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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. 

Friday, September 28, 2007

Technology transfer vehicle for socio economic development

Daily Mirror: 28/09/2007" By Manjari Peiris

A National Workshop on Grassroots Innovation organized by Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, New Delhi, India and National Engineering Research and Development Centre, Colombo, was held recently.

Dr. R. Ramanathan of APCTT India said that this workshop is a very important component on promoting grassroots innovations. The APCTT is at present involved in providing technology transfer support services for small and medium enterprises, capacity building in technology development, providing provisions for new emerging enterprises to promote grassroots innovations in the Asia Pacific region with the support of Indian government.

Professor Anil K. Gupta of the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technology and Institution (SRISTI) of India said that the purpose of this workshop is to build national capacity for scouting, development of document data bases and dissemination of grassroots innovation.

“Technology transfer abilities are important vehicles for socio economic development. APCTT is a promoter of regional and inter regional cooperation in technology development and transfer of them is a dynamic role to play.” APCTT is actively engaged in strengthening the technology transfer capabilities of member countries of UNESCAP focusing on promoting and strengthening networks for appropriate national and private institutions.

Professor Tissa Vitarana, the Minister of Science & Technology stated that Sri Lanka is way behind harnessing technology for development of economic and social development. “The efforts hitherto have been in importing technologies from abroad It was due to the political thinking that we had. One of the experiences has been that we get not the most cutting edge frontier technology, but technologies that have been used and may be in the process of being discarded. We are living in a highly competitive world in which there is the struggle between countries so that our goods and services have to compete with those from abroad in the interest of even sustaining our own economy.

In the context of open economy, good quality relatively cheap goods are flooding into our market through the multinational corporations who create the demand and what is produced to meet that demand. That may not reflect the real need. The real needs are with the needs of people in villages which are not expected through this money motivated demands, Therefore, if we are to survive ourselves, we have to work out what their problems are and what really needs to be done to improve the living conditions of our people.

There are innovative and creative rural people. We need to work out what their problems are and what really needs to be done to improve the living conditions of them. We have to stimulate that and harness whatever is emerging from them in an effective manner that will benefit the society and people in general.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

COPE report soon to be released

Sunday Times: 23/09/2007" By Natasha Gunaratne

The upcoming report from the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) is in print and should be released shortly in spite of the lack of action on the part of Parliament in bringing about conclusive justice against the alleged offenders after the first report was released in January 2007.

COPE Chairman Wijedasa Rajapakse spoke at a dialogue this week organized by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in which he reiterated that there is no transparency and accountability in Sri Lanka, compounded by the fact that civil society in the country is dormant when it comes to demanding change from the government.

CPA Executive Director P. Saravanamuttu also stressed the need for transparency and accountability and said Parliament should investigate the allegations made in the COPE report and take action if warranted. Exposure is not sufficient without any follow up action.

Saravanamuttu said this will only breed more corruption if fraudulent practices go unpunished.
Legal Advisor for the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Udaya Gammanpila said the COPE report drew a negative reaction from the government and it has since been inactive. The JHU has made representations to the President on commencing inquiries and investigations into the individuals mentioned in the report but nothing has been done. He also said the media has not sufficiently covered the report in order to bring attention to its findings.

Chairman of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABC) Ameer Ismail said criticism of his Commission has been plentiful and has been accused of inaction but stated that so far, only one report from the Parliament on 'suitable action' has been sent pertaining to the allegations set forth by COPE. He said he could not comment on the progress of the investigations but did mention that all complaints to the Commission are registered and investigated and vowed to 'do its best' on the COPE report.

The number of communications received for investigation by the CIABC in 2006 was 1416, a 57.7% increase from the 898 communications received in 2005. According to CIABC statistics, 124 persons were taken into custody and produced before court during 2006. Of them, 118 were public servants while six others had aided and abetted them in committing the offences. The police department had the highest number of arrests in 2006, totalling 48. There were a total of 24 government departments and institutions in which public servants were arrested. They include the Ministries of Justice, Labour, Health, Education and Fisheries as well as the Ceylon Electricity Board, Sri Lanka Customs, Excise Department, Coconut Development Board, Department of Motor Traffic and the Valuation Department amongst others.

The Raid Units conducted 215 raids upon receiving communications relating to the solicitation of a gratification during 2006. Of such raids, 89 were successful while 126 failed. Failure was attributed to several factors such as the failure of the complainant to assist the Commission at the time of the raid due to fear or information leaking out of an impending investigation by the Commission. However, there was a steady increase in the number of successful raids conducted in 2006 when compared to the past three years.

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