Times economic analysis
Economic revival and realistic goals
By the Economist
In the past two decades the country has been striving
to achieve an annual economic growth of around 7 to 8 per cent over a period
of a decade. This has proved an elusive goal. Last year's economic stagnation
and the low rates of growth in recent years have meant that the desired
rate of growth has shot up.
The prime minister articulated our current needs to be around 9 to 10
percent annual growth on GDP sustained over a period of a decade. It is
only such a rate of economic growth that could provide the needed employment
opportunities, raise per capita incomes to about double the current levels
at the end of this decade and have a serious impact on poverty alleviation.
While his projection must remain our goal, the immediate need is to
put back the economy on a much more modest growth path. Even the achievement
of a 5 percent growth that we have achieved during normal years appears
unrealistic in the current context. The destabilization of the economy
in 2001 and the fiscal overhang from last year makes domestic recovery
The biggest constraint to achieving a higher rate of economic growth
would be international market conditions. Although the international economy
is expected to revive, only a modest recovery is expected. And that too
is uncertain. The Japanese economy is still struggling to generate growth
and is expected to take some time. The US economy may achieve better results
as it recovers from the shock effects of the September 11 blasts. The increased
availability of funds for reconstruction and the reduced interest rates
may also stimulate the US economy. Yet a robust growth cannot be expected.
Overall the global conditions are likely to be somewhat better than last
year, but expectations of a rapid growth is not on the cards.
Even a modest recovery will help sustain our exports to slightly higher
levels than that of last year. It is on the domestic front that the new
government must make the moves to render our exports more competitive.
This should not imply the conventional IMF-World Bank prescription of a
depreciation of the currency. What is needed is a new thrust to reduce
costs of domestic industry through enhanced industrial efficiency. Better
management practices, an improved work ethic and good employer-employee
relations could reduce costs. Speedier actions on the part of the government
to resolve bottlenecks could also assist.
Improvements in infrastructure could help in the long run.
There are expectations once again that peace is around the corner. There
can be absolutely no doubt that an improvement in the security situation
would be a big boost to the economy. The economy has not fired with all
its cylinders for the last twenty years. Peace could generate a new growth
momentum. It would change the climate for foreign investment, enable the
full exploitation of our tourist potential, increase agricultural production
in the North and East, expand the area for fishery exploitation and generate
new economic enterprises in the East in particular.
The reconstruction efforts would have multiplier effects on all sectors
of the economy. The foreign funds that are expected to redouble the reconstruction
effort would enhance income-generating opportunities arising from the rebuilding
of the North and East. The foreign funds would also assist in replenishing
our dwindled foreign exchange reserves.
While the potential peace dividend is large, we cannot pin our efforts
for economic recovery on this expectation alone. A wise government will
make every effort to revive the economy and achieve a higher rate of economic
growth without peace. It must aim at about a realistic 6 percent growth
for a start. A ten percent growth can realistically be expected only with
peace, the reconstruction effort and better global economic conditions.
The speed at which the government is able to provide adequate power for
rapid industrialization would be an important determinant of our economic
growth.The capacity of the government to put in place a package of policies
to assist agriculture would also be an important factor in achieving the
desired higher economic growth rate.
LTTE-Dawood-ISI ring in smuggling
India has told Interpol and Sri Lanka that Pakistan has been a nerve-centre
for LTTE for smuggling narcotics, arms and ammunition with active connivance
of Dawood Ibrahim's gang. According to Home Ministry sources, Karachi is
the hub of all LTTE activities led by Kumaran Padmanabhan. Here the Dawood
Ibrahim gang supplies heroin and other narcotics worth thousands of crores
to LTTE cadre who distribute the drugs to European and African countries.
The Pakistan government is fully aware of the contraband trade, which also
involves buying of arms and ammunition for LTTE terrorists, the sources
On behalf of LTTE, Lakhsman, Moinuddin, Shahjahan and Belachari Stanley
buy narcotics from Dawood followers like Iqbal Mirchi, Anis Bhai Kaskar
and Naved Khan and smuggle them to Malaysia, Singapore, Ghana, India, Nepal,
Nigeria, Australia, Britain and other European countries. In India, LTTE
men receive smuggled narcotics in Rajasthan, Mumbai and Gujarat and then
export them through Chennai and Tuticorin coasts, the sources said. The
ships, which carry the narcotics goods emanating from Karachi, are insured
by Dawood Ibrahim and if these goods are seized, full amount is paid to
the purchasers. Dawood's gang is packaging drugs in the skin of oranges
after removing the pulp and in readymade garments. One woman named Appa
in Singapore is coordinating smuggling activities of Ezaz Pathan Dawood,
the sources said, adding that some terrorists arrested in Mumbai and Colombo
have disclosed the modus operandi and the close links between the LTTE
and Dawood Ibrahim who enjoys the patronage of ISI. The sources, however,
did not confirm whether the list of criminals and terrorists sent to Pakistan
and the US by India included the names of LTTE operatives in Pakistan.-
Deccan Herald India
The convicts seen outside the Court of Appeal on Friday.
The Embilipitiya Judgment:
Where the mills of justice did grind
Focus on Rights
By Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
When the judg- ment of the Court of Appeal this Friday,
affirming the convictions of six accused (subject to certain variations)
in the Embilipitiya case where 24 schoolchildren had been abducted from
their homes and subsequently disappeared in 1989, was explained to the
relatives of the children outside court, it was predictably an emotional
moment. The Court of Appeal Bench comprising Justices P.H.K. Kulatilaka
and Raja Fernando, in a one hundred and five page judgement delivered by
Justice Kulatilaka, affirmed the sentences of five and ten years rigorous
imprisonment (to run concurrently) imposed on the accused, including Dayananda
Lokugalappaththi, former Principal of the Embilipitiya Central School.
convicts seen outside the Court of Appeal on Friday.
