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The importance of MS and RW batting together


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 26 January 2018 00:00


A prominent administrator after reading my column last week wrote me and said: “Push has come to shove. Sirisena is breathing fire. A drastic change of direction is needed after 10 February.”

We all know a country cannot progress unless you have leaders who have both the passion and competence and the will to promote good governance. A country cannot attract the right talent and the FDI into a country without a decent leadership offering. In business a competent CEO can generally deliver more than 40%, than an average CEO. In government it is very much more, as clearly demonstrated by Deng Tsiao Ping, the late Chinese leader and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. 

Ranil-Sirisena despite many weaknesses have tried hard to push through genuine reform, Take a long hard look at what the Yahapalanaya Government set out to do and look at the issues that was confronting our country pre-2015. That will literally convince us, that we are missing the woods from the trees. Fast-forward to 21 November 2014. President Sirisena on that day stated that leaving the then Government was a vital move in order to save the country from being steered towards a total dictatorship. He pledged to abolish the executive presidential system within 100 days of his election and to restore complete media freedom in the country.  The presidency was partially reformed and media freedom restored. Some more remains to be done together. The Rajapaksa years had rebuilt Sri Lanka’s confidence, but had sapped its soul. The Unity Government to its credit has tried very hard to promote a “kinder, gentler” country. 

The MS-RW combination has helped to reawaken the generosity of our civil society. MS unlike Ranil understands that local issues are every bit as important as national or global issues. On the other hand Ranil understands the country has a long road ahead, and one can only get there together. This is what we need to find a genuine political solution for the north and east.

Reality

Part of the SLFP and the Ppposition is predominated by loyalties to the previous President. They seem to be hell bent on either challenging their mandate or shoot holes in the effort MS-RW has taken to bring the country and the economy to an even keel, without realising what these initiatives are and what favourable outcomes they will bring to the country.

For Maithripala working with Ranil is the best option for him and the country. On a personal level Ranil is a gentleman, a man, who believes even when he is under fire not to react negatively, a respecter of the rights of all ethnicities and often to a fault. As Prime Minister he has given the incumbent President all the respect despite friendly fire against him. 

Many people in politics don’t see the value of working towards or arrive at a consensus of values. It was Pope Francis who said: “We all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous an independent I, separated from the other, we can only build a future by standing together, including everyone.” We all need to be afraid of the future if we fail to understand this.

Improving competitiveness

As a country today one of the biggest challenges we have is improving our country’s competitiveness. 

The resistance we have when services are included in a FTA is a classic case in point. We need to clearly understand what competitiveness is and have leaders who believe in a conducive business environment where every entrepreneur, big or small has the ability to move up the business hierarchy on his or her own merit.

We need leaders who understand what is necessary, to improve our skills, including attracting FDI at a minimum of 30% of GDP in order to maintain a 6% plus growth target that the country needs. Besides improving the ‘Doing Business Index’ to strengthen investor confidence. In this direction we need to adopt the core business values such as integrity and transparency in doing business by making sure political interference is totally removed from the decision making process.

In addition, the capital market needs to be run according to ethical standards to encourage genuine investors to invest. We need more opportunities for a broader group of investors to benefit by investing in the stock market. The current checks and balances we have within the two party system can only facilitate that. All this requires is bipartisanship all round.

Good signs

The Sirisena Government in the last 36 months has made a huge effort to rebuild international confidence amongst international leaders and investors, both locally and internationally particularly with the US and EU (where are our major markets remain) is paramount. Through a well-orchestrated foreign policy the Yahapalanaya has and continues to succeed in this direction. 

The Government has largely restored the independence of the Judiciary and the Public Service, which not only will boost confidence of investors but also generate a positive climate in the country. The results of their efforts will come slowly but surely. Meanwhile for the remaining period of this Government our hope is that MS-RW will overcome the many political challenges and deliver what they both promised together on 8 January 2015. 

Fortunately despite many hiccups and the occasional outbursts from the duo, there is much hope that Sri Lanka can become a nation defined by values rather than a land of sink or swim with no discipline.

(The writer is a thought leader.)


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