17 December, 2017

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Are Graduates Unemployable? The Answer Is ‘No’

By Milton Rajaratne

Prof. Milton Rajaratne

Many including Minister of Higher Education and his officials such as the Secretary and the UGC Chairman, many Vice-Chancellors, lecturers and politicians are puzzled with an issue coined as ‘graduate unemployability’. Research data published in the UGC bulletins show that the ‘graduate unemployability’ prevails across all the disciplines taught at the universities that fall within the UGC purview.

The Ministry of Higher Education has shouldered the burden of joblessness of graduates for which otherwise the Ministries of Economic Development and Finance & Planning should have been blamed. Instead of producing learned graduates and elevating the quality and meaning of higher education, the Ministry of Higher Education is devoted to resolving the ‘graduate unemployability’ problem. Thus at every workshop, seminar and conference organized by the Ministry, the higher ranking officials spend much of their time to work out remedies for the ‘graduate unemployability’. The frequently prescribed medicine for the ‘unemployability ailment’ is production of graduates in new vocational fields such as management, beauty culture, tourism etc.

It is obvious that the Arts and Social Science graduates have faced serious unemployment problem at present while almost all graduates in Sri Lanka attempt to secure government employment. Privileges and the job security of the government employment over the private sector employment are the general motivators. Moreover, as business sector believes graduates as an unemployable species the government thus bears the responsibility to provide them with government jobs. The recruitment of 40,000 graduates in 2004 for the monthly salary of Rs. 6000 and recent recruitment of another 40,000 graduates for the monthly salary of Rs. 10,000 and sending them to the Grama Niladhari for training reflect the government attitude towards the graduates.

University of Ceylon since its inception in 1942 has produced hundreds of thousands of graduates in various disciplines and they all have been employed in Sri Lanka and many other countries. However, since the recent past, graduate unemployment has been persisting and now it is termed as ‘graduate unemployability’ problem. Further, it has become customary to blame the universities for producing ‘unemployable graduates’ and the ‘unemployability’ problem has been surrendered to the universities. And finally the university lecturers are assigned the responsibility to innovate solutions to make graduates employable.

But are graduates really unemployable? Aren’t buffaloes employed in the paddy fields, bulls to pull carts, elephants to pull logs, dogs and horses to serve the Police? For clearing of the construction site of the University of Ceylon (Peradeniya) elephants were heavily employed and they had been named as ‘Ceylonese Bulldozers’. This tells not only men, women, children, disabled persons, elderly, uneducated and any other sort of persons but even animals can be employed. Then why cannot be the graduates employed? Graduates comprise the best cohort of the population as far as employability is concerned. Graduates are more employable than any other person as they are young, energetic, educated, trained and disciplined. Thus those who believe that graduates are unemployable must reassess their attitude.

‘Ceylonese Bulldozers’ at work: Marcus Fernando Hall site, Peradeniya, University of Ceylon (1954)

Some of our graduates leave for their popular destinations such as USA, Canada, Australia and Europe. Some still enter the Gulf region. They all find suitable jobs in those countries. If our graduates are ‘unemployable’ how are they employed in those countries? Also, our graduates join graduate schools in those and other foreign countries and perform brilliantly and end up with prestigious employers there. This reflects the truth that the Sri Lankan graduates are unemployable while they are in their motherland but employable elsewhere in the world.

Once, the graduate ‘unemplyability’ problem was constructed on their lack of English proficiency. Resources were deployed to improve English knowledge. As a result English medium teaching was introduced. Yet another problem emerged. That was the ‘graduate computer illiteracy’. Computer laboratories were set up and computer courses were made compulsory in the curricular in response. But further, issue irrupted. That was the ‘soft skills’ problem of the graduates. Courses such as ‘Disciplines’ ‘ethnic cohesion’ and ‘food etiquettes’ were taught and the undergraduates were brought to military camps and given an ‘orientation’ in those lines at an enormous cost. However, according to the authorities, the graduates are still ‘unemployable’.

It is obvious that our graduates are now several times better in their skills compared to the graduates of the past decades. The 21st century graduates, in general, are much better in their English, computer and soft skills compared to the graduates of the late 20th century. So what else do the graduates need to accomplish? Engineering, Medical, Veterinary and Dental graduates also have fallen to the ‘unemployable’ category despite the fact that unlike the Arts and Social Sciences graduates, they are particularly trained to perform specific profession and thus possess the right skills demanded by those professions.

