ECONOMYNEXT – A top Sri Lankan scientists has called for an urgent revamp of government procurement regulations, saying existing red tape slowed down research and development and innovation at a time the country needed it most.
“We need public sector innovation,” said Ajith de Alwis, professor at the University of Moratuwa Department of Chemical and Process Engineering.
The ‘holy trinity of research’ was “people to dream, entrepreneurs to execute those dreams and governments to ensure that space,” said de Alwis, also Project Director of COSTI or the Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology & Innovation.
In his office, he said, because of procurement guidelines in the public sector, it takes 20 weeks to get one item, he told an innovation forum held by the Organisation of Professional Associations with the United Nations development Program.
“The year has 52 weeks. We can’t just do two things per year,” de Alwis said. “Procurement needs to be outcome-oriented rather than process-oriented.
“Unless we modify the public system, renew circulars and the archaic systems, we’re not going to progress because people will give up after a while. Then you have brain drain.
“We need to seek creative disruption in some of our systems. Unless we have that, however good education is, and ideas are, ideas alone will not matter. You need execution.”
This is one of the critical weaknesses of Sri Lanka, de Alwis said.
“We should not get bogged down by just a circular or a way of doing things.” (Colombo/September 22 2015)