10 July, 2020

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ETCA Is Not CEPA In All Respects, But It Should Be Made Public To Allay Fears

By W.A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Management of Economic Policy – Part II

Secrecy surrounding ETCA proposal is damaging

In the first part of this series published last week, it was pointed out that the secrecy surrounding the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement, now commonly known as ETCA, had left both supporters and opponents in a state of confusion.

As a result, fear has engulfed the local professional bodies of every description that Indian professionals would flood Sri Lanka’s limited job markets. Such a flooding, it has been argued by protesting professionals, would not only displace those currently employed in respective professions but also deny opportunities to those waiting to join them in the future.

In this background, the article also commended that one of the ardent opponents to ETCA, the Government Medical Officers’ Association or GMOA, has developed a rich webpage giving publicity to both critics and supporters of ETCA equally, a good practice which the Government should also consider emulating. Hence, the article concluded that in the name of good economic policy governance to which the present Government is committed, a wide and continuous consultation should be conducted between the Government and ETCA’s main stakeholders.

Tendency to equate ETCA with old CEPA

The critics of ETCA have equated it to the old Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA that was negotiated with India during 2002-2003 and was to be implemented as from late 2004. However, with the change in government twice, first in 2004 from one party to another and later in 2005 within the same party, CEPA was permanently shelved from the Sri Lanka side, though India was still keen on having it with Sri Lanka.

Y.K. Sinha High Commissioner Sri Lanka and RanilBut later in 2011 when Sri Lanka was faced with a severe balance of payments problem, the Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa attempted to bring it back to life. An announcement was made by the Government that it would appoint an inter-governmental-agency committee to look into CEPA and make necessary suggestions to implement it. However, no action was taken to make it a reality and CEPA thus remained dusting in the shelves of the Department of Commerce which had given leadership to drafting it until there was a change in government again in January 2015.

Taking note of the widespread protests which CEPA had run into earlier by a section of the services sector organisations in the country, the new Government, it appears, has presented it in a rebranded form called ETCA after deleting some key contentious provisions. It is this ETCA which has been the target of protests by almost all the professional bodies of the country organised loosely today as the United Professionals’ Movement or UPM.

Trade negotiations involve long-drawn negotiations

Hence, it is necessary to revisit CEPA, identify its key elements, document how bilateral trade negotiations are conducted between countries and examine how ETCA differs from CEPA.

Trade negotiations involve a long-drawn process which sometimes runs into several years. It took nearly two years to negotiate and conclude the draft CEPA in 2003. The process is kicked off by a country interested in entering into a trade agreement with another country by making a proposal to do so. If the other country agrees, a study group is set up consisting of representatives of both countries drawn from key stakeholder institutions.

In the case of CEPA, the Sri Lankan side was headed by Ken Balendra, a reputed entrepreneur and one-time Chairman of the John Keells Group and had the representatives of the Central Bank, IPS, Trade Chambers and key Government departments. The Indian side was headed by Rakesh Mohan, a Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India at that time and now the Executive Director at IMF representing India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan. There were rounds of discussions that enabled both parties to agree, disagree, modify and finalise the final form of CEPA. Once the study group comes up with a final draft, it is submitted to the respective governments for concurrence. Then only the relevant authorities of the two governments are able to ink the agreement.

ETCA is still in the initial stage of negotiation

In this process, the proposed ETCA is still at the very first stage of negotiation. What was publicised by GMOA in its website earlier and now removed from the web was only a first draft prepared by the Sri Lankan team for submission to their counterparts in India for consideration. The final form is finalised only after it goes through the whole process of the long-drawn negotiation that is yet to come. Hence, the protests made by a section of the society called ‘professionals’ appear to be based on ‘hearsay’ or what they believe it to contain once it is finalised by the two governments. It also appears from the pronouncements made by professionals that their objection is to CEPA in general and not to ETCA per se.

Abandoned CEPA was natural evolution of ILFTA

As presented in the previous article under reference, CEPA was the natural evolution of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement or ILFTA signed in 1998 and implemented as from 2000. ILFTA covered only the trade in visible goods between Sri Lanka and India under preferential trading arrangements. A total of 5121 types of goods was covered in ILFTA. Given the fact that India’s is a much bigger economy than that of Sri Lanka, India offered duty concessions ranging from 25% to 100% to Sri Lanka for 4733 products. That included generous quotas of tea and garments at a duty rate of 50%. Sri Lanka, on its part, opened its economy to India only for 3842 products.

