SRI LANKA SHOULD CLOSE DOWN MOST OF OUR OVERSEAS MISSIONS AS A STEP TOWARDS REDUCING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE – The Island 9/18/2021 -Response
Posted on September 19th, 2021

Anjalika Silva USA

The content is also in the attachment. SRI LANKA SHOULD CLOSE DOWN MOST OF OUR OVERSEAS MISSIONS AS A STEP TOWARDS REDUCING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE – The Island   9/18/2021

The critical countries that are supporting and defending Sri Lanka can utilize the expatriate help that is currently developed far ahead of the official knowledge and capabilities.  With guidance from former senior and articulate diplomats, the service to defend Sri Lanka’s interests can do with some trimming. 

However, in such an exercise trimming should not remove officers who are important and efficient. Today with the use of technology like zoom, official communications, meetings, and guidance can be exchanged virtually.  The absolute necessary actions can be carried out onsite.  In such operations, written documents can also be exchanged easily with the use of current highly developed technology.

 The scant staffing is achievable if the staff and officers follow developed countries and improve their technology skills to be self-reliant.  The days for designated secretaries may be over.  One or two who serve joint areas with hands on work can replace overstaffing.  The appropriate training in language and technology is key. Elevating communication skills is also extremely important both for diplomats and support staff.  Subject matter alone cannot serve a purpose if communication in conveying, and negotiating is not strong.

 This idea of using the educated and active expats on a small retainer can be a way to fill a gap with no overheads like rent, and other costs that account for the large slice of revenue that takes up the government budgets.  The expat talent will not demand high wages if a supplemental role to utilize talent in a similar way to voluntary help the government receives is considered.   This way the country can benefit from some retirees who enjoyed free education and completed successful professions.  They can be encouraged to give back instead of being critical of hard times for the country.

As it is, expats give total volunteer service to represent Sri Lanka beyond the boundaries that officials can cross.  A well thought out plan can be designed to achieve results and safeguard the interests of Sri Lanka by using quality over quantity with handpicked individuals that fit specific roles with the right skills. 

Another favorable strategy to help the country is to provide retired expats easier dual citizenship services in countries that have such an arrangement. They can serve in situ overseas or bring their retirement pensions in foreign exchange to benefit the country.  Any changes to processes or the criteria and timelines are all within the control of Sri Lanka.  All it requires is some creative thinking.

In the current situation, no one has given thought to creative ways to attract retirees to return with dual citizenship made easier and bring their foreign currency retirement income.  Most of the shortcomings and lack of or poor return on investment is due to lack of creativity to maximize the use of expat intellectuals even on a part time basis or as contributors by returning home. 

The staffing in foreign missions can be reduced to those who maintain the government’s complicated regulations and processes the knowledge of which they retain. In the three-year terms served by staff who arrive in countries that are alien to them, it takes 6 months to a year to understand how another country works.  They must build their network.  all that ends up with a long learning curve and when they get comfortable in their roles, it is time to return.  The investment of staff development is lost.  On the other hand, retaining staff already legally and permanently placed in countries where possible with be a substantial investment for Sri Lanka in saving foreign exchange to import staff and transplant themselves providing all the benefits needed as opposed to those who are already resident in countries.  Only question will lay in the citizenship for those who have given up their Sri Lankan identity.  Changes to that are within the control of the Sri Lanka Government to modify and restructure for the advantage of the country.

Just a suggestion from an expat on behalf of many others who diligently and generously contribute to serving the country as volunteers helping and supporting the staff in missions with sincere intentions.  With difficulties in the country, the time has come to get creative.

Anjalika Silva USA

3 Responses to “SRI LANKA SHOULD CLOSE DOWN MOST OF OUR OVERSEAS MISSIONS AS A STEP TOWARDS REDUCING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE – The Island 9/18/2021 -Response”

  1. Nihal Perera Says:

    Anjalika,
    The problem with the Sri Lankan Foreign Missions is the quality and the caliber of the diplomats they appoint, especially to important and strategic locations such as London, Washington, Ottawa, Canberra, etc. The foreign ministry of GOSL doesn’t seem to have a clue or they do not have any say of how the diplomats are selected.

