Colombo Telegraph

“Catch 22” Position – Sri Lanka

By Lal Keerthie Fernando

Lal Keerthie Fernando

To pronounce indictment on Yahapalanaya as being not up to the mark leads to more concern: What have Sri Lanka instead? Sri Lanka is faced with a situation lacking economic performance. This is what we read. However, its ability to coordinate, what is available; human resources, capital, labour and organisational availability is proceeding well. This does not mean investments in real terms are not taking place. Although, the government is able to borrow, it deliberately shows its lack of interest in doing so. It has two options as has always been. Go in for supplementary estimates in Parliament and ask for more or equally keep printing money. It has been prudent enough not to do so but have permitted the financial sector to borrow on their behalf.

Yearly statements of accounts of these sectors show, far positive results. Certainly, the banks are not printing their own money, hence, business is good. High prices also means higher profits. Banks, co-ordination of investment activities and capital, linking well with various Provincial Chambers of Commerce ought to remain a priority, instead, offering cheap credit, earmarked for increase in consumer spending. Savings don’t seem to give better interests encouraging further saving in today. Banks are moving in, one after another to the Provinces and other Regions. It’s a good sign too. European economies thrive well as regional banking performances are development orientated and doing well. Activation in virgin territory is guidance, there is no room for complacency. All these fiscal and monetary regulatives have remained well exposed for betterment.

When Yahalpalanaya took over, the President, CBK and the Prime Minister had a far more priority which was the enrichment of the rule of law. Economic deliverance was part and parcel of wider good governance. They never envisaged the roots of corruption to be so deep that covered a wider area in governance. Amounts involved staggering with the law thrown overboard. Prime Minister as a lawyer himself, recently informed law enforcing personnel and bodies, “that they should be 200% certain and not 100% , leading to arrest and indictment of persons, involved in corruption”. This is precisely the situation in the country.

Should SL confine themselves to this “in-out” of people from prisons; to see and hear about this ongoing drama enveloping the law and its agencies? Or, ignore all issues of corruption but remain with development and ensuing activities? Wither the rule of law; welcome the worse? This is the catch “22” position…!

To hurry the law is not the answer in a country where on average, a land dispute entering its 32nd year is nothing new. With some of the best criminal lawyers in the Indian sub-continent in Sri Lanka, the Attorney General’s department will have to make every detail legally water tight, making investigations quality driven and absolute. Financing litigation cannot be seen a problem when it comes to retaining lawyers for the defence. The indicted, acquitted in trial and in numbers will have a strong impact on the entire legal system; Sri Lanka becoming the laughing stock because we decided to be a freedom of the law country? Purge of the AG department? Is the PM, being a lawyer more worried of this chaos to come, than President and CBK themselves; the latter not being lawyers?

These on-going investigations and legal procedures do have an impact on joint venture promotions. Investors have reasons to fear a legal backlash, never ending disputes and compensations to follow imposed on them, which they have no interest in shouldering.

Legislations

Therefore, it will be prudent on the part of the government to bring in legislations in amendment to laws related to Statutory Bodies where foreign investors or even local, will not be held responsible in tort and deed for any fault of the past. A good example is Sri Lankan Airlines. There is far more hope for administrative delegations in a frame work of the law, leading to JV appraisals.

Trade Unions

Role of the trade unions too, need to be far more explicit and the unions, becoming more answerable to Parliament than any political alliance, what is envisaged. In this aspect a 100% turn around in trade union administration where, qualified personnel are being brought in, ie: Economists, accountants, lawyers and sociologists, giving “more teeth” to their negotiating power, without having to fear the state or its executive. Their deserving and good salaries coming under Public Finance Act. Unions have always remained loyal to the side in power and Bangawewa to others. Infusion of qualified men screaming Jayawewa for their members cause, leading to transparency, accountability and hope for their members betterment, have reasons to further informative governance within the frame work of legal stipulations.

When Sri Lankan Airlines was running at a loss, it went on to purchase more planes and recruit more staff and retaining the un-known with no experience. What did the Unions do? How could they advise? Can’t they do better, if legally binding statutes are in line? Any new investor coming into statutory bodies will go for the “chop” of personnel in excess. That is to say those who came in last, leaves first. Not having a legal framework for smooth transfer of investments has turned out to be a hindrance, as others in power over the past years had made a mess where unions were concerned.

I read in the “Daily News”, recently, that well known entrepreneur Mr Ariyaseela Wickramanayake will be investing in the North (Jaffna Peninsula) in Milk and Dairy production, starting off production in some of the factories/premises which had gone into dis-use. Initiative taken here is exemplary but what is the core issue here? Conferences, symposiums, meetings, exhibitions etc., paving the way for initiative takings. Jetwing Hotels have moved to Jaffna and their premises will be open in 2017. Others in Negombo too are considering. Gloom, doom and hope, the prerogative of the writer. There is much more real, it is there to see and assess reality on its validity. Challenging the minds is a necessity. Political ideologies which challenged the growth of the past is now being replaced with modern thinking of today, promoting wellbeing for the many. Both sides in the “House” now understand what was worse before.

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