ILFTA was signed without any public consultation but the Central Bank filled the gap

Of course, when ILFTA was signed in 1998, there was no public debate on it as it has happened today because it was not considered necessary at that time. Economic policy governance was not a vital concern of the public in 1990s. Against this public apathy, the only critical review was made by the Central Bank which functioned as an impartial economic analyst in its good old days, first in confidential reports to the government and then to the public in special box articles and reviews in its Annual Reports beginning from 1998.

Warning against ILFTA leading to trade diversion instead of trade creation

For instance, in its Annual Report for 1998, the Central Bank warned the Government that ILFTA would simply cause a ‘trade diversion’ from other countries to India instead of bringing about the needed ‘trade creation’, the source of creating new wealth for Sri Lankans. The subsequent events proved that the Central Bank was correct because trade got shifted, especially in vehicles, machinery and pharmaceuticals, from Japan and other European countries to India making it Sri Lanka’s number one source of imports.

Continuing its critical analysis, the Central Bank in its Annual Report for 1999 cautioned that Sri Lanka was unlikely to derive significant short term benefits out of ILFTA since most of the goods for which duty concessions had been granted had already enjoyed low tariff rates from India. Hence, it suggested that plans should be drawn for Sri Lanka to get long term benefits out of ILFTA.

Central Bank’s advice to continue with negotiations to remove shortcomings of ILFTA

In its Annual Report for 2001, the Central Bank further commented that the two products which were to mainly benefit from ILFTA, namely, garments and tea, had performed very poorly in both 2000 and 2001. It also pointed out that non-tariff barriers which had been introduced by India had prevented Sri Lankan exporters to access the larger Indian markets as envisaged in the agreement. It therefore advised the Government to resolve these issues promptly through continuous negotiation with India.

Following the wise counsel of the Central Bank, the Sri Lankan team negotiating with India managed to secure a greater access to Indian market for Sri Lanka’s trade in the subsequent few years. Accordingly, India opened its market for 4150 Sri Lankan products completely duty free as from 2003. India also designated three additional ports as entry points for Sri Lanka’s tea and garment exports to India. With that, as reported by the Central Bank in its Annual Report for 2003, trade between the two countries got picked up substantially paving way for the two countries to strengthen their trade relations in the form of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, now known as CEPA.

CEPA was a comprehensive partnership

In addition to visible trade, CEPA covered several key areas in economic relationship with India. They included services, migration of natural persons, transfer of technology, promotion of private investment flows and cooperation in several vital areas for both countries. Private investment flows were to be harnessed in transportation, infrastructure, education, tourism and ICT. In the case of economic cooperation, CEPA had identified the need for modernising Sri Lanka’s ailing railway system with Indian technology and establishing world class higher learning institutions in the style of reputed Indian Institutes of Technology or IITs.

Fear of local markets being flooded by Indians under CEPA

It was the protests against the opening of the services sector and the migration of natural persons contained in CEPA that forced the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government to shelve it permanently. The protests were understandable because a sudden inflow of professionals into the local market would increase supply, promote competition and reduce the high professional fees which these professionals could now earn in a relatively protected market. However, the local consumers were to benefit immediately due to the larger choice set placed before them and lower fees they had to pay. The Sri Lanka’s economy was to benefit from an improvement in the standards of professional services.

Even without CEPA, this has already taken place in the case of education and health services. A large number of Sri Lanka students who cannot get enough higher education places within the country proceeds to India every year; similarly, many patronise Indian hospitals for quality medical treatment for many serious ailments. This is a situation where the consumers cross the borders at great costs to buy services from another country. Under CEPA, it would be the service providers who will cross the borders making it more convenient and cheaper for the consumers in the host country.

CEPA to open more markets in India for Sri Lanka

Many had feared that CEPA would open up the services sectors of the two countries wholesale in an equal manner, but that was not the case. India had offered to make a deeper and a wider opening of its services sector to Sri Lankan professionals. Sri Lanka has been requested to do it in small measures gradually. Accordingly, India would open up 80 sub sectors of services upfront, while Sri Lanka would do so only in 20 sub sectors.

In this manner, India was to allow an unlimited number of visas to executives, managers and specialists to work in India; Sri Lanka was to do so only in two sectors, namely, IT and maritime services, but there-again, it was limited to investment projects made by Indians in the country. Thus, the fear that CEPA would open the floodgates to unemployed Indian specialists to invade Sri Lanka had been harboured by the protesting Sri Lankan professionals without reference to the proposed agreement.

