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Science and technology spending 0.13 percent of GDP
Govt. needs to spend more on science and technology – Prof. Vitharana

Prof. Tissa Vitharana

With the war over, a senior Minister said Sri Lanka must spend more on science and technology, particularly in research and development, if the country is to achieve higher levels of economic growth and eradicate poverty.

Investing now...for our future... - File pic

"Sadly, governments have not spent as much as they should have on science and technology and this is most unfortunate," Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Minister of Science and technology said.

"We have been asking the government for more funds but because of the war they have not been able to allocate more funds to the ministry. Government expenditure on science and technology, research and development currently amounts to about 0.13 percent of GDP," Prof. Vitharana said.

"Despite the difficult times the US economy is going through, President Obama has actually increased government expenditure on science and technology. It is unfortunate that the government of Sri Lanka does not seem to realize the importance of investing in science," he said.

A characteristic of many of the country’s economic policies have been short sighted; a quick fix is often perceived to be favourable rather than the long term gains because politicians need something tangible to show come election time. It seems this is why adequate expenditure to boost the country’s technological capabilities is over looked. True there was a war, but there was also wasteful, inefficient spending at the same time.

"Investments made to develop a country’s technological capabilities have a time lag. The benefits of such investments will take a longer time to be apparent unlike other infrastructure developments, such as roads," Prof. Vitharana said.

Research and development and improving the country’s technological capabilities are important and perhaps something that cannot be overlooked.

People will have to be fed. If Sri Lanka is to improve its agriculture sector, research and development in this area is paramount.

The country will have to earn its foreign exchange. If Sri Lanka’s exports are to remain competitive in the long term, introducing advanced technological processes will be crucial. Also, Gaining market access to the EU and US will require exports to be produced through certified environmental friendly processes.

Employment opportunities must be created. Even the domestic industrial sector will have to make vast strides if enough employment is to be generated.

"We need to develop our SME sector (which contributes over 80 percent to GDP) if our economy is to move forward. For this we need to get better technologies across. Competitor countries are developing newer technologies and we must keep pace with them," Prof. Vitharana said.

"We need greater investments in order to do all this and help people get out of poverty. The war is over, now we need to be a country making advances in science and technology," he said.

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