A free-market economy operates differently than other types of economies, in that it promotes the efficiency of doing business. In a free market, the government has limited power to regulate transactions, and most of the rules it enacts are aimed at protecting consumers, the environment, market participants, and national security. This limited government intervention creates an environment that promotes increased efficiency and competition.
In a free market, businesses are incentivized to lower their costs and improve their quality in order to increase their market share. This competition leads to more choice and better access to products and services at lower prices for consumers. However, it is important to note that free and competitive markets in the modern world require checks and balances from all three branches of the government, judicial independence, respect for human rights, and transparency in national policy making to ensure their existence. These values strengthen the core values of true democracy.
Therefore, while a free market economy can create economic growth and promote competition, it must be accompanied by a strong and effective government that ensures fairness, transparency, and accountability for all market participants. By maintaining a balance between government regulation and free market principles, we can create an economy that benefits everyone and fosters long-term sustainable growth.
The global GDP has experienced an unprecedented threefold growth from $33 trillion in the year 2000 to $95 trillion in 2021. Experts predict that this remarkable trend will continue and reach $200 trillion by the year 2035. This growth has been fueled by the emergence of technology-driven economies in the past two decades, including digital, mobile, shared, decentralized, content creation, virtual, and space economies, among others.
Research and development (R&D) is a crucial element in creating new knowledge, leading to innovations and entrepreneurship, which are the foundational pillars of a thriving economy. Facilitating and promoting technology and R&D driven market activities is, therefore, the most practical and smartest approach to building a strong and resilient economy for Sri Lanka.
Capital market reforms and expansions, such as equity and debt capital markets, play a vital role in driving economic growth and wealth creation in a country. They offer better pricing and longer maturities, as well as access to a wider investor base. They also provide funding for riskier activities that may not traditionally be served by the banking sector and, in doing so, contribute significantly to innovation and growth in an economy.
Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka, access to capital markets, especially equity capital markets, is almost non-existent. Urgent financial and monetary reforms are needed at the national level to bridge the gap between the creation and growth of new businesses and markets. By implementing adequate reforms and expanding access to capital markets, Sri Lanka can promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth, and ultimately build a stronger and more resilient economy for the future.
Deregulation can stimulate economic activities by removing barriers that prevent new businesses from entering the market. This increase in competition, coupled with innovation and entrepreneurship, can help to improve and increase market growth as businesses compete with each other.
However, doing business in Sri Lanka can be challenging, with excessive regulations at local and state levels making it difficult for new businesses to thrive. As such, responsible deregulation will be a primary focus of a small government. By streamlining regulations and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, new businesses will have a better chance of succeeding, creating more competition and driving economic growth.
It is important to note that responsible deregulation does not mean a complete removal of regulations. Certain regulations are necessary to protect consumers, workers, and the environment. A small government must strike a balance between eliminating unnecessary regulations and ensuring that essential regulations are in place to safeguard the public interest.
Ultimately, a market-driven economy that encourages competition and innovation is key to promoting economic growth and prosperity. By implementing responsible deregulation, a small government can help create a more dynamic and thriving business environment in Sri Lanka, ultimately driving the country’s economic growth and development.
We firmly believe that a small government is crucial for promoting efficient and flexible systems, which are vital for an emerging economy like Sri Lanka. Large governments, on the other hand, often lead to excessive red-tape and bureaucracy, which can create incentives and opportunities for bribery and corruption.
Moreover, evidence shows that most of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) operating for-profit do not contribute meaningfully to the national GDP. Instead, due to high inefficiencies and mismanagement, they drain money from the system, resulting in further economic burdens. Sri Lanka has an alarming 500+ state-owned enterprises, which is an unusually large number when compared globally. Unfortunately, the majority of these SOEs are loss-making, primarily due to mismanagement, inefficiencies, corruption, and excessive employment driven by political ambitions of past and present governments. This has put a tremendous burden on the hard-working taxpayers of the country.
Some examples of such loss-making SOEs include Sri Lankan Airlines, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Ceylon Electricity Board, Sri Lanka Post, Sri Lanka Railways, and Port Authority, to name a few. Given the current state of the nation on the verge of bankruptcy, coupled with a balance of payments crisis and potential government insolvency, we believe it is imperative to take immediate action to halt the internal cash bleeding by disposing of the majority of these loss-making entities.
While this may be a challenging task, it is critical to the long-term health and success of the economy. By disposing of the SOEs that are draining the economy, we can reduce the burden on taxpayers, encourage competition, and promote efficiency and growth. We are committed to taking bold action to address this issue and to promote a thriving, market-driven economy in Sri Lanka.
Entrepreneurship is a critical driver of economic growth and development. Entrepreneurial activities can lead to innovation, creativity, and the creation of new products, services, markets, jobs, and wealth. To create an entrepreneurial DNA at every level of society, we have developed several key strategies:
- Establish heavily deregulated Entrepreneurship Zones throughout the country, which will be fully equipped with essential infrastructure such as co-working spaces, fast internet, and power supply, and will be accessible to both local and foreign entrepreneurs.
