24 June, 2024

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Fly Highdream Big

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

Sri Lanka walking the earth with eyes focused skywards!

We are living in an era under a High Level focus by UN authorities on the creation of a global level road map, with an open data platform, to commit all nations towards a Sustainable Development Goal. This concept emerged with the Heads of State and High Representatives of Governments meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 25-27 September 2015 to celebrate its seventieth anniversary, deciding on a new action program for a global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

The declaration adopted at this forum incorporated inter-alia the following;

On behalf of the peoples we serve, we have adopted a historic decision on a comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centered set of universal and transformative Goals and targets. We commit ourselves to working tirelessly for the full implementation of this Agenda by 2030. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. We are committed to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner. We will also build upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and seek to address their unfinished business.”

It was also resolved that, between then and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. The resolution has gone further to create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities.

With the proclamation of the SDG, the UN anticipated the active participation of all member countries in the program, expecting all countries;  engaging the civil society to establish “shadow” Voluntary National Review forums (VNR);

creating a national SDG roadmap and committing to regular SDG reporting at both the domestic and global levels;  and establishing an open data platform.

Although this commitment was made by the UN as far back as 2015, to- date we haven’t come across any serious engagement or a public dialogue in our country centered round this universal interest.

It looks an irony for the President who is the  Author of this initiative in Sri Lanka today, (who also served as the Prime Minister of the country from 2015 to 2018, 2018 to 2019) not to have taken any initiative in keeping with this proclamation.

Today, Sri Lanka is preparing to pass a bill to provide for the National Policy on Economic Transformation and for the establishment of new institutions repealing certain laws to pave the way for the  de-establishment of some  institutions already functioning accepted and highly praised for playing important roles in the economic development activities of the country.

This Bill is now before the Supreme Court for the mandatory clearance required before it is enacted. But we see several organizations and social groups have expressed views sharing their aversions to the BILL. The basic principles underlying this BILL appears to be;

* To pronounce a National Policy on Economic Transformation,

* To lay down the following targets with stipulated dead lines

* Public debt to GDP ratio should be below 95% by 2032

* Central Govt. Annual Gross Financing Needs to GDP ratio should be 13% by 2032

* Central Govt. annual debt service   Foreign Currency to GDP ratio should be below  4.5% by 2027

* And assigning a legally binding duty to the cabinet of Ministers to secure the following economic targets basing this National Policy;

Article 4 (a)The GDP growth to reach 5% by the year 2027, And to maintain it above 5%  annually thereafter,

(b) Unemployment to reach  below 55 of the labour force from the year 2025

(c) Female labour force participation to reach not less than 40% by 2030 and to not less than 50%by the year 2040,

(d) Current account defecit of the BOP shall not exceed 1% of GDP annually,

(e) Export of goods & services to reach not less than 25% of GDP by 2025, not less than 40% by 2030, and 60% by 2040

(f) Net foreign Direct Investment to reach not less than 5% of GDP by 2030 and at least 40% by 2030

(g)Primar y Balance in the Governement budget to reach 2.3% of GDP till 2023 and not more than 2%from 2032

(h) Government revenue to reach 15% of GDP beyond 2027

(i) Poverty headcount ratio to be less than 15% by 2027 and 10% by 2035

The Cabinet of Ministers shall from 2025, prepare and present to Parliament a report every five years on the Policy Framework and strategies to give effect to the above economic transformations. The cabinet of ministers can also revise such reports and present them to parliament from time to time.

The Minister in charge of the Economic Policy shall submit a progress report of the achievements every year to parliament and if the targets as enacted are not met, fresh targets will be set informing the parliament and these targets shall be binding according to the Bill.

Five agencies to be established to assist the government in achieving the objectives of this rapid growth under National Economic Transformation.

Now let us take a look at these basic principles coming under the proposal;

It will be interesting to examine the scheme of implementation in the context envisaged by the true authors of the SDG scheme, ie. The HLPF of the UN in a Global context.

Are Development Goals legally binding?

* No. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not legally binding.

* Nevertheless, countries are expected to take ownership and establish a national framework for achieving the 17 Goals.

* Implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programs.

* Countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review, at the national, regional and global levels, with regard to the progress made in implementing the Goals and targets by 2030.

* Actions at the national level to monitor progress will require quality, accessible and timely data collection and regional follow-up and review.

Some observations on the effects of making these targets and Goals legally binding?

Life span of our Parliament is about 5 years. This Bill provides for revisions of the program in periods of every 5 years. Does it mean the revisions will be effective to be acted upon only by a new Cabinet?

How is it possible for Cabinet members to ensure the timely achievement of the set targets when the responsibility of performance is contingent on the dedicated agencies ?

The Parliament oversight Committee will be controlling the cabinet of Ministers according to section 8 of the Bill.

Even the UN had to accept and accordingly adjust its operational time schedules due to external influences beyond control under unprecedented situations such as the “Covid 19”. What will be the fate of the cabinet in such a situation under the stringent duty-bound responsibility falling upon them in relation to the achievement of fixed targets under the National Policy on Economic Transformation?

We as citizens and voters have witnessed the coming and going of several  cabinets of ministers elected to power in this country during the last 75 to 76 years. There is no dispute that the current state of our economy is totally due to their performance as Ministers during their regimes. Imposing such high -sounding targets to a set of ministers with such  backgrounds sounds patently absurd and wildly illogical to say the least.

Unless we open the gates and import some new characters to undertake the task, these targets will keep moving towards the horizon eternally in the most unlikely event of a totally new set of persons are destined to take over.

There are enough in our statues beginning from the old invaluable Ordinances available to us despite which lawlessness has flourished and prospered.

Time has come to ponder over and contemplate where we are sailing to.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    With veto powers a few chosen countries of UN are more than equal to the rest. UN is a hoax.

    • 0
      0

      I see a rogue behind Ranil. Is that Sabry the crook / con artist. According to Lanka e news
      ( not verified ) Sabry is now investigated by U.S.A for producing fraudulent documents and affidavits showing Gotha’s renunciation of U.S citizenship , at the time of election. These are our elite Low and Odor Ministers Sabry , Wijeyadasa, GLP …….

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