Posted on January 24th, 2010

By Manisha Fernando


We are Sri Lankans, a nation of people of diverse cultures, rich traditions and a long and proud heritage, documented to date back thousands of years, much longer than any comparative Western chronicle found to date. Yet we are branded as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”3rd world countriesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”developing nationsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and sometimes even as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”failed statesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ by some. Whilst some people are bold enough to challenge the classification, a majority are passive in aspirations of who they want to be as a nation in the future. As always there are a few who are too earnest to accept the classification without even knowing the origins or validity of such classifications as well as pretending to be oblivious to the true facts for political and personal gains, ultimately diluting the potential Sri Lanka has to emerge a winner.

The classification of the 1st world was in the 1950s during the Cold War when the countries that were allies of the United States were called the 1st world whilst those that were allies of the USSR were called the 2nd world. The countries that were neutral or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”non-alignedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ were called the 3rd world. As time progressed, the 1st world was also linked to capitalistic economic policies whilst the 2nd world was linked with socialistic policies. Alfred Sauvy, an economist defined the 3rd world as “developing” or “under-developed” nations, in addition to being ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”non-alignedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, and made reference to the 3rd world as Tiers ƒÆ’†’ƒ¢¢”š¬‚°tathello, or the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Third EstateƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ which were the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”commonersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ in France. He said that the 3rd World has ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-nothingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, but wants to be ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-something”.

Whilst the definition itself infers a sense of lost vision it hides the fact that almost all the developing nations were pillaged and plundered for their resources (both physical and human) during the times of colonization by the very same 1st world nations by brute force! Even today, the recent accusations and actions of some of the Western nations are clear indications of their perceptions of Sri Lanka as a 3rd world nation (ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-with NothingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” wanting to be ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-somethingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚) and forced by various mechanisms to be a virtual colony to these 1st world nations once more. The sad part is that there are a few who do not wish to acknowledge this reality ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”simply because they lack the essence of national pride and have the ability to thrive on the ignorance of masses!

The purpose of this article is to show a radically different view of several key aspects with selected examples to highlight the points. It wishes to highlight that Sri Lanka has during the last four years become one of the best performing economies in the so called 3rd world and has the potential to aspire marching beyond the 1st world if we break away from the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”third world mentalityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and demented political dimensions and personal agendas and grudges.

Economic Growth and Economic Development

Many accept the fact that developed countries have a higher level of economic development with a very dominant Services Sector. The rationale is that economic development would transforms into a high per capita income and a high Human Development Index (HDI) whilst in most cases, countries with a high GDP per capita is observed to fit this description. Besides this tertiary sector, there are 2 other sectors, the Primary Industry which includes agriculture and fishing etc., and the Secondary Industry which includes Manufacturing and Industries.

It should be made clear that economic growth and economic development are two different concepts. Economic growth refers to an increase in the real national income or the aggregate output of the economy. If one were to analyze the economic growth of Sri Lanka, as published by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as well as several international bodies like the ADB and the World Bank, it is quite evident that on a comparative basis, the average growth was 6% during the period 2005 to 2009. The same figures reveal that despite the perceived economic intelligence of previous eras, economic growth in 1994 to 2004 period had been low and even negative whilst most social indices were the lowest during the period. In fact when all major economies crumbled during the financial crisis, Sri Lanka maintained its growth between 4-6% during the last 2 years. The global growth as per (international) expert estimates for 2009 is said to be about 1.2- 1.4%, whilst Sri Lanka is expected to have grown by about 4.5% to 5%.

Despite the factual reality it is quite incredible that some people argue these facts and keep repeating that the economy in Sri Lanka is suffering. Despite the loud lamentations, if one were to look at all the statements made by such ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”expertsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ it would show that most statements are purely verbal without sound backing of factual proof and rationale. When one has no proof it is sometimes hilarious to note that even the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is accused of window dressing its figures! If CBSL is window dressing the figures, the simple question to these critiques is how come international bodies such as ADB, IMF or the World Bank have sometimes higher perceptions and estimates compared to those of CBSL? Surely it would be extremely crazy to say that the officials of such institutions were ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”bribedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ by the government!!!