In the Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Viet Nam their graduates are still employable without any English skill. In the Middle East, any sort of person without any skill that the Higher Education Ministry of Sri Lanka demands can be employed. And by miracle if English knowledge of our graduates were improved to the level of Shakespeare could they be employed over night? And if our graduates were of the caliber of Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs or Jonathan Ive in computers, could they be employed instantly? The answer, for sure, is ‘No’.

It is obvious that our graduates are not ‘unemployable’ but the country cannot employ them. The problem is not with the graduates but with the production system of the country, i.e. the economy is incapable of absorbing educated youth. Though this is not an economic forum to discuss this matter in details, the real problem is that our imports are too strong and exports are too weak. As a result the domestic production and production structure have become weak. Thus to mend the trade balance, it has now become customary to exports labor and earn foreign currency thereby to pay the imports bill. When the foreign remittances are insufficient, foreign loans are obtained to finance the deficit. In order to pay foreign loans, instead of goods and services labor is exported to earn foreign currency. In this manner, the economy is now caught in the imports of goods and exports of labor trap. The low production level of the economy has trimmed down labor absorption and caused unemployment in consequence. This has compelled millions of citizens to migrate seeking jobs and better lives in foreign countries. While politicians propagate patriotism, the educated youth of Sri Lanka long for migration.

Thus the truth about ‘graduate unemployability’ is that the economy is too weak to provide employment to graduates despite the fact that the graduate (internal) to population ratio at present is extremely low and stands at one graduate to one thousand people roughly while the graduates being the most dynamic cohort in the population. The Higher Education authorities and officials in spite of accepting this truth advocate ‘change of mindset’ and ‘paradigm shift’ in university education. These jargons then promote vocational education in universities. Vocational education is a subject different from university education. The paradigm shift should occur to change the mindset to realize this myth that graduates are employable but the country cannot employ them.

In any country graduates are produced in many disciplines. In early decades, the state university produced a limited number of graduates to employ in the public services. But the number of graduates increased as the population increased and facilities for education expanded. Further, as education became a right and affordable to many or at least it became a way out of poverty, more youth opted for university education. This has produced a large number of graduates that the economy cannot employ at home. In East Asian miracle economies, entrepreneurial class emerged and without English, IT or soft skill, they expanded the domestic production and improved production structure which led to create ample employment opportunities. So not only the graduates but those non-graduate youth also became employable. In Japan the job-applicant ratio once stood lopsided as the job opportunities outnumbered the job applicants.

When the economy picks up, the graduates would not be a problem but a blessing. On the other hand, when the economy performs wrong graduate employment becomes an issue. Higher education cannot correct the economy though some of the disciplines that are taught at the university have a remote role in it. It is the government and the business sector that must get the economy right and then the graduates of all sorts would become employable. Getting the economy right does not refer to the mere annual growth rate of Gross Domestic Product or the Rate of Unemployment but the right production structure. So we conclude that the graduate ‘unemployability’ is myth and an indicator of the poor economic performance. The move of the Ministry of Higher Education to produce tailor-made graduates to improve graduate employability is equally a misconception. While universities should not assume the duty of vocational training schools, prospective private or state sector employers should adopt proper training mechanism upon graduate recruitment to place them on right jobs. After training in the expected lines, they would become employable. A paradigm shift should occur among the employers to change their mindsets to comprehend that the graduates are not ready-made goods and thus they need proper training upon recruitment. This incurs cost. SONY Chairman, Akio Morita, addressing graduate apprentice used to mention that “as the company bears cost of training by way of payment of salary during the training period the new recruits must train themselves properly otherwise it is waste of money.” Work environment, work culture and work dynamics are rapidly changing but universities always remain relatively conservative. Thus the employers must assume the polishing job of the cut and finished gems sent to them by the university.

*Writer is Professor of Management at University of Peradeniya

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Latest comments

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    Both the Minister of Higher Education and the Minister of Education are not employable graduates. That is why they had to get into politics in Sri Lanka, which allows every Tom, Dick and Harry to play with the lives of people. In order for both of them to survive in politics they need the support of unemployed graduates and therefore both of them are against any change to degree courses which produce graduates with little demand in the country’s current development programs. They are happy when campaigns by unemployed graduates are suppressed because they get into good books of the person at the highest level of authority.

