SL alerted to the need for a balanced foreign
policy in the wake of ‘overdependence on China’



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By Hiran H.Senewiratne


"Sri Lanka should not depend mainly on Chinese development assistance, which is dangerous, because Sri Lanka would not be able to craft a balanced foreign policy with India and the West, as a result, Razeen Sally, Associate Professor of Lee Kuan Yew University, Singapore said.


"Today going thorough a period of dangerous policy drift with mediocre governance which is inherently unstable with the danger of falling back to a 'big man illiberal', politics is getting nearer with the overdependence on Chinese financial assistance, Sally told a public seminar recently organized by Advocata Institute, a free market think tank in association with 'Echelon' business magazine.


"Foreign relations have been re-balanced from a 'China weighted' one, to one that has restored relations with India and the West. Initial frost between China and Sri Lanka has also been mended, he said.


Sally said that Chinese development projects will have to be scrutinized by the respective authorities.


"Unless trade and investment liberalization was done to draw investments into services and industry, including shipping, Sri Lanka could become over-dependent on Chinese investments by state firms, without productive private sector investments from the West or India.' he said.


"Chinese state investments have to be balanced by investments from competitive private firms to have a take-off,  that will give productivity boosting growth that will bring broad benefits, Sally said .


Though private Chinese firms were 'incredibly entrepreneurial', state firms operated in a different way, he added.


He said that People seem to have lost their fear for the moment. The media is freer. There is a 19th amendment to the constitution. There are restored independent commissions.


"The ethnic temperature was lower than it was a couple of years ago and yes, the right symbolic overtures have been made to the minorities."


"The bad news to begin with is that there is no Yahapalanaya (good governance), he said. "Governance is back to where it was under the Rajapaksa's, in other words, bad to mediocre governance, rife with corruption and nepotism.


"And that is what I suppose disappoints people most of all.he said.


"Under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the problems in the economy have been better diagnosed, Sally said.


Sally added: "There were two policy statements by the Prime Minister. But so far not much of it had been implemented, especially in doing business reforms and trade. Sri Lanka's trade to gross domestic product ratio was about 50 percent, compared to over 100 percent in fast growing Asian economies. There was a trickle of foreign investment. Reforming state enterprises, land, and education also remained, but which could be politically more difficult. Sri Lanka had windows of opportunity to change direction in the past, but had 'missed the bus' several times in its post-independence history according to many commentators.


"Brazil is the country of the future, it always was and it always will be. There is that golden potential out there, but it is never achieved. Of course, Sri Lanka never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I hope that opportunity has not been squandered. It is late in the day, but it is still there. Sri Lanka's economy did not have enough competition with 'commanding heights' of the economy controlled by oligarchs".


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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