Whether one wants to admit or not, the facts and figures are clear, the policies of regimes prior to the implementation of Mahinda Chinthana had not supported a sustainable economic growth in Sri Lanka. Perhaps one of the major reasons for their failure was the lack of focus on the primary industries or the agricultural sector which is the largest employer. In contrast, the concept of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-api wawamu rata hadamuƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ has proved its validity and reaped the potential of the agricultural sector just like the other sectors, with contribution to the GDP increasing from about 4% in previous regimes to about 12% within the last 4 years.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Some economists argue that the service sector is wealth consuming, whereas manufacturing and agriculture is wealth producing!

Economic development has a deeper meaning, and refers to improvements in a variety of indicators, such as literacy rates, life expectancy, standard of living, quality of life, and poverty reduction to name a few. The standard of living refers to the quality and quantity of goods and services available to people and the way these services and goods are distributed within a population. Before liberation, these negative critiques were hyping the non-availability of goods in the North and East, yet after the liberation the positive aspects are never highlighted. Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as income inequality, poverty rate, real income per person etc. The standard of living may mean different things to different cultures.

Since the heat of the election has focused the spotlight on critiques of the Mahinda Chinthana policy both 1 and 2 (ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Idiri dakmaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢), it would perhaps be enlightening to use figures and facts published by the CIA fact book for 2009. The life expectancy is an indication of the quality of life, and to some extent it is also an indication of the quality of healthcare and life styles of the nation. Accordingly, the life expectancy in Sri Lanka was at 73.41 in 2005 and we were ranked 96 in the world. However, by 2009 the life expectancy had improved to 75.14 whilst the global rank improved to 83. Just to ensure that opposing critiques do not huff at this performance, it should also be noted, that the so called Western nations, such as France, US and UK, have life expectancies of 81, 78, and 79 respectively for the same period. The highest life expectancy is about 84 of Macau and the lowest is Swaziland at 32. In addition the WHO statistics show that about 97% of all births in Sri Lanka are attended by skilled health personnel.

Infant mortality gives the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year and is an indicator of the level of health in a country. The rate was 19 for Sri Lanka in 2009, whilst extreme high figures were observed for African nations (of over 100) whilst the lowest was for Singapore with a figure of 2. This is again quite interesting since the health care in Singapore is under the government.

Looking at the fertility rate, a rate of two children per woman is considered the replacement rate for a population. A rate above two children indicates a populations growing in size and whose median age is declining. Higher rates indicate difficulties for families, in terms of feeding, providing education, and prevalence of child labour as well as more women entering the labour force. This is proved to be true with India and African nations having a rate above 2.5. On the other hand, a rate below 2 indicates a population decreasing in size and growing older. In countries like the UK (1.66), Canada (1.58), Japan (1.21) and Italy (1.31), rates are quite low. Global fertility rates are declining especially in Western Europe, where populations are projected to decline dramatically over the next 50 years. In Sri Lanka, the fertility rate was about 1.85 in 2005, whilst now it is estimated to be about 1.99. Fertility rate has improved in Sri Lanka inferring that the standard of living too has improved over the last 4 years compared to previous eras. On the lighter side, it is most apt to ask the simple question from the industrialized nations boasting of a great economy (advocated by some of our own nationals as well), what they would do with all the accumulated wealth and greed with low fertility rates inferring that they will eventually grow old and die, without heirs!?

Infra-structure development and policy developments

Sri Lanka fought a hard battle with LTTE terrorist and won ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” again a feat that was stated clearly in the Mahinda Chinthana, a feat that previous government leaders thought was not possible for over 30 years! Whilst itƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s again a great indication of positive mind frame (can-can) the battle was won in about 2 ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚½ years with team work and leadership. Compare this with the battles raging in Iraq and Afghanistan years now, and even other parts of the world where the governments of so called developed nations are fighting terrorists, but failing to end it. Perhaps itƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s because they simply do not wish to end the war since it would stabilize these nations or simply itƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s a good excuse to keep their economies going in times of recession since war is always a profitable ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”businessƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢! Perhaps it would be good idea for the scholars to use the prolonged wars as an indication of corruption too!

