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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Recipe for progress

Daily News: 09/07/2005" by Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

From time immemorial the common ambition of man has been to progress in life. History reveals that in every generation evolution in social standards, coupled with knowledge and education, have taken place. Why do parents go through every financial risk to educate their children? Naturally, to make their second generation better educated and progressive individuals in life. This theme is not confined only to man but applies to countries, business houses, political parties and governments alike because no one likes to stay put all the time like gigantic mountains but like to widen their horizons and grow like tress with new branches shooting up all the time.

A country's progress is directly proportional to its strategic, economic and development plans with positive and long-term policies. What are the ingredients required for a country to be economically and financially advanced? To find answers to this question one does not need to be a professor of philosophy or an eminent economist, but common sense will prevail. As much as a good foundation is needed to build a solid house, grass root policies of a country should be to identify and recognise the local talent and develop such genius into national industries.

Simultaneously, it will be important to maintain an open-eye attitude on foreign and international market forces too. Combination of these two factors in this economic equation and balancing out the act will not only create employment opportunities but will open doors for more innovative and new ideas and local industries alike. If this concept is focused on Sri Lanka, what do we see today? A handful of local industries and manufacturers have reached the industrial winning post in a very short period of time.

Can a local industry function effectively and profitably on its own? Definitely not, and it does need the fullest cooperation, support and assistance from the State as much as from the general public. Assistance from the Government should focus on cutting down red tape in administration and duty in case of compulsory import of raw materials needed for local productions. A good transport network either by road or rail is vitally important in distributing functions. A minimum political interference by opposition political parties in these areas is paramount for a nation's progress. By getting caught up in critical policy warfare rather than thinking positively on issues the country will only make the whole nation suffer as a consequence. Therefore, the underlying factors towards the progress of a country rests on the blessings of the Government, collaboration of the opposition and also the cooperation of the consumer in recognising local products and becoming one hundred per cent national minded in their purchases.

Advanced countries in Asia, such as Malaysia and India, are good examples. Their national policies being to recognise the local product, local industries and local manufacturers have successfully paved the way to industrial expansion and helped them to build up a sound economy and become profound foreign exchange earners simultaneously.

Sri Lanka needs to focus her economic and manufacturing strategy on Malaysia and India and learn a lesson or two from them as to how they give their first preference to local products and manufactures. No doubt there will be major challenges in such a climate with giant international institutions coming to play a major role, at times to serve the local industries with sledge hammer blows or to steam roll them completely with their crooked marketing strategies where sometimes even the Will of the strongest political hero will be tested and sapped with the root evil of the world today! Therefore, as nationalists who are keen to develop our own affairs and economy we need to grasp the situation and understand the subtleties of foreign invasion. The Government and the opposition alike have a major role and a bounden duty in this regard in backing up the local production to the extent even in imposing law and order on classified imports, if Sri Lanka has the qualitative local manufacture which could challenge any foreign produce.

The role played by the local manufactures in a competitive world is equally important in this regard. They need to be reasonable, rational and regularly responsibly in terms of quality control of their products with a fair pricing policy to give the consumer value for money. Short-sighted policies of making a 'quick buck with one shot' attitude or producing cheaper quality goods for bargain basements will only help them to 'dig their own industrial graves'! Such foolish and selfish motives will only kill the local industry and encourage the local consumer to alienate from local products altogether and to seek solace on foreign imports.

If people do not support their local industries not only will they aid a foreign exchange drain out of the country but the backlash of such irresponsible moves may lead to the collapse of local factories, loss of employment and ultimately towards a national catastrophe. Another unfortunate factor that has been very successfully managed to condition people's minds is that 'foreign goods are much superior to any local product', a concept which is far from the truth.

Today many foreign inferior quality goods entering Sri Lanka can be seen abundantly on high street payments.

A typical example is the so-called energy saving bulb sold at cheaper rates which burns out immediately or within a day or two of burning! The danger of using such inferior quality electrical goods can be highly dangerous too, as the saying goes, one should not play with fire! Fake electrical goods can kill and there are stipulated standards, either British or international, as safety measures for this very purpose. The Government authorities will become duty-bound in these areas to introduce strict controls on import of such inferior and dangerous electrical items.

If Sri Lanka is seriously thinking of attaining an advanced and progressive state, like her neighbours, Malaysia or India, then the Government, politicians of all hues, local manufacturers and consumers alike need to work in unity and harmony. Local industries who produce quality goods and create employment opportunities should be recognised, encouraged and given the fullest support. Then local products will not only be adequately available in the consumer markets at reasonable prices but Sri Lanka's economy too will start to boom with international exports. On that day a new era will dawn on Sri Lanka to be on a par in development with either India or Malaysia.

Blogger blaze said...

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