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Expectations from the Government in 2017

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 23 December 2016 00:00


2016-12-13-ft-img-29In a country where many people feel powerless, many right-thinking people watched with alarm and disappointment in 2014 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 politicisation of the public administration reached new heights, which led to nepotism, bribery and corruption. Therefore the people of the country wanted a change, they were sick of the political show. 

The election of President Sirisena gave Sri Lanka an opportunity for real change. The election of Maithripala was no doubt a victory for liberty, justice and democracy, as against autocracy and nepotism. The newfound political and social freedom post January 2015 has created a host of new opportunities for the government, but the government so far has failed to get it going fully. 


Economic and political 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 politicised beyond redemption. 

The 18th Amendment not only led to a gradual and systematic destruction of liberty and democracy, but also destabilised the economy by creating an opportunity for corruption and free spending of public money without accountability, destroying the very social fabric of our society. Now with the passing of the 19th Amendment it has paved 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. In addition we need to continue to restore human values, human rights, rule of law, decency and economic freedom. 


Building confidence

The 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 marginalised and disabled including war victims should also be priority concerns. Creating a conducive climate to do business, to re-build business confidence amongst investors, both locally and internationally must be a top priority. By continuing to depoliticise the system a lot of the demotivated business leaders can be rejuvenated and re-energised. 

The stock exchange needs inspiration to ensure the exchange attracts genuine investors and also 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 and leadership. 

Therefore the message that is required is that business will only be done by the private sector and the Government will provide a level playing field and provide long-term investment friendly policies that will benefit all businesses, irrespective of their affiliations. 

The politicians don’t need extra power via laws to create a climate for investment. Therefore many regulations and 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 Government needs to work to restore GSP+ and open up new markets. 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 Government positions, the mistakes of the past should be avoided, because the public is no mood to reward non performing governments and also many of those who voted for the President for the better, was a long overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class. Therefore, for the President and Prime Minister, 2017 will be a year to fulfil promises and deliver on expectations.

(The writer is a thought leader.)

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