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Bureaucratic turf wars must end for economic diplomacy to begin: Harsha

8 October 2015 02:38 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The ‘turf wars’ among different government agencies must end for the much-touted economic diplomacy to take off, according to the country’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva who spoke at a recent forum in Colombo. 
He said that the government agencies and officials are constantly engaged in turf wars, fighting over their powers and the mandates to carry out and sometimes not to carry out important official work. 
“It doesn’t matter as long as the government of Sri Lanka gets its act together and does what needs to be done so that exports can climb. I’m coming to the picture with that objective. Whether the Foreign Affairs Ministry has a legal mandate is immaterial to me,” he said.
He said that the members of all agencies must work together to achieve the country’s economic objectives.
“The fact of the matter is, whether you’re sitting at the Export Development Board (EDB), Department of Commerce (DOC), Board of Investment (BOI) or an embassy overseas, you’re an agent of the government, which is responsible to the people of this country. We have to work together. Let’s keep the turf wars aside,” he said.
“Inputs don’t matter. Outputs matter. It doesn’t matter if you hosted 50 delegations or if you had lunch with 17 businessmen. What matters is what you got out of them,” he added.
He noted that any of the government agencies are welcome to take the lead.
“Whose job it is, I don’t care. Who takes a lead and does it; does it not for their private benefit but for the benefit of the country,” he said.
Dr. de Silva stressed that the foremost priority of any diplomat going abroad must be to further the economic interests of the country and its businessmen.
“Other ambassadors in Colombo have a single aim— economics. When they give a speech, they don’t talk about cultural exchange programmes. They talk about investment projects, trade and any issues their businesses have here. Our ambassadors, first secretaries and commerce officers must speak the same language,” he said.
Dr. de Silva assured that the new regime will be training all its diplomats on economic principles, creating a dynamic platform which lets foreign officers share economic information across countries, and setting up a staff performance monitoring mechanism.
He said that the information gathered from foreign networks must be used for the benefit of Sri Lankan exporters and not be shared with other nationals, in order to maintain a competitive edge. (CW)
 
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