Whilst the war was won and land was liberated from terrorist clutches, the infra-structure developments were quickly implemented in all parts of the country. To name a few of a great list, 7 fly-overs, 3 harbours, 1 airport, 222 bridges and over 24,000km of roads, stadiums, economic centers, and cities were built or renovated during a short span of just 4 years ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” another feat unachieved by any other nation (if we exclude Singapore since it did not have a terrorist problem). In addition, the SME sector as well as rural and agricultural development took place which is physically evident in these areas now. Even compared to the last 30 years, this country had never embarked on such ambitious targets and projects. Hence to argue that these are false is more a sign of defeat and naivety than accepting true facts and evidence!

If a nation is to develop it should have a clear policy and the required infrastructure to support the achievement of the goal. In this sense many argue that the exports and imports were greatly affected in 2009 due to government policies. But the reality is that the financial industry (including the state banks) curtailed lending to several sectors due to perceived impacts on such sectors by the global financial crisis. Whilst it can be argued that this was a prudent decision, some businesses would suffer since curtailment of credit would affect cash flows and working capital requirements especially if dealing with exports. This proves that to boost the exports or investment activities, right infra structure is a pre-requisite. Perhaps the intended implementation of the EX-IM Bank would suffice this requirement which is a classic example of policy supported by institutional reforms.

The list is quite endless, one can show so many indices that prove the applicability as well as the validity of the current policy document, the Mahinda Chinthana of the current president, Mahinda Rajapakse. The document is not limited to words, for it has been prepared by a well learned panel of economic and social architects who have covered all the important aspects required for Sri Lanka to emerge as a great nation. In fact as far as criticism is concerned, you can always pick a handful of indices that have not performed and harp on these ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” but what should be questioned is the extent of validity in the context of Sri Lanka, its people as well as its unique economic and social structure.


The common perception among most people is that we are an unproductive bunch! Why? Because the Westerners advocate so! This is not true, however if we say that we like to snuggle up in our own comfort zones that perhaps is more acceptable. In addition ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”this is not my jobƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”blame gameƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”negative mentalityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ are other factors that contribute to the low productivity levels. Whilst working with a British consultant, a joke was made that Sri Lanka had a holiday for everything and that we were a lazy nation; to which with typical dignified Sri Lankan hospitality I reminded him that it was only after the British colonization that we became heirs to the large number of holidays we have now when they tried to pacify all communities with various holidays!!!

What we should debate is not the number of holidays we have but what we had done during the remainder of the period which sadly is never debated in any circle! The reality is that quality of life takes into account not only the material standard of living, but also other more subjective factors that contribute to human life, such as leisure, safety, cultural resources, social and family life, mental health, values and environmental quality issues etc. In such definitions the leisure and time spent with family is considered important aspects as well as parts of the social value system. Globally, employees in Finland, Brazil and France are entitled to receive as many as 30 daysƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ statutory holiday a year, with those in Lithuania, Russia and the UK being entitled to 28 days. Employees in Greece, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway are entitled to 25 daysƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ statutory holiday. Comparatively, the total number of holidays in Sri Lanka is still about 25!

If we are so keen on productivity, then we should undoubtedly measure it in appropriate and practical ways as applicable to individual businesses. For example, manufacturing businesses can measure productivity by the volume of output and waste whilst for service sector, the cost to income ratio among several others would be more applicable. But the reality is that most often, we are unproductive mainly due to the excuse culture! Rather than pro-actively looking at ways of getting the job done efficiently, most people find it ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”productiveƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ to blame everything under the sun. The lack of fair and transparent performance management systems in many private institutions is also a key factor that affects the low productivity, whilst the lack of business foresight and strategic planning affects the sustainability of oneƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s business in a dynamic environment.

