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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Justice for all ensures peace and economic growth

By Quintus Perera - Asian Tribune

Colombo, 23 September, ( It is justice to every strata of persons of a country brings peace and not wars, said S S Wijeratne, Chairman, Legal Aid Commission of Sri Lanka, speaking as a panelist at the 16th Business for Peace Forum, “The Business for Peace Initiative” (BPI) of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) held at JAIC Hilton Hotel.

The guest speaker at the Forum was Tore Hattrem, Ambassador of Norway in Sri Lanka who spoke on “Maintaining the Balance of Peace Building and Economic Growth in Sri Lanka; The Norwegian Perspective.”

Kosala Wickramanayake, President, FCCISL, welcoming the guests said that he is aware of the importance that Norway has attached to the subject of peace in Sri Lanka and its commitment to the international peace initiative during the last two decades.

He said that FCCISL too has a record dedicated to the promotion of both peace and economic growth in the North and the East and its focused determination towards achieving these goals, to a great extent has been able to restore the status quo of the business sector in these areas.

Mr Wickramanayake said that Sri Lanka has reached a crucial stage in its contemporary history and the time is ripe for everyone to assist the process of rebuilding the areas of North and East and to play a more vigorous role in ensuring that there is lasting peace.

Mr Wijeratne said that justice for all brings peace and peace for all brings prosperity and economic growth. He said in wars and legal battles both winners and losers are losers and to work for peace there should be alternate conflict or dispute resolution in place.

Norwegian Ambassador Hattrem said that peace demands political solutions and economic growth is mainly a consequence of good economic policy and an effective public sector. These could be achieve if there are interlinks between peace and economic growth.

He said peace provides for a conducive environment for business and investment while sound economic management makes it easier to implement political solutions to the national problem, since a healthy economy provides necessary resources to address grievances that gave rise to the conflict.

He said that Norway viewed that no external power can solve Sri Lanka’s problems and a solution should be found within which must encompass the support by all ethnic and religious communities.

Norway is ready to continue to assist Sri Lanka to solve the conflict. The challenges for Sri Lanka is to find the path which ends with a broad political understanding which addresses the major grievances of all the communities.

Mr Hattrem said that Only the private sector in a market economy combined with good governance can achieve high economic and social development in a country. The public sector must move out of sectors and areas which are better handled by the private sector.

Public sector should involve in developing infrastructure, introducing policies and develop a climate necessary for growth, investing in education and other essential services.

He said that the private sector in Sri Lanka has been very resilient given the circumstances. But it would not take care of public goods like roads, electric infrastructure, sewage and waste handling systems, schools and health care. The private sector must be supported by a strong and effective public sector that delivers the public goods and services that people and society need.

He said that the role of the state in the economy has been curtailed to some extent due to reforms from the 80s and onwards, but it has not developed a sufficient capacity to deliver the high quality services which are necessary to increase the growth rate much beyond present level.

He said that according to a recent study by the World Bank, the time is now right for Sri Lanka to begin transitioning towards a knowledge-based economy. Application of knowledge has always been pivotal for development and studies have shown that simply adopting widely available technologies in the developed world can dramatically boost economic growth and productivity.

Information and communication technology plays a central role in economic growth and productivity. A small increase in the number of mobile phone and internet users can boost GDP growth substantially. He said that interconnectivity is the essence of a modern economy.

He said that countries should focus on creating a good business environment to create initiatives for business to be creative and innovative. He said Sri Lanka’s business environment is mixed. While it is fairly easy to open and close a business and to hire workers, it is difficult to license new business and to register property.

He said that a culture that stimulates innovation should be adopted. The first step towards adopting an innovation culture is to import existing technologies from abroad and adapt them to the location situation.

For Sri Lanka to capture the benefits of the knowledge economy, it will need to improve the quality of education and expand access to higher education and vocational training.

He said that Sri Lanka could learn from countries like Korea, Singapore and China; three countries at different stages in their development of a more knowledge based economy.

He said that Sri Lanka’s overriding problem is not of an economic nature but of a political – to find a political solution to the violent internal conflict, which have ravaged the country for almost 30 years.

- Asian Tribune -

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