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Biology and economics & business double major is performing public policy research this summer

This summer, Mevan Jayasinghe ’08 (Colombo, Sri Lanka) is performing research on tax reform in Pakistan through a highly-selective internship program at Georgia State University.

Jayasinghe, who is pursuing a B.S. biology and A.B. with a major in economics and business, is one of 10 students selected from schools across the nation to perform economic and public policy research at the university’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in Atlanta.

Through the seven-week program, students can study in the areas of environmental economics, international economics, state and local governance, public financial management, education and education reform, and health care. The interns also work on individual research projects which culminate in a presentation to faculty members of Georgia State’s Economics Department and publication in an on-line journal of economics research.

Jayasinghe’s research focuses on the tax gap in Pakistan and is a consultancy project contracted to the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies by The World Bank.

“The tax gap can roughly be defined as the difference between what taxpayers owe, as determined by the tax law through statutory tax rates, and what the fiscal authority actually collects,” says Jayasinghe. “It is a way to gauge taxpayers’ compliance with federal and provincial tax obligations. Sources of tax gap might include uncollected taxes through bad debt, unintentional error, underground economy, and illegal activities. Dissatisfaction with governments and their spending, apathy, corruption, and complexity in tax legislature are also reasons for tax non-compliance. Understanding the tax gap and its components will allow the government to develop better strategies to encourage and enforce tax compliance in the country.”

Jayasinghe’s role in the project is to locate and organize all data and information required to conduct a tax gap study including previous literature on tax gap studies, information regarding Pakistan’s federal and provincial tax legislature, and annual federal and provincial tax receipts. He is also working to develop a methodology to evaluate the tax gap in Pakistan and apply it to current data to produce an estimate of the level of tax evasion.

Jayasinghe believes his work here at Lafayette was a key reason why he was accepted into the program. He performed EXCEL research on factors affecting risky behavior in multiracial youth in the United States with Susan Averett, Dana Professor and head of economics and business. He also worked on cancer research with Robert Kurt, assistant professor of biology, which he presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science.

“The skills and experience that I gained through being involved in this research, especially in using statistical software to analyze economic data, has proven to be very helpful during my summer policy internship at the Andrew Young School and will continue to be helpful throughout my academic pursuits,” he says.

After graduation, Jayasinghe plans to pursue a doctoral degree in economics or a related field. He feels his experience this summer will help him attain those goals.

“The graduate level research experience that I acquired during the summer policy internship program will definitely be helpful in preparing me for a Ph.D. program in economics while also providing me a resume-related advantage over other candidates in applying to a graduate program,” he says.

Jayasinghe is a member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon International Economics Honor Society and the Lafayette National Fed Challenge Team. He served as chair of the Aaron O. Hoff Awards Committee, president and vice-president of the International Students’ Association, vice-president of the Asian Cultural Association, as a Lafayette Leadership Intern for the Lafayette Leadership Education Committee, and as an office assistant for the biology department. He was also a resident in the HOLA Spanish living group and EL-MUNDO international living group.

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