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Friday, 5 March 2010

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Peace dividends

The end of the war has brought many dividends to the population. Some are seen. Some others are unseen. Some are acknowledged. Some others are ignored. To cap it all, politicians on election platforms of the Opposition deny even the most visible and tangible.

The other day the Leader of the Opposition was questioning whether the end of the war has brought any economic benefits. This reminds us of the saying that though the blind could be cured those pretending to be blind could not be cured.

As is apparent to any ordinary person, tourist arrivals to the country have increased since the end of the war. Sri Lanka has been named as the best destination or one of the best destinations to visit. From all over the world, tourists are arriving in large numbers. Hotel occupancy ratio has shot up even approximating 90 percent or higher in instances. This is a real visible tangible economic benefit.

The media reports an influx of local and foreign tourists in the North. That means new vistas for economic betterment of the people there.

The de-mining process is going on at a fast rate. New areas are cleared for human settlement. There is a construction boom in the newly liberated areas. This signifies a return to normalcy.

Despite the severe legacy of the three-decade-old war the livelihoods of the people are improving albeit gradually. It is not fair to expect miracles. Yet miracles are happening. Not small miracles as the Tourist Board used to say but real, big miracles.

Elections were held throughout the island to elect the President. The General election is also scheduled to be held islandwide. Though the reaction of the Northern citizenry to the former was somewhat lukewarm the General election has generated much enthusiasm. The elections to the Northern Provincial Council will follow soon. All these are signs of normalcy creeping back.

Most roadblocks have been cleared. Roads earlier closed have been open. Even the A9 is a busy highway now. There is vigorous economic interaction between the North and the South. High Security Zones are also being gradually opened up for people. The visibility of armed Police has diminished. None but the (politically) blind could fail to see all these developments.

The latest sign of normalcy being restored was the decision to assign Police Personnel for the security of ministers. Though an appeal for restoration of military security may arise the conditions on the ground does not warrant such facilities. Before the war started the Police Department was under Home Affairs Ministry. It was not an Armed Force. Hence, it was not under the Defence Ministry. The latest decision on ministerial security reflects that things are returning to the days of the past when normalcy reigned throughout the country.

National parks such as Wilpattu and Kumana which were closed on account of terrorist threats have been opened. Once again this could attract more tourists.

The situation could have been better if the private sector made use of the opportunities available to invest in the North as well as the South. The Sri Lankan private sector seems to be over-cautious. It wants the State to facilitate all infrastructure development first. Even when the government has given big concessions in reducing bank interest rates, it is shy to invest. Perhaps, it is asking for concessions and concessions only without being entrepreneurial.

The private sector should quickly come forward and invest in the tourism sector in the North and the East. The government could assist them wherever possible. However, the main thing is to take the plunge. The return on investments is not going to be very lengthy given the interest abroad in visiting Sri Lanka.

It is up to the tourism authorities to take up the challenge and market Sri Lanka abroad. Incidentally there was a very positive promotion campaign in Brussels recently. Such promotions should continue. Moreover, Sri Lankan missions in foreign countries should give priority to attracting more tourists.

The outcome of the General election would see a stable government in office. That could be the beginning of a new golden era in the economics and politics of the land.

Exercise your patriotic duty to the nation

The people of the country gave a mammoth victory to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the recent Presidential election defeating the conspiratorial anti-national elements brought together by the persuasion and financing of the International and Tamil Diaspora rogues,

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The Morning Inspection

Neutral I am not and I donít think you are either!

This is old. Really, really old. And we all know that some old things are so old that people think they have never been talked about, never thought about.

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General Sir John Kotelawela Defence University offers range of degree programs:

Bright prospects for defence students

The General Sir John Kotelawela Defence University (KDU) was established as an Academy in 1981 and elevated to University status in 1986. It is situated in a 48 acre block of land at Kandawala estate,

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