United National Party (UNP) Deputy Leader and Minister of Housing Sajith Premadasa recently called for an open economy with a human face saying it is the right way to establish a just society.
Mr. Premadasa expressed this sentiment while speaking at the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) awards ceremony held in Colombo recently.
“It must be understood that full-blown capitalism is not the order of the day. A just and fair society can only be established through systems, structures and procedures that are based on benevolence capitalism. To use a more apt phrase, a just society could be established through capitalism with a human face,” Mr. Premadasa said.
“It is a universal notion that the free market capitalistic approach is the best mechanism to create wealth. However, we need to be cognizant of externalities and social costs of this system. Therefore the government and the corporate sector benevolence are of utmost importance in order to address the grievances of the society, to correct the imperfections and anomalies which are sad by-products of this system,” he added.
He then requested the corporate sector to focus more on corporate social responsibility. “I make a humble request from everyone gathered here. Now you shall smile, you will celebrate. Today you will enjoy your success. When the function is concluded, when the curtains are drawn and when it is time to leave please think of the poor and of the destitute in the society, on those who have become permanent members of abject poverty circle. Please do think of the silent majority of our motherland. Once you do so, gather your energy to talk to your superiors and explain the importance of civic responsibility and corporate social responsibility. Remind them of late President John F. Kennedy’s words of wisdom "if a society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich", the minister said.
The minister said in this regard he was willing to work with the corporate sector to provide lands to the landless, homes to the homeless and to feed the hungry.
The UNP Deputy Leader then stressed the need for a depoliticized approach to resolve issues faced by the country today. He again quoted late President Kennedy and said "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" and added that these sentiments were relevant to Sri Lanka even today.
“Kennedy once said, "let us not take the Republican answer, the democratic answer but let us seek the right answer". This view stated by the former American President is also relevant to us. Therefore we should not seek the UNP answer, the SLFP answer, the flower bud answer or the JVP answer for all our issues. We all should use our energies, mobilize our resources to find the right answer for this country,” he said. (Yohan Perera)