For the state sector, striking the balance between productivity and policy objectives is a key aspect of good governance and management. Many private institutions resort to limiting their work force as a means of improving productivity which is focused on the cost side, in contrast to the pro-active approach of improving income and processes. The government sector expanded giving employment to thousands of youths despite the wage burden. Yet with expansion of government services to various parts in the island this worker base is deployed to enhance the service. Though some still say itƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”gimmickƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, the reality is that with the expansion in the state sector several technological developments were also implemented such as the e-based payment systems for renewing revenue licenses etc. Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s unemployment ratio fell to about 5.2% in 2009 whilst in major economies it increased like in the USA (7.2%), UK (5.6%) and Japan (4%). One key question to ask some of the critiques is that in the event a policy of privatizing is implemented to improve productivity, where would the balance be in reducing unemployment?

In terms of energy production, the production of electricity was 6.7 Bn. Kilo watt hours with a consumption of 6.2 Bn. KWH. However, estimates for 2009 show that production was 9.8 Bn. KWH and consumption about 8.3 KWH. Yet again the achievements are far better than any previous regimeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s economic policy framework. With these first few steps there is still space for further improvements in productivity in all areas.

The subsidies are also a point of argument and many say that the agriculture sector is the least productive, and hence subsidizing it would reduce productivity levels further. Yet if we are to talk of standards of living, then it is important to help elevate the income of these people who are dependent on agriculture! Yet the hypocrisy is that these advocates of productivity fail to look at the global context. ItƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s a known fact that the highest subsidized agricultural sector is in the US, where their cost of production is far greater than the market price. Hence the government is compelled to buy wheat from their farmers at high rates, and dumps the excess into the ocean to manage the demand and supply equation and resulting in high market prices. In addition the advocates of good governance are seldom to compliment Sri Lanka in implementing ethical trade practices compared to some nations that resort to non-tariff barriers despite having FTAs!


A key principle of a good business is that it should not depend on the party that comes to power. But ideally all businesses should support a leader who builds an equitable society, and provides a level playing field for all sectors of the economy with proper legislations and infra-structural support. If one were to look at ground realities, the growth of the economy and the developments taking place in all parts of the country are ample proof of inducing businesses. Some fail to acknowledge this fact, merely because the policies are nationalistic in orientation, but it can be argued that these nationalistic policies are pre-requisites to become an emerging market in the world, since it was due to the implementation of nationalistic polices by the now developed nations that they became the 1st world.

The Mahinda ChinthanaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s development initiatives attracted nearly USD 30 billion in four years, a feat that is even above the cumulative FDIs of USD 28 billion achieved from 1977 to 2004! This in itself is an indication of the confidence and investment potential within Sri Lanka, which means that the investors would not have brought in so much money unless they were sure of a better return in the next few years under the economic development initiatives if the Mahinda Chinthana! In addition, the gross investments which records total business spending on fixed assets, such as factories, machinery, equipment, dwellings, and inventories of raw materials, is a reasonable basis to evaluate future production. It is measured gross of the depreciation of the assets, i.e., it includes investment that merely replaces worn-out or scrapped capital. Accordingly, the highest ratios are seen after the 2005 period when it was 22.4%, and the by 2007 it was 28.2% and by September 2009 about 24.5%.

Failure of Industries ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” what are the real impediments of growth?

Often heard is the statement that the current economy is heading for doom and that almost all the industries are badly affected due to the political ideologies of the existing government. Despite all the complaining and blame, it is rare to hear a debate on why and how and what caused industries to fail. For example, Sri Lanka was the number 1 global tea exporter prior to 2007, but now its Kenya. If one were to analyse the actual factors for the low performance of the industry, it would reveal that the core reason was lack of strategic planning and long-term business foresight.