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      Ah the paradox of Sri Lanka. So many smart and learned people and the destiny of the country is determined by Tom, Dick and Harry. No wonder those who can, emigrate.

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      What are the formal qualifications of Rajapakse family? Can anyone track down their GCE A/L (or HSC) results (Major assumption: they managed to pass the first hurdle, GCE O/L(or SSC))

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        Oh Dear! You have not seen the list of Rajapaksa and his unqualified relatives in high places. Rajapaksas wife’s relatives are also unqualified ‘nincompoops’ in high places starting with the upstart who was given a Bank and a Mahinda Airways, bankrupting both and moving on to even higher positions. Call any High Commision or Embassy, and you will hear uncouth and ignorant voices.
        One day, the Rajapaksas will be gone, I hope I live to see that day. Perhaps the Mervyn dynasty will come into being.

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    denying the problem does not help solve it . there is no denying that the universities need to adapt to the new economy .

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      Graduate unemployability is a global problem today. In Europe, there are thousands of highly educated post graduates wait for suitalbe jobs while it is the same in Australia and Canada. Some need to have completed bridge courses them to qualify further in R&D areas. In sri lankan context, as it is clear to almost everyone,unfortunately not to the politicians, the command of English language that the candidates lack seem to be playing the key role them to stay unemployed.

      In mid 90ties, Germany and several other european countries thought they lack IT professionals. However german govt^s prompt actions providing more placements students to study Informatics and the related subjects at the Unis and the like institutions, they have now achieved their goals not to hire foreigners in filling the gap.

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    Sometime, our graduates are egotistical when they choose future jobs without any work experiences. They suppose that they have higher qualification so that they are unwilling to do basic or lower salary jobs, whereas some employees who like to learn fundamental to advanced things are more have better promotion opportunities. Comparing those people, at the beginning, graduate students may have greatest interview opportunity but they are unwilling to work on the basic position. This has led their education background useless.
    In the past, graduate recruitment schemes would take new graduates and train them in the workplace. These schemes have largely vanished, with employers arguing that their investment is wasted as the graduates swiftly move on. Most employers are now looking for graduates with two to three years’ work experience.
    India produce graduates to their standard. But we are not. This does not mean that we should reduce our standard but correct the mentality of our graduates.

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      You are dead right.
      What should be changed in local graduates is the attitude. This is a long process. Youth the country should be fed with facts and figures of developed world not trying to dream them about those countries. In order to get them clear this, psychologists, sociologists and other professional should work hard regular manner. In Europe today, there are cases that post doc qualified candidates are asked to gap up predoctoral tasks.

      I know from my circles in SL, there are young ones that would not like to do some waiter jobs just because they have got through A Levels. Those who did their degrees in Europe have gone through all the difficulties from their beginning on. Some have worked while studying for their college degrees which is not the case for lanken undergraduates.

      About indian graduates: I dont think that PhDs offered by many of the Indian Unis are well recognized. Some I have met with Dr Degrees have just come to Europe for MSc level graduate courses. It was all because of abuse of 2 year stipend.

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    Salaam, Maha Achcharya Milton Hamudurowanee Good show. Its time that the truth was made plain. It is true that “the domestic production and production structures have become weak” and this is due to a failure of economic policy. A small island with a population of just twenty million people cannot develop on policies based on the principle of “self sufficiency” or “import substitution”in my demented opinion. As far as I can see Sri Lanka needs to produce not for its own population alone but for the global population but of course my doctors will disagree.

    We need policies that will build entrepreneurs not roads, airports and sea ports. If we build such entrepreneurs they will ensure that the roads, airports and sea ports that they require are built. Entrepreneurs require capital, land, labor and raw materials. Are these freely available in Sri Lanka or do we have obscure land titles, high interest rates, restrictive corporate listing regulations and procedures and no free movement of labor ? Entrepreneurs require the freedom to invest. Is this freedom available in Sri Lanka or does one have to put down 40% of ones investment as a bribe? Neither Bill Gates or Charles Branson or the late Steve Jobs would have been able to get off the ground if they had been saddled with the same kind of situation in the USA or UK.
    Academics and indeed anyone with intelligence is free to make policy recommendations. But it is the politicians who decide what policies to implement and so the current situation is clearly the outcome of the decisions that have been made by politicians.

