The current debate over an open and closed economy appears to be
some-what irrelevant, since there are no fully open economies - with the
possible exception of HongKong, which however, is not an independent
state - or fully closed economies in the world.
There are varying degrees of openness, and one would not be far wrong
in saying that most economies in the world are mixed economies.
Even countries like the U.S.A., Japan, countries in the European
Union, and South East Asia are not fully open. The U.S.A., Japan and the
European Union, are highly protectionist in the Agriculture sector, with
lavish subsidies and tariff protection.
They also strongly protect their textiles industries. All these
countries are liberal and open, only where they are competitive, such as
in the services sector!
At the same time, there are countries like Cuba and North Korea,
which are not fully closed either. These countries are also gradually
opening up their economies. Other countries like China and Vietnam, have
opened their economies at a faster pace.
But it would be naive to imagine that these countries have abandoned
their socialist roots. As any visitor to those countries could testify,
any liberalization which takes place is under the strict supervision of
These two countries have mixed economies, with vibrant public and
private sectors. Many other developing countries also have various
versions of a mixed economy.
Most important countries in South America--Brazil, Venezuela,
Argentina, Uruguay, have moved away from neo-liberal economic policies,
and now encourage a strong public sector, in addition to a private
sector. So it is with India.
The defeat of the BJP Government with their pronounced neo-liberal
policies, and the emergence of a Congress led Government, has seen
emergence of a mixed economy.
In Sri Lanka too, the neo-liberal policies of the former Government,
which was enshrined in 'Regaining Sri Lanka' seems to have been
abandoned, with that party now embracing populist policies, of
guaranteed prices and subsidies and protection.
Hence a mixed economy is very much on the cards, irrespective of
which party triumphs. It would be therefore pertinent to conclude that
mixed economies are here to stay, and these misleading comparisons
between open and closed economies are futile.
D. COHOMBAN WICKREMA - Dehiwela
Minister of Health Siripala de Silva has recently referred to the
brain drain in the medical services of the country. It cost about one
and a half million to train a doctor locally and further amounts spent
on post graduate training abroad for middle level medical professionals.
Thus millions spent on them in free education and further
specialisations, are lost to the country if doctors migrate for good or
do not return after training abroad. The best medical expertise is
irreparably lost to the country.
Similarly in other areas of professionalism too, this trend in brain
drain adds to the country's under development without any compensation
from receiving western countries who pour in aid.
However there are other forms of International brain drain which
affect functioning of local institutions.
I refer to International Agencies and NGOs drawing on the limited
cadre of locally trained community and social service workers by
offering them handsome offers and service conditions which locals are
unable to afford.
This trend has escalated with the arrival of Post Tsunami NGO and
pressure to expend substantial funds quickly.
The major service of training local community and social workers are
the National Institute of Social Services (NISD), Rural Development and
Training Institute (RDTRI) and Kobbekaduwa Agrarian and Rural
Development Training Institute (HKRDTRI). However the outputs of
personnel are meagre and unable in any way to meet the country's
The NISD which has recently acquired Degree awarding status has
besides the two year Diploma Programme, hopefully expects to start on 4
years BSW Course.
It has been urged that these Institutions or the NGO sector set up
short term, weekend modular, or Distance Education Courses with overseas
funding, to meet immediate needs in Triple R and Tsunami programmes for
trained community and social workers of varied categories.
Such training would enhance quality and prompt services deliveries
with local participation; and avoid waste, misuse and ineffective use of
foreign funding. Currently the tardy use of funding in improper ways are
a reflection and embarrassment to Government NGOs and the funders.
On the other hand, the recipients of short term training or DE as
proposed while being employed build on their knowledge, skills and
sharing of experiences.
In due course, these could be counted on as credits for entry and
completion of Diploma and Degree Courses.
Reverse in flow of superfluous expatriates - Compounded with the
aforementioned trend is the recruitment of expatriates by International
Agencies and NGOs operating locally.
For many of these positions, there are available local expertise who
have retired from the public, private service or taken early retirement
from positions and returned to serve the country.
However the recruitment policies of locally established International
Agencies seem to favour expatriates from abroad, often with questionable
skills and experience.
At one time there was Government policy under which the private
sector was not granted permission to employ expatriates unless it could
be proved that the requisite expertise was not available locally.
It is hoped that International Agencies would take note of the above
situation in future recruitment policies.
The World View Institute is currently setting about establishing a
Data Bank of retired executives from the public and private sectors who
are available to contribute their expertise and experience locally.
JONATHAN V. THAMBAR - Colombo 4
UNP launched a 'door to door' campaign recently in which
parliamentarians and provincial councillors and party sympathisers took
part to educate the general public on the present political situation.
A pamphlet explaining the necessity to hold the presidential election
this year was also distributed.
UNP and all other political parties pledged some time back on the
necessity to abolish the executive presidency.
UNP campaigned for a presidential election on the basis that the
sovereignty of the people should be protected. many political parties
seem to have forgotten that they pledged to abolish the executive
presidential system many years ago but did nothing about it till another
presidential election was due.
The executive presidential system is the bane of Sri Lankan politics,
and must be abolished as soon as possible.
The minorities are holding Governments to ransom and are undermining
the democratic rights of the majority. their efforts could be checked by
abolishing the executive presidential system.
Therefore let parties put the mother country before self and party
interests and work for the future generations, peace and stability.
Finally let not the future generations be dumped as lambs before the
terrorists, the Tigers.
It is quite apparent to all sensible people, the abolition of the
executive presidential system is a must and a priority.
V. K. B. RAMANAYAKE - Maharagama