Facts show that 72% of the global tea production is from China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka. Whilst China and India are the largest producers of tea their domestic consumption is far greater than anywhere in the world and hence the greater portion of production is consumed internally leaving Sri Lanka and Kenya to compete for the top export notch. From 2004 to 2007 global statistics show that global tea supply had always exceeded demand and under such conditions, it was easier for Kenya to overtake us since they were able to cater to the global market at lower prices than Sri Lanka, since their cost of production was comparatively low. However, in terms of quality, Sri Lanka is still considered globally as the best exporter of black teas. According to recent market information from Bloomberg, the global tea shortage which began in 2008 is said to increase in 2010 as well due to demand form ME, Russia and East Europe where the demand for tea is virtually inelastic. Global experts say the Russian market alone is worth over $3.3 billion.

A simple analysis of the supply side shows that IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s tea output would continue to drop, as witnessed in 2009 due to weak monsoons and domestic consumption, whilst Kenya too would be affected due to prolonged drought conditions and time lag to commence production. Obviously in a scenario where the supply is decreasing whilst demand is increasing, a strategic tea exporter should definitely be able to exploit the situation.

If so then why did the Sri Lankan tea exporters fail? It is a known fact that when global prices were falling prior to 2007, most plantations reduced their investments in the plantations gradually. When the tea prices started to increase the volumes produced were insufficient to meet the global demand depriving producers of higher income. In addition the curtailing of credit to vulnerable sectors affected the working capital of tea factories. This obviously shows the lack of business preparedness and long term planning. This lapse cannot be blamed on others, as responsible businessmen, we need to accept the reality, learn from our mistakes and move forward with better business foresight. Though profit is an important factor for sustaining businesses in the long run, we should not forget that in any industry profit margins would fall due to the industry life cycles. It is also important to invest in your own business to sustain it.

Yet the commonest argument among several tea producers and negative critiques was the increasing wages which many blamed on the government and the President. Businesses need to strike a balance between costs of production including reasonable wage structures, and market prices conducting market studies. Diversification of production to the local and global markets too would help spread risk as well as earn better profits. Global tea watchdogs state that the average retail price for tea in Russia was about $18 – 20 per kg compared to the average global retail price of about $10 – 13 per kg, but due to the shortfall these prices are expected to rise. In Sri Lanka the cost of production (including labour) is about $4-6 per kg, which leaves a margin of about $7 globally and about $12-13 in the Russian market. If an organization cannot play within a margin of $7 to $12, then it is in fact a radical implication on productivity rather than anything else!

Even the GSP+ issue is blamed on the current regime. If one were to critically analyse the circumstances surrounding the GSP+ issue, it is quite evident as per reports of the European Commission that even at the time of granting the GSP+ concessions initially, a clause was entered saying that an investigation into violation of ratified conventions is pending. Yet these actual facts are never discussed in unbiased debates, and the issue itself is used as propaganda for political benefits, which is not ethical for any professional.

The brunt of the global financial crisis hit the apparel industry in Sri Lanka mainly due to decreasing demand caused by global liquidity constraints, inflation, and loss of employment in major export destinations. A look at the garment exports, show that in 2000 the export volume was about USD 2 Bn., whilst by 2004 it had reached about USD 2.7 Bn. By end of 2008 in spite of all the negative impacts of the global markets, exports were about USD 3.5 Bn. Out of the total garment exports about 49% was directed at the EU market whilst about 45% was for the US market in 2008. During previous years, about 50% to 56% of garment exports were for the US market. As the financial crisis affected the US market more than the EU market, the growth over 2007 was 10% for EU bound garment exports whilst exports to the US shrunk by 9%. Yet it is important to note that other export destinations and specially Canada had grown by about 30%.

Sri Lanka is by far the only nation that does not employ child labour, whilst maintaining a high standard of treatment of workers in most factories and focused sharply on quality and deadlines. It is therefore quite appropriate that Sri Lankan garments are branded as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”garments without guiltƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, for only in Sri Lanka do we have such high worker standards compared to any competitor nation. If the EU removes the GSP+ concessions, Sri Lanka would fall under the standard GSP structure, which has reduced tariffs. According to a press release by the European Commission, in 2008 the EU imports from Sri Lanka under GSP+ totaled EUR 1.24 billion which includes a major portion of apparels. The statement goes on further to say that if the GSP+ treatment had been withdrawn, the EU would have collected an additional EUR 0.078 billion in import duties.

