|Monday, 14 June 2004|
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Apprehensions laid to rest
In announcing her Government's policy framework and action plans for the future in her address to the nation on Saturday evening President Kumaratunga has laid to rest any possible apprehensions among the people on where the country is heading. However, the people could now breathe a huge sigh of relief that the country is not only in safe hands but is moving steadily towards a judiciously predetermined future which would bring relief and happiness to all sections.
The question to emerge first in the minds of the people - naturally - is how the Government intends resolving the ethnic conflict, now that the peace process has been suspended. On this issue, President Kumaratunga made it clear that she was willing to make the Interim Authority proposal of the LTTE a starting point for discussion. However she also made it amply clear that the proposal would be discussed within the framework of a united and territorially whole Sri Lanka. There wouldn't be a question of Sri Lanka's sovereignty or territorial integrity being compromised in the course of these negotiations.
These plans also clearly demonstrate the Government's willingness to take on the ethnic conflict in a spirit of statesmanship, rather than run away from it or evade the responsibility of resolving it in a just fashion.
The President's comprehensive policy statement also revealed the Government's willingness to bring coherence, focus and orderliness to governance. Particularly noteworthy are the plans to establish institutions and agencies, such as, the National Council for Economic Development, the Strategic Enterprise Management Agency and Educational Reforms. Besides coherence and direction, these institutions also aim at introducing clean and transparent governance as the National Procurement Agency concept indicates. Such an agency will aim at - among other things - wiping out corruption and sleaze in Government purchases.
We also welcome the intention of the Government to speed up educational reforms which were introduced in 1998 under the PA Government. Besides priority being attached to Information Technology and the learning of English which will be warmly welcomed - we also accept with relief plans to upgrade at least one school in each Divisional Secretary area. This will help considerably in introducing equity into the learning process. The scramble for "top schools", will hopefully be ended.
We also warmly welcome plans to develop sectors which would help in bringing much needed relief to the common man. Some of these are the granting of national crop status to tea, rubber and coconut, the resuscitation of small and medium-scale tanks, reforms in public transport, upgrading of housing facilities, the provision of assistance to small and medium-scale industries and mega plans for the highways sector.
It is the hope of the people the dynamic transition would now be made from the planning to the implementation stage. There is no alternative to hard work and purposeful action on the want of the Government.
Produced by Lake House