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Sri Lanka: Hearts and jobs in Sri Lanka

Ajith Cabraal, the amiable governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka

"What keeps me awake is not the obvious things that outsiders might think but the same things common to other central banks: food prices, inflation"
Ajith Cabraal

Chatting with Ajith Cabraal, the amiable governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, in his lofty eyrie above Colombo, one could be forgiven for thinking that he’s presiding over some approximation of a Switzerland-sur-tropique. Although his Indian Ocean homeland is besieged by a civil war escalated by an ambitious president with an advancing personality cult, "things aren’t nearly as bad as they might appear on CNN," Cabraal says.

Lankans labour under lending rates and inflation both hovering around a crippling 20% but Cabraal claims "our economy has always been very resilient, services are doing well and our industries are buoyant". A chartered accountant two years into the governorship after a stint as economic adviser to the populist president, Mahinda Rajapakse, Cabraal insists the banking sector is also in "very good shape".

The thing is, in the face of such trying conditions, Cabraal is mostly right, although perhaps a little in denial about his country’s plight.