Business Times

Sri Lankan MPs to be trained on economic governance

By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka’s parliamentarians, politicians, senior private sector executives and civil society activists were given an opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge on economic governance with the assistance of a top American university.

This was an outcome of discussions held by the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) with the Public Policy Department of George Mason University, Washington on the implementation of a joint training programme, leading to a diploma in economic governance for key stake holders of the country’s development, Prof. Uditha Liyanage, Director of PIM said.

An informal consultation on this training programme was held at PIM auditorium at Borella on Wednesday with the participation of 13 government and opposition parliamentarians and influential members of political parties including Ministers Dew Gunasekera, Susil Premajayantha, government MPs Ms. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, UNP MPs Sajith Premadsa, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Thalatha Athukorala, Dr.Harsha de Silva, Buddhika Pathirana, and provincial councilors Udaya Gammanpila and Shiral Lakthilake as well as several economic experts attended the stake holder consultation.

Prof. Liyanage told the Business Times that George Mason University will host a 3-week programme in Washington for the best performers in the diploma course for wider consultation at the university and development agencies such as the World Bank, IMF, US State Department, USAID, Brookings Institute as well as at the US Congress and Senate.

Expressing views at the stake holder consultation Minister Susil Premajayantha said that veteran politicians, trade union leaders and senior officials should be involved as resource persons in this training programme as their ideas are also important to tackle economic governance issues in the country.

Mr Gammanpila, an advisor of the JHU, stressed the need to include ways to handle international donor agencies, such as World Bank, IMF, Asian Development Bank etc. Mr Premadasa stressed the importance of discussing economic development programmes suitable for the country and its continuation by successive governments improving it by tackling shortcomings made by predecessors. While welcoming the training programme, Dr De Silva said that transparency and good governance should be widely discussed at training sessions as it is sadly lacking in present governance.

Prof. Hilton L. Root of George Mason University Washington outlined the role of political leadership in development, stressing the importance of a transparent environment for economic policy making. Effective communication of government enhances the abilty of the private sector to carry out the policy, he said.

Information provided by the private sector allows government to select policies that work, he added. He pointed out that one of the reasons for the success of some East Asian countries was that their leaders collected the best policy advisors from both home and abroad and placed their skills, talents and knowledge at the disposal of the head of state.

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