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Expectations from the newly elected government

17 August 2015 02:49 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Many right thinking people watched with alarm and disappointment the steady decline in the moral values of our nation with politics for material benefits overtaking our cherished values. The breakdown of our religious values, traditions and culture, the level of politicization of the public administration reached new heights, which led to nepotism, bribery and corruption never seen before in our history. 

Economic freedom
The Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka was strengthened by the dictatorial powers added on by the 18th Amendment. As a result, the entire state administrative machinery of the country in all aspects of functioning was politicized beyond redemption. The 18th Amendment not only led to a gradual and systematic destruction of liberty and democracy but also destabilized the economy by creating an opportunity for corruption and free spending of public money without accountability, destroying the very social fabric of our society.

The people in the country now expect with the passing of the 19th Amendment that it will pave the way to establish law and order and an independent public service. The promise to establish an accountable parliamentary system, strengthening democracy with accountability and transparency, needs to be delivered after August 18. In addition, we need to continue to restore human values, human rights, rule of law, decency and economic freedom.

Building confidence
The new government would need to ensure steady and a balanced economic growth with a conducive environment that will help to create new job opportunities, develop agriculture, industry and reposition our education and skills development effort. Housing for the homeless and empowerment of the socially marginalized and disabled including war victims should also be priority concerns. Creating a conducive climate to do business, to rebuild business confidence amongst investors, both locally and internationally must be a top priority. 

By continuing to depoliticize the system a lot of demotivated business leaders can be rejuvenated and re-energized. The stock exchange must no longer be allowed to be manipulated by a few. Therefore, checks and balances are needed to ensure the exchange attracts genuine investors and also to provide opportunities for a broader group of investors to benefit by investing in the stock exchange. To ensure this, the government should only act as a facilitator and that requires better regulation. Therefore, what is required is for business to be done by the private sector and for the government to provide a level playing field and provide long-term investment-friendly policies that will benefit all businesses, irrespective of their affiliations. 

Therefore, many of the outdated regulations and also tax and fee structures that are perceived as a deterrent to investment and doing business must be removed via a consultative process between the public and private sectors. The new government needs to work to lift the ban on fisheries exports and restore the GSP+. Special emphasis also needs to be given to the welfare of the weak, disabled, the elderly and the unemployed, as well as environmental conservation. However, to do this, it is important that people with the right competence and credibility are appointed to key ministerial and government positions, the mistakes of the past must be avoided.

(Dinesh Weerakkody is a thought leader)

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