President’s invite to professionals | Daily News

President’s invite to professionals

President Maithripala Sirisena has once again extended an invitation to our professionals who have left our shores for greener pastures abroad to return to the motherland and avail of their services to the country. Speaking at a function in connection with Pibidena Polonnaruwa programme, where he launched a series of development projects in his native Polonnaruwa, over the weekend, the President revealed that as much as 10,000 engineers had left the country for overseas and that if the trend continued there would be a serious problem faced by the country due to the dearth of a skilled workforce to implement the multifaceted development programmes now in the pipeline.

The President said there were 24,000 minor irrigation tanks spread across the country and he called on these engineers who are now offering their expertise to foreigners to come back and rehabilitate these irrigation tanks for the benefit of the poor farmers. After this is accomplished, if they feel like it, they could go back to their foreign jobs.

The President’s concerns are understandable. The flight for overseas jobs among local professionals, no doubt, is going to impact heavily on the development front, though the brain drain is not something of recent origin.

The rot set in with the advent of the Sinhala Only policy in 1956 that saw the gradual exit of professional from our shores. What started in dribs and drabs turned into a torrent with July’ 83 with the result that the country is today starved of skilled personnel for the specialized jobs. Things can only get worse, with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Switzerland offering study courses with jobs to qualified youth, which no doubt is bound to trigger another exodus of the cream of the country’s educated talent. With the universities in turmoil and strikes galore, plus the general chaotic state in the country, affluent parents will want to ensure a better future for their offspring by securing for them a hassle free climate for their education.

It is hoped that our professionals domiciled abroad would heed the call of the President and return to the motherland even for a short while to offer their service to the country. No doubt, a good majority of these professional were the beneficiaries of the free education system and they should consider it their duty, nay obligation, not to turn their backs on the country at a time of dire need.

True, most of these professionals may have been lured by the attractive monetary rewards overseas. But there may also be those who had left the country embittered by the treatment meted out to them in their country of birth. The minority Tamils, post July ’83, no doubt, fall into this category. Certainly, some of the best brains in this country that adorned the professions took flight in their droves in bitterness after being victims to the unfortunate incidents. Among them doctors, engineers, accountants, architects who took their skills and expertise with them to other countries. Most of them would now be no more, or, in the evening of their lives, and their children may be well settled in their adopted countries and professionals in their own right and may not be keen to grasp the President’s invitation. There may also be those who would wish to take up the offer of the President, providing it is worth their while. Therefore, a conducive climate is imperative if these professionals are to be lured back to the country and help out in the development programmes, coupled with the necessary incentives.

Above all, what is needed is stability. No professional would want to return to his/ her motherland that is reeling with strikes, protests and agitations on a regular basis, whatever love he/she may have for the country. The President would do well to turn his attention towards this aspect and act with firmness to stem the tide. There is also the need to put the house in order on other fronts as well, particularly where political stability is concerned. Professionals would not look forward to visiting a country where there are political dogfights on a regular basis. All the happenings on the political front would no doubt be lapped up by our professionals on the internet and social media. They would not be eager to walk into such a milieu and be caught up in no man’s land.

MPs and judges

A salary hike for parliamentarians is being contemplated to give effect to a 2006 decision to bring the salaries of an MP on par with that of a Court of Appeal Judge. The MPs may well argue that they are, after all, lawmakers while the judges only interpret the law, and, if at all, their salaries should even be higher than that of the judges.

It is moot, though, if the judges will take kindly to their lordships being equated to members of parliament, particularly after the recent revelation that as much as one third of our legislators haven’t passed their GCE (O/L)s.

No, not by a long shot. 


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