Ministry Of Economic Development And Foreign Affairs
This Government has placed Economic Development as its main platform and we need to seek the support of the world to achieve this objective.
The new Government, I presume, has worked out a plan using the best Multi-disciplinary talents available in the country and has also worked out a strategy and is in the process of establishing the machinery to achieve its goals.
I do hope that a new Ministry that would be established should be under the Prime Minister himself; as it would facilitate coordination and would also ensure the full cooperation of all other Ministries and agencies of the Government for the implementation of projects in the area of Economic Development and Foreign Relations, to achieve the principle objective of the Government.
The current Minister should be elevated to the rank of ‘Senior Minister of Foreign Relations’ and be required to supervise the implantation of this most important national project. My mind goes back to the time I was the principle Secretary (the Executive Secretary) of the first Board of Investment (BoI), working under President JR Jayawardene, the word ‘NO’ was unknown when a request was made to any Government Department or institution from our ‘One Stop Shop’, the GCEC; that was how we attracted foreign investment and created over three thousand and four hundred jobs in a period of three years; it is because of this experience that I advocate the placement of the Ministry should be under the PM.
Incidentally, till 1978, ‘Foreign Affairs’ was under the ‘Ministry of Defence and Foreign Affairs’, when Governments considered the combination of ‘Defence and Foreign Affairs‘ as being vital in our national interest. Another very important matter in the conduct of international relations, is the perception of the foreign country as to who has the final say on any issue which affects their interests; it is therefore, in our interest, to elevate the Ministry of Economic Development and Foreign Affairs to the highest position as possible.
"The current Minister should be elevated to the rank of ‘Senior Minister of Foreign Relations’ and be required to supervise the implantation of this most important national project"
I do hope that this Government would not appoint relatives and cronies, unless they are qualified and competent to represent our country and take us forward.
I also hope the Government would take a leaf out of the US Congress book and appoint a proper High Posts Committee of Parliament to vet those appointed as Heads of Mission. There is also the need to professionalize the Foreign Service and to also protect it through a Parliamentary Act as many countries do.