ETCA is modified CEPA without migration of natural persons across the borders

ETCA is in fact a modified CEPA without the provisions for the migration of natural persons, the main objection to it by local professional bodies. Professionals should not have any fear that services include migration of natural persons too. That is because, in terms of today’s global practices as pronounced by the 6th Edition of the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual, services are only pure services and factor services that include the migration of natural persons are separate from them. Hence, any agreement which does not include the migration of natural persons does not include factor services.

Consult or perish

As mentioned above, ETCA is still in the initial study stage by expert groups in the two respective countries. Hence, through a proper consultative process, it could still accommodate the views of all those who have a stake in Sri Lanka’s broad economic and technology cooperation initiatives with India.

Governments normally tend to design such agreements on its own without consulting the public on the premise that they have superior knowledge on these issues. But that premise is far from the truth in the current context where information is freely available to civil society organisations. Hence, fearing that civil society organisations will derail such plans, the agreements concerned are kept in utmost secrecy and released to public domain only after they have been inked by the respective governments. But by that time, significant irreversible damage could have happened. One such example is the Uma Oya Project signed by Sri Lanka with Iran without even referring it to the government’s economic advisor, the Central Bank.

Hence, the present Government which has come to power on the promise of establishing good economic policy governance should listen to its critics with a positive mindset. There are numerous examples of economic disasters created by governments which have failed to listen to the loud voice of people.

Government should communicate and consult through a 2.0 website on the subject

A truncated draft of ETCA had been posted to the website of GMOA in fulfilment of its commitment to full disclosure earlier. However, since GMOA has no authority to do so, it has now been removed from the web. Therefore, the initiative to make it public should now come from the Government side which holds ownership to it.

A concept paper which would categorically assure the Sri Lankan professionals that there is no intention of opening up the ‘migration of natural persons’ should be publicised in a specially designed interactive website, also called 2.0 websites, and also in a social media net like the Facebook. The advantage of these social media nets are that they are user-friendly 2.0 webs available freely and quickly activated. It would not only take the fear out of the minds of the local professionals but also help the Government to learn of the other side of the view as well.

Government should not enter into a warpath with professionals

At present, the Government is on an unnecessary and unproductive warpath with the country’s professionals who claim that they too have laboured to bring this Government to power.

The Government has vowed to bring people to the street against the rebellious professionals but it would only prompt them to bring more professionals to the street in return. Such an escalation of violence through a series of senseless action and reaction would drain the Government of its limited energy which it could have used for better purposes. The Government feels that some of the professionals in the forefront of the protests are mere cat’s paws working for the agendas of power hungry politicians. But, it is only with an appeasing transparent policy that the Government could isolate those professionals whom it accuses of having personal agendas to oppose ETCA.

The next article will look at how Sri Lanka and its professionals could benefit from having a wider economic partnership not only with India but also with other countries such as China and Singapore, simultaneously.

*W.A. Wijewardena, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    Can any one publish the draft agreement.

    Without looking at the draft agreement how do we know that the devil is black or white.

    Sunil

    • 0
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      We are already late and been discussing since 2002.

      It is a question of demand and supply.

      Two years ago John Keells hired McKinsey from India for strategy consulting. CSE hired them 5 years ago. Now BoC has hired them. What are we talking here????

      There are many sectors including IT where we need Indian expertise. Ask any of the bankers as to where they get their IT upgrades from? All from India. Even right now two private banks have hired Indians for upgrades simply because THERE ARE NO SRI LANKAN IT PROFESSIONALS WHO CAN DO THE JOB,

      Get the agreement signed ASAP.

  • 4
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    Dr. W.A Wijewardena

    RE: ETCA Is Not CEPA In All Respects, But It Should Be Made Public To Allay Fears

    “In the first part of this series published last week, it was pointed out that the secrecy surrounding the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement, now commonly known as ETCA, had left both supporters and opponents in a state of confusion.”

    “As a result, fear has engulfed the local professional bodies of every description that Indian professionals would flood Sri Lanka’s limited job markets. Such a flooding, it has been argued by protesting professionals, would not only displace those currently employed in respective professions but also deny opportunities to those waiting to join them in the future.”

