Sri Lanka: Sinhala-only language policy "building bloc" to today's conflict

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Aug 1 14:44:28 UTC 2006

Weak infrastructure impedes development Secretary to the Treasury asserts

Created 2006-07-30 04:12
By Quintus Perera  Asian Tribune

Colombo, 30 July, ( Secretary to the Treasury, Dr P B
Jayasundera said the retardation of development and the country would have
been led to other socio-economic problems due to the poor infrastructure,
specially the roads and electricity. He was addressing the members of the
Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at its 167th Annual General Meeting held at the
Cinnamon Grand Hotel.Dr.P.B. Jayasundara said despite all the adverse
effects of rising oil prices, escalating hostilities, there is a high
growth rate of 6 to 7 percent, but it is not visible due to poor
infrastructure facilities, especially roads.

Mahen Dayananda was elected as the New Chairman Ceylon Chamber of
Commerce. Indicating that before funds were raised for development Sri
Lanka would have obtained funds to develop the road network several years
ago as if the infrastructure has been developed, then the development of
the country would have taken place automatically. He said the way the
Government procure funds and implement various development projects takes
enormous amount of time for negotiations and to follow tender procedures
sometimes around seven years, and the solution would be to allow these
projects to be implemented by the private sector.  He said some such
projects handled by the private sector have taken only just 18 months.

Dr Jayasundera said despite all the adverse effects of rising oil prices,
escalating hostilities, there is a high growth rate of 6 to 7 percent, but
it is not visible due to poor infrastructure facilities, especially roads.
He said the concept Peace for Development should be changed to Development
for Peace as development should continue and overall development and
infrastructure development would then naturally bring in peace. He said
ignoring the road development would be one cause to have various
agitations that led to conflicts as when people are isolated in the
provinces restricting their movement it would be an opportunity to revolt.
Infrastructure and development would have prevented many of the problems
and conflicts now facing the country. He said massive road and power
supply development projects have to be launched.

Dr Jayasundera said the ordinary citizens and the government have
demonstrated they are in a matured democracy in finding a peaceful
settlement for the conflict in the midst of provocative actions by the
terrorists. Yet the country is going through an exciting time despite
facing many economic problems and said even the economies of the Soviet
Union, US Europe India China, East Asia are buoyant. .As inflation indices
recently indicated that almost every country in the world is showing high
inflationary tendencies. He said Central Banks too is responding very
aggressively as the Federal Reserves in US for the six consecutive times
have raised the interest rates.

He said a team from the International Monetary Fund making their usual
assessment of Sri Lankas economic performances and the post tsunami
recovery and the way the country is managed has commended for the
sustenance of a buoyant economic activity. He said 8 percent growth rate
is expected and this growth requires high level of investment, high level
of efficiency and productivity and that investment must come from the
private sector. He said the international reserves are at 2.4 billion
dollars and the countrys production sectors are doing well and all the
sectors agriculture, rural sector are doing very well.

He said successive governments have failed to identify the priorities like
the power crisis as without ensuring long-term electricity there would be
no long-term investment. He said large power generation plans are afoot
with Indian and Chinese assistance. He said they have managed to address
one of the major problems in the country of launching projects that are
funded by foreign donors through the government which sometimes take about
7 years 3 to 4 years negotiations and another about 3 years to cover
tender procedures, whereas some projects handled by the Private sector, it
has taken only 18 months., such as telecommunications industry and power

He said due difficulties encountered by the people to move for want of a
proper roads infrastructure network some have left the country for better
employment and they are contributing around $ 2.5 billion to the economy
of the country. He said that if there is proper infrastructure these
people could would have stayed and earn the same amount or more in Sri
Lanka. He said it is important to utilize the funds that are already
pledged by the donors, rather than going for new funds which now stands at
4.4 billion dollars. He said the Asian Development Bank alone has pledged
$1.8 billion. It should be utilized within 3 to 4 years, at least one
billion per year.

Deva Rodrigo, Chairman, CCC making address touched upon many areas that
affect the entire gamut of business and industry. Speaking of power and
energy he said the expert opinion has been if there are good roads a fair
amount of energy could be saved. He said the other solutions for the power
crisis would be renewable energy such as solar, wind, mini-hydro, ocean
waves, biomass and a host of environment friendly energy sources that are
being developed. He said the most challenging goal in the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) would be the halving of the revenant poverty in
the country by 2015 and a debate has emerged whether to enhance growth or
reduce income disparities, the later a popular notion among the
underprivileged. He said equity is not the same as equality. Equity means
equality of opportunities. Giving the poor access to education, health,
economic infrastructure, finance and judicial systems which would promote
equality of opportunities.

He said according to statistics available has indicated economic growth is
a prerequisite for poverty reduction. He said though in the 8 years from
1994 to 2002 the share of income of the lowest 10 percent had dropped from
3.5 percent to 1.7 percent, during this period the percentage of poor
people in the population dropped from 29 percent to 23 percent. Referring
to the North-East Conflict, Rodrigo said a bipartisan approach towards
resolving the North East conflict is the firm stance of the Chamber. He
said discussions with key personalities who helped forge peace in South
Africa and Northern Ireland have taught us that Sri Lanka should not
publicize its initiatives, the progress it achieve and in particular, the
meetings it has with key stakeholders and the second point is the efforts
to bring the parties together and develop proposals have necessarily to be
sustained over a long period , acknowledge that there will be set backs
and not be frustrated by them and Sri Lanka should always be strictly
apolitical , independent and objective.

Rodrigo said The isolation of the people in the North East, through
exclusion from the economic activity of the country, the perception that
Tamils are discriminated against in employment selection, the Sinhala only
language policy, the district quota system to qualify for entrance to
universities, the repression of many Tamil speaking people, and the
violence against Tamil civilians during the July 1983 riots, when the
government or sections of the government machinery, including senior
ministers, tacitly permitted the continuance of the carnage for five long
days, are the building blocks of todays conflict. He said Tamil people
rightly feel insecure. Many thousands, mostly civilians, lost their lives.
Many more lost their properties and life savings. One cannot blame them
for subscribing to the case of liberation.  The LTTE, however ruthless it
may be, has the support of the majority of the Tamils living in Sri Lanka
and abroad.

From: - Asian Tribune -

Source URL:

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list