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Navigating Sri Lanka's path towards holistic infrastructure development

Updated: Jun 10

Sri Lanka stands at a critical juncture in its development journey, where the need for comprehensive and integrated infrastructure policies has never been more pronounced. Over the years, the country has grappled with policy inconsistencies, fragmented national policies, and compartmentalization of state agencies, leading to inefficiencies and redundancy in development efforts.

The imperative for robust infrastructure policies is evident across various sectors, particularly in urban and suburban regions, where existing infrastructure struggles to meet future demands, potentially hindering economic and social development. However, the success of infrastructure projects hinges not only on economic variables but also on their social and overall benefits to the country's economy and competitiveness.

To achieve accelerated economic and social development, it is imperative to strengthen state institutions, enhance public-private coordination, and establish up-to-date regulatory frameworks. These frameworks should prioritize planning, appraisal, capacity, and investment maturities to ensure comprehensive development and maximize social returns on investments.

A shift toward comprehensive policies is essential, moving away from sectoral approaches towards holistic solutions that integrate economic, social, and environmental considerations. This necessitates a genuine dialogue among stakeholders to address complex problems and negative externalities effectively.

Strategic, administrative, and legal considerations play pivotal roles in shaping comprehensive infrastructure policies. National policies should be designed comprehensively, focusing on the competitiveness and productivity of goods and services rather than transport systems. Administrative structures must be coherent and coordinated, guided by a shared vision of the future. Similarly, legislation should be clear, coherent, and condensed to facilitate implementation and ensure consistency across national policies.

Drawing inspiration from successful case studies in countries like Finland, France, Germany, and the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka can identify common elements and adapt them to their context. By embracing comprehensive infrastructure policies, Sri Lanka can pave the way for transformative change, fostering sustainable development, socio-economic transformation, and climate resilience.

This dialogue emphasizes the importance of sustainable infrastructure as a public good, rooted in human rights, socioeconomic transformation, and climate resilience. It underscores the need to prioritize public investment, unlock fiscal and policy space, and promote sustainable industrialization. Furthermore, it calls for robust regulation of private sector engagement in infrastructure projects, ensuring transparency, accountability, and democratic governance.

As Sri Lanka navigates its infrastructure landscape, embracing a holistic approach to policy formulation and implementation is paramount. By fostering dialogue, collaboration, and shared vision, we can build a sustainable infrastructure framework that serves the needs of all stakeholders and contributes to the country's long-term prosperity.

By Shanika Gamage

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article reflect the author’s views, and not the wider views of the Alliance for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Featured image: India and Sri Lanka sunrise, elements by NASA with 3D rendering by1xpert via Canva



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