    Unfortunately, most of the appointees are either relatives or cronies of the President, PM or Ministers, etc. Case in point is here in Ottawa, Canada they have been sending some utter idiots as diplomats so far. It is an embarrassment to the Sri Lankan community to see such incompetent diplomats representing SL in the international arena. The only people who are pleased are the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora, as many of our diplomats are unable to express eloquently and to the point.

    It is a damn shame that GOSL is incompetent and ignorant when it comes to selecting diplomatic missions, as they keep sending their cronies with no qualifications to be diplomats.

  2. Noor Nizam Says:

    Ms. Anjalika.
    Your article/content is a well thought out presentation.
    I also wish to mention that Nihal Perea has hit the “nail right on the head” of the situation of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa, Canada. I have an experiesnce to share with you both and the readers/maybe the high ups in the Foreign Ministry, PM’s Office and the President’s Office (Presidential Secretariat) if they will take a little time to read these contents.
    In May this year the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa sent out a email to all Sri Lankans domiciled in Canada to help out with medical equipment as requested by the Ministry of Health (State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals of Sri Lanka), to support the COVID-19 programme of the government. The Sri Lanka Association in Ottawa forwarded the email that they received to me instantly.
    I took appropriate action and moved forwarded to do the needfull. I was able to reach out to some financial support institutions and to a Charity run by the pharmaceutical companies of Ontario, Canada and was able to inform the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa that arrangement will be made to make available (donate) medicines to the value of nearly $. 60 – 70,000/= to Sri Lanka. I requested the officials at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa in May this year (2021) to take necessary step to expidite the acceptance and shipping out of the donation. Continious emails reminders were communicated with the staff at the Sri Lankan High Commission in Ottawa to get this shipment through to Sri Lanka, but of “NO AVAIL” – frustating. I then made contacts with some administrative and political VIP’s and the Presidential Secretariat and informed of my dilemma and requested for help. Suddenly I received an email within a few days on September 15th., from the Counsellor of the Sri Lanka High Commission, Ottawa that clerance has been received to ship out the donation of medicines. A list of the medications recommended and the authority issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Ministry of Health was attached to that email. I have to state here “BLUNTLY” that the most “LETHARGIC OFFICIAL IN THE SRI LANKA HIGH COMMISSION IN OTTAWA” WAS MRS. R.S.KHAN (Acting High Commissioner)/ Deputy High Commissioner) WHO WAS NOT EVEN RESPONDING TO MY EMAILS OR EVEN HAD THE COURTESY AS A RESPONSIBLE FOREIGN MINISTRY REPRESENTATIVE TO MY EMAILS ADDRESSED TO HER BY NAME CALLING FOR HER HELP TO EXPIDITE THINGS. The funds of nearly $ 7,000/= required for special packaging of the donated large stock of medications worth $.60-70,000/= have been made available and we are awaiting the final clerance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka to have the shipment airfreighted at the earliest. THIS HAS TO BE DONE BY THE SRI LANKAN STAFF AT THE SRI LANKAN HIGH COMMISSION IN OTTAWA/THE ACTING HIGH COMMISSIONER MRS. R. SITHARA KHAN.
    It is “INDEED” an embarrassment to the Sri Lankan community to see such incompetent diplomats representing SL in the international arena. I hope that the Government authorities will take note of such officials and act accordingly so that it will be easy for “PATRIOTIC” Sri Lanka domiciled abroad to help their “MAATHRUBOOMIYA” without hindrence.
    Noor Nizam – Peace and Political Activist, Political Communications Researcher, SLFP/SLPP Stalwart and Member “Viyathmaga”.

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    By reducing personnel to the bare minimum and increasing 5-G technology and artificial intelligence wouldn’t the centers of that technology reside in America, Europe or China? All the tech for the 4th industrial revolution is in their control and that includes but not limited to: Teleconference, telemedicine, remote controlled vehicles, robotics, internet of things and internet of machines (transhumanism), 3-d printing tech. etc. The internet, an American invention, has created the cyber world which America and to some extent, China and Japan control.

    The real world of human personnel maybe cumbersome and cost effective but it is far more secure since each human cannot be accessed like cyber space. I remember an article about Germany where Berlin decided to use typewriters and the old office system when US intelligence systems, using high tech became too intrusive. The trick is that convenience comes at a price and it is usually security.

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