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Saturday, 3 October 2009

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Clarion call to professionals

Post-conflict Sri Lanka has embarked on a massive development drive that covers all regions including the newly liberated Northern and Eastern provinces. The present Government, to its credit, went ahead with many development programs even at the height of the conflict. Now that peace has dawned, there is greater impetus on development which can continue unhindered.

These development programs would cost more than Rs. 5 billion. Many countries are willing to assist Sri Lanka to undertake this major development drive. Among the areas covered are roads, power, water supply, irrigation, housing, telecommunications and healthcare facilities. There will necessarily be greater focus on the North and the East, whose infrastructure has to be rebuilt almost from scratch.

A development drive on this scale needs manpower and professional expertise. There is an erroneous perception that Sri Lankans cannot design and execute major projects without foreign assistance and expertise. The truth is that many projects are being undertaken without foreign expertise and funds, as 100 percent local ventures.

This is the time that Sri Lanka needs a firm commitment from her professionals to embark on this unprecedented development drive. Thousands of Sri Lankan professionals have left our shores in search of greener pastures due to various reasons including the protracted conflict which restricted the opportunities available to skilled workers. They are now engaged in lending their expertise to the governments and citizens of those countries.

Addressing engineers and other professionals on Thursday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said it was time for the country's expatriate intellectuals/professionals and others, to return to their roots and help rebuild the Nation.

In the words of the President, the country which is on the threshold of a new era needs the services of its intellectuals/professionals today more than at any other time in its history, to guide the nation on the path to lasting peace and prosperity.

This is a clarion call from the Head of State to all Sri Lankan professionals domiciled abroad. The Government has already announced several plans and incentives to facilitate their return and we are sure there will be more. After all, Sri Lanka's Governments and the people have funded their education which helped them secure coveted jobs in those countries. Now is the time for these professionals to express their gratitude to the people and to renew their bonds. It is heartening to note that the Government is also reaching out to the professionals in the Tamil Diaspora, who now have an opportunity to participate in the rebuilding of the North and the East.

Engineering professionals will be in high demand as there will be a major infrastructure development program especially in the North and the East, but all other professionals will have a major role. Their talents must be recognized and harnessed for the nation building exercise. But the question remains whether we have recognized our professionals in an adequate manner. Many Sri Lankans who were not properly recognized locally have won plaudits in other countries for their work. Names such as Prof. Cyril Ponnamperuma, Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe and Prof. Mohan Munasinghe come to mind in this regard. We have to reward and appreciate the work done by our professionals living here and abroad to get their optimal services to the Nation.

Brain drain is a problem that affects all developing countries, not just Sri Lanka. We must study how other countries are dealing with this issue. India is a shining example for the recognition granted to expatriates or Non Resident Indians (NRIs). They are given a special ID card and many other facilities should they wish to serve the Motherland either by returning to India or even from their current locations. Such a model could be adopted here as well.

We find that only health professionals are usually blamed for staying back in countries to which they go for higher (post graduate) studies. Many other professionals engage in the same practice. On the other hand, we have to appreciate that nearly 90 percent of all professionals who go abroad for higher studies return to serve the Motherland. It is now up to the authorities to secure the return of the others.

One other issue affecting the professional sector is that only a very few categories such as doctors and lawyers are recognized as professionals per se in Sri Lanka. Some of these fields have a very high demand in other countries, making migration an easy option for such personnel. The Organization of Professional Associations and professionals' bodies must resolve this issue so that many other skilled workers can be recognized as professionals in order to encourage them.

All Sri Lankans, not just professionals, must join hands at this juncture to secure a brighter future for Sri Lanka and to banish communal and religious divisions. Such an approach will lead to lasting peace, harmony and prosperity in our Motherland.

Ownership of land made simple, clear and accurate

Inheriting a land with a clear deed is a foundation for life for any citizen, as it adds more strength to him or her to reach prosperity in life. But this has become one of the biggest challenges in their lives due to shortcomings especially the complex nature of the land deed registration system.

Full Story

The Morning Inspection

Rights and wrongs and pirith-nool jokes

Ranil Wickremesinghe seems to have a thing for hand/wrist ornaments. There was a time he was obsessed with bracelets, promising all young people bracelets if they voted for him. He never got to hear the end of it. Now heís concerned himself with pirith nool,

Full Story

On My Watch

GSP+ puts Europe in quandary too

As the pressure on Sri Lanka to give into pro-LTTE pressure in the post-conflict situation mounts, there are mixed signals coming that the apparent unity of the sections of the international community that have been clamouring for action against Sri Lanka, are not as strong as they have appeared to be.

Full Story

 

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