‘Alternative economic system needed’ | Sunday Observer

‘Alternative economic system needed’

A global economy which is driven by greed and materialistic consumerism does not help foster peace and harmony in the world. The solution is to introduce an alternative economic system which is governed not by wealth but by social principles and public interest, Senior Lecturer, University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Chairman of the Committee of Economic Policies, National Intellectual Organisation, Dr. Anil Fernando said.

He said such a system would use physical and human resources of the economy to cater to the needs of people in a sustainable manner. Awareness of such a society has not grown to a satisfactory level.

“The global outlook and forecasts show a slow growth in the global economy in coming years. Many of the countries are facing new economic challenges mainly due to the wrong economic policies adopted. Those policies have created a market society where everything is up for sale resulting in social disparity,” Dr. Fernando said.

Having the above as a long term target the country should focus on ways to rectify weaknesses in the present economic system at least to face the current challenges. The policy makers should focus on measures to increase production in agriculture, agro-based industries, equipment, and other areas where we can play a role in global supply chains. Human capital development, education and health development will play a pivotal role in facing global challenges in the future.

On the impact of the recent attacks on key establishments of the country, Dr. Fernando said the government should take strong measures to consolidate security arrangements to assure the safety of people and build confidence among foreign visitors. The meaning of the word security could be wrongly interpreted and used with negative connotation. It does not mean ensuring the security of a privileged few but the entire nation.

In the long run, there should be one uniform legal system for the country. This requires democratic debate and a wide range of discussions with policy makers, experts and stakeholders. Diversity in laws would create many social and political issues.

It is a fact that we live in a country where people have different identities in terms of nationality, language, political ideas, religion, region and cast. Even though this particular attack was carried out in connection with extreme and dogmatic beliefs mixed with religious interpretations, no religion promotes extremisms and terror. Therefore, any kind on extremism based on nationality or religion should not be tolerated. Politics and national policies should be kept away from religion. No national policy should aim to serve or discriminate a particular religion but better focus on public interest and common needs instead.

On the other hand, educational policies should also be developed in such a manner to promote national harmony, civic rights, respect, love and empathy. In fact, policy makers can consider, though it is debatable, the necessity of keeping religion as a subject to be taught in schools and assessed in examinations. Schools can provide facilities for students to practice their religion. Policy makers should consider the danger of allowing schools to function based on either religion or nationality.

Policies are also needed for media practices. If you carefully analyse news and information circulating these days in all types of media, with respect to its authenticity, use, relevance, they have by and large ignored negative consequences and the social responsibility either knowingly or unknowingly. I do not think that good media practices could be established in society by imposing rules and regulations, but it would be possible to introduce a best code of practice and ethics to govern it.

“The recent attacks have a direct economic impact of losing national income due to shock, fear and other reactions.

The tourism industry has been badly affected. Cancellation of planned trips and hotel reservations will directly reduce revenue.

Hotel occupancy rate have already dropped to a low level and hotels now offer huge discounts to attract local guests, he said.

“The negative impact is reflected by the poor performance of the Colombo Stock Exchange in terms of low turnover and continuous decline in share prices. The Stock market is unlikely to attract new investors. Instead, existing investors are pressurised to leave the market,” Dr. Fernando said.