21 September, 2020

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Sri Lanka’s Pipe Dream

By M H M Faizer

M.H.M Faizer

M.H.M Faizer

When JRJ swept into power he had a vision for Sri Lanka – a liberalized economy. To a great extent this dream was converted into a reality. Similarly Premadasa’s ‘Village Awakening’ program was realized to a good extent too! MR‘s determination to Liberalize Sri Lanka was well accomplished! When MS took over there was no such proclamation – and hence no dramatic performance – fair enough since an impending general election was anticipated in the next three months to follow after his win. The subsequent general election was won by the ruling party and the ruling party have just announced its intention of governing the affairs of the Country through a so called National Government – an arrangement where the Government will join hand with the opposition parties in running the country.

Whether a National Government or any other form ,the Government must announce its core vision – like Economic Liberalization of JR, Village Awakening from Premadasa and Peace thru War by MR.

Ranil 12 05 2015The second mistake has already happened – the Jumbo size Cabinet of almost 50 Ministers!! In addition there will be State/Junior Ministers as well! India with 1.2 billion population has only around 27 Union Cabinet Ministers , 13 Independent State Ministers and 26 State ministers (Junior Ministers).The ratio of Cabinet ministers to population in India is around 1:48 million – that is, there is one Union Cabinet Minister for every 48 million people. Given Sri Lanka’s population and already announced number of Cabinet Ministers the ratio is expected to be around 1:1/2 million, that is, there is one Cabinet Minister for every half a million people. Statistically speaking, our cabinet is 96 times oversize vis a vis India in terms of the population parameter. A critic may calculate these ratios for countries like Singapore ( 19 Cabinet Ministers for a population of 5.5 million) and Maldives ( 18 Cabinet Ministers for a population of just 4 lacs ) and argue that Sri Lanka is in a favorable situation. This is not an argument since any country will need a critical minimum number to cover the basic subjects such as Finance, Defence, Education etc. What should be avoided is to create Ministers and Ministries for the sake of keeping a member happy and under control. For example we have even had Ministers for Sugar and Botanical gardens in the recent past.

Too many cooks spoil the soup is an age old proverb but it is a deep rooted pragmatic observation. Our situation is even worse since the Cooks have diverse and conflicting objectives and interests. Further the Chef has co-opted a few cooks rejected by the people.( the first mistake).The negative impact from the business community was well observed when the Colombo stock exchange fell by more than 140 points on the first working day (24 th of August 2015) after the announcement of the National Government with an expanded cabinet.

The notion of a National Government is that it gets life under exceptional catastrophic situations. We were in such a situation just prior to 2009. Are we in a state of such a calamity now? Certainly not. We need not ‘Rock’ the boat, but I agree, we need more speed. All what we needed was a set of people (politicians) with a shared political philosophy. With only less than ten seats needed for a simple majority there was no urgent need to Rock the boat. Unless there are any ‘other’ objectives.

Even within the same party there exists Intra group conflicts and that’s quite natural. For instance the Finance Minister may have conflicts with the Housing Minister. ( Even in organizations it is a common phenomenon that almost all the departmental heads conflict with the Head of Finance) When we add people from other parties there is going to be Inter group conflicts as well. So a combination of intra plus inter group conflicts will jeopardize the very same objectives set by the Leadership.

In addition to the above the following factors may hinder the success of the National Government :

1. The skewed distribution of power among the members (Cabinet Ministers,other Ministers etc)
2. The level and frequency of interference and bossing by seniors and the leadership. The resignation of Dr. Rajiva Wijesinha is an example for this.
3. The divided loyalty of those members from the opposition particularly of those who had been with MR
4. The attitude and counter actions from those people/parties who are not in the National Government
5. The extent to which parties like the TNA and the Tamil expatriates will extend their support
6. The Current state of the Economy in terms of the stability of the Rupee,foriegn reserves, export earnings – just to mention a few
7. etc etc

There are two types expressions namely Explicit and Implicit. The Explicit reason is well given by the Government in announcing the proposed National Government. The Implicit reasons are quite ambiguous.

However if the Govenment is determined to go ahead with the formation of a National Government then such a formation becomes an important milestone in the political history of Sri Lanka. Serious thoughts must be given to overcome the above problems and other bottlenecks. In fact it is a GRAND STRATEGY ! If it works then there will be a queue of foreign governments wanting to benchmark our success story. The Government must set out its Vision. Mission, Goals and Objectives of this unique but risky strategy and should not mix up its priorities.

Vision

In the corporate world vision refers to the aspirations of the founder of the company. This is the pipe dream of this founding entrepreneur. If we take the annual reports of any large corporates, you are sure to find the Vision statement of the Company. This may be achieved or may not be achieved or partly achieved. Bill Gates when he was a budding entrepreneur in the early 1980 s had a vision that that every home must have a PC and every PC must have his Windows! Almost achieved today.

