ri Lanka has come a long way since the war ended in 2009. The country has seen a massive development in its infrastructure which includes highways, new airports, seaports, power stations, etc. At the same time the country has earned new friends at the risk of being abandoned by its conventional friends -- which some perceive as a bane while many see it as a boon.
A lot of changes have also taken place in the economic sphere where Sri Lanka has been recognized as being among the top performing economies. Though many dispute the growth numbers, accusing the Central Bank and the Census and Statistics Department of massaging them, all the international agencies including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, etc. are basing their forecasts and estimates on these official figures. The Central Bank and the Treasury have targeted a US$100 billion economy by 2016 and for that the five hubs plus one plan in the Mahinda Chinthana are being promoted. The per capita income is also expected to go up to US$4,000.
Among all these noble goals, the political culture and the governance structure of the country appear to be crumbling. The overall quality and conduct of a majority of the politicians representing the Provincial Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas are appalling and it is indeed extremely scary to think that one day they will come to national level politics and to Parliament and will formulate legislation on our behalf.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka is rated at the bottom in almost all of the recognized governance indices. The attention and recognition given for good governance in Sri Lanka by the government appear to be negligible. Most of the ministers and the people at the top level in the Rajapaksa regime are seen belittling governance claiming that it’s a concept of the Western World which is not applicable to Sri Lanka, which has its own structure of governance based on its culture and religions.
But such a claim is extremely gullible and misleading. Governance principles are universal and they are not country-specific. All governance principles are principally aimed at improving the quality of life of the people in a certain country and to sustain its economic growth.
Sri Lanka’s scorecard is extremely poor in Transparency International’s Governance Index and World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators. Good governance can do wonders for a country. Apart from improving the living standards of its people and sustaining economic growth, governance could enhance a country’s profile and integrity as a nation. This would ensure Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which Sri Lanka is yearning for but not getting enough of.
Therefore, it is imperative for Sri Lanka to improve its governance scorecard if the country wants to achieve the ambitious economic and social goals it has set for itself. We should draw lessons from the countries in the African region whose economies and societies were shattered due to the lack of good governance practices despite the enormous natural resources the continent has.