    “At present, the Government is on an unnecessary and unproductive warpath with the country’s professionals who claim that they too have laboured to bring this Government to power.”

    Kanavunu Pronduwa, Broken Promises.

    Yes, absolutely.

    The “New Kalla-Thonis” with the blessings.

    People need to know what is there and and what is not there and as to how it impacts the country and individuals.

    Who are the winners and who are the losers.

  • 5
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    Dr.Wijewardene,

    Thanks. I learned much today, in language I can understand.

    Yes, the government has to keep the people informed, but at what stage? The final draft is the stage at which public inputs/opinions should be sought. The manner in which the GMOA has raised the red flag over a half cooked meal, is unbecoming of a professional body. The reaction of the PM is understandable, but public expression should have been avoided. I say, understandable, because he is trying to navigate crocodile infested waters on many fronts and initiatives. The professional bodies should also not rush to oppose, without studying issues in depth. Would the members of the GMOA, rush to diagnose and treat patients without studying a health problem in depth, for proper cure?

    Dr.Rajaesingham Narendran

  • 3
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    Do we have enough products,services and professionals to send for India? Only Arts faculty raw graduates Sri Lanka has to offer. But even without any English and ICT knowledge do you think they can employ by Indian companies. At the moment anything name in Sri Lankan Manufacturing market, Indians are dominating all. Now service sector opening will kill that also. Sureky ICT, Eng. Medical, accounting etc will dominate them and Sri Lankn peopler will never finda job in India and Indian will get all the jobs. I am owner of few business in Sri Lanka. I am waiting till Indian comes to fxxx arrogant Unions oriented Sri Lankan people to remove from my firms.

  • 4
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    Wije

    Brilliant masterpiece as usual.

    Our professionals be it doctors, engineers, accountants, lawyers or IT guys are not used to competition and productivity. They will protect their territory at any cost and hence will oppose and kind of liberalization of services.

    Imagine if our professional services sector was as productive and competitive as our garments sector !!! We compete with global apparel manufacturing hubs such as Bangladesh and Vietnam and Indonesia and India. The day that we are not competitive the business will be lost.

    If we are to move forward we have to trade with our neighbors and no question about it.

    Jagath

    • 4
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      Its not Brilliant at all! We should compete with those who are at par with us! I don’t mind having such agreements with any other country but not India! They will send their PhD and MSc qualified from unheard of universities to Sri Lanka! They come to Sri lanka and 10 of them live in a two room house to cut cost!

      The cream of the Indian university graduate end up in the US. The next lot get the high class jobs in India and we are left with those who can’t find suitable positions in India looking for work in Sri Lanka. Do we want them?

      I have worked with Indians in the IT field for the last 15 to 20 years and they have not been up to the mark in product delivery as they are very poor in quality control! They are very good in presentations but very poor specially in software design and programming!

      What we need is some good universities to educate our Sri Lankan students even at a cost! We need good private universities.

      • 4
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        Ruwani,

        “I have worked with Indians in the IT field for the last 15 to 20 years and they have not been up to the mark in product delivery as they are very poor in quality control! They are very good in presentations but very poor specially in software design and programming! “

        Really? Is this what you learn from 20 years experience?
        Would you please, please explain to us poor ignoramuses, why VIRTUSA has set up 5 offices in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune? Do they know something that you don’t, about Indian IT capabilities? Or all these places staffed by superior Sri Lankans?

        • 1
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          Old Codger,

          don’t extract part of what I said and give your opinion! Virtusa falls into category of those who go to US because they pay well! Non of the virtusa employees will even dream of coming to Sri Lanka! I was only referring to those who will come to Sri Lanka! Read my comments carefully old man!

          • 0
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            RuwanL

            VIRTUSA is a US based company, headed by Kris Kanekeratna. Its Colombo operation is located at Orion City .Of course there are Virtusa employees at Orion City.Maybe they don’t dream!
            Didn’t you know that?

