal opposition party, this too has happened. We warmly congratulate Harsha and wish him the very best in continuing to improve policy discourse in Sri Lanka by bringing evidence to bear on the important questions that face our country. Harsha has been an exemplary policy intellectual, though much of his policy advocacy has occurred outside the framework of his work as LIRNEasia’s Lead Economist.
In the process of trying to deflate inflation numbers (not inflation), the Government of Sri Lanka has removed alcohol and tobacco from the new price index because they are socially undesirable (not because government taxes are driving those prices through the roof) and included for the first time mobile phone charges. This is a positive move for a government that has imposed an additional 7.5 per cent levy on mobile charges (the government currently takes LKR 26.50 of every LKR 100 spent on mobiles through value-added and mobile-specific taxes). At least this should bury the misconception that mobiles are used only by the rich.