- Implement the concept of Economic Gardening, which aims to promote an entrepreneurial culture within our society; by introducing new market concepts into the curriculums of schools, universities, and other educational institutions.
- Introduce a National Entrepreneurship Program to our national education system, which will help to develop the entrepreneurial mindset and skills of our students from a young age.
- Improve entrepreneurs’ access to local capital markets by introducing new capital market reforms. This will enable our startups to gain access to the funding they need to grow and develop.
- Promote startups among the international angel and venture capital investment communities, via a newly-built Startup Gateway, which will help our entrepreneurs gain access to global capital.
- Establish global-scale accelerator and incubator programs in Sri Lanka, which will provide startups with access to markets, capital, knowledge, and technology.
- Organize annual international trade shows locally, to expose our youth to new markets and inspire them to pursue entrepreneurship.
Through these efforts, we aim to build an entrepreneurial culture that permeates every level of society and creates a thriving economy for Sri Lanka.
To improve the performance and efficiency of government portfolios, we propose a new system in which subject matter experts (SMEs) are appointed to manage ministerial portfolios based on meritocracy rather than being elected MPs. Currently, the president appointed cabinet and state ministers who are elected MPs tend to perform poorly due to their lack of expertise. Additionally, investigations into corruption allegations in these portfolios are often hindered by MP privileges. Our proposed solution involves the following changes:
- President-appointed cabinet or state ministers will play a nominal role in observing portfolio performance, without decision-making authority.
- Credible civil servants or SMEs will be appointed as secretaries or chairpersons of portfolios based on meritocracy.
- These SMEs will have full decision-making power and report only to the prime minister and/or the president.
- The performance of SMEs will be reviewed bi-annually by a special parliament committee, based on pre-defined key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with the 10-year National Policy Plan.
- SMEs will be fully accountable to the judiciary and parliament.
- MPs will focus primarily on introducing and implementing bills, legislation, and national policies in line with the 10-year National Policy Plan.
These changes will ensure that ministerial portfolios are managed by subject matter experts who have the necessary skills and knowledge to make effective decisions. It will also allow for greater accountability and transparency in portfolio management, as SMEs will be accountable to the judiciary and parliament. This will help to prevent corruption and improve overall portfolio performance, benefiting Sri Lanka as a whole.
The rapid growth of data and digital technologies is transforming economies and societies, and has significant implications for government operations. Data-driven policy making not only leads to better policies but also builds trust and legitimacy. Unfortunately, the current government has made a major mistake by not implementing data-driven decision making in national policy formulation, which has contributed to the country’s ongoing economic crisis. Our approach is to adopt a whole-of-government strategy to establish a coherent and comprehensive data governance model that allows the government to provide better services while ensuring efficiency, transparency, and trustworthiness in data use. This will include measures such as setting data standards, promoting data sharing among agencies, building analytical capacity, ensuring data security, and creating a data-driven culture across all government sectors. By adopting this approach, we aim to improve the quality of decision-making, enhance government efficiency, and create a more prosperous and sustainable economy for all Sri Lankans.
The acquisition of skills is crucial for both labor force participation and productivity. With the emergence of fast-evolving technologies and changing work structures, routine jobs that are easy to automate are disappearing, while new employment opportunities demand non-routine skills such as coding, creativity, analysis, interpersonal skills, and on-demand trades. Our aim is to ensure that every member of the labor force can acquire at least one of these in-demand skills through schools, universities, and structured training programs (both online and offline) before entering the workforce. Our National Skills Development program, along with the Job Bank/Career Centers initiative, will help employers find the most suitable candidates and employees to find their desired careers. The program is designed according to future market inputs and global standards, and it will be regularly reviewed and updated every five years to adapt to the changing skills required in the job market.
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education equips students with the necessary skills to meet the current labor demand in technology-based economies, making them more employable. This comprehensive education program encompasses a broad range of experiences and skills, including research, critical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, analytical abilities, and conscious decision-making. We firmly believe that STEAM education is essential for producing professionals who can transform our society with innovative and sustainable solutions. Moreover, STEAM will serve as the foundation of our technology-based economy for years to come.
Sri Lanka heavily relies on non-renewable energy sources to meet its energy demands, which leaves the country vulnerable to global fossil fuel supply and demand shocks and foreign exchange fluctuations. To build a strong economy, we believe that achieving national energy security and independence is crucial. To achieve this goal, we have developed a multi-fold approach, as outlined below:
– Urgently implement the Crude Intermediation Model to address the current crude and refined product supply crisis. We plan to finance this process through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) managed by a reputable international Investment Bank or a Commodities Brokerage Firm. Refineries (CPC), pipelines, and distributors will receive a market-rate fee only for the services they provide. The SPV will not assume any operational burdens of CPC under any circumstances.
– Mitigate the price risk of crude/natural gas purchases by entering into long-term forwards and options contracts, and mitigate FX risk by swaps and futures contracts.
– Mitigate supply chain, liquidity, and operational risks of crude/natural gas purchase, refining, and distribution by entering into long-term intermediation and physical contracts.
– Accelerate the addition of renewable energy sources to the national energy supply system, such as solar, wind, and Green Hydrogen.
