ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 18, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 25
Financial Times  

Self-reliance a must to build the nation - Letter

The Budget for 2008 presented by the President also holding the Finance Portfolio is reminiscent of pattern followed since Independence from the British in 1948.

I must congratulate the President of doing a good job of it in these dire circumstances. As usual recurrent expenditure is met from revenue and capital expenditure from domestic and foreign borrowing. Looking deeper into the figures the revenue is roughly 23% of GDP(30BnUS$).

Half of our GDP comes from the Western Province and the other eigth produce the balance. If we are to build the nation it is vital we change the mould of tea and sympathy to one of self reliance because shoe-string budgets produced from present levels of GDP can't sustain any serious development to lift a nation that has been confined to a Timewarp of half a century by a visionless Dynasty, until awakened by the timely arrival of President Rajapaksa.

The President in his first 2-years of office has started the task of revival by initiating the building of Ports ( Colombo South and Hambantota), Power Plants (Norochcholai and Upper Kothmale) and Opening the Bidding Round for Oil Exploration in the 'Mannar Basin' in Oct'07.

Our per capita income of US$1500 compares well in terms of South-Asia but in comparison to ASEAN/APEC countries it is ten times lesser on average., but nevertheless our time has arrived.

I would at this juncture wish to quote a Zen Paradigm that says " Stop thinking and talking about it and there is nothing you will not be able to know"., and this is exactly what the President who is walking the walk rather than just thinking and talking like the elite leaders we have had since Independence.

It’s only the 'Hard Yakka' a term popularly used in Australia that will make us self-reliant and truely free from the shackles and domination of colonial rule, whose legacy of the unfinished burden we now carry.

The best way forward is to correct the imbalance of GDP contribution by the nine provinces by reducing the nine to five using the James Lanerolle/Dennis Fernando 'concept model' of reforming the administrative structure of the provinces by redrawing development orientated boundaries to maximise the use of available water resourcers in the country and proposed by them in the ‘70/80's.

The five provinces are Japane,Rajarata, Mahaweli, Mayarata and Ruhunu - Watershed Regions.

This concept will readily fall in line with the provinces sharing power with the centre. These provinces known as Korales were productively managed by our ancient Kings who had wisdom.

Once devolved these five provinces should contribute 20% GDP each to the centre in 10 years.

This time round President Rajapaksa will be emulating not the wisdom of our ancient Kings but that of President Putin who is turning Russia into the richest country in the world by pumping as many millions barrels of Oil per day as Saudi Arabia.Our offshore resources will provide the assets for the provinces to exploit and Japane (Northern Province) will be entitled to the plums which are an offering that will satisfy the aspiration for self determination too difficult to refuse. There is a Chinese saying that when people are making money together they can also smile together. Our ethnic communities could have the last laugh., and Mother Lanka could wipe away its tears.Talking of China we must not forget our little jumbo Migara who is serving us well in China.

The good times for Sri Lanka are around the corner and it’s time to grasp the nettle. Finally a word of advise - Let India deepen the Sethu Canal which will be logistically and tectonically advantageous to both countries., do not fear the unknown. Trevor Jayetileke

Consultant Energy,
Logistics and Utilities.


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