            • 0
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              Old Codger,

              That is why I said you can’t compare companies such as Virtusa as it was headed by a US educated Sri Lankan (Krishan Canekeratne) and originated in Boston and Sri Lanka. Similar to Millenium IT(MIT) headed by Tony Weerasinghe. Vertusa was taken over by the NASDAQ group and MIT was taken over by the London Stock Exchange

              By the way have you worked with any Indian software companies? I have worked with Indian, Australians Britishers, New Zealanders, Singaporeans,US etc

          • 0
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            RuwanL

            “The cream of the Indian university graduate end up in the US. The next lot get the high class jobs in India and we are left with those who can’t find suitable positions in India looking for work in Sri Lanka. Do we want them?”
            This is Anura Kumara Dissanayaka’s argument.
            But do you really think that an IT person who is unemployable in India can come and work here?
            If he cannot carry out his assignments , which employer in his right mind will keep him ?
            If he actually does better than a local IT person, then what is the problem?
            Whether he lives in one room with 10 others is not relevant to his IT skills.

            • 0
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              It will be a little too late when the companies realizes their mistake!!
              I don’t think you have an iota of knowledge on the software industry as it is not like any other are of work! you make a blunder and the consequences can be Catastrophic!!

              • 0
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                RuwanL
                ” I don’t think you have an iota of knowledge on the software industry as it is not like any other are of work!”

                I have been programming since 1984, for your information, and I Have worked with Indians among others. You don’t have to worry about competition if you are competent. If on the other other hand you are worried about your own living standards going down, you have only yourself to blame.

                ” It will be a little too late when the companies realizes their mistake!!”
                For a “software professional”, you seem to have atrocious grammar. No wonder you are afraid of the Indians .

                • 0
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                  Wow Old codger you must be a pretty old guy! Are you still programming? Did I say I am a software professional? Ops aren’t you jumping to conclusions?

                  What I have been trying so hard to tell you is most of our companies can’t pay well and they are looking for cheap labor! and only those Indians who can’t go to the US or join Virtusa will come to Sri Lanka. They are not good enough for us!!

                  As for Marutis and Suzukis that’s what the majority of us can afford! We are a damn poor country ruined by the politicians and supported by you guys who want us to have marutis and Suzukis and for them to go in BMWs Mercs and Pejeros and for them to be in power at any cost!

                  Ops! who looks at grammar now? as long as you can make yourself understood the world will accept you! The world is not asking for grammar! What they want is smart people not the leftovers! aren’t you living in the past with the British Queen?

                  Any way you want correct grammar? here we go! “It will be a little too late when the companies’ realize their mistake!!”

                  My boss use to say “you pay peanuts you will get monkeys!”

                  • 2
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                    RuwanL

                    “What I have been trying so hard to tell you is most of our companies can’t pay well and they are looking for cheap labor! and only those Indians who can’t go to the US or join Virtusa will come to Sri Lanka. They are not good enough for us!!”

                    You can’t have the cake and eat it.

                    “As for Marutis and Suzukis that’s what the majority of us can afford! “

                    Therefore this is the defining criteria for your decision to purchase a car. Then why complain?

                    If you want to buy a better car than Maruti, go for it. Your demand for a better car should correspond to your ability to pay.

                    You should be grateful to those who produce an affordable car that has four wheels, engine, body, steering wheel, and take you from A to B. If you want to travel in comfort and style you will have to pay for it, however you plead poverty.

                    Poverty sets in because your inability to go beyond your parochial approach to increase GDP.

                    You stay where you are and let the progressive make the decisions and take this country where it should be.

                    It seems you are not making a sound rational argument for economic growth, increase employment, income, wealth, capital, lifting the poor from poverty, giving them decent employment, self respect, ….. but is based on your bigoted petty nationalism, inward looking, which we have seen has been ruining this island since its independence.

                    In a small country like this island, demand is limited therefore international trade is important for the growth of the economy. International trade is the engine of growth, not your petty nationalism, which cannot be sustained forever.

                    If you need more argument against International trade please consult Wimal Weerawansa, ……. and numerous other smart ass patriots.

                    • 0
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                      Please note that I was responding to old codger’s responses to my comments! You are out of context!

                      I never asked for the cake!

                      As for the type of cars Old Codger said that every one is purchasing Marutis and suzukis in Sri Lanka! I am not saying they are bad cars!! please read his comments before responding to my comments!

                      I am all out for international trade and has never promoted nationalism! We should reach out and get better quality products and get our companies to compete with them! We should try and get the best out of any country not the leftovers!

                    • 2
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                      RuwanL

                      “We should reach out and get better quality products and get our companies to compete with them!”

                      Our boys and girls should be working for the top Indian companies, not as a charitable act of Indians, but as a right of our people.

                      Infosys provides internship to candidates from all over the world. Try and get few bright candidates to apply for and get trained.

