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The Sri Lanka Economic Summit produced many incisive insights, revealing research, but most of all some memorable and thought-provoking quotes. Here are 19 of my favourites.

1. “The unprecedented concessions granted to favoured enterprises by the previous government have created a nightmare for the present government” – Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Finance

2. “Professional advice needs to mix with political realities” – Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Finance

3. “Sri Lanka is an island of poverty in an ocean of prosperity” – Ravi Karunanayake, Minister of Finance (on Sri Lanka needing to latch on to Asian economic growth)

4. “Sri Lanka must move from potential to performance, issues to solutions, rhetoric to action” – Samantha Ranatunga, Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

5. “Businesses need to recalibrate their risk and take a long view on investment” – Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka

6. “Expectations of the new government have not been met. In fact, they got a kick in the stomach” – Prof. Razeen Sally, Chairman, Institute of Policy Studies

7. “There has been the supreme idiocy of imposing price controls, which I thought was something we had left behind in 1977” – Prof. Razeen Sally, Chairman, Institute of Policy Studies

8. “Sri Lanka needs to tell people the growth story, captivate them, and get on board with reforms” – Dato Sri Idris Jala, CEO of PEMANDU, Malaysia

9. “PPPs are a good option for countries with limited fiscal space and can bring down project costs” – Kamal Dorabawila, Investment Officer, International Finance Corporation

Anushka Wijesinha
Anushka Wijesinha

10. “If I was to promote any country outside of Australia, Sri Lanka would be it!” – Andrew Fairley, Deputy Chair of Tourism Australia

11. “Research, taking the temperature of what travellers actually want give a huge impetus to developing strategy. Sri Lanka needs to find out what people actually want in the markets that they are selling” – Andrew Fairley, Deputy Chair of Tourism Australia

12. “Bringing private partnerships will helps improve viability and accountability   of public infrastructure projects, and avoid another Mattala” – Eran Wickramaratne, Deputy Minister of State Enterprise Development

13. “It takes two hands to clap. The government alone cannot eradicate corruption” – Eran Wickramaratne, Deputy Minister of State Enterprise Development

14. “Sri Lanka cannot become a hub by building infrastructure alone, liberal trade and investment policies are key” – Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director, IPS

15. “To avoid the low equilibrium trap, Sri Lanka must shift away from debt financed investment-led growth to FDI- and export-led growth” – Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director, IPS

16. “Sri Lanka must attract non-Sri Lankan talent and build regulatory frameworks that make it the hot bed for next generation businesses” – Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India

17. “We should be thrilled that people in this country are not queuing for jobs. But this is tough for business. We must build businesses that can pay higher wages” – Ashroff Omar, CEO, Brandix

18. “On average an Indian start up will work twice as hard as a Sri Lankan start up. We need to create that hunger in the workforce” – Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India

19. “I don’t want to own your land. I want to make money!” – Desmond Sheehy, Duxton Investments (responding to EDB Chairman’s assertion that foreign land ownership would be prohibited)
(Image courtesy Ceylon Chamber of Commerce)