Business forum bemoans country’s condition


Musician and singer Sunil Perera addresses the forum. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, chief opposition whip and JVP leader sits at the head table with other members of the panel. - Pic by Jude Denzil Pathirajah

By Steve A. Morrell

The initial sessions of the Business Forum were convened last Thursday. Speakers who contributed to the wide cross section of views included , Dr. Anil Jayantha from the Sri Jayawardena Pura University, Mahendra Jayaserkra, Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake and musician and singer Sunil Perera.

In his initial introduction to an audience of business personalities and professionals Perera said after 70 years of independence, he wished to pose the question, "What have we achieved?. Should we measure where we are? We have seen no progress. Value addition, is almost zero; sustainable agriculture, which should have been developed, is now woefully lacking. Micro credit, originally intended to assist low income groups, became an instrument to increase riches of those who have and was of little benefit to those in low income groups. Micro credit is not monitored; there is a mismatch between service and trade."

The theme guiding the conference was, ‘The Way Forward for Sri Lanka,- We are Sri Lankan’.

However the opening statement guiding the conference, included broad discussion points that opened areas for controversy. ‘Could we be pleased now after 70 years Independence? If not what could we do to improve? What is the way forward? Have we social responsibility? 'Are we complacent with the country’s economy?', were some areas of discussion.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake detailed the many areas of corruption that prevailed in the country that completely nullified any attempt at correcting a situation of hopelessness. Trade was merely 43 percent, but taxes were 82 percent. With a situation such as points mentioned, he posed the question, ‘Could we go forward? The two parties who ran this country for 70 years successfully ran it down.'

"Villagers must prosper. When that happens, this country could be as prosperous as Singapore, some observers said.

Sunil Perera in an entertaining presentation voiced much the same views.

'There was a time when Kadirgama’s name was proposed for the post of Prime Minister, but was not accepted for obvious reasons. It is time we shed our ethnic differences and acted as one nation. If that happens, we could move forward, he said.

Mahendra Jayasekera also spoke.


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