An Echelon Media Company
Sunday May 16th, 2021

Sri Lanka’s UNP to develop policy by reason, open engagement

ECONOMYNEXT – A future administration by the United National Party will develop policy by open discussion, where everyone including opposition politicians can contribute, Deputy Economic Development Minister Harsha de Silva said.

De Silva said a white paper on policy was being developed to back the concept of a social market economy, which will be tabled in parliament and opened for wider discussion among professionals and others.

"The white paper talks about how we want to go about the economy," De Silva told several hundred professionals who had turned up at a meeting at his Kotte electorate following an invitation posted on facebook, a social media website.

He was responding to a question on how professionals could contribute to his program if he was elected.

"So it is a discussion document, a white paper on what our economic model would be. That is the opportunity we are going to create. So we will table it in parliament," he said.

"I want the JVP to come in. I want the TNA to come in. I want even the Rajapaksa boys to come in."

De Silva said it would be the most significant white paper to appear since a white paper by Dudley Seers, an economist in the middle of the last century. He said Verite Research had helped in the white paper.

Seers was focussed on basics such as of food, shelter and footwear for the family, going beyond concepts such as ‘growth’.

De Silva said he wanted to create a country where people could reach their potential and their children could be educated so that they will not have to leave the country.

"How are we going to deal with healthcare? How are you going to deal with social security? What about pensions?" he asked.

"One reason people want state sector jobs is because the private sector does not offer a pension. So is the solution to give more and more state sector jobs?

De Silva himself had earned a doctorate in economics in the US and come back to Sri Lanka and worked in the financial sector.

Critics say In Sri Lanka today food, building materials and footwear is among the most expensive in the world and heavily taxed by the state and rulers to keep prices above the rest of the world.

They say monopolies have been built not by consumers voting with their pockets like in countries with free markets, but by tying the hands of poorer consumers behind their backs with import duties enforced by a coercive state.

In food from milk to rice, building materials, prices are artificially kept up by the state to give unjust profits to producers.

In Sri Lanka policy is usually hatched in secret by party power brokers and unleashed upon the people through interventionist taxes sometime by mid-night gazette.

Evidence based policy making is practised in many European states and increasingly in countries like China, but is largely absent in Sri Lanka.

Other countries have just unleashed freedom removing state controls and interventions that held citizens back from achieving their potential and made relatively free societies.

The state, in the most innovative free societies in the world, hardly does any policy at all, and citizens shape and transform societies on their own with new inventions and ideas that ‘policy makers’ or bureaucrats cannot even dream of while they are asleep or awake, analysts say.

In such countries many people do not even vote as the elected ruling class and the state does not have the tools to intervene in their lives and turn in upside down in few months following a change in government, as they are restrained not only by constitution but by a freedom loving society.

In Sri Lanka however the political parties hatch policy behind peoples’ backs and unleash them in manifestos, generating high state expenditure and currency depreciation, destroying people salaries and lifetime savings. (Colombo/July14/2014)



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