                      I hope the ministers are not going to prefer their mistress’ siblings for those few places.

                  • 0
                    0

                    RuwanL,

                    “Any way you want correct grammar? here we go! “It will be a little too late when the companies’ realize their mistake!!” My boss use to say “you pay peanuts you will get monkeys!”

                    Still lousy grammar, Ruwan.

                    “Wow Old codger you must be a pretty old guy! Are you still programming? Did I say I am a software professional? Ops aren’t you jumping to conclusions?”
                    Yes, I am pretty old and retired now- that explains my handle.I started when PC’s had 2 floppy disks.
                    I assumed you are a software person because you said you worked with Indian programmers.You are the one who questioned my credentials.
                    About my grammar, we had good dedicated INDIAN English teachers in the schools I attended. They wouln’t tolerate any sloppiness.

  • 4
    0

    THank you Dr. W. for trying to give the background to the current ETCA issue. However, since services in the IT sector can be provided by Indians living IN India (as opposed to “natural migrants), does this agreement still pose a threat to IT jobs in Sri Lanka?

    Also what “maritime services” are they talking about? Isn’t there a natural national security-threat dimension to allowing foreigners (unvetted) working in sensitive areas such as ports and airports of the country?

    • 0
      0

      Sinhala

    • 5
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      Sinhala- Buddhist,

      Let us also remember that we are heading for a serious labouring shortage. Paddy harvesting is facing a labour shortage. Skilled labour is expensive and not that skilled now. The tea plantations in a few years will face a labour shortage, because as-per recent reports, the younger generation in the hills are shunning work in the estates.

      Would we have to import cheaper labour from India? Has this aspect been considered in the ETCA.
      Dr.RN

      • 2
        1

        Dear Dr Rajasingham,

        You are on the wrong track. We are not getting paddy harvesting people from India. We are trying to get professionals! As Dr Harsha has stated in his interview we are getting IT professionals from India!

        The cream of Indian IT professionals end up in the US. The next best get local jobs in India. We will be get the ones that can’t find employment in India! Why don’t the middle eastern countries sign such agreement with India as they a short of professionals?

        I have worked with Indian IT personnel for the last 10 to 15 years. They have been very poor in quality control and delivering a presentable good products. We Sri Lankans demand quality in our products. If you want a cheap job done with no standards then you we should get them down!

        Getting down cheap labor for team plantation and paddy harvesting should not be even thought of! We have enough issues with the ones that are here!

        We need to educate our people with good recognized Universities from the UK US or even India! Private Universities will be a number 1 thing to do here!!

        • 0
          1

          Ruwani,

          Please read the second paragraph. I am asking a question about labour.

          Dr.RN

        • 4
          1

          RuwanL

          “We Sri Lankans demand quality in our products. If you want a cheap job done with no standards then you we should get them down!”

          This is a news to me.

          Since when Sri Lankan demanded quality in all aspects of manufacturing, services, … in government services, …. ?

          The manufacturers deliver goods to a captive market, low quality highly priced.

          I also have known incidents of foreign IT and other contractors switching their suppliers from this country to elsewhere including India.

          The Employer is not going to tolerate shoddy work hence wants to recruit and retain quality staff at an affordable cost. If employer wants cheap, unskilled, … employees good luck to them. The subcontractor won’t see the next contract in his mail box.

          “We need to educate our people with good recognized Universities from the UK US or even India! Private Universities will be a number 1 thing to do here!!”

          Its been 68 years since this island is granted independence what the hell were the politicians, educationists, industrialists, Sangha doing to address this very important life or death issue?

          The employer wants quality staff yesterday, tomorrow is too late for him/her. What do you propose is the long term solution and who is going to pay for it and how do you propose to retain them in this country?

          Just because there is going to be an agreement on a piece of paper, employers are not compel to recruit Indians.

          Stop whinging and try leaving your comfortable cloud cuckoo land.

          • 0
            0

            Native,

            you said “Since when Sri Lankan demanded quality in all aspects of manufacturing, services?”

            Most sri Lankans don’t purchase Indian manufactured cars why? why do people insist on Japanese cars and pay even a little hire price for Japanese vehicles? Because the Indian product is not good enough! Look at the products they manufacture mostly substandard! have you had any chocolates that come from India? Can you compare them to the Australian chocolates? No way!

