Dr. B.M.Sumanaratne received his PhD degree from the University of Sheffield, UK in 2010 under a partial grant from NCAS granting programme. His research topic was “A Study of Rural Poverty of Sri Lanka with Special Emphasise on Reducing the Role of the State under Structural Adjustment”. Under the supervision of Prof. Paul Mosley (first supervisor) and Prof. Andrew Tylecote (second supervisor) he investigated distributional impacts of reducing role of the state under the structural adjustment on rural poor. Findings of the study are mainly based on cross-sectional data derived from Household Income and Expenditure Surveys for 109/91 and 2002 conducted by the department of census and statistics. He used different analytical tools based on cross-sectional and time series data.
It can be observed that poverty groups differed in terms of the way in which they connect into the economy. In this context, the liberalization has had a mixed effect; it benefited some groups and was detrimental to others. One of the main significant findings to emerge from this study is that despite the implementation of liberalized economic policies the country did not experience a substantial drop in poverty among the households engaged in the agricultural sector.
Research Abstract of PhD
A Study of Rural Poverty of Sri Lanka with Special Emphasis on Reducing the Role of the State under Structural Adjustment
The first phase of the structural adjustment programmes (SAP) (1978-82) in Sri Lanka was aimed at making product and factor markets operate increasing flexibly by removing subsidies and price controls and through trade liberalisation. In the second phase of SAPs (1989-93) marked policy reforms were introduced. Its major action involved a sharp reduction in the role of the state in the economy. Although these reforms succeeded in generating moderate economic growth, rural poverty remains the major challenge facing the country.
Reducing the role of the state under the SAPs has been subject to considerable criticism due mainly to its high social cost. The primary objective of this thesis is to explore the impact of contraction of state activity on rural poverty.
It was decided that the best approach to adopt for this study was a mixed method approach. In this research a detail attempt, based on highly comparable two Household Income Expenditure Surveys for 1990/91 and 2002, was made to investigate the impact of liberalization on rural poverty. We also conducted in-depth interviews with 38 respondents to collect qualitative evidence on micro level impacts of public policy reforms. Through econometric models of the rural sector, we estimate the poverty impact of changes in public spending on economic and social infrastructure, and of public policy reforms in the rice sector.
Our results indicate that the benefits of the reforms are largely concentrated in the urban sector. Also we found that fiscal adjustment has had mixed effects in the rural sector: Some groups recorded noticeable benefits while others were worse off. More specifically, rural households engaged in the domestic food crop sector did not gain from the reforms compared to those in commercial crops and non-farm sectors. The research provides some insight to make pro-poor public policy reforms in the rural sector.