ECONOMYNEXT – The overly critical have no vision for the future and, despite some “not long-term” crises, the government has no desire to abandon its plans for the country for the benefit of a few who do not want change, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, asking the public to beware of false propaganda.
Speaker at 74and Independence Day celebrations On Friday (04) morning, Rajapaksa called for vigilance on the forces stirring up sentiment against foreign investment. Investment is an essential factor in the development process and both foreign and local investment are needed, he said.
“Foreign investment is particularly important for large-scale projects, industries requiring modern technological know-how and new businesses that open up opportunities for us in the global market. People need to be more vigilant against those who try to propagate incorrect public opinion against foreign investment, based on political motives,” said an official English translation of the president’s speech.
The Rajapaksa administration has been the target of criticism from trade unions and some opposition parties over a number of deals with foreign entities. These include the recently signed agreement between the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and a subsidiary of the Indian Oil Corporation on the Trincomalee oil tank farm, an agreement with an Indian conglomerate to jointly develop the container terminal east of the port of Colombo and another agreement to hand over the gas supply for the Kerawalapitiya power station to a US-based energy company.
“We cannot accelerate economic development without encouraging entrepreneurship and removing the barriers faced by entrepreneurs. We have a responsibility to be more respectful and friendly to entrepreneurs who start their own business amid various vulnerabilities and also provide employment and income opportunities for others.
“Government officials must fully understand the contribution of entrepreneurs to the development of the country and provide all the assistance they need quickly within the legal framework. By avoiding significant delays in business registration and investment approvals, we can mobilize the whole economic process in the country,” Rajapaksa said.
The President noted that all those who enjoy rights also have obligations to respect.
“The greatest benefit of freedom is when everyone fulfills their duty to the country. It is not appropriate to speak only of rights while forgetting responsibilities,” he said.
Rajapaksa was pointedly referring to growing criticism of the government over its handling of the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka – one of the worst in the island nation’s history. A severe shortage of dollars has negatively impacted imports, including fuel, leading to an electricity crisis, compounded by shortages of essential items amid double-digit inflation.
The President said that a country’s freedom comes into its own when it is socially, politically and economically strengthened, and the government and the public have a duty to actively contribute to it. The government is also aware, he said, that it cannot count on everyone’s support.
“When we lead the country in the right direction, we know that the support of every person in the country cannot be expected. We are not ready to abandon our plans for the future prosperity of the country by looking at those who will not change. Our goal is to do what is right for the country, not to please everyone,” he said.
Only those with a positive outlook can make real progress into the future and challenges can only be overcome through sacrifice, the president said.
The Rajapaksa administration has faced heavy criticism over its organic fertilizer policy which has earned the government the ire of the country’s farmers, the majority of whom voted for the ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna.
Pessimists don’t change the world. They don’t even have the capacity. Those who habitually criticize without offering a solution to a problem have no vision for the future,” Rajapaksa said.
The President said that a leader of a nation faces many challenges and guiding a group towards a vision is not an easy task.
“Changing existing ways of doing things, no matter how good the intention, isn’t easy either. On some issues, local and foreign forces are organizing against us. Sometimes it can seem like everything going on around you is conspiring against you,” he said.
“What the people expect from the leaders is to manage all these crises and to move the country forward, but not to escape the problems. We have the positive mindset necessary for this. I am always ready to provide the leadership needed to overcome any challenge the country faces,” he added.
The president also called on the public to be more optimistic.
“The most important criterion for this is confidence in ourselves.
“Hard times don’t last forever. People of great determination are needed to face difficult times. Anyone who demoralizes another is not doing society any good right now. Therefore, we all have a huge responsibility to build a positive attitude in the country to deal with these crises successfully,” he said.
“None of the crises we are experiencing today is a long-term problem. We can find solutions for them with an optimistic approach. There is a role each of us can play to speed up this process. We must all strive to do our best for the country by carrying out our responsibilities appropriately,” he added.
Rajapaksa claimed that forces opposed to a national leadership that “values our indigenous character and protects the sovereignty of the country” are subtly deceiving the people through various false propaganda.
“I urge the people of this country to always act with caution. No one can deceive people if they investigate based on facts, ascertain the truth and make decisions,” he said. (Colombo/February 04, 2022)