Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As we approach the end of the year, there is much to look back on and reflect upon. I am glad to share with you some of the highlights of the recent month in this Verité Bulletin.
We have long felt that democracy is not meaningful when citizens are not critically cognizant of the information in relation to public finance. This is why Verité Research strategically expanded its work on Public Finance. The platform that we built, PublicFinance.lk, is probably the pre-eminent locus for information and analysis on the state of Sri Lanka’s public finance.
Many of our platforms engaged on the budget. Our fact checking platform FactCheck.lk conducted live factchecking of the budget speech! This was a huge success, and included fact checks on Sri Lanka’s true Human Development Index rating and the government’s expenditure on public debt. Manthri.lk published the latest update on its Gota-Meter, tracking the progress of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s actionable election promises (as reflected in the budget as well).
During the budget debates in parliament, we heard many MPs referring to the research and analysis done by Verité, and thereby engaging more substantially and meaningfully in the debate. One MP formally tabled in parliament Verité’s public report on the budget – which is a shadow report of what should be produced by the parliamentary Committee on Public Finance. Verité’s exposé on the budget going soft on cigarette taxes was taken up vigorously, and our Verité Insight on De-mystifying the Increase in Debt went viral – the twitter post pointing readers to the article had 30 thousand impressions within 4 days of it being published.
Separately, the research directors of Verité have featured prominently in public and media events, unpacking the state of the economy and Sri Lanka’s options for the future. The survey that Verité did with farmers in Sri Lanka has now been featured in more than a dozen publications locally and globally, including The Economist, and The New York Times. Our media engagement products and tracking of parliament also continued to generate high traction over the last few months.
One measure we have of transformative impact is that the knowledge brought out by Verité would be used by third parties as if it was their own, and become part of the “common sense”. In the last few months, we have seen this to be the case regularly in parliament, the press and electronic media, especially in relation to the budget and Sri Lanka’s debt management. We have been explaining that best course for Sri Lanka is to pre-emptively restructure its dollar debt, rather than continuing to pay it on schedule. Presently, even the JVP has come to that stance.
We have also been working on two major initiatives which will come to fruition later next year. One is an air quality monitoring platform that will centralise real time air quality data in Sri Lanka. The second is the launch of a new aggregating platform called Verité Media, centralising all our media related research, platforms and products. More on these when I write to you next year!
Thank you for your continued support and engagement with Verité Research.
Wishing you the blessing of the season,
Nishan de Mel, Executive Director