n an unprecedented gesture our President has been invited as as guest of the G7 Summit which is to be held in Tokyo on the 26th and 27th of this month. It is indeed an unprecedented invitation which has never been extended to any of our previous leaders. It is indeed an honour to him and our country.
The “Group of 7 (G7)’ is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union is also represented within the G7. These countries are the seven major advanced economies as ‘identified’ by the International Monetary Fund: The G7 countries represent more than 64% of the nett global wealth ($263 trillion). A nett national wealth and a very high Human Development Index are the main requirements to be a member of this group. The G7 countries also represent 46% of the global GDP evaluated at market exchange rates and 32% of the global purchasing power parity GDP. This summit would be the 42nd Summit.
The G7’s precursor was the ‘Group of Six’. It was founded ad hoc in 1975, consisting of finance ministers and central bank governors from France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, when Giscard d’Estaing invited them for an “informal gathering at the chateau of Rambouillet, near Paris, in a relaxed and private setting”. The intent was “to discuss current world issues (dominated at the time by the oil crisis) in a frank and informal manner”. The G6 followed an unofficial gathering starting in 1974 of senior financial officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Japan and France. Canada became the seventh member to begin attending the summits in 1976, after which the name ‘Group 7’.
The organisation was originally founded to facilitate shared macroeconomic initiatives by its members. In this sense, the G7 can be defined as “an alliance formed by a select group of states, with a similar structural position -resulting from coincidence in their national capacities- without ideological barriers but the will to coordinate their policies towards achieving common goals and the willingness to establish some technical means of cooperation”
Now the question that arises in our minds is why a small country such as ours was quite suddenly invited as a guest to this summit.
President Sirisena swept to power on an anti-corruption, good governance and transparent governance platform; Most unfortunately our political system has been riddled with corruption and nepotism and wheeler dealing for years and is not something that can be corrected overnight; There is therefore a gap between what was expected and what has been delivered during this past year; but despite this apparent shortfall the President continues to be recognised by the international community, that the solving of the issues we face takes time and that he is a progressive incorruptible politician who is seeking to make Sri Lanka a better place than what it was and needs to be supported.
The passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and the work being done to introduce a new Constitution and change the electoral system, and have real democracy (though we have enjoyed universal suffrage and elected our government without an interruption for over sixty years we have seen a deterioration of democracy and a drift in recent years towards a totalitarian system); the intended passing of the Right to Information Bill and the work been done to reconcile the Tamil minority to enable them to live as equal citizens with dignity, and the intention to enthrone accountability have all been noted by the international community.
The problems he faces today are huge; the value of our currency has gone down, and the fact is that hence the incomes of the people have been reduced in real terms because of Inflation and the indirect taxation; then there is also our huge external debt and the question, from where can we raise money from, and on what terms?
This summit affords our President an opportunity to meet important global leaders who would no doubt be prepared to extend assistance to us to overcome our problems. The one problem they would face would be from the Sri Lankan diaspora, who are now, very wealthy and hence politically influential. The Tamil diaspora in their countries, would of course expect us to reach out to the Tamil people in our country and extend to them the right to decide on their destiny to the furthest extent compatible with the security of our country within our Unitary State of course. We could request and expect these economically powerful countries to increase their aid to us, to enable us to upgrade our agriculture, higher education including technology, health and of course our infrastructure facilities, including our transport systems. We for our part must ensure that we become a real democracy, with a proper electoral system and where there is transparency, a free media and most importantly where the rule of law prevails. We must at no time would give cause to any country to be concerned about their security because of our strategic location in the Indian Ocean and our relations with any other country
In conclusion, let me state that just as much that it was the ‘good reports’ about the present Sri Lanka government, filed by the foreign missions here, that resulted in the President being invited as a guest of the G7, there is no doubt that they together with their intelligence agencies operating here, are keeping a close watch on what is now happening; it is rumoured that they are concerned that Big Money is taking over and also that projects are being awarded without following tender procedures and that project costs are being inflated to increase the ‘kick-backs’; It is thought that the government is going the same way of its rejected predecessor, we must ensure that it is not true, for that would be a huge letdown and most unfortunate for our country. We must most certainly avoid getting on to that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s list!