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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

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Economic renaissance in the offing

That the country’s economy has taken flight post war is certainly a happy augury for its future development and progress that had taken a back seat during the past three decades.All signs are that the country is on the road to recovery with the easing of restrictions and hassles that were part and parcel during the years of the war.

Today we see almost all the road blocks and barriers being dismantled and bans lifted on hitherto no go zones gradually transforming Colombo to the bustling Commercial hub it had always been.The end to the frequent bomb blasts and mayhem has also lent an air of free mobility and enterprise.

These changes are only reflective of the overall economic renaissance that is taking place inspiring investor confidence and galvanising the corporate sector. The emerging picture can only make all Sri Lankans look to the future with optimism.

The statement made by Treasury Secretary that Sri Lanka’s economy has made a remarkable turnaround is indicative of this positive trend. That the country’s economic outlook had improved during the last quarter of 2009 - only four months after end of the war - is a pointer that the country is on the road to recovery and the people could before long expect the fruits of economic progress.

According to Dr Jayasundera there has been a recovery in exports, imports, domestic construction, tourism and manufacturing activities, plantation and agriculture. “Economic activity has dramatically improved towards the last quarter of the year following the military victory in the North in May last year and the global recovery,” he said.

It is here pertinent to note that President Mahinda Rajapaksa kept the economy on a steady course during the war. Had he allowed it to collapse under the weight of the astronomical war expenditure it is doubtful if this recovery would have been so rapid.

It is now upto the Government to see this steadied ship coasts along majestically without allowing it to ebb and flow in the choppy seas of the global economy. All opportunities that have presented itself should be seized. Already we see the tourism sector stirring up from decades of enforced slumber and beginning to roar. There has to be new initiatives and innovations in order to make the maximum capital out of the transformed climate.

Dr Jayasundera also said the recovery has also helped the Government enjoy improved revenue collection in the last three months of 2009. This is an area which the Government should now draw its full attention to. The three decade-long war denied a huge chunk of revenue due to the Government coffers be it taxes or other forms of state revenue due to the disturbed State in the country.

At the height of the war the entire North and East was cut off from the country losing for it not only its revenue sources but also its resources that would have been a boon to the country’s economy. Now that the war has ended all this revenue and resources could be plugged into the larger economic veal. The Government should set the process moving without delay.

It should also look at ways to maximize revenue through widening the tax net and ensuring compliance by those who already pay taxes. It should come down hard on black economy which is denying the State its due revenue. Existing laws should be amended to deal sternly with tax evaders using legal loopholes.

Different strategies should now be employed in the face of a buoyant economy especially in respect of promoting exports. More incentives in this regard to the export trade should be considered.

While the Government maps up its macro economic picture in the transformed scenario it should also provide all incentives to revive the indigenous sector which had been consigned to the limbo during the war period.All incentives should be granted to put the Small and Medium scale entrepreneur back on his feet.

Dr Jayasundera also noted that the economic recovery would be greatly aided by the improved performance of the public sector. This no doubt should engage the serious attention of the Government if it is to revamp and energize the economy. For, it is no secret that the public sector today carries a heavy load of dead wood of no productive use. De-politicization of the public sector would be the ideal remedy so that discipline could be maintained for maximum output.

At the time the economy is set to take off all sectors should lend their shoulder to the wheel to ensure a positive outcome.

Tourism industry diversified for rural uplift

Sri Lanka is popular for attracting foreigners since ancient times. Marco Polo described Sri Lanka as “the finest island for its size in all the world”. Tourism has become the most vibrant sector of Sri Lanka following the end of war. Tourist arrivals have increased immensely providing a huge boost to the country’s economic growth. Following the end of the war upto January end, nearly 400,000 tourists have visited Sri Lanka. It is targeted to attract 1.5 million tourists by the end of this year and the year 2011 has been declared “Visit Sri Lanka Year”.

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The Morning Inspection - Malinda

On the Jeanne Thwaites Formula of getting clean candidates

Ranil Wickremesinghe looks like an unfit, unskilled, reserve goalie in an under 13 soccer team facing up to a penalty kick by Ronaldo. He can’t save a goal even if his life depended on it. He’s let so many slip through his legs over the past six years that it is a wonder he’s still out there in the field. He should have retired or been retired a long time ago. But then again, as Team Manager, Team Owner, Team Captain and Team Coach he can pick himself and play any position I suppose. In the end though, it’s his supporters that get played.

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Back to BASICS - Renton de Alwis

Of curiosity, rights and what’s right

Like most of you, I am curious about many things. Some may think that my curiosity borders on naivety. I choose not to have any qualms about it. I strongly believe that if each individual ventures to express one’s curiosity, in a rational and decent manner in public, the summation of those voices can be a huge force that can be catalytic in creating positive change.

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