- Lists reviewing of Constitution, revamping laws as responsibilities up ahead
- Country should be free from crime, drug trafficking, terrorist financing, corruption
- Intelligence operations of security forces and police should be brought under one head
- Pledges to work with private sector
- Tourism industry can generate at least US$ 10 billion per annum
- To strengthen democracy, politicians must be supported by technocrats
By Lahiru Pothmulla
Development and investment can be fast tracked by picking the right team to deliver the promises of a new Government, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate nominee Gotabaya Rajapaksa said yesterday.
Speaking at the Viyathmaga Annual Convention 2019 held at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo last evening, Mr. Rajapaksa, the Chairman of Viyathmaga, said he is convinced that investment and development can be fast tracked if a credible and firm decision making machinery is established within a transparent governance framework.
“The country has already seen the benefits of such a framework in many flagship investments in tourism, ports and transportation, urban housing development, waste management and city beautification during the 2010 -2014 period. We can repeat that speed and effectiveness by picking the right team to deliver the promises of a new Government. I am positive that the private sector will also be determined to contribute its best to help achieving our common objectives,” he said.
He said the responsibilities up ahead the country included the reviewing of the Constitution, revamping of laws and changing the election laws. “There can only be one law in a country and that law must be equal to all,” he said.
Commenting on security, Mr. Rajapaksa said he was committed to address national security not only as a defensive mechanism, but also to provide broader social, political and economic security to the people.
“Our country should be free from crime, drug trafficking, terrorist financing, money laundering and corruption. Our houses and streets must be safe places for children, women and the community at large. Businesses should be shielded from security threats,” he said.
During their tenure, the former defence secretary said they fortified the country’s intelligence networks and the intelligence networks were dedicated to safeguard the people.
“Therefore, we must re-establish this secured environment that is at present compromised. To do so, we must reinstate the intelligence mechanism that was proactive until 2015. We must bring the intelligence operations of the security forces and the police under the responsibility of one head and thereby connect all these units together. This responsibility must be again handed over to capable officers. For our intelligence officers to be effective, it is very important to connect them with foreign intelligence services, provide them with both foreign and local training and equip them with modern technology,” he said.
He reiterated that a governance that does not juxtapose before any foreign power over diplomatic relations or international trade agreements should be re-established.
“We need a government that will at all times safeguard our sovereignty, maintain international relations on equal footing with all, ensure our national pride and rule with dignity. We especially cannot allow our territory or natural resources to fall into the control of foreign hands,” he said.
Mr. Rajapaksa commented on a wide range of spheres in his speech inclusive of knowledge, economy, education, development of Industries, environment and democracy and said Sri Lanka should not miss out on the opportunities that are arising from the knowledge-based and modern technological innovations.
“We should also bear in mind that education can also be a foreign exchange earner. Instead of sending Sri Lankan students abroad, we should find ways to attract foreign students to Sri Lanka. Also, from a country’s perspective, providing skilled workers instead of unskilled labour for foreign employment is far better and more dignified, while also providing the country with an avenue to increase its foreign exchange,” he said.
He said the tourism industry has the potential to expand it to generate an income of at least US$ 10 billion per annum and said the country needed to do more research and use modern technology if it wanted to develop the agricultural industry.
He said it was the responsibility of the politician to understand the need of the people and to include it in to national policies.
“We need to marry the virtues of democratic inclusiveness with the effectiveness of technocratic management. Democratic feedback is crucial for governments to ensure that they are on the right track. To strengthen democracy, politicians must be supported by technocrats,” he said.
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L.Peiris, its National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa, former cricketer Aravinda De Silva, representatives of business community, a number of MPs, professionals, academics and other invitees attended the Viyathmaga Convention.
Pix by Nisal Baduge