‘National policy to address the unemployment problem’
We are in the process of formulating a
National Policy on Human Resources which will be presented to the
Cabinet by December, said Human Resources (Senior) Minister D E W
Gunasekera speaking to the Daily News with regard to solving the problem
of unemployment faced by educated youths. The Mahinda Rajapaksa
government has given top priority to provide employment for educated
youths, the Minister added.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Do you think that the proposed Parliamentary Select
Committee will find a solution for the ethnic issue?
A: The proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) will
include 16 political parties from the government and four or five
political parties from the Opposition. There will be 31 members in the
PSC. All political parties in the country which are represented in the
Parliament will be included. This is a very good opportunity. We have to
shed our differences and work towards achieving a consensus. If we can
arrive at a consensus, it will strengthen the executive and the
legislature when implementing it.
Human Resources (Senior) Minister D E
The majority is not adequate to implement a consensus. In the past we
found solutions with the majority but could not implement anything.
History has given us another opportunity to find a solution for the
ethnic problem. More responsibility falls on the two main political
parties; SLFP and the UNP. They are the parties which govern the country
at all times. No solution can be found without their support. History
shows that all efforts to find a solution for the ethnic problem failed
because one of these political parties sabotaged it or aborted the
efforts of whatever government which was in power at that time.
The humanitarian operation ended two years ago. The younger
generation demands that we find a permanent solution, as they are the
future. We have adequate resources on this subject. We can learn from
our past experiences. We have experience of war. We have experience in
the failures of peace processes. What is necessary, in my view, is that
a collective effort to bring a consensus between the government and
Opposition political parties. This is a national question. It cannot be
solved by the government alone or by a single party. All political
parties need to support as this is a problem that affects all
communities and the entire population.
All political parties have their own policies and principles. But
they should be flexible and come to a compromise. The national question
needs compromise. After 30 years of suffering, people expect us to find
a solution. We have to compromise on behalf of the people to provide
them relief. We must seek the truth from facts and reality without
giving into our imagination, prejudices or fears.
Q: What do you think about the latest election victory of the
A: The UPFA government’s latest election victory can be
divided into two sections. That is winning the South and North. The
victory in the South is not surprising. There are many reasons behind
this victory. The first is defeating the LTTE. The second is economic
development achieved during the last five years with various challenges
such as the global financial crisis. When developed countries recorded
zero growth, we maintained over three percent growth rate. The other
important fact is President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s policy to develop
infrastructure, rural economy and small and medium-scale enterprises.
Rural areas have been neglected since independence. Now the rural people
see real development. The Opposition is divided with an internal crisis.
The JVP is losing popularity. These reasons are behind the victory of
the government in the South.
This is the first time after 1983 that the entire North went into a
poll peacefully. The government did not expect to win all Local
The result was not a surprise. The government launched a massive
development drive in the North but business communities, the tourism
industry, etc. received most of the benefits. Tamil nationalism still
prevails. Issues such as national pride and identity still exist.
However, I can see that the people are re-entering democracy after 30
Q: What do you think of the Channel 4 videos, Darusman Report,
anti Sri Lankan elements and issues faced by some countries such as
Norway and UK?
A: The Channel 4 videos and the Darusman Report are a combined
effort and a product of the LTTE diaspora, and also a reaction of
certain Western countries.
These documents are totally fabricated and created on imaginary
incidents, statistics etc. These documents are aimed at destabilizing
Sri Lanka, as the government did not give into pressures during the
final days of the humanitarian operation.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not provide any opportunity for
anyone to interfere. Also, certain Western countries do not like the
close relationship we have with socialist and Islamic countries. The
Darusman document aroused racism among communities and affected our
relationship with Tamil Nadu.
When it comes to our ethnic issue, Tamil Nadu is a key factor. Over
65 million Tamil people are living there and it is located just 20 miles
from Jaffna. They speak the same language, have the same culture. The
documents have done great damage at grass roots level but not government
No matter how hard they try, the impact of these documents will not
last for long. The bigger countries will re-think their position seeing
how a small country in size like Sri Lanka is rebuilding the country
after suffering for 30 years.
Western countries never realized the suffering we underwent. Now they
experience it through their own experiences such as the Oslo bombing.
Terrorism has already become a dangerous virus that affects both the
developing and developed countries. Terrorism emerged due to many
economic, social, political and cultural aspects.
Q: What is the responsibility of the Opposition and the public
at this juncture?
A: The United National Party has a moral responsibility to
join with the government and take part in the proposed PSC on behalf of
the people of Sri Lanka. The UNP also suffered and tried to solve the
problem in the past. The war started during the UNP regime. Therefore,
on behalf of the people, the UNP should take part in the PSC.
The Sri Lankan media had always been pessimistic when finding a
solution for the ethnic issue.
The media never supported this in the past and always focused on
sensationalizing it and making hot negative news. But the media has a
very important role to play in this regard. Its social responsibility
cannot be overlooked in the name of freedom of expression. In the past
whenever a solution emerged, the media averted it by confusing the
people. The media has a responsibility more than political parties. Our
country cannot afford another war. We have to get rid of the seeds of
war. After a period of 500 years, today, the Asian economy leads the
world economy. Unlike in 1983, today, we are in a globalized world. Sri
Lanka cannot afford to lag behind. We have to march forward as one
nation and become the 'Wonder of Asia'.
Q:What do you think about the human resources?
A: The Mahinda Rajapaksa government has given top priority to
provide employment for educated youths. That is why this ministry which
I am in charge of was established. Nearly 300,000 educated youths are
added annually to the country's job market. They have certificates but
not much knowledge in English, Information Technology etc. which have a
huge demand in the local and global job market. Countries such as Libya,
Syria, etc. face problems today because of the unemployment faced by
educated youths. We are in the process of formulating a National Policy
on Human Resources to address this issue. A steering committee has
already been appointed for this purpose which includes professionals,
academics, economists, trade unionists etc. There are seven ministries
involved in this. Reform is needed in education. The national policy
will be presented to the Cabinet by December.