Sri Lanka's dream miracle is not too far
The Central Bank annual report in its comment on Sri Lanka's outlook
stated "the end to the prolonged internal conflict and restoration of
peace provided a greater optimism for economic prosperity and a strong
basis for long term sustainable development supported by appropriate
opportunities created by the restoration of peace will be complemented
by the ongoing global economic recovery".
With external reserves at a reasonable level, low interest rates and
inflation, we, the Sri Lankans have a right to believe that becoming the
"Miracle of Asia" is not impossible.
Our stock market that performed tremendously will ultimately follow
the path of most capital markets in the world in addition to certain
irregularities that became a headache to the regulators. Given the
increased participation of new listings and the vast number of
registered finance companies (RFCs) has brought in to the stock market
possibilities of recovery in certainty.
Vast developments in the East and Jaffna bubbling with activity and
most important how the people have quickly forgotten the past conflicts
gives us lot of courage.
Stable government, appropriate macroeconomic fundamentals and
increasing investments in the leisure sector and record tourist arrivals
are showing maturity sans narrow political boundaries.
All these augurs well for the country, and Sri Lanka is undoubtedly a
safe location without conflicts.
The Colombo Port has outperformed most of the South Asian ports and
has gained the eminent hub status.
However, the deepening trade balance is becoming quite a concern
according to the latest external sector performance statistics released
by the Central Bank.
The January-November trade balance is reported at 8.8 billion US
dollars in comparison to the 4.1 billion US dollars for the
corresponding period of the previous year.
This no doubt is a matter of worry for the authorities. One positive
factor is the likely revival of markets of Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and
Libya who depend very much on Ceylon Tea that could push the exports
The weakening export prices is another key feature of the present
crisis that has mostly affected the developed world.
The Central Bank also states that significant increase is recorded in
the import of investment goods.
The much needed Colombo South Harbour project is now in progress that
will further boost our port capacity to play a dominant role in the
The much neglected infrastructure in the provinces is getting a
facelift while Colombo has gone through a complete transformation with
health and hygiene being given priority.
However, the exit and entry points to the city yet remains congested.
The Colombo-Matara expressway has become a boon to the travellers with
travel time becoming much shorter.
The Kandy-Colombo highway too is expected to be completed soon. Sri
Lanka did host the 2011 World Cup in three venues with two out of
Colombo and the spectator response has been tremendous. These mega
sports events no doubt give rise to positive feeling to keep people
happy or enhance the gross national happiness, the key indicator of
governance in Bhutan. Like South Africa, Sri Lanka too must promote
tourism along with the sports.
Hambantota with sea and airport will add momentum to the economy.
Tourism is showing unprecedented growth.
The legislators have an enormous responsibility to discharge their
The public consensus is that most of them are not clear of their
duties and responsibilities and it will be good for the government to
conduct an intensive residential training program on parliamentary
procedures and discipline, accountability, good governance and public
"Informed debate is the bedrock of a vibrant democracy. It promotes
good governance, prudent decision making and above all the education of
Contrary to common belief, our Parliament is endowed with a number of
young Turks on both sides of the divide, who are intellectually alert
willing to learn and prepared to acquire new knowledge" (The
Professional manager) Post Graduate Institute of Management (PIM) the
country's premier management training institution recently took the bold
step of offering a well designed course of training in economic
A few senior political leaders from both sides of the divide were
individually consulted and for wide consultation a meeting was held at
the PIM in June last year.
This is a remarkable step towards providing an opportunity to
legislators to get a clear understanding of their duties and
responsibilities to serve the constituents better.
It would be a good idea to consider levying a tax on all commercial
posters (Politicians and tuition masters dominating) printed that could
be recovered effectively from the printer and remitted to the revenue
Given the heavy taxation such as ESC, NBT and VAT that are borne by
the industries there exists a justification to tax the politicians who
enjoy the privilege of tax free emoluments and duty free car permits
that make heavy dents in the government revenue.
In fact one of the IMF requests to the government is to put forward a
plan for higher revenue. Henry Ghesquiere (formerly of IMF) in
"Singapore's success" adds " Singapore followed an integrated approach
to development outcomes, policies, institutions social and cultural
values, and the political dynamics of implementation all reinforced each
other. Each country must fashion the specifics of its policies and
institutions tailored to its own local geographical and historic
conditions. Leadership is imperative for effective governance. Singapore
succeeded because the leadership was assiduous, highly intelligent in a
practical way, determined to achieve shared prosperity, and committed to
act with integrity.
Leading with vision and fortitude is possible.
Its benefits can be invaluable. That is Singapore's ultimate lesson!
" Miracles are hard, achievable but rewarding, while the public
continues to make continuous sacrifices, legislators too should set an
With strong committed leadership, let us be hopeful that Sri Lanka's
dream miracle is not far away.