Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that administrative reforms are important not only to promote productivity or to combat corruption, but more importantly to eliminate waste, idling and duplication which has been the bane of our country. He said this while delivering the keynote address at the Inaugural Launch of Sri Lanka Innovators’ Forum at Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall on Friday (24).
This inaugural launch of Sri Lanka Innovators’ Forum was organized by the Gamani Corea Foundation (GCF) which was established using the personal wealth of Gamani Corea to support the country’s policy making and management system, through objective research and capacity building.
In his speech the Prime Minister went back on his memory lane to describe the patriotism shown by Gamani Corea in serving the cause of nation building at the end of British occupation in Sri Lanka travelling village after village where impoverishment was ridden.
The encounters of his lengthy travelling across Sri Lanka “propelled him to become Secretary of the much important Planning Ministry at a fairly young age, where he was completely committed to developing poverty alleviation and economic development programs for governments of that era” he said.
Prime Minister further described the unprecedented challenge faced by the country to development today and the shortages of essential goods and services thereby skyrocketing prices of goods that are not affordable to ordinary people. “A plethora of reasons are attributed to this situation, but in simple terms and fundamentally, the reason is the lack of import capacity. We managed this situation for a long time by borrowing, which is no longer possible, and finally had to declare bankruptcy. However, I must say that over the past nine six months we feel we have regained the confidence of lenders. To restore that confidence, we have to convince them that we could put the borrowed money to good use. That is possible, not by describing a list of ad hoc measures but by producing a coherent, consistent and comprehensive plan with short, medium and long-term horizons”.
Premier explained about the corrective measures taken by the government to make market forces operational. “The principal measure in this regard is the correction of the exchange rate and some tax adjustments to restore the dynamism of the market mechanism. The final outcome of the negotiations with the IMF will indicate the way forward in restoring market dynamism and the confidence of Sri Lanka’s business partners” he said.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stressed the importance of structural reforms that should be accompanied by meaningful safety net to assist poverty alleviation programme. He highlighted that the effectiveness in terms of adequacy and provision and targeting of beneficiaries of those programmes has to improve immensely.
He commended the effort taken by the Foundation to prepare a meaningful poverty alleviation programme and pointed out the vehement need of implementing the programme properly so as to reap its benefits by the society. The need for overall administrative reforms was also highlighted by the Prime Minister and reiterated its requirement to combat waste, idling and duplication of the production. “Neither can administrative reforms work without addressing issues relating to overall governance. Issues relating to basic principles of good governance - equity, transparency, accountability and rule of law must guide any meaningful programme. They are important not only to promote productivity or to combat corruption, but more to because of Waste, Idling and Duplication which has been the bane of our country”.
Concluding his remarks the Premier aspired the potential contribution of GCF to take leadership in giving guidance; climate challenge, energy crisis, and digitization of the state.
Leading economists Dr Inderjit Coomaraswamy, Dr Howard Nicholas, Dr Lloyd Fernando and Dr Murtaza Jafferjee addressed the gathering. Minister Ramesh Pathirana, Parliamentarians Thissa Vithrana, Charitha Herath, Yadamini Gunawardena nd Eran Wickremeratne, former minister DEW Gunasekera, ambassadors, senior officials and heads of research institutions were among the gathering.