Senior Minister Dew Gunasekera warns that Sri Lanka could face an explosive situation similar to that causing chaos in the Arab World unless swift action is taken to tackle acute unemployment.The General Secretary of the Communist Party and National List MP says demand for democracy and struggle against authoritarianism rule emerged from economic factors. The veteran politician suggested that those in charge of Sri Lanka’s economy shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the crisis in the Arab World.
Addressing the newly established National Steering Committee to formulate human resources policy on Friday (8) the Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