OPA interacts with the government to help restore normal economic activity in SL


At the media conference - From left: President-elect of OPA, Eng. Saman Warusavithana, General-Secretary, Eng. Shantha Senerath and President, Eng. Nissanka Perera.
(Pic by Gamini Munasinghe)

By Steve A. Morrell

The Easter Sunday terror attacks have caused a serious setback to Sri Lanka’s economy. The country is floundering with public life and professional organizations still seeking normalcy to function within their usual routines, says Eng. Saman Warusavithana, President-elect of the Organization of Professional Associations (OPA).

The pervading atmosphere of gloom has badly affected the economy because of the uncertainty enveloping the country, he told a news conference at the OPA auditorium last week.

The OPA represents about 50 Professional Associations and 34 professions such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers, accountants, among others, with a general membership of 60,000.

"We are hard pressed to return to normalcy and continue with our daily functions", Warusavithana noted.

He said that the events of the past few weeks were aimed at disrupting the even tenor of normalcy and undermine peace and a secure environment. In addition, the sinister aim may have been to cause chaos and suspicion among communities living in the country.

The factual situation is that the OPA is collectively in a lead position that could positively contribute towards economic progress, he stressed.

"Our diverse associated membership would strengthen collective views that speedy action should be taken by the government to ensure security and restore the atmosphere of peaceful co-existence among religions and communities", the OPA President-elect noted.

It is based on the government’s concerted action that the country could return to normal as early as possible. It is with this view in mind, the OPA initiated discussions with government representatives to convey the urgent need for normalcy, Warusavithana further said.

National security, which was shocked into immobility, should be restored as an intense priority to ensure confidence that dangers subsequent to the fear psychosis would be effectively tackled, he emphasized.

General Secretary, OPA, Eng. Shantha Senerath, in response to a question from the media: "who would listen to the OPA?", explained that discussions were held with Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, MP, and government representatives during the past few days.

Consensus was that the OPA’s views were well received at the meeting. Positive trends were that recognition of economic importance expressed by the OPA would be given due priority, he said.

Expanding on the impact of the OPA and its inception since 1975, Senerath said that for more than 40 years, professions represented within the organization, as a representative body, reflected tangible relevance to the wellbeing of the country.

He stressed that the OPA, in its long history, had not, under any circumstances, maintained any sympathetic alliance with politics or any political party.

"We are not politically motivated. We are here to get on with our jobs. No more, no less", Senarath underscored.

Within scope of the media conference, further questions also centered on the importance of tourism, and whether this important subject also fell within the ambit of the OPA?

Senerath’s reponse was that tourism and the allied tourist trade were well within the professional interests of the OPA, and considering the debacle suffered by the tourism industry, it was incumbent on the Association that this subject as well be given the priority it deserves.

He said the agenda for discussion included tourism and its vicissitudes, which are of unequivocal importance in its current dire situation.

What is of critical importance is that law and order and its unbiased application is the need of the hour. Security and its concomitant parallel are essential for economic stability’, Senerath outlined.

Dr. Marlene Kanga, President, World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) communicated with the OPA to express their solidarity with Sri Lanka in this hour of need.

The Institute of Engineers, in a communication to President Sirisena, expressed its solidarity with action taken to quell the current trend of uncertainty overriding the country.

Vice President, OPA, Attorney-at-Law, Rucihra Gunasekera, was also present.

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