Deputy minister bemoans lack of ethics in investment sector


By Hasitha Ayeshmantha

Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Policy Planning Dr. Harsha de Silva expressed concern over the ‘lack of an ethical code of conduct’ in the country’s investment sector, claiming that numerous allegations were made to the effect that stockbrokers and complicit investors had manipulated the market to further covert agendas.

The deputy minister made these remarks recently while making the keynote speech at a diploma presentation organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Elaborating on his point, Dr. de Silva stated that during the past few years the Stock Market itself was affected by alleged ‘atrocities’.

‘Maintaining an ethical code of conduct in the investment sector will strengthen the structural integrity of a country’s economy. It is with discipline and through doing the right thing that we seek development. In comparison to the brick and water development, development of values through an ethical code of conduct, especially within the investment sector, will restore confidence of investors, he said.

Dr. de Silva highlighted that ethics will play a vital role in rebuilding the Sri Lankan market, which, according to the deputy minister, has seen better days. ‘I believe in building confidence in the market, he said.

The deputy minister also expressed his disappointment over the market being ‘cornered’ only by the key players, while the other mid-range investors idle. He added that his ideology is to create an asset-owning middle class in the country, where all investors, both small scale and large scale, get their due exposure within the Stock Market.

He mentioned that the above issue has made the country’s economy go through many ‘unpleasant experiences’ due to corruption.

‘Another factor that should be changed is the lack of focus on career building and vocational training. As an example, students who are graduating from the Ceylon German Technical Training Institute easily find employment anywhere in the world as the Institute has an excellent recognition all over the world. What we should be looking to is to invest in establishing more institutes such as these in order to guarantee the youth who are stepping out of their colleges a better chance of getting good employment’, he added.

De Silva said that economies, such as Malaysia and Bangladesh, have not only overtaken the Sri Lankan economy, but have placed themselves in a strong position where, at the moment, it seems virtually impossible for Sri Lanka to keep up.

‘Our country has clearly fallen back in ranks, when comparing to countries such as Malaysia and Bangladesh, we are hardly in the picture. There is a lot of work to be done and it all starts from first developing as an individual and then developing as a community. Lack of prioritization of government policies has brought this unfortunate fate upon the country. Adding to that we plan to make arrangements to establish vocational centers and skills development programmes to ensure that education plays a vital role in the country’s development process, de Silva remarked.

Dr. de Silva also expressed alarm over the country’s education sector, claiming that lack of government investments in the higher education sector has resulted in the country lagging behind. The deputy minister insisted that there should be ample opportunities for school leavers to undergo higher education and that no one should be denied education, regardless of their financial background.

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