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Thursday, 25 August 2011






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‘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 W Gunasekara

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 UPFA government?

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 Government bodies.

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 years.

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 level.

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.



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