As economic crisis deepens, Nepali economist invited to speak at Sri Lanka’s parliament 

Nepal’s eminent economist Dr Swarnim Waglé was invited to address members of parliament of Sri Lanka to discuss ways to overcome the prevailing economic crisis, according to the country’s parliament.

Photo: Parliament of Sri Lanka.

NL Today

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: Former Vice-Chair of Nepal’s National Planning Commission and Chief Economic Advisor at UNDP Asia-Pacific Dr Swarnim Waglé addressed Sri Lankan members of parliament at the special invitation of the Chair of the committee on public finance, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa. The keynote address was followed by an interactive discussion with more than 30 parliamentarians, including the Speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abewardane.

Sri Lanka has been facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, caused by a collapse in foreign exchange reserves that is insufficient to cover essential imports for more than a few weeks. It suspended payments on all its international debt earlier this month before beginning talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a reform-conditioned financial assistance package known as the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Pending an agreement with the IMF, the World Bank has agreed to provide an emergency bridging loan of US$600 million, according to Al Jazeera.

It is learnt that Dr Waglé explained to the parliamentarians the analytical origins and consequences of the twin crises posed by international insolvency and illiquidity. According to sources, he also laid out the current economic status, and immediate policy options to be considered by the country’s leadership. The interactive session, lasting 90 minutes, covered a range of questions, from the merits of an IMF program, geo-political push and pull to be anticipated during debt restructuring, and policy reforms to ease balance of payments as well as social protection options to buffer income and price shocks for low-income households. 

Parliament of Sri Lanka.

The parliament of Sri Lanka’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts announced and actively promoted the event on Wednesday: “An interactive discussion on “How to Overcome the Prevailing Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka” for the Members of Parliament with Dr. @SwarnimWagle  as the honored resource person.”

Dr Swarnim Waglé is an eminent Nepali economist, recognized in Nepal as a public intellectual looked up to by the younger generation for his reformist credentials and accomplishments. His recently co-edited policy volume, The Great Upheaval, covering policy implications for Asia, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic was published by Cambridge University Press.

Waglé chairs a South Asian think-tank, the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS), based in Kathmandu, and is a Member of the World Bank-steered South Asia Visioning and Championing Process that includes former ministers, secretaries and ambassadors to help advance regional cooperation among South Asian nations.