Sri Lanka trying to create stability without authoritarianism: Harsha

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s new government is trying to create political stability without becoming authoritarian as other successful economies like Singapore did, Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Harsha De Silva said.

The latest expansion in the Cabinet of Ministers that brought in members from the main opposition party should help create the required stability that will yield consistent economic policies, he said.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who took power in the January 8 presidential poll, expanded his cabinet over the weekend giving more portfolios to members of the current main opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was accused of corruption and authoritarianism, was ousted by Sirisena with the backing of the then main opposition United National Party on a platform of forming a ‘national government’ following general elections after April.

"Sri Lanka has a new beginning. For the first time we have a true national unity government," De Silva told a forum held to discuss a United Nations report on how the island had performed in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

"Most likely we will continue because the idea is to have a national unity government after the election as well."

He said the country needed a government of national unity to implement consistent economic policies that lead to better economic growth like Singapore had done.

"Singapore has a government that was strong. But some people use that model to meet their own political objectives," de Silva said. "They say ‘Singapore has an authoritarian government, so why can’t we?’"

De Silva noted that although many countries such as those in Africa had adopted the authoritarian Singapore model there were doubts of its efficacy.

"But how many have succeeded?" he asked. "Adopting the same model does not mean it will have the same results as in Singapore.

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"But one thing is clear – that’s the need for political stability," de Silva said. "How do we create that stability without an authoritarian regime?

"I hope the model Sri Lanka now has will create that stability without authoritarianism," de Silva declared. "Without the partisan politics that prevented consistent national policies in the past."
 
 

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