    Sri Lanka should be the Singapore (financial Services), Thailand (Manufacturing) and Hong Kong (Marketing) of South Asia. But this will never happen with fools governing the country and bigger fools voting them in. How you live in a land governed by these idiots I do not understand. Better where I am. One shout and they shoot you with methadone and then good night. If that does not work too then they shoot you with Ketamine and that usually offs the light.

    If you keep shouting then they may send you here too. Nice no? Then we can talk and write to colombo telegraph online if your people buy you a computer and dongle. But anyway soon there may be enough people here to start a shadow cabinet that will be much better than the government.

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      See alone Bondige putha SB as minister of higher education is incapable of handling any grave problem in the sector today, but MR admin would not appoint the right person as the minister of higher education. Best match according to me would be Prof. Rajiva W. He or any professor who has worked in and out of the country should be appointed as the minister of higher education. I am bit worried, whether MR would replace the SB with Mervin^s son in next days. MR pattern is unique to him – lack of vision and wisdom would lead the country to an another Parkistan. Latter is a reality that we all would regret soon.

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    To my humble opinon, ‘local graduate unemployment’ is a result of 3 factors.
    1. Graduates themselves believe in a Govt job only.
    2. The academic curriculum of local universities is not in par with the developed world.
    3. Employers in the private sector are very Colombian and look only for foreign university graduates for their perceived personalty(soft sklls). Local graduates are preferred for processing (hard skills) but on low salary scales.

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      Change “leadership training” to “24-month compulsory military training”. Attitudes will change dramatically and productivity will increase by many folds. I know the changes in several students who completed the “leadership training” at military camps. They have become more self reliant and more confidant.

      At last year’s pre-budget meeting which Prez MR had with Professional Bodies and Trade Chambers, the Representative of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was lamenting that their training program for graduates with Rs. 30,000.00 per month allowance had to be abandoned because the graduate-trainees left the moment the government offered jobs for Rs. 10,000.00 a month. Job security and pension in the state sector were the only reasons for leaving. I have seen that most of them, except the teachers, doing the work which the clerks were doing.

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    Not only them even University Lecturers and so called fake professors also unemployable. Sack University teachers you can see no one want them. All the good Professors left the country and jokers and fake professors still in country work for less than 1000 US $. No PhDs from good recognized Universities and minimum 15 publications in ISI journals you are not professors just joker. Recheck qualifications and publications of fake SL professors

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    Graduate unemployability is now rather common in developed countries where more and more formal qualifications are required to take up less and less “important” jobs.

    However, the scenario is perhaps not the same in Sri Lanka where merit is not always used in determining employability. Connections, favouritism and nepotism are also used in the process, unlike in more developed economies.

    Furthermore, still there persists a silly notion that only doctors, engineers, accountants and lawyers are worthy of being “respectable” in their positions.

    Concepts such as equality of labour, dignity of work, egalitarianism and the like are still far from mature in SL society.

    Once these are changed with awareness and social development, graduates will gradually become employable even if they only possess an arts degree or commerce degree etc. How far away that day is, is anyone’s guess!!

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    Interesting comments.Blaming the graduate’s mentality does not solve the problem. It is more complicated than that.In the first instance the govts through 1977 lost sight of what the economy should be.It is easy to run down import substitution, but that is where employment for OL,AL and graduates lie.Take the agricultural sector – paddy.The structure of the production marketing and retail cycle had not changed over the years.It is centered around the miller and the seed producer.Which means that the farmer get a pittance.It is high time that the farmer organisations do the production processing and the marketing. This means that like tea the farmers organisations should be able to market specific types of rice for the consumer.What the miller does now should be able to be handled at a farmer organisation level.Of the retail price of Rs 60 per kg, this will ensure that the farmer organization get at least Rs 50.00 with Rs 5.00 for transport and Rs 5.00 for the retailer.Another way out is with alternative fuels all of which are agro based.In a situation of this type many educated individuals may be with OL,AL and at degree level will be required to run these operation.This is not subject that can be dealt at a level of comments. Professional organisations like the HART, the Business Development Centre, the Institute of Economists,The Universities should contribute to develop the ground work.
    I can visualize the first obstacle to over come – the politicians and the top administrators after a fast buck.Remember what happened to the MICRO car and how a Jack in the Box type of Economist nearly ruined it by preventing cars that had been sold being registered.

