The Sunday Leader

Challenges Before The National Government

Talks commenced last week between the UNP and SLFP in the Joint National Council of the two parties to renew for another period their memorandum of understanding reached two-and-a-half years ago for the formation of the National Government. There will be a time lapse of six months in drawing up the MOU for the next two-and-a-half years which will be of much relevance to the progress of the country and the people.

During these discussions there will be analyses of what has been done and not done since the two parties came together. It will be in an atmosphere different to that of parliament. Here the mood could be more introspective and realistic. This would indeed be beneficial because in our country politicians and their leaders tend to thump one another vigorously on their backs for achievements not that great.

The National Government at the start did keep to its populist pledges such as hitherto unimaginable salary hikes and drastic reduction in essential commodities much to the delight of the people. But these populist pledges sank hole in the bottom of the country’s budget whose depth which the leaders themselves were unaware of. Perhaps such action was essential at the commencement of a government that held out so many promises but the legacy of the past government soon brought them to face reality.

Much of the democratic rights that were lost has been restored but rights called by Tamils and Muslims have not been realised to some extent. These need much attention in the second half memorandum if this national government is to face the hustings together and appeal to the minorities that contributed much to their victory in 2015.

The slow economic progress made has dampened the enthusiasm of some of the members of the National Government. Leaders of the SLFP as well as the UNP have to come to terms with global economic realities and be able to adapt themselves to prevailing economic conditions and realities. Some SLFPers are still suffering from the socialist hangovers and are allergic to capitalist solutions. Privatization and the Private Sector are still dirty words to these socialist dreamers. If there is a way out through socialism, certainly it should be given a try but what socialist measure can pull us out of this economic morass?

In today’s global economic context, stagnant economies with no finance for regeneration of wealth need foreign investments but to most SLFPers foreign investors are blood suckers, which is not true. Certainly they want to make a fair profit on their investments but they cannot squander their wealth solely for the love of the Sri Lankan people.

Land given out on rent or leased for long periods does not amount to ‘selling the mother country’. This unfortunately is the view held by most Sri Lankan socialists even a quarter century after socialist mother countries had given up on socialism and adopted capitalist or free market policies.

The progress of a country is highly dependent on the leadership provided to our youth. How much of that is evident in the day-to-day life of Sri Lankans other than that of the raucous and rowdy leadership given to youth quite regularly in street demonstrations?

The investment potential of a country is dependent to a fair extent on the country’s political stability. Political leaders as well as the media can contribute much in projecting and promoting the state of political stability which our media seems incapable of. On the other hand the converse happens where rowdy demonstrations on minor issues are shown on prime time TV because it seems entertaining!

Politicians of both parties should commence thinking on whether they are to contest the forthcoming elections as a joint coalition or as separate parties. Whether the two parties -UNP or SLFP – can win elections on their own without coalescing should be considered realistically without emotion in their own interests.

The other factor for consideration should be that in the event of the failure of these two parties at the hustings, which other party would govern this country. What can be expected of them?  Could they differ from their old ways and habits or are they capable of presenting and implementing new and vigorous policies?

There are many issues that need urgent consideration such as the 25 ventures identified as ‘national priority projects’ which would be included in the next part of the Memorandum of Understanding which unfortunately cannot be discussed here for lack of space.

Democratic rights and economic progress are the prime needs of Sri Lanka and that is the challenge before the two parties governing the country not only for the next two-and-a-half years but also into the foreseeable future.

2 Comments for “Challenges Before The National Government”

  1. Malin

    Land given out on rent or leased for long periods does not amount to ‘selling the mother country’. I don’t agree with your comment. Leasing land for 99 years will cover two generations one being unborn. That’s the fear. It will be more appropriate to lease our land whether to Foreigners or locals should be limited to maximun 40 years or so.

  2. Eng.M.V.R.Perera

    the economic progress can only be had only by having coal fueled BOT projects as based load and economical hydro with large reservoirs as peaking power and there should not be any other power connected to the grid once we are developed economically their will not be any communal problems as we would then Identify all citizens as Sri Lankans . It should also be noted that many countries can complete a 3x300Mw coal plant and connect it to the grid within 3 years of signing the agreement and handing over land required for the project to them

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