Dr. de Silva, a distinguished Member of Parliament for the Colombo District and a former Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared invaluable insights with participants from UNSW Sydney/Canberra, DFAT, and Austrade on Sri Lanka's path towards economic recovery. Furthermore, UNSW Sydney and Canberra colleagues had the honour of participating in a subsequent roundtable discussion at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy in the afternoon, during which Dr. de Silva delivered a presentation further elaborating on his perspectives

A group of people sitting around a dining table, with food on the table.
Dr. de Silva engages in conversation during the luncheon meeting.

During the luncheon meeting and subsequent roundtable discussion, Dr. de Silva reiterated the critical imperative of rectifying decades of flawed economic policies and implementing essential reforms to extricate Sri Lanka from its prevailing economic quagmire. He underscored the pivotal role of governance in combating corruption and mooted the potential for economic and social advancement through a competitive market framework. Dr. de Silva recognized Sri Lanka's strategic location adjacent to South India's burgeoning trillion-dollar economy, identifying it as a prime opportunity for hitching Sri Lanka’s recovery to mutually beneficial linkages between the two economies.

Of significant note was Dr. de Silva's advocacy for the proposed linkage between the Sri Lankan and South Indian electricity grids. Despite facing delays due to financing challenges, he emphasised the project's importance, particularly endorsing the option involving a shorter submarine cable component to mitigate overall costs.

A group of people sitting around a table

Dr. de Silva also expressed a keen interest in fostering stronger bilateral relations with Australia, particularly in accessing Australian investment, mining expertise, and research capabilities to unlock the potential of Sri Lanka's high-quality graphite reserves, which are among the purest in the world. Additionally, he highlighted avenues for collaboration in wind and solar energy, public policy and administration, technical skills development, and leveraging the Sri Lankan diaspora.

A group of people sitting around a table

In October 2023, the IGD organised an inaugural roundtable session as part of a series of interactions dedicated to fostering an open dialogue regarding innovative strategies for economic recovery in Sri Lanka.

Dr. De Silva played a pivotal role as one of the key participants in the roundtable. The luncheon gathering provided an opportunity for fruitful discussions on possible partnerships between Sri Lanka and Australia, with a specific emphasis on leveraging the technological expertise and training capabilities offered by UNSW.

These interactions illustrate UNSW commitment to accompany economic growth, innovation, and sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region. Notably, the IGD facilitates knowledge collaborations that align with UNSW's strategic goals, concentrating on the convergence of development, security, and governance in the Greater South Asia and Indian Ocean regions.