The most recent Viyathmaga seminar was held in Mathugama Town last Saturday
Viyathmaga has started a series of seminars to discuss the current social, economic and political situation in the country and also how professionals, academics and entrepreneurs could contribute towards the creation of a better tomorrow.
Former SEC Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa
Following its successful seminar in Biyagama, the most recent seminar of Viyathmaga was held in Mathugama Town last Saturday. The seminar, which drew more than 500 participants, was organised by the legal professionals in the area. Viyathmaga key activists, former SEC Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, former SLPO Chairman Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrema and former SLRC Chairman Mohan Samaranayaka addressed the seminar.
Dr. Nalaka Godahewa pointed out that the country is currently facing a serious economic crisis with economic growth rate of 3.1% in 2018 being one of the lowest in Asia. “The economy was already on its knees when the Easter Sunday attacks took place,” said Dr. Godahewa.
“Tourism will be one of the worst-hit industries now with already more than 70% cancellations of bookings. Experts projecting an annual revenue loss of over $ 1.5 billion and nearly 400,000 direct and indirect employment will be affected. The Government is completely at a loss as to how it should face the crisis and the only solution that the Finance Minister seems to be aware of is asking the banks to offer lower interest rates under various fancy names. But it is not the Government but the banking sector, which will have to bear the burden if the Government fails to compensate for the interest gap. That will put the struggling banking sector also at risk. The need of the hour is not giving empty promises but a coming up with a broader strategy and a more compressive plan to strengthen the economy,” he explained.
Dr. Godahewa also discussed the areas a future government should focus on in its efforts to rebuild the economy. “Development of human capital will be the launching pad for building a prosperous nation. The effective use of technology in all industry sectors will be vital for us to leapfrog into the future,” he said.
Dr. Priyath Badu explained that being an island, the existing five main ports of Sri Lanka are extremely important for the future of Sri Lanka to evolve as a logistics and transportation hub. “Already the current Government has either given away or is in the process of giving away four of our main ports. Hambantota port is already handed over to the Chinese. Trincomalee and Kankesanthurai will be given to the Americans and the Indians. Colombo terminals are being offered to India and Japan,” he pointed out.
Dr. Priyath Bandu argued that not only are these strategic mistakes by the current Government but it is also highly possible that there is large scale corruption behind these deals. “Take for example, the sale of Hambantota Port to a Chinese Government. Now we hear that the money has come through a company in British Virgin Islands. If this is true you must wonder why the funds didn’t come directly from China. One doesn’t need to think far to understand what’s going on.”
“The national security of this country has been compromised without any doubt and one has to wonder whether this is also part of an international conspiracy by some powerful nations to have a foothold in Sri Lanka,” said Mohan Samaranayake.
“Over the last few years there had been repeated references by some high-level people at various international forums of the importance of the strategic location of Sri Lanka. The world order is changing and with the rise of China as a major economic powerhouse the battlegrounds are also changing. What better place than Sri Lanka for someone to base if you want to be in control of what’s happening in the region? But for you to get a foothold in Sri Lanka you have to first install a weak leadership in Sri Lanka. Now they have got what they want. Since independence we have never seen a government like this who is more than willing to compromise the sovereignty of the country for short-term gains.”