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    There is another aspect to this problem.Remember the FUTA strike. It started as a claim for a higher wage by the FUTA. FUTA was let down by the people of this country.Something that I notice in this country is the lack of marketability of research under taken by the Universities. It is a fact that much research is being undertaken.It is also a fact that, that research is confined to theses that the people are not aware of.US Universities have the habit of publicising their research and the processes developed are marketed.Our Universities too should have a commercial arm to handle such work.In this the members of the FUTA should ensure that bankrupt economists in the political hierarchy, the jack in the boxes are not able to get their fingers into the accumulated funds as they did with the funds of the Teachers Union.In this it is better to join hands with powerful Universities abroad to prevent the theft by the pseudo economists of the Treasury.

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    Combine the above two comments, you can develop students who will be willing to perform the so called menial jobs.They are involved.Unlike what the The Professional said one does not need military training to perform such jobs.I joined the industry direct.I had no problem of joining other in what ever work that had to be done,it gave me a control over the people who reported to me. They could not make “majic” out of it, to me.
    There is another aspect to employment in the private sector.Since 1977, it has become the practice with the private sector to exploit it’s labour.My daughter with an IT degree joined two IT firms. The first, with the excuse that she was raw paid her Rs 7500 pm.I had to force her out of that job.The next one she was paid a reasonable salary, but working hours were 8 am to infinity.I told her that if they keep women after 6pm. that they are liable to provide transport. When she inquired she told me that transport was offered if she works till 8.30 pm and that also joint transport, which means that she get dropped at home at 11pm to report for work by 8 am next day.She left for a job abroad. Now she get back home by 5.30 pm, has a family life.

    JRJ’s “bull shit” BOI provided jobs for girls-true, but the expoloitation,not sexual, but living conditions, hardly any toilet facility,cramped sleeping and living facilities. Now they are talking of importing labour. True the estate indians did suffer, but anybody expecting labour, local or imported to suffer without some basic facilities in the 2000 AD should be hanged at Galle Face.

    No body likes to be exploited like this to provide the company owners with trillions. That is why people prefer state sector employment, because there is a system in operation.

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    First of all, I must commend Dr. Rajarathne for bringing out the reality for a discussion in the public sphere. I am not a expert of economics and a political scientist by training. I would like to add some missing link to dismal situation of the country.
    In the present context of cultural politics, high ranking university dons including vice chancelors and seconded persons to vaious public sector institutions dare not to speak.
    University academics are duty bound to give some political education for the people of the country following the example set by Dr. Rajarathne.

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      Upul Abeyratne, they cannot speak because they did not ascend to those positions on merit but by selling their soul and dignity to politicians.One University, through the last 20 years had VCs who were politicized and acted as thugs.

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    I beg to disagree with the Good Professor! I deal with the output of the State University Sector and I try to do as much as I can to finish them before trying to place them to be polished. I do this as a voluntary service and so and unable to help everyone who asks.

    In Sri Lanka there are thousands of vacancies for graduates and not sufficiently qualified applicants for them. It is no use to say that it is the task of the employer to take them on and give them the training. Of course that is what they do once they recruit them, but as you say, only to polish them. The finishing must be done at the University and contrary to your assertion you don’t do that. The raw graduates are so unimpressive its not funny. Only the most capable go on and do their own finishing or find assistance with finishing, before getting a job locally or overseas due to their own special qualities of maturity, and knowledge of what they currently lack.

    It would be great if the Universities learn do the finishing before sending them out. After all there are NO career guidance centers in Universities unlike in most overseas unis, and one must go there from the first year onward to start the process of the job search.

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    It would have been better if the Professor looked at the reasons why private employers complain that Graduates (especially those from State Unis) are not employable.

    It is the mental aspect of their entitlement that is a problem. They sincerely believe they are the cream of the National Brains and that someone owes them employment. So that is how they deem the Govt. has an obligation to employ them.

    I know that in the Professor’s field, Management graduates are more likely to find employment and I have placed many of them in positions in the private sector with mixed results.

    Actually a good intern (many of the degrees have 6 month relevant internships in private companies) should parlay that into a firm job offer upon graduation. How many interns actually are able to do that? If the professor says that many of his students do so, then he is obviously giving them the skills to embrace the private sector with gusto.

    One must remember the cultural differences. In the US many go into a private company without a degree. They start in the post room, delivering the letters to the offices for minimum wage, and pay and go to night school and get their degree, and then work themselves up the ladder and some eventually become the CEO of the Corporation.

