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
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
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
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
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
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.