The Embilipitiya Case, the like of which we would be fortunate never
to experience again in this country, concerned the "disappearances" of
students of the Embilipitiya Central School during the height of the JVP
rebellion. This was one of the most horrific of personal vendettas during
those extraordinary times, where selected students were given the ultimate
punishment for having flouted the authority of the principal of the school
over an affair being conducted between the principal's son and another
student in the school. The students had been "disappeared" by officers
of the nearby Sevana Army camp, instigated by the affronted principal.
The trial into the "disappearances" proceeded against Dayananda Lokugalappthatthi
and his son, Chaminda who were the first and the second accused while the
rest included Lt. Col. R.P. Liyanage district coordinating secretary for
the area and army soldiers attached to the Sevana Army camp. Evidence placed
before the Ratnapura High Court in a long drawn out trial spanning over
three years since the date of indictment, was revealing for many reasons.
The High Court heard the testimony of a number of students who were
thus abducted, teachers of the school who testified that the first accused
cherished an enmity towards some students in the school whom he saw as
flouting his authority, that the first accused had asked them to supply
a list of such rebellious students so that 'he could ask the army to take
care of them" that the first accused functioned in his school with weapons
including a gun and a grenade kept on his desk and that he was on terms
of close friendship with the soldiers at the Army camp nearby. Evidence
also established conspiracy between the fourth to ninth accused and the
first accused who gave to the soldiers a list of students whom he wanted
"lifted", in which list, the names of the twenty five students along with
a number of other students were specified. As the bodies of the students
were never found, no charges of actual murder of the students were brought
however, against the accused.
The Ratnapura High Court found the Lokugalappaththi and the accused
army officers guilty of numerous offences under the Penal Code. All of
them were given varyingly severe sentences but in practical terms limited
to a period of 10 years. It was the appeal of the accused against these
sentences which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal this week.
The third accused, the principal's son, Chaminda meanwhile, was acquitted
of the charges against him on the basis that even though evidence proved
that he had made certain statements saying that those students opposed
to him would end up on tyres, no other evidence could be established implicating
him. Lt. Col. Rohan Parakrama (Parry) Liyanage, District Coordinating Secretary
for the area was also acquitted on the basis that no evidence could be
found linking him to the charges of abduction with intent to kill.
Brigadier Liyanage's acquittal meanwhile led to other interesting repercussions
when he subsequently won a fundamental rights case against his non promotion
to the rank of Major General, even though the Army Commander had recommended
his promotion. The promotion had been denied to him by the Defence Secretary
who took the position that Brigadier Liyanage had shown himself to have
had "insufficient control over his subordinates" during the time that the
Embilipitiya 'disappearances' had occurred. Thus, the Secretary maintained
that it was in the best interest of the Sri Lanka Army to deny him his
The Supreme Court however disagreed, stating that in the absence of
direct involvement in the disappearances, Brigadier Liyanage merely occupied
a place of authority in the chain of command. The Court found the promotion
of others above and below him (such as Brigadier Vajira Wijeratne, the
Provincial Commander of the area who was Brigadier Liyanage's immediate
superior and Capt. K.V.V. Chamarasinghe, Detachment Commander), to indicate
While Wijeratne had admittedly not been indicted in the Embilipitiya
case, Chamarasinghe who was an officer in charge of the Sevana Detachment
had been so indicted.
The Court did not accept the plea of the State that the "disappearance
case" had attracted international as well as local concern and that the
miscreants must be seen to have been suitably dealt with. On the contrary,
there was no rational reason why Brigadier Liyanage should be singled out
from those who might be held accountable because of their positions in
the chain of command.
The "recommendations of the Commander of the Army" sent to the Secretary,
Defence (regarding Brigadier Liyanage's promotion) were directed to be
"implemented". Brigadier Liyanage was also given compensation. Interestingly
however, the judgement of the Supreme Court was not complied with by President
Chandrika Kumaratunge who, through the Military Secretary, served Brigadier
Liyanage an order "regretting that she cannot agree to the recommendation
of the Commander of the Army " to promote him to the rank of Brigadier
General." The Supreme Court thereafter refused to hold that the Presidential
refusal to promote him amounted to contempt of court.
Thus it was that with Friday's judgment of the Court of Appeal, this
week saw yet another chapter in the Embilipitiya "disappearances ' saga
closing. Perhaps more than any other instance in the recent history of
this country, the Embilipitiya disappearances highlighted the impunity
given to individuals who instigate officers of the State to commit acts
of disappearances over private vendettas and those officers who commit
such acts under colour of office.
The plight that the parents of the disappeared children underwent, subsequent
to the heinous incidents, demonstrated this very well.
Though they had petitioned the authorities from the then Army Commander
Hamilton Wanasinghe to the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa and though
promises of investigation were made, no real action was taken. It was only
after an independent monitoring body, the Human Rights Task Force investigated
the matter and found definite evidence of culpability of the Principal
and the members of the forces at the Sevana Army Camp that public indignation
compelled the Government to take action leading to indictment being filed
by the Attorney General. Reports filed by the Southern Disappearances Commission
on the Embilipitiya 'disappearances', later on, also impacted on the initiation
of the legal process, ultimately resulting in the Appeal Court judgement
The mills of God therefore did grind though they ground exceedingly