All Sri Lankan trade and business chambers must work together to foster improved standards of debate and discussion around economic and even social policy according to outgoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Dr. Koshy Mathai.
“In my time in Sri Lanka I have noticed that there is a great reluctance on the part of Sri Lankan society to discuss and debate ideas. We don’t see much discussion happening and while I’m not sure whose fault, the fact remains that there doesn’t seem to be much discussion on ideas and policies. No single party in life ever has a monopoly on ideas and policies and they can always be fleshed out better through discussion,” he noted.
Addressing the Annual General Meeting of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), Dr. Mathai urged all Sri Lankan chambers to band together to vocalize their issues where individual citizens may refrain from doing so.
“There may be occasions when it is difficult for individuals to do anything but this is where the chambers have to make their voices heard and ensure that they do not remain silent when it comes to economic issues and social issues too.
Where criticism is required then you must make your voices heard but where there are positive things being done then you must highlight those as well,” Dr.Mathai urged.
Given the pointed silence maintained by such organizations during social unrest surrounding the Dipped Products PLC in Rathupaswela which was deemed to be resolved without official statements from any of the chambers, along with previous criticisms that the chambers were slow to react to the controversial ‘Revival of the Underperforming and Underutilized Assets Bill’ it remains to be seen how well Sri Lanka’s business community will take up Dr. Mathai’s advice.
“There is a lot of talk that Sri Lanka will be the emerging wonder of Asia but in truth these are slogans that can be realized and may actually provide a true description of the reality Sri Lanka is heading towards.
However unless policies are discussed more broadly, these will only remain as promises. I have been very lucky to be in Sri Lanka to witness the country’s ongoing transformation and it has been quite inspiring to see what has been achieved and I am confident that when I do come back to this country I will see a country that is not emerging but has emerged,” Dr. Mathai concluded.
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