Amnesty leftovers

Published : 12:01 am  November 5, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  436 views  |  

As the amnesty given to migrant workers by Saudi Arabia ends, there are concerns over the fate of thousands of Sri Lankans left as illegal employees. As demand exploded for the amnesty, reports indicate that at least 16,000 Sri Lankans registered at the Sri Lankan Embassy to be sent home. When the amnesty ended on Sunday, officials indicated that only 10,000 made it back to Sri Lanka on time, leaving the rest to face a fine of Rs. 3 million and a one-year prison sentence. Stark results indeed. The tragic execution of Rizana Nafeek aside, the increase of migrant workers to the Middle East is worrying for several reasons. One is that despite Government attempts to regularise recruitment agents,... 


A breath of hope

Published : 12:00 am  November 4, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  2,289 views  |  

Rebuilding the United National Party (UNP) has gained unprecedented impetus with the latest election defeats. The mediations, painful at times, have nonetheless yielded a crucial discussion today, which the country will be watching with mixed feelings of hope. Bludgeoned by a record number of elections defeats on a trot, the UNP leadership finally yielded. Wickremesinghe’s view that he is willing to step aside should a competent replacement be found finally brought hope to party stalwarts who have been pushing reforms in vain. But it also sparked fear among a faction that watched the moves of UNP MP Sajith Premadasa and viewed them as being vengeful and lacking in political acumen. Premadasa,... 


The Indian effect

Published : 12:00 am  November 2, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  688 views  |  

India is rarely absent from headlines in Sri Lanka’s newspapers, especially as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) draws closer. Fortunately on Thursday it hit headlines for a positive reason, a ruling by the highest court in the world’s largest democracy to combat corruption. India’s track record for tackling corruption is one of the worst in the world but it shows progress on a level that Sri Lanka can still learn from, if it wishes to. In a landmark ruling, India’s Supreme Court decided that civil servants should not act on the verbal orders given by their Ministers and opened up refreshing avenues for fighting corruption at an unprecedented level. This liberating... 


Look beyond the numbers

Published : 12:00 am  November 1, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  729 views  |  

Most issues in Sri Lanka seem to dwindle into a numbers game. In the latest chapter, it is keeping a tally of how many countries will or will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) rather than making a concentrated effort to promote Sri Lanka’s reputation internationally. Cabinet Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was upbeat on Thursday that the number of confirmed attendees had reached 37. He argued that this exceeds the total number of countries that attended the Australian CHOGM in Perth and provided the number as evidence that Sri Lanka’s reputation was still glowing despite the lack of commitment from India. The Economic Development Ministry and Industry... 


An epic fail?  

Published : 12:00 am  October 31, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  819 views  |  

The Norochcholai power plant is what the younger generation would commonly refer to as an “epic fail”. The latest breakdown, which took place just hours after the plant commenced operations after a maintenance break of over two months, has increased fear that the US$ 1.35 billion project will only be a burden to the people. Built by China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation or CMEC, the project ran into hitches well before it was even opened. A large fire broke out on 24 October 2010. According to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), there were no casualties but construction had to be sped up to meet the opening deadline. On 22 July 2012, the power station ceased... 


Ranking competence

Published : 12:00 am  October 30, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  794 views  |  

THE Ease of Doing Business in Sri Lanka took a hit on Tuesday when the latest report compiled by the World Bank saw the island slip four places to 85 from 81 the previous year. This shows that the Government’s aim of improving the investment climate has not served up the expected dividends and more worryingly that the rest of the world is outpacing local reforms. While Sri Lanka remains in a healthy position regarding the rest of South Asia, managing to stay just head of Maldives and Nepal, it nonetheless has fallen behind its own lofty goals. When Sri Lanka made inroads on the Ease of Doing Business after the end of a three-decade war, the Government was upbeat it could steer the turning tide. With... 


Seeing red

Published : 12:27 am  October 29, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  10,498 views  |  

Red tape must serve a purpose but what it does more often is disrupt smooth flowing of activities. When red tape is coupled with inconsistent policy making, people stuck in it often see red. Sadly, this same set of events seems to have transpired in connection to Sri Lanka’s lucrative tourism wedding industry, opening up the possibility that the post-war honeymoon period for the sector may be coming to an end. For several years Sri Lanka has been the most recommended wedding destination for couples by world’s leading tour operator Kuoni, bringing high-end tourists and valuable foreign exchange earnings for the tourism sector.  However, Sri Lanka appears to have stopped playing the cupid’s... 


Gender equality

Published : 12:51 am  October 28, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  5,143 views  |  

TRADITIONALLY Sri Lanka has an image of being a place where the gender gap is small if not downright negligible, but a new study shows that this development is under threat and fresh policies need to be introduced to ensure that men and women have equal space. Sri Lanka is ranked 55th among 136 countries across the world in terms of gender gap, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2013 released by the World Economic Forum on Friday. Sri Lanka significantly worsened from its 2012 position of 39th place. From this region, Sri Lanka dropped furthest, widening its gender gap on the Political Empowerment sub-index and falling eight places to 30th. Sri Lanka falls 16 spots, relative to its performance... 


Development at a cost

Published : 10:20 am  October 26, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  Leave a Comment  |  8,590 views  |  

Development in Sri Lanka is counterbalanced by debt. Joining the long list of illustrations is the country’s second highway connecting Katunayake to the Colombo city limits at a cost of US$ 337 million, which will be opened on Sunday by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is widely acknowledged that the Colombo- Katunayake Highway is essential in the development process of Sri Lanka. It is largely funded by the Chinese Government through a loan from the Import Export Bank (EXIM) amounting to US$ 292 million with an additional US$ 45 million footed by the Sri Lankan Government. Begun in August 2009, it was initially expected to be completed by July but ran into several delays with a final dash... 


A point to protests?

Published : 12:00 am  October 25, 2013  |  Category: FT View  |  1 Comment  |  983 views  |  

DESPERATE times call for desperate measures, or so the Sabaragamuwa University students feel, as they defied a Court order to march in protest of what they say is the Government’s attempt to damage free education by opening up to private universities and cutting back on funding for their public counterparts. Private universities have long been a thorn of contention between the Government and student unions, which has resulted in allegations of repressive actions by the former. Police have now taken to banning marches, effectively refusing the right to gather, a tactic that was also recently used in Weliweriya to quash down on important issues that need an open dialogue. After much back and... 


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