Food less important in household budget
Food is no more a prominent feature in the regular spending in a household with services like electricity, telephone, television, auto mobiles and computers taking a chunk of the budget despite high inflation, a top economist said.
Dr. Anila Dias Bandaranaike, a former Central Bank official, also said that due to budgetary constraints, the national education system can no longer deliver the quality that the people expect.
As a result there is a significant demand for private education, which has already been exploited by the private sector.
She was making a presentation on “Opportunities for Marketers Arising from Sri Lanka’s Recent Demographic Changes” under a series of discussions organized by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Sri Lanka Region.
Bandaranaike shared some important findings of recent surveys and studies conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), giving an insight into the new trends in consumer behaviour, triggered by the demographic and psychographic changes in the country.
She pointed out that approximately four million of the country’s workforce don’t have a formal retirement plan as they are in the informal employment sector, saying that it is an opportunity for social security and retirement benefits schemes in the financial sector.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion whose members were Amali Nanayakkara - Chief Executive Officer of Bharti Airtel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Roshani Fernando - Vice President of Quantum Strategic Services (Pvt) Ltd and Dr. Rajeev Meewakkala – Marketing Director of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. It was moderated by Professor Sunanda Degamboda from the Department of Industrial Management, University of Kelaniya.
Degamboda started the discussion by focusing on the shift in global economic power and posed the question where will Sri Lanka stand in the emerging economic world order, which many analysts have predicted to be South Asia.
Meewakkala stated that the development of South Asia has been hindered largely due to internal conflicts and political culture predominant across the region. He also stated that the rise in the middle class is an indication of economic development as it has a significant bearing on all social strata in an economy.
Answering a query by a participant, Bandaranaike said inflation in the country is partly due to the increased international prices of key imports such as fuel and essential food items as well as due to fiscal problems, where she stated that around 40% of the state expenditure and over 80% of state revenue is spent on servicing government debt.