There is no argument that Sri Lankan exporters would greatly benefit from the GSP+. Though controversial, it could be argued that under high inflationary conditions, unemployment rates and recessionary conditions in almost all the major garment export destinations in the EU, the removal of GSP+ for Sri Lanka would indirectly affect their own economies as well. Further a decrease in imported quality garments (without guilt) from Sri Lanka would perhaps shift a portion of the EU market demand to low quality substitutes of other nations, which have track records of employing child labour. If such were the case, the EU would become contributory to advocating child labour and other forms of unfair employment practices in the third world, which would amount to actual violation of the very same conventions they are now advocating to us!

Corruption ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the rationality

When critiques find it difficult to pin the blame on the achievements made during the last 4 years with the implementation of the Mahinda Chinthana under a strong leadership, it is perhaps the only available option to resort to accusations of corruptions. These accusations are however never based on factual evidence as various eminent professionals have shown.

One of the much hyped ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”figuresƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ used by several economists in Sri Lanka is the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which is a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”figureƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”rankƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ given to nations by Transparency International (TI) a self proclaimed global civil society organization that claims to lead the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”fightƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ against corruption and claims to have improved the lives of millions. They define corruption as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

However as rational people, it is not prudent to accept this index or its figure for two major reasons. Firstly, it is only a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”perceptionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and not based on the performance of a basket of indicators of any relevant industry or the economy or any other demographic aspect. Though some may argue that its absurd to use such indices in forming an index for corruption, the rationale is simple, if corruption exists at such unprecedented levels, then obviously there can be NO economic development or improvements in other social indicators either! It is appropriate to use either lag or lead measures for such controversial indices because they can be factually proven and shortfalls can be identified for improvements more constructively.

Secondly, this index is absurd in methodology adopted and way the perception scores are calculated. It is not the intention of this article to give details of the fundamental violations committed in the calculating process, but a few instances are appropriate for highlighting. The surveys are conducted from the data given by ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”expertsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ selected by TI itself, and not on any rational selection methodology used in valid surveying, hence the political biases as well as halo and horn effects are obviously rampant. In addition, several mechanisms are adopted to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”smoothƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ out the figures in line with previous yearsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and lastly the figures are based on the preceding 2 years which actually distort the figures. The detailed calculation and methodology, is publically available at the TI website for you to individually ascertain the truth!

As rationale beings, we should accept the fact that corruption exists in every nation, and what matters is not the harping of corruption itself, but debating whether suitable and practical mechanisms to control it at a minimal level are in place and what we can do to have them in place. This should be a collective effort and not limited to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”thatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s you job,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”not my jobƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ mentality. If one really wishes to compare the levels of corruption, it should be done in line with the size of the economy, which would actually show that the highest volumes lie in some of the nations that are ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”perceivedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ to have low corruption indices!ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Danger of the Western Political Factors and Conclusion

The recent changes in the political agendas of various parties in Sri Lanka highlight a much sinister plot. Firstly, the facts and figures both available in the domestic and international front prove beyond a doubt that Sri Lanka is indeed developing on all fronts, economically, socially and politically. The political stability under the Mahinda Rajapakse government and the relevance of the Mahinda Chinthana 1 and 2 policy documents in uplifting the nation is now evident with all major international reputed bodies acknowledging the facts and Sri Lanka being categorized as an emerging market by the IMF after just 4 years of leading the nation.

However, we should not be naƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚¯ve to intentions of various Western powers especially in the wake of their actions and sentiments towards Sri Lanka. Firstly they tried to incriminate Sri Lanka on war crimes, which when stalled were shifted to the GSP+ issue. A critical analysis of the conventions advocated by EU for GSP+ show that it would allow for international bodies to extradite a Sri Lankan individual and try him/her in the international courts irrespective of other laws in the home nation. This is the same ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”lawƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ adopted by the British when they colonized our nation and offenders were ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”extraditedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ to England and tried there. A very visible and dangerous indication of virtual colonization of us Sri Lankans once more ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” this time with conventions. These conventions would never allow a democratically elected ruler to remain in power if he or she is firm in national policies.

