Economists last week urged the government to set up a proper administrative mechanism in selected areas prior to the opening up of the labour market while emphasizing that opening up of the market without doing so would have disastrous ramifications.

Head of the Department of Economics of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Colombo, Prof. W. Wimalaratana pointed out that there was a labour shortage in a number of areas from the bottom of the hierarchy to the top.

“With regard to inadequate foreign investments coming in, one of the main issues and first rate barriers include the insufficient labour supply necessary for the implementation of projects. The hard working attitude is missing among the available labour”, said Wimalaratana.

“The country’s unemployment rate is low. At the moment, it is less than 5%. Newspapers report over 200,000 job vacancies available in the free trade zones. On the other hand, the government is planning on creating one million jobs”.

He added that one of the challenging issues involves having the necessary labour force and procuring competent hands to operate proposed projects.

When calculating the Gross Domestic Product, new values created within a certain period of time are finally added. If the speed of production is less and there is no sufficient production, then higher economic growth rates cannot be achieved.

“Whatever the source, be it from India, China, Africa or Indonesia, we need a supply of labour,” Wimalaratana explained while adding that without it the economy would not expand rapidly and would stagnate.