            For employers the bottom line is profit! If the employee can survive with the minimum requirement they will until something drastic happens and then it will be too late! If Inidans are so good why don’t other countries open up and ECTA agreement with them? Do you know some countries prefer Sri Lankan to Inidans!!

            Politicians will do anything for their survival! We got rid of one and the other seems to be going on the wrong track!

            • 0
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              Ruwan L
              ” Most sri Lankans don’t purchase Indian manufactured cars why? why do people insist on Japanese cars and pay even a little hire price for”
              Ruwan, Ruwan, don’t you even read the newspapers before you comment?
              The largest selling new car by far in SL is Maruti (Suzuki) .And of course please ask the bus owners why they keep buying all those Tatas and Leylands instead of Japanese buses.
              Maybe you are not aware of it, but Hambantota port survives on trans-shipment of Indian-made Hyundai, Daewoo, Nissan, Toyota, Fiat and Volkswagen vehicles. Some of these are sold here too.

            • 2
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              RuwanL

              One is not compelled to buy Indian.

              Why do people buy them if quality is their number one concern.

              No demand, no import.

              Do you visit any government offices, post office, state banks? Please see for yourself the professionalism with which they serve you.

              Why this island does not produce that can be consumed here or exported?

              This country, the politicians, Mudhalalis, Unions, ….. are very good at blaming others for their own faults, mostly lazy, cannot think, do not want to be proactive, …. cannot see the bigger picture, because they are drowned in their petty, nasty, … regressive nationalism.

              The Japan that was defeated in second world rose to dominate in consumer electronics and put the foundation for the ordinary people access many products.

              They not only captured old markets but created new market which never existed before, all because, they were willing to work hard, innovate, improve their skill level, compete in the world market, with little resource, only relying on man power, and ability to adapt and change.

              Their petty nationalism didn’t make the country great but their perseverance to be the best.

        • 2
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          Ruwan L
          “Getting down cheap labor for team plantation and paddy harvesting should not be even thought of! We have enough issues with the ones that are here! We need to educate our people with good recognized Universities from the UK US or even India! Private Universities will be a number 1 thing to do here!! “

          Why is it good then to send cheap female labour to the Middle East?Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

          Remember it is cheap Indian labour that built up the plantations, roads and railways. Of course you have issues when they want equal treatment!

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      sinhalese buddhist

      ” Isn’t there a natural national security-threat dimension to allowing foreigners (unvetted) working in sensitive areas such as ports and airports of the country?”

      Are you talking about our space programme, spy satellites, missile silos, our command and control systems, nuclear submarines, spy planes, Mars Exploration Rover Mission, chemical and biological weapons, high-tech industries, ……., industrial espionage, …. nanotechnology-based weapon systems, ?

      Gosh, I am really worried.

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    Reading through from the writings of the author down to the comments, reminds me of the story “Seven Blind Men Describing the Elephant”. The author of the article himself says, “publish the CEPA”; So where is it and have we seen the contents? Where is “Transparency” and “Accountability”? This is typical of Sri Lankan mentality. We bark and bark thinking that the sky will come down; but the caravan will move.

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    Douglas

    Where you’ve been, long time no see?

    ” The author of the article himself says, “publish the CEPA”;”

    If there is no finalised agreement what does he want?

    Here is a news I found earlier which should put every speculation to rest:

    Controversy in Lanka Over Economic Pact With India Premature, Officials Say

    By P.K.Balachandran Published: 22nd February 2016 06:01 PM

    COLOMBO: Officials in Sri Lanka have described as “premature” the controversy currently raging in the island over the Lankan government’s intention to sign an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India.

    “ As yet, there is no document to comment on. What was exchanged between the Commerce Secretaries of the two countries was a one-page document containing eight points on economic and technical cooperation expressed in general terms. It is still an internal document subject to negotiations. In the absence of details, any controversy over ETCA is premature,” Express was told.

    But both sides are working separately on details. What the Lankan Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama, intends to release on Tuesday, is a document on what Lanka expects from the ETCA. The Indian side is yet to release a detailed document containing its perspective. But the two countries are aiming at signing a preliminary “framework” agreement in June.

    The Lankan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Harsha de Silva, told Express that while there is no formal document yet, some issues which had plagued the India-Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) are expected to be addressed in the ETCA. Among these are the Non-Tariff Barriers in India; the need for an agreement on Mutual Recognition of Standards; and the need to lift restrictions on ports of entry.

