By Siri Gamage –
Sri Lanka’s New Directions soon after the Parliamentary Elections: National Demands vs. International Dimension
Leaving aside the ongoing horse-trading going on for positions in the new ministries, appointment of defeated candidates to the national list by the party secretaries, and the concept of national government mooted by both the UNP and the SLFP leadership, there is no doubt that the country will expertise a new path in political, economic, diplomatic and other arenas in the close to future. Political and civic forces that have been behind the adjust initiated on January 8th and strengthened with the outcomes of the parliamentary elections held this month –though at present are in a state of flux- are potent adequate to introduce and implement policies and applications that are different from those implemented by the previous regime led by former President Mahinda Rajapakse. We are however to get a really feel for these new policies and applications. It is early days. Nonetheless, it is achievable to imagine the nature of foreign policy to be adopted by the new government and some of the policies as properly as challenges facing the nation and the new government. Election manifesto of the UNFGG led by the UNP supplies some tips in this connection.
Questions can however be raised about the directions in financial policy to be adopted by the new government. Is it going to be complete-blown neoliberal, free-market place driven policies equivalent to the Open Economy policies adopted by JR since 1977? Or is it a mixture of a nationally focused policy with some encouragement offered to indigenous industries, producers, farmers and other entrepreneurs even though pandering to the multinational corporations from the US, Europe, Australia and the Asian area? Is it going to be a Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysian style economic improvement exactly where the regional and international capital run the show or is it going to be an economic policy oriented toward a far more sustainable development with a firm foot on the natural environment, regional culture, needs of the population at huge rather than the well-to-do segments of society- such as these with close hyperlinks to the Sri Lankan diaspora?
When we look at the tourism sector for instance, several who operate in its five star establishments like resorts, hotels are just earning a ‘living wage only’ once they leave out their meals, transport, housing and other costs. They have a job but it doesn’t give considerably surplus on a month-to-month basis when the costs are left out. The same could be stated about these working in factories set up in Cost-free Trade Zones and similar enterprises with foreign capital, ownership and know-how. Colombo and other cities in the country are currently becoming a also costly place for mum and dad visitors. Numerous hotels and resorts appear to be catering to higher-finish tourists with fat pockets. These places of entertainment, relaxation and are beyond the capacity of many Sri Lankans to afford. So are the higher-end shops that are selling designer products. If the needs of country’s population are at heart, the new government demands to develop policies and applications that can on a single hand give job opportunities for the young in various sectors where they can earn ‘a genuine wage’ to fulfil their life aspirations rather than a living wage alone. Similarly, it has to develop policies and programs to offer you products and services for these living in the rural sector, working class and middle class in a affordable expense-benefit framework. The balance of emphasis has to be turned up side down in some ways compared to the policies and applications of the prior regime, which created the basis for a ‘synthetic’ and ‘corrupt’ economy. Making conditions for ‘economic democracy’ is as critical for a small island nation like Sri Lanka for its extended-term vision and development.
Going back to the roots of Sri Lanka freedom Party’s economic policies, especially these implemented throughout early to mid 70s beneath Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike, 1 could even speculate that there could be some emphasis on supporting nearby entrepreneurs, farmers, industrialists, pros and so forth. to develop their respective fields and compete in the globe and regional markets. This is where one particular can count on, rightly or wrongly, the new government to orient its financial policies in such a way that it provides priority to boost nearby meals production, manufacturing, service and other fields with an eye for the regional and international markets – instead of producing the nearby population just imitative customers of imported items and services. In the globalised planet where Sri Lankan diaspora is spread more than several countries, this challenge may be met with its cooperation and excellent will. Nevertheless, the competitors Sri Lanka faces from the nations in the area and elsewhere will be fierce. For that reason, while emphasising the national concentrate in economic field, it is also crucial for the newly elected PM, Parliamentarians, ministers, as properly as key bureaucrats and policy makers to recognize the existing state of play in the area in their respective fields of activity.
One consideration ought to be the improvement of high quality of life. This is where the notions of sustainable development, environmental protection, top quality education, well being and nutritional solutions, transport options, and import policy and so on. can be a catalyst. Taking for example the fume developed by diesel and petrol operated autos on the country’s roads, one particular can only hope for policies to lessen such damaging fumes. The congestion on roads contributes to ill health, as are imported products with artificial additives. Smoking, alcohol and drug consumption are other locations of concern. Commercialisation of the medical profession/sector with out promoting ‘services with a social conscience’ is consuming into the very fabric of society, specifically its vulnerable segments. These with cash and sources are capable to access private well being facilities but the vast majority rely on state sponsored overall health services. In this connection, current introduction of an ambulatory service in two districts with the help of Indian government need to have to be appreciated.
A society’s soul is measured by how its members take care of the sick, old, vulnerable and the weak. Charitable and voluntary organisations play a essential part in this regard by complementing services provided by the state. However, such organisations want the assistance of the state to some extent in financial terms also.
If the new directions adopted by the national government is just to cater to foreign interests in economic and other fields, Sri Lanka runs the threat of becoming a satellite state of regional and worldwide massive powers who have their own agendas. A policy re-think is also needed in almost in all fields at this juncture. This is since there could be policy conflicts among the two election manifestos of the two major political camps on 1 hand and policy vacuum in other locations. The new government has to hit the road operating and it does not have much time to waste ahead of getting to company of government. Although these in a variety of political camps are busy trying to sort out positions, responsibilities and privileges, the majority of folks yarn for some relief for day-to-day living on a single hand and a greater future on the other. It is for creating required situations for great governance as effectively as sensible financial and other policies that are nationally focused but regionally and internationally integrated that a great opposition is necessary in the national parliament. Policies of the new government need to be founded on an articulate social, financial and political philosophy also. But the attributes of such a philosophy are not frequently identified, particularly in the context of the national government getting mooted at present! The MOU signed in between the two major political camps does not supply enough information in terms of the general direction of the new government.