Time to deliver
The budget 2011 has given a series of concessions to
business and industry. Taxes have been reduced and the entire
tax structure has been made more simple and rational. A lot of
red tape and bureaucratic procedures have been done away with.
Bank rates are being kept low and banks themselves have been
given various incentives that would guarantee them handsome
profits and turnover.
In addition foreign exchange regulations have been relaxed to
give entrepreneurs more opportunities for investments, both here
In order to create a knowledge society special concessions
have been given to the IT and ICT sectors. Foreign educational
institutions are offered very attractive terms to start higher
educational establishments in the country. Moreover, those
industries that would bring higher technology and take up
innovation are being encouraged economically.
Foreign investors also will get added incentives and even
multiple visas. The Government will also carry out massive
infrastructure development projects.
All this means the basis is laid for rapid development.
However, the country will not be able to reap optimum results
from this effort unless certain negative attitudes, habits and
practices are abandoned. First of all there should be an
attitudinal change. It is necessary to think of what the country
would get or how it would benefit instead of thinking about what
would accrue to the individual or how he or she would benefit.
It is necessary to remember that the individual could prosper
only if the country or the society prospers as a whole. Also
such benefits that result from development must be equitably
shared. There should not be an opportunity for anyone to repeat
kolombata kiri apata kekiri. The absence of equity would cause
social upheavals and endanger all gains achieved, as our recent
history amply shows.
It is also necessary to eliminate waste and corruption.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has repeatedly emphasized this
factor. It is no secret that the country loses several millions
due to waste and corruption. The fact that our legal mechanisms
to control these vices lack adequate funds and human resources
lead to frustration among even the most dedicated personnel
There is also a public perception that it is political
patronage that prevents action being taken against even known
instances of wastage and corruption. Very often the legal
proceedings in such cases drag on for long that the public too
loses tends to forget and lose interest. The lack of citizen
activists that act as watchdogs is another drawback.
Lethargy and inefficiency in the public sector are another
negative factor that prevents optimal use of opportunities
available. For example a considerable percentage of foreign aid
and central government grants to provincial authorities go
unutilized at the end of every year.
The public sector has also of late shown a tendency for
ostentation and extravagance. This in the context of a large
majority of the people leading an austere life bodes ill. The
working people, it is to be remembered sacrificed a lot during
the war without a grudge. They are still doing so for the sake
Here the leaders and leading institutions should lead by
example. The President himself is aware of this situation. That
is why he has on several recent occasions advised his ministers
and followers to do away with ostentation and show off.
Making Sri Lanka the Wonder of Asia is no mean task. It
should not be treated lightly. It shall not come without
sacrifice. Nor will it come if only a section of the population
does sacrifice. Hard work, commitment and sacrifice are the key
characteristics that should he identified in all if that
laudable goal is to be achieved.
If those who talk much also work in the same tempo much could
be achieved. Sadly we still find many who have found notoriety
for No Action Talk Only (NATO).
Humour still alive
Mark Twain, the 'father of American literature' is
known for his wit and humour. Once in a story he wrote about an
encounter with a journalist while he was ill during which his
death was widely speculated he wrote that dead Mark Twain is
worth more than the living.
What prompted Twain to make that remark was the discovery of
a telegram sent to the reporter by his Editor which said "Mark
Twain if sick send 100 words, if dead send 500".
Now 100 years after his death his words have been proved
true. An Autobiography of Mark Twain priced at $ 35 has sold
275,000 copies in six prints with the publisher finding it
difficult to meet the growing demand.
Humour is still alive.