    De Silva said that the Lankan government will have consultations with local stakeholders before finalizing a draft ETCA. Earlier, he told the media that the opening up of the services sector will not result in Lanka being flooded by Indian professionals because Lanka will not be going in for Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services which allows movement of “natural persons”. Entry will be allowed only in IT and ship building.

    According to Prof.Rohan Samarajiva of the think tank LIRNEasia, even the much maligned Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) had restricted Indian personnel to Indian funded firms. He also points out that India had shown flexibility in response to Lankan demands when it hiked the quota for apparels under ISLFTA, and recognized Colombo as the regional transport hub under CEPA, and that, at the cost of Indian ports.

    http://www.newindianexpress.com/

    Douglas

    Are we going to discuss the economic cost and benefit of this scheme and make an informed choice or as usual, go on attacking the scheme because we are paranoid and scared of our own shadow?

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    Native Vedda: Thank you. Better to be silent than to pour water on ducks’ back. Today, I heard even the Prime Minister telling, this CEPA is not even in “draft form”; but people are creating havoc in the country. So what more to hear and say on a thing that is non existent? I prefer not to join the “Seven Blind Men” and make that number “Eight”.

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    I rather see investments from India to build factories and also to start new companies here, instead of coming up with this kind of agreement. Even if we open up for few sectors it will have an adverse affect on this tiny nation. Today Prime Minister said that an Indian delegation is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka next month to discuss the deal after which a draft will be presented to the Parliament.

    However, he has already proclaimed that nobody can stop him from signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India. He has been twisting the words lately. His uncle former President J R was rebellious towards India and placed the country in a disaster for decades. Now he is bowing to India and placing the country in a disaster. I don’t have an issue of accepting India as our neighbour, but there is no need to bow down. Singapore is a dot in the world map, but it doesn’t bow down to Malaysia or Indonesia. Tamils couldn’t sustain their useless war with the support of India and the West. Therefore, he won’t sustain his Pro India policy, because Sri Lankans are very resilient people, and they will teach him a lesson.

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    The author of this article very rightly asked the Govt.to explain to the people as to what is in ETCA, at least the advantages for SL and for that matter, any agreements signed with other govts. should not be done in secrecy,which is enough for the joint opposition to rouse the people.The Govt. tends to think that, because they are not running a corrupt government,the people blindly follow them and they will accept what ever agreements they sign with the other Govts. but it is not so, as brain washing of people’s minds, is done on a daily basis.

    On the other hand, our politicians and people should get out of the
    South East Asian mentality that we know everything. A good example is
    Sri Lankan airlines, where a colossal amount of money in foreign currency is wasted daily because the Govt. does not want to bring in foreign experts to run it for us or start it in the right direction
    towards profitability. We also should not look at India as ‘old India’
    as today they are far advanced in technology and trade and is one of the few nations with a healthy economy. People who criticise their
    quality of work and products, should look at the contracts they have signed with USA & European countries.

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    W.A Wijewaradana of orthodox and conservative Economics is that indirectly pushing necessity of singing ETCA with Indian Republic.
    At the given movement an proposed ETCA an annexation of our Economy by Indian -RAW that infiltration which is unbelievably harsh Trade Treaty with our country.

    The proposed Trade of ETCA due primarily initial stage of ours number of IT industries we have no way to defend ourselves.
    Every body knows that why since 2015 January 9th since counter-revolution of Rainbow of anti-sovereignty government led by MS UNP-Ranil.W… and CBK as nation all become defences, we are all for defend of Motherland-Sri lanka.

    From the point of view defending our economic sovereignty of ours ,it is impermissible for us to allow ourselves to be drawn into Trade Agreement with India. It is conflict of national interest of nation economy. We have no enough tools and resources to resist that Indian economic invasion and we are not excellently prepared.
    It is impossible for a ruined our economy to wage a modern economic war against Indian’s vital interest without an advance and solid most serious economic preparation.
    It is beyond all doubt that Indian economic expansionist with ECTA must be resisted for it will crush ours economy and we will be hold us as prisoner of Indian political hegemonies.

    Well proposed ECTA decisive to present movement UNP-Leaders has undertaken political gamble with Economic sovereignty of Sri lanka.
    We as Sri Lankan must systematic, unrelenting, self-discipline everywhere the use our for the purposed country’s economy progress and development.

    It is impossible to signed ECTA of Trade with Indian even harshest time for our Country under UNP-rule .

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