– Work closely with Norway, Japan, and Australia, the pioneers of Green Hydrogen production and logistics, to introduce Green Hydrogen for local consumption.
– Consider introducing a decentralized Independent System Operator mechanism to the national electricity/power supply to make it price competitive, highly reliable, and fully compatible with the country’s expected economic boom.
If implemented, the national power supply will be treated and protected as a matter of national security by the law of Sri Lanka, and any disruptions or unhealthy competition will be heavily regulated and penalized financially and under criminal law. Our goal is to achieve energy security and independence while promoting sustainable development and a thriving economy.
Banking the unbanked is a crucial measure towards achieving inclusive economic growth. It not only uplifts the economic conditions of underprivileged communities but also drives overall economic development. Financial inclusion leads to higher income, increased savings, and the ability to invest in essential needs such as healthcare, education, food, business growth, and financial risk management. Connecting all citizens to the financial system also benefits the government by increasing the velocity of money and economic activity, and ensuring efficient execution of monetary policy.
The rapid urbanization of Sri Lanka has brought about serious traffic congestion, safety concerns, and growing inequality in urban areas. Moreover, the transport sector accounts for more than 36% of the country’s total energy consumption, leading to a rise in CO2 emissions. Outdated and inefficient public transportation systems only worsen the traffic situation, with the average one-way commute time in Sri Lanka being approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes compared to just 25 minutes in developed countries. With every aspect of the current mobility system being dysfunctional, it is becoming a significant hindrance to the growth of the economy. The best way to address this is to introduce and promote smart mobility functions such as LRT systems, electric and hydrogen buses, e-bikes, ride-sharing, carpooling, and congestion charging zones for private vehicles. When designing the national smart mobility plan, factors such as reliability, availability, connectivity, comfort, and public safety will also be considered. By doing so, we can create a functional and thriving mobility system that supports the growth of our economy while reducing traffic congestion and CO2 emissions.
We firmly believe that a system of checks and balances can effectively limit the power of each branch of government, preventing any one branch from abusing its power and threatening the democratic values and basic human rights of society. A well-functioning system of checks and balances fosters citizen trust in the government to protect their rights, ensures fair and competitive markets, and ultimately restores investor confidence and healthy capital inflows.
Embracing diversity and promoting inclusion in the workplace is crucial for boosting productivity. When people from different cultural and social backgrounds come together, they bring a wealth of knowledge and perspectives that lead to richer idea generation, innovation, and creativity. Leaders who come from diverse backgrounds are more likely to develop creative insights and offer comprehensive solutions, which ultimately benefits citizens, especially in multi-ethnic, multireligious, and multicultural countries. By fostering an environment that values diversity and inclusivity, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce and create a more harmonious and prosperous society.
We firmly uphold that freedom of expression is an intrinsic human right that supports and reinforces all other human rights, ultimately facilitating the development and advancement of society. The capability to express our thoughts and opinions freely is crucial to catalyzing change within our communities. Freedom of speech is not just about having the ability to speak out but also the willingness to listen to and consider others perspectives. This principle serves as one of the essential foundations of a genuine democracy.
We strongly believe in the principle of individualism, which emphasizes the importance of personal freedom and autonomy. People should be able to make their own decisions and take independent actions without feeling compelled to conform to societal norms and expectations that do not align with their individuality. In individualist cultures, there is a strong link between social status rewards and personal achievements, which provides both monetary incentives for innovation and social recognition for outstanding performance. This dynamic fosters a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, leading to overall economic growth and development.
We firmly support the freedom of religion for all citizens, and believe that the government should treat all its citizens equally, regardless of their religious beliefs, affiliation, or lack thereof. We do not support preferential treatment for any citizen based on their religious beliefs or affiliations. Additionally, we do not accommodate priests, monks, or any religious representatives to enter into active politics via our political platform, nor do we support political parties that have religious representations. We believe that religions should be observed and practiced by individuals for their higher, spiritual purposes, and should not be used as a tool for political gains.
Sri Lanka is blessed with abundant natural resources for agriculture, including favorable soil conditions, a well-established island-wide irrigation system, and plentiful sunlight, among other things. However, due to the absence of national food security policies and short-sighted actions by politicians, the country is facing a significant food insecurity crisis. Inefficient transportation and storage methods lead to 40% of crops being wasted before reaching consumers, and a lack of utilization of climate and weather data can cause unexpected slumps in crop availability.
To address these challenges, we propose a four-fold approach to improving food security: improving availability, access, utilization, and stability using new technologies such as IoT (sensors, drones, etc.), artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain. We also plan to partner with countries such as Israel and India, who are leaders in the food security and agro-tech industries. For example, Israel’s drip irrigation system is one of the best water management systems in the world, while India’s mobile weather forecast apps are widely used by farmers.
By utilizing IoT monitoring sensors supported by communication technologies, we can monitor farmland and crop metrics throughout the full planting, production, and delivery lifecycle, collecting data on soil, temperature, humidity, light, crop growth, pesticide residue, production device, equipment conditions, transportation, storage status, and more. Scaling up the use of these smart technologies could boost crop yields by 20%-30% and reduce waste by 50-60%.