Secondly, it is only HE the President, Mahinda Rajapakse that had the gut to stand firm in principle without stooping to various advocates of the Western world when they tried to forcefully implement various policies and conventions on issues such as war crimes and baseless accusations, implementing of subsidies for the agricultural sector, development initiatives, political reforms etc. These actions are clear indicators of the earnestness of Western Powers to ensure that Sri Lanka remains in an underdeveloped and poverty stricken status simply because that would amount to political instability. Just like the colonial days when nations were subdivided and ethnic disharmony was always manifested, the political instability would mean that there would never be a strong leadership and a common focus for people making it easy for the Western powers to have proxy governments to plunder the nations resources.

This means that the West undoubtedly views Mahinda Rajapakse as the birth of a strong leader in a so called poor nation, a leader who can elevate the nation to greater heights as seen with the progress in just 4 years amidst a war. The emergence of a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”non-whiteƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ strong political leader with economic links to nations such as China and Russia as well as Cuba and Libya is perhaps a great headache and threat for these Western nations given the strategic location of Sri Lanka and its resources. It is during Mahinda Rajapakse government that oil explorations in Sri Lankan waters commenced, which is also a matter of concern for an energy deprived West. Further, as shown above, these western nations are now growing ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”oldƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ without a replacement population, which means that they would need to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”colonizeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ the third world again to ensure the wellbeing of themselves during ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”retirementƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ years!

Lastly, the same episode of Sri Lanka, where the opposition is contesting with a common candidate was repeated in the CIAƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s famous operation Ajax, in 1953, when the Iranian coup dƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚©tat deposed the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq who was perceived to be an emerging strong leader with nationalistic views. The United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) organized and executed the overthrow of the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mosaddeq with support from the British government. The simple reason for overthrowing the democratically elected leader was that he was firm to ensure that profits from oil would not flow to Britain but would remain in Iran to benefit its people and the development of the nation. This enabled Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to become an authoritarian monarch who ironically was also a military leader. Pahlavi ruled Iran for 26 years until he was overthrown in 1979 and during that period Iran never profited from its resources. Similarly the Western powers have always resorted to various ratifications of conventions or baseless accusations of corruption or war crimes to extradite nationals of emerging nations such as Sudan and Argentina especially in instances where the leader is perceived to be firm and unyielding and the governments (irrespective of the size of the cabinet etc.) is comparatively stable and consists of a majority.

Negativity, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”no can doƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ culture, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”blameƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ culture and naivety of the truth are the true aspects of under-development and third world mentality. A nation would have taken the first step, the moment its people embrace national pride and strive to work towards a common goal! All these facts prove that Mahinda Rajapakse is indeed a great leader, strong and firm in commitment and performance. The Mahinda Chinthana ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Idiri dakmaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ is comparatively a more suitable policy legislature that identifies and addresses the unique economic and social structure of Sri Lanka! It is nationalistic and embeds the transformation of a nation to rise up with national pride and emerge a winner ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” to be the Paradise that we once were and should be. The choice for the people is factually clear in spite of all baseless accusations which have been proven to be false! Therefore Sri Lanka definitely needs a firm president such as Mahinda Rajapakse to take the next step of transforming Sri Lanka from an emerging market to that of the 1st world and then beyond!


  1. Padraig Colman Says:

    I am seeing conflicting information on infant mortality. An article in Le Monde diplomatique says Detroit, with a rate of 18, is “as bad” as Sri Lanka. According to the CIA Factbook Sri Lanka is a round 19. However, according to WHO and the Sri Lanka government it is 11.2. Which is correct?

  2. Chintha Says:

    Jayewardena, are you paying attention to any of the suff written here by patriot sri lankans? Don’t think so. You will have a better audiance for your stupidity at a website like tamilnet. Try it there will be a lot of people to horah you there.

  3. jayawardena Says:


    you are really a blind person. Those so called patriots are none other than bias writers of present regime!

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