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Thursday, 23 July 2009

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Prudent management pays dividends

Debunking all doomsday predictions by the many cassandras, the IMF has awarded the much awaited stand by facility to Sri Lanka even surpassing the originally US Dollars 1.9 billion applied for. The first tranche of $ 313 million of the $ 2.5 billion pledged will be available immediately according to Finance and State Revenue Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya who made the announcement in Parliament.

This certainly is a remarkable achievement by the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa given the bleak picture painted in many quarters against the chances of Sri Lanka succeeding. Particularly, so after the remarks of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the time was not yet appropriate for Sri Lanka to qualify for the loan, with the US being in the top among the movers and shakers in the matter. There were many local interests with pro-West leanings who nodded wisely and gave Sri Lanka no chance.

The Government for its part was not overly concerned, with the position of our foreign reserves improving given the positive pick up of the economy in the aftermath of the war. This position was even reiterated by Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal who maintained that the loan if it was ever forthcoming would only be a bonus. Be that as it may the fact remains that the Government has been vindicated and has come out of the imbroglio with its credentials in tact.That the lending institution had chosen to relent is as much a personal victory of the President as the pragmatic economic policies followed by the Government.

The IMF in deciding to grant the facility had seen the need for assistance to rebuild the country in the post-war scenario and had also expressed its satisfaction at the pace of which the rebuilding process is continuing. It has also not imposed any conditions relating to human rights or extracted any other undertaking as feared by the Opposition for the granting of the loan. In fact the release of a sum more than was asked for without any strings attached is a resounding slap to the main Opposition UNP which had all along tried to belittle the Government’s achievements on the economic front and place it in the dog house vis a vis the international community.

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe should at least now realize that it is not only the UNP Governments which have the monopoly on international loans albeit being subjected to strict conditions such as the pruning down of the Government worker force or the drastic cuts on subsidies as the country witnessed in the past.

On the contrary, President Rajapaksa as he did with the war has stood his ground with regard to international aid refusing to compromise on the country’s sovereignty and independence. It is now up to him to ensure that the monies are used wisely for the optimum benefit of the people it was intended for. It is opportune that he has declared war on corruption at a time like this when the world is beginning to open its purse strings on Sri Lanka. For, the country saw how corruption thrived in the name of progress in a by gone era and money meant for development found their way into Swiss banks. No such thing should be allowed to occur this time around where astronomical sums are bound to pour in for the rebuilding of the war ravaged areas. The country will need every penny it gets to rebuild the vast devastation wreaked by three decade of war and see the country back on its feet.

Spare the children

This seems to be a bad period for children. We hear and read of teenage schoolgirls being waylaid in lonely stretches, raped and murdered. There was also an incident where four schoolboys who were part of a school excursion getting drowned while bathing in a waterfall, recently.

Yesterday, we carried a front page story of 20 schoolchildren being injured when their school van collided with a lorry in Chilaw. Mercifully the children are out of danger.

This of course is not the first time that vans transporting schoolchildren have met with mishaps and sometimes tragedy. It is obvious to anyone that a majority of these school vans are no better than overloaded private buses where profit is the motive. Parents have little option than to leave their children at the mercy of these school van drivers who not unlike the self same private buses speed along to get to school on time.

They have no option but to hare away since a single school van driver has to collect dozens of children until the van is chokeful increasing the risk and danger. Most of these school vans are rickety jalopies which endanger children not just from road accidents but also from noxious fumes emitted from their polluted underbellies through the many open holes on their floorboards.

It is time that the Transport Authorities set up a specific body to monitor the conduct of these private vans who too like their private bus counterparts are becoming a law unto themselves. These should include a limit to the number of passengers and also the physical condition of the van transporting these children.

Reform strategy in higher education - Part III:

A system responsive to requirements

In addition to the need to improve quality and relevance, the external degree programs, which have expanded in the last decade on the basis of the need to expand the access, demand immediate reforms as such programs cater to a very large number of students.

Full Story

Buddhism International Law and K.N. Jayatilleke (Part II):

Buddhism on governance

Although Prof. Jayathilleke did not, in detail, differentiate between home policy and foreign policy of a state, he did not fail to show that both home and foreign policies of a state should be based on the Dharma. We cannot expect a state to follow foreign policy based on Dharma while following a home policy devoid of it. In International politics a state is the most important unit.

Full Story

 

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