by Lakshmi de Silva
Dependency Syndrome is the latest addition to
the list of causes of poverty in Sri Lanka, which is a serious
matter to take in to consideration, Chairman Sri Lanka Economic
Association Prof. A. D.V. de S. Indraratne said at a recent
seminar held in Colombo.
Dependency on the State for everything, free
food in the form of food stamps or Samurdhi, free transport,
free health and free education, without trying to be
self-employed and self reliant and burdening the economy of the
country had been a main cause of poverty though no serious note
of that has been taken, he said.
"Sri Lanka is no longer classified as a least
developed country, or for that matter, a less developed country.
It enjoys a per capita income of more than 1,300 US dollars and
falls into the category of low middle income country. However,
nearly half its population (45.1 per cent) live below the
poverty line of 2 US dollars per day and nearly a quarter (23
per cent) is considered poor according to the Consumer Finance
and Socio-Economic Survey of 2003/04 published by the Central
Bank," he said
Prof. Indraratne emphasized that the rural
poverty is staggering with more than four fifth of the poor
living in the rural sector and there were several reasons for
this. One of course was the slow growth, compared to high
performing economies of East Asia, China and India, Sri Lanka’s
per capita economic growth during the last decade has been 3.4
Even though this is respectable, and is higher
than the growth rate of developing countries, as a whole, it has
not been able to make a dent on rural poverty, he said.
The slight decrease of a 3 percentage point
achieved in overall poverty between 1990 and 2002, the latest
year for which these figures are available was almost entirely
in the urban sector, Prof. Indraratne said.
Another reason for the slow poverty reduction
and its concentration in the rural sector is the uneven economic
growth and its inequitable distribution. While the lowest 20
percent of the population receives only 4 percent of the total
national income wide range regional disparities exist between
provinces. For Example more than half of the
gross national income is contributed by one province alone,
namely Western Province with its per capita income being more
than twice as much as that of provinces such as Uva,
Sabaragamuwa and Eastern.
Still another reason in the failure of
successive governments to realize the full potential of the
economy, including its rural small and medium sectors as in the
case of Sri Lanka’s Asian neighbours, such as Singapore,
Thailand, Malaysia and Republic of Korea which were economically
behind Sri Lanka before the sixties he said.
Corruption is another major cause of poverty
Prof. Indraratne said.