Financial Times

Western Province tops Lankan Prosperity Index

The Western province has the highest scores in the Central Bank's (CB) newly launched Prosperity Index for Sri Lanka, coming out on top in terms of the economy and business climate, well-being of the people and infrastructure. Its overall score of 66.1 in 2007 is far above the national average of 52.7 with the Central province coming in a distant second with a score of 52.9. The North, Eastern and Uva provinces scored the lowest at 43.6, 44.2 and 47.8 respectively. The index was launched this past week by the CB after the concept was first presented in a seminar on balanced regional development in June 2007.
Provincial governors, chief ministers, provincial ministers, chief secretaries and experts all participated in the development of the index.

The purpose of the index is to measure the trickle down of benefits of development to the provinces, evaluate the relative position of the provinces, identify opportunities and areas for development and increase prosperity in the districts/provinces. The index is also expected to be used to evaluate the competition amongst provinces for socio-economic resources, formulate macro socio-economic policies and establish target to achieve prosperity.

The index will also help to set targets for provincial GDP, provincial per capita GDP, provincial targets for well-being of the people and socio-economic infrastructure. It will also help in setting investment targets and developing province specific strategic plans and strategies to achieve the above targets.

The variables of the index have been identified into three different categories; economy and business climate, well-being of the people and infrastructure. These three variables are weighted at 30 %, 45 % and 25 %, respectively. However, the sub-categories of the three variables listed here are not weighted -- Economy & Business Climate; Per capita GDP; Employment rate; Informal Sector Real Wages; People above Poverty; Per capita Business Turnover Tax; Industrial Density. Only the Western province exceeded the national average in 2007 in the economy and business climate sub-index scoring 17.9, well ahead of the 13.0 national average.

The second and third highest scorers were the Central and Southern provinces with scores of 11.5 and 11.6, respectively. They were followed by the North Western province at 11.3 and the Northern province at 11.1. The Eastern province had the lowest score of 10.2 with the Sabaragamuwa, Uva and North Central provinces scoring 10.4, 10.7 and 10.9, respectively.

CB Governor Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal said the index should be used and improved to assist in regional development. Parliamentarian and advisor to the President, Basil Rajapaksa said the government wants to use this index to help families and villages prosper.

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