In terms of Sri Lankan political structure the founder of the present government is the President. It is he who is eligible to express his Vision for Sri Lanka. JR, Premadasa and MR have all done it as mentioned above. The President too have expressed his Vision but it’s not exactly explicit. The vision must be communicated internally as well as externally. Internally, it must be shared with the PM and other senior cabinet ministers ( and of course not forgetting the senior most advisor). Their views and concurrence must be obtained to ensure continuous support and commitment. It is the PM and his team that will translate the Vision of the President into several Mission statements.

Mission

The Vision statement is usually a single sentence but not necessarily so! But the Mission statements are many depending on the number of subjects that come out in translating the Vision. Mission statements can be expressed for the macro economic objectives such as the growth rate, inflation, employment etc. Unlike the Vision statement, Mission statements must be realistic and achievable. They are measurable. Mission statements must also be expressed in terms of Ethics, Governance, Values etc.

Objectives

Each Mission statement must in turn be translated into operational targets via its objectives. Key performance Indicators must be prepared exhaustively to cover all aspects of the operational constituents of the implementation of the National Government. Such KPI s should not conflict with the stated Missions and Objectives.

*M H M Faizer – Founding GM of Amana – now into Amana Bank & Amana Takaful, Former Deputy Director General of the BOI

 

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Faizer,

    What really are you trying to say here my friend. You are all over the place.

    However I agree, the top heavy administration with a cavalcade of ministries, in time will become the proverbial millstone, not only on the necks of Sirisena and Ranil but on the necks of the citizens as well. Given the penchant of all Sri Lankan politicians towards corruption, and the Sirisena Ranil government padding themselves with some of the most dubious and devious politicians from the last regime, I for one believe all the voters dreams are destined to be pipe dreams indeed.

  • 2
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    No vision is workable if one is overwhelmed racist genocidal mindset and parties. Every one involved in Sri Lanka Governance and politics give the main priority for the racists’ sentimental threats. No one could not ignore it. As long as the racist majority jealousy sentiments are given weight there won’t be any justice or fairness, If the governance is fearing these sentiments it is subjugating itself for unfair governance with no justice. It all depends on minds. As long as the minds are corrupt they can’t vision the right and righteousness. Short way of becoming popular, becoming elected to Parliament , becoming elected to rule. The entire mass is engulfed by idea of injustice. They know they have made great wrongs. with that guilt in the clouded mind in this earth what is going to happen. Torture, cruelty and suffering and amusement on this cruelty.

  • 0
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    M H M Faizer

    RE: Sri Lanka’s Pipe Dream

    “The second mistake has already happened – the Jumbo size Cabinet of almost 50 Ministers!! “

    Sri Lankas Average IQ is 79.

    43% or so of the MPs have not passed the GCE OL.

    Therefore they need more ministers and Junior Ministers.

    “Each Mission statement must in turn be translated into operational targets via its objectives. Key performance Indicators must be prepared exhaustively to cover all aspects of the operational constituents of the implementation of the National Government. Such KPI s should not conflict with the stated Missions and Objectives.”

    Yes, but do an IQ and Competancy Test.

  • 2
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    Is this an application for post of Chairman in a Government Corporation?

    • 1
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      “Is this an application for post of Chairman in a Government Corporation? “

      You mean, another Rosy type of effort to get in through the backside?

  • 0
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    Even when the Ship is sinking most Sri Lankan’s prefer to drown partying. A Greek tragedy.

  • 1
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    Singapore’s Premier Lee – interview with Time magazine.

    They think far ahead. 10-25-50 years.

    “What is the single-biggest challenge Singapore faces?

    If you are looking at 10 years, getting the economy to the next level is a very big challenge. If we don’t get to the next level then we will have malaise and angst and even disillusionment, which you see in many developed countries. And in 25 years, if we can’t get our demography balance between our births and immigration of foreign workers, then we will be in a very tight spot like the Japanese are. If you take a 50-year timeframe, then the most important thing is the sense of national identity, because before you can make any policies and get people to say “I want to do this or the other,” people must feel that we are Singaporeans and we want to be together and we are different from others and we are special. Keeping that sense of unity and specialness over the long term is critical.”

    http://time.com/3969196/singapore-lee-hsien-loong-interview-50th-anniversary/

  • 1
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    “When MS took over there was no such proclamation – and hence no dramatic performance –”

    Totally disagree with this sentence.

    No dramatic performance? Boy, ever since MS came we have been breathing freely, and isn’t that a dramatic enough performance?

    Why do people write so irresponsibly, forgetting the hell they went through before? Inability to appreciate the good things is I reckon one of this nation’s lasting drawbacks.

  • 0
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    When people have ulterior motives the truth is shrouded from their eyes.

    In the long run single party government is a better option for Sri Lanka. We know our politicians they are there to make money give or take a few.

    So joint government means as highlighted Jumbo cabinet which will sing mambo jumbo for 5 long years. Rather get the support of the few and form a UNP government with a cabinet of whats allowed in the constitutions.

    Ranil W./MS all along talked about good governance, upheld that commitment let the people decide based on what they can do in 5 years that should give them the mandate to continue in 2020 or get busted.

    Only a MARA supporter will say there is no change in current governance compared to last one. There is marked difference, except they opt not to see it.

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