Target trillion dollar exports -Minister Ranawaka
Research and development in technology is vital for economic growth.
The government financial allocations through the annual budget to
promote research and development are considered a major component.
Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka at the launch of the ‘Sahasak
Sri Lanka's 2015 Budget proposal, presented by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa have made this a key area for development.
The 2015 Budget has increased the special allowances for university
academics, doctors and judiciary service employees. It is specially
mentioned to provide financial allocations to develop research
facilities in national universities.
Special attention given in the Budget for an economic growth based on
innovations and knowledge is a positive sign, said Research and
Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka at the launch of the 'Sahasak
Nimewum' exhibition from October 30. "Globally 30% World GDP is based on
hi tech equipment and countries which continue to move in to innovative
technological advances have been able to achieve the best of it," said
Knowledge based economy
Minister Ranawaka was highlighting on implementing a knowledge based
The question is what the new concept is in this approach. And how is
it going to bring a solution? Sri Lanka as a country is struggling to
achieve a stable economy that would provide better living standards to
people as well as financial security.
In the present context this is not just a job for the economists. The
present trends and demands in the world push for an integrated approach
from all sectors. In this the research and development field plays a
pivotal role. Where are we in the road to success? "As far as the
ministry and the scientific community is concerned there is an ongoing
debate on this matter.
The scientific community simply argues that the government fund
allocations are not sufficient for research and innovations," Minister
In Sri Lanka there are over 15 research organisations under various
government institutes, said the Minister. And under the Research and
Development Ministry there are around five institutes for research.
Of the total, 55 percent of the expenditure are from the Government
while 40 percent are from private industries and another five percent
from foreign organisations in the country.
"Direct investment on research and development is around 300 million
rupees per annum. This is the expenditure for research and development
for 4,000 scientists.
But on the other hand the economists question as to what were the
social economic benefits from these inventions.
We have to prioritise our development needs, said Minister Ranawaka.
And various institutes have to implement research and they can raise
research themes as well, he added.
"And actually we have got serious inputs from all these stakeholders
from various sectors. Thus we have identified 10 sectors and 10
interventions - that we call it 10 X 10 matrix. The government has
already planned a five year investment plan. All these investments are
for applied research," he said.
"The innovation plan is based on three pillars - economic growth,
environmental sustainability, social justice. All these factors are
necessary to successfully implement the innovation driven economic
plan," he said.
In the recent past, Sri Lanka managed to prove this with SLINTEC -
The Sri Lanka Institute for Nanotechnology by applying for the patent
rights for five innovations. Today the number have increased and
hopefully more is yet to come. Countries like Japan, Singapore, China
and Malaysia of our region emerged from almost nothing to a technically
advanced state incorporating more of their science and research into
"Today Sri Lanka has a very good human resource, well educated
improved Infrastructure. Electrification level is nearly one hundred
percent. Telephone, telecommunication availability is over 100 percent.
So we can simply build upon these, the new revolutionary knowledge based
economy in Sri Lanka. We can achieve comparative and competitive
advantages in the world market." he said.
The other factor is development with environment sustainability. This
can be achieved through innovation driven economy. Economic prosperity
should not be achieved at any cost. Because if we do and damage the
environment irreversible processes may happen and that may damage the
entire future of our next generation.
China is a good example. Even in our country we are experiencing
water stress - one part of the country is faced with a drought and the
other with floods.
What is the meaning of achieving economic development with
irreversible damages to our environment and people are suffering from
those. Protecting our water resources and arable land is important.
"Innovation or knowledge driven economy is what we see as a solution
to Sri Lanka," Minister Ranawaka said.
It is time for Sri Lanka to go beyond traditional million dollar
export industries such as tea, rubber and coconut, to trillion dollar
advanced technology industries such as bio-technology, ICT and
nanotechnology export markets.