    Here a Management degree holder believes he is entitled to a particular position and will not take a lower one, and prove himself before rising to the position he believes he has the qualifications for. If he is honest flexible, and willing to make a suggestion and shine in the interview he will definitely get the job, but they do not know how to impress a potential employer, and instead ask about matters one would only once one had the job!!!

    I always tell people to be confident and tell the employer you can start work an hour earlier and only give a figure if the employer asks you how much you expect to earn, it is amazing how that convinces the interviewer of your desire for the job. So the soft skills MUST be part of the University training.

    This is evidence of my earlier comment on my disagreement with the professor not on the curriculum per se, but in the whole mental outlook of the student, referred to as the finish!!

    I further recommend a lot more interaction with the private sector, so students have private sector executives who come to the university and give real world examples of their experience to illustrate what kind of overall rounding companies look for . It is certainly not rocket science, but until we have faculty actually accepting they have a problem it will never get solved. If we have many faculty subscribing to the theory of the learned professor, then we REALLY HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM!

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    What Pattapal say is correct.But the fault my dear Pattapal lies not with the Universities but with the Govt.The Govt is there to provide the infra structure for the economy to move.The Govt has to provide finaces to the Universities. That was one of the requests by the FUTA.This responsibility, they are fast washing their hands off. It is the Govt’s job to provide avenues for the economy to improve.Germany and the Scandinavian countries does this in style. But all our Govt’s since 1977 had different aims.They feathered themselves.They ran down the economy.The damage was done not only to the Govt sector but also to the private sector-What has happened to the industry that produced textiles eg Syntex? The Govts since 1977 has run down our agriculture, so much so that very soon we will have to import coconuts.These are the political jokers, they themselves cannot speak a Language other than Sinhala,who complain about the inability of the Graduates.

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      I accept most of what you say, except that I think you are too harsh on the since 1977. If you remember during the 1970 to 1977 we had nothing to eat. Even manioc and batala was a hard find!

      Of course in policy and implementation, it is always the Govt. that must take the flack.

      In my opinion there is no holistic vision, not even in the Mahinda Chinthana which is a day dreamers wish list. We have forgotten the basic in life, and we need to get back there to start with the simple expectations of our citizens.

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        Patta Pal, If the leaders of the 1977 and post 1977 govts took the decision to carry on with what the pre 1977 govts did , we would have been in a better economic environment than we are today.They could have relaxed the stringent rules of the 1970-77 govt but kept the policies intact.Victor Ivan in one article says that JRJ,had promised the Sinhala Businessmen to wind up the state sector in order for the Sinhala businessmen to take over the said govt business. The Unfortunate aspect is that the Sinhala Businessmen achieved their target of destroying the state sector, but was not able to fill the vaccuum so created.Pres Premadasa destroyed the main income source for the Govt – The State Distilleries Corporation, by privatising it.Few of us who were in the State sector were aware how much the SDC helped the Central Govt, when the Treasury was in need of funds. Where is the BCC with multifarious functions – Soap, Drum making,etc, where is the Colombo Gas and Water Company that used to provide not only gas but also coal based chemicals, where is the nylon project of the CPC. These are places where the Grads, the ALs and Ols could have found work instead of being slaves to the business tycoons working from 8 am to 8.30 pm.

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        Patta Pal, If the leaders of the 1977 and post 1977 govts took the decision to carry on with what the pre 1977 govts did , we would have been in a better economic environment than we are today.They could have relaxed the stringent rules of the 1970-77 govt but kept the policies intact.Victor Ivan in one article says that JRJ,had promised the Sinhala Businessmen to wind up the state sector in order for the Sinhala businessmen to take over the said govt business. The Unfortunate aspect is that the Sinhala Businessmen achieved their target of destroying the state sector, but was not able to fill the vaccuum so created.Pres Premadasa destroyed the main income source for the Govt – The State Distilleries Corporation, by privatising it.Few of us who were in the State sector were aware how much the SDC helped the Central Govt, when the Treasury was in need of funds. Where is the BCC with multifarious functions – Soap, Drum making,etc, where is the Colombo Gas and Water Company that used to provide not only gas but also coal based chemicals, where is the nylon project of the CPC. These are places where the Grads, the ALs and Ols could have found work instead of being slaves to the business tycoons working from 8 am to 8.30 pm.

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