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By Prema-chandra Athukorala, S. K. Jayasuriya

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Additional info for Macroeconomic Policies, Crises, and Growth in Sri Lanka, 1969-90 (World Bank Comparative Macroeconomic Studies)

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We hope this study will help to fill the gap. In this study we analyze the policy responses to macroeconomic crises and their consequences, as well as why those, rather than alternative policies, were adopted. This involves an analysis of political economy factors as well as an appreciation of the perceptions and expectations held by policymakers and private agents as they confronted actual or potential crisis situations. The focus of the study, however, is on analysis of the changing economic situation, and no attempt is made to provide political economy explanations.

Between these two periods there was a dramatic shift in government policies. A long period of extensive state intervention and inward orientation was followed by a commitment to economic liberalization. The analysis is of broader interest as a study of the reaction of a small open economy to major shocks under sharply contrasting policy regimes and external circumstances. Publication of this study was made possible in part by a generous grant from SIDA, the Swedish International Development Authority.

This system of arrangements, which could already lay claim to being a welfare state, was inherited by the new government in 1948. Arguably, violent social conflict had been avoided in Sri Lanka because of the welfare system, and the influence of the left had been contained. Hence, the government in the immediate postwar years had a strong desire to further expand welfare services and thereby deprive the left of popular support. But deteriorating economic conditions in the immediate postindependence period forced the new government to prune the welfare system, although the subsidized rice ration was maintained.

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