Colombo Telegraph

Adopting A Province: Impactful Devolution & Growth

By Lal Keerthie Fernando

Lal Keerthie Fernando

Two political parties had decided to do the ”Tango”: three persons proposed an idea, and others, accepted it as a good idea. They are now doing a political Tango. Ideas are relevant for compromise; vision, remains a guidance to force an exit of what was defunct and hopeless over the years.

It is the demand for compromise and laying standards has now come to be the norm. Reconciliation is a part and parcel of that. At this stage: Development and a compromise, is the talk of the day, everywhere. Why not do another Tango?

Over the years, SL foreign policy continued to dialog for bi-lateral and multi-lateral aid programmes. Bi-lateral programmes, especially from the west carried with them groups of NGOs who remained, doing the good or the worse. There was a free hand given in their selection and on their activities. Classification of the NGOs at that level was defunct and their activities not scrutinised. Many of the programmes of the latter also had the guest countries private sector participation; they too were equally not tolerable and un-answerable to none, owing to their dependence of state funds and pomp from the guest states as donors. They would pick and choose a country, pack and run away, un-noticed during crisis. Their presence was dictated, infact NGOs as well by the donor countries foreign policy. This irrefutable policies had a strong impact on sl during the crisis: None uttered the good side of SL when making profits, while ours very own said nothing about their good side either, in and out of parliament. Doing business in silence? What for?

With vision for development all being laid, what is now required is the presence of new participants. This has to be the new group in participatory development at private level; sort of joint venturists, the latter is here to stay. Previously, it was a mandate from the government and its favourites, chose the guest country for development or projects in their areas. Although, this method reflected selfish gains, especially, politically, it certainly deprived other areas in provinces etc. of its share of the cake. Heavy infrastructural projects carried weight ignoring development at the periphery.

Problem was that it was the hierarchy in Colombo deciding where investments ought to proceed. To add much to surprises, private investments, especially from abroad had to fall in line with such decisions. This again deprived the provinces, although, majority politicians were from far away places. The inequality in disbursements in investments will have to be replaced, thereby, promoting governments vision for fair play and equity which is now more needed. The present governments appointment of a Ministerial portfolio for “Wayamba” has set some precedence for acceptance, the need of the hour based on difference. Other provinces too could easily have strong leadership earmarked for development and investment happenings than politics alone. This again paves the way for devolution and management at the periphery.

Why not adopt a Province? Why not foreign countries via their investments, private or otherwise chose and select a province or a district in a province for development, hand in hand working with the local and national politician in the area. The locals, as per committee participating, clergy, academics, institutions of learning, who will come to hold responsibility in guidance of projects and scrutiny. While expatriates with roots in the areas willing to play a significant role, becoming a advisory and conciliatory factor. These projects have to remain as governing party`s preliminary ideas for the people. Anything else, deriving from participants in the district/provinces, suggesting and enhancing projects is another.

For example: Let`s take the Hill country and the tea plantation industry. For years, a deprived people estate tamils, their livelihood depended much on politicos of theirs and ours. Today we hear the plantation sector is in a crisis. Why? It is easier to put the blame on the British for historical reasons. Therefore, what is needed is to get the British to adopt one district in a joint venture participation through an aid programme, bi-lateral or otherwise in providing a development programme for the area. Britain, will be playing on a good turf, in their area of nostalgia, plus historical facts and venues in the tea estate areas. Local partners, tea companies now deep in trouble working with local authorities could easily provide a better housing scheme and other facilities for a people, who are already willing to leave the area. Anything better is an inducement for better productivity and loyalty, proving their own leaders and estate managements inability to deliver, all these years. Housing sector is one area; so many other too. The idea is to place the guest where they are strong, thereby, focusing a leading view for cooperate social responsibility. The late Sha of Iran commented: “One must be strong enough to understand the weak: One must be rich enough to understand the poor”.

Another example: In “Wayamba”, Switzerland have been there for years in both districts (Puttalam & Kurunegala). Motivating them for guidance, the province is well suited to invite others too. It will happen. Norway, played a serious participatory role in development in the deep south. Tapping them is what is envisaged. In this manner, many western countries and their investments, selectively allocating investments. Amicable consensus of opinion becomes a priority in suiting right partners. The presence of raw materials and commercially friendly locations is another factor for placement of such western investors.

What about the north&east? It will be prudent for SL in not selecting or placing any investments of western countries in above areas. The tamil refugee issue plays a dominant role in accepting the fact that such countries involvement over the years played no significant role either in development or social enhancement in the areas. Matters were made worse. SL was fortunate and was strong in avoiding a crisis through a sponsored Eelam and the complete take over of the administration in the n&e by the west and its allies. SL had to fight two wars on two fronts. Leaving the west and Israel, the latter country, it’s presence alone will only impose severe strain on the security services in protecting them and their interests; their presence, only forcing political divisions. Israel thrives on such manoeuvres. India, remains as the exception to the rule in northern investments, although it carried a refugee issue. On the SL crisis, it was provoked to react. It will always remain: It is not a question of who is doing what but who is behind what?

Getting investments or anything else in the n&e for non-western countries becomes amiable owing to the fact, it is now known, that many western countries, remained with a concept as far as refugees were concerned, “kindness was confined to the project proposals conclusions only”. It was finally a division, which was to be furthered through refugees and politics. Israel made use of this division. Entry of non western investment and participation, especially in the north will create an impact on the tamil diaspora for better guidance for development and far less interest for provocation on aimless rhetoric. Already in the east, well known mid-east philanthropist in their selective disbursements of wealth have created an impact. The area will not have much problems in getting the very best participatory investments via many moslem countries willing well to adopt an area. Tamil refugees were never their adopted babies.

All these will be of no value, if participatory investments through adoption is not spoken of, through the provincial media. In turn, the investors themselves ought to remain loud enough to proclaim in their own countries of their achievements in areas of poverty and decay in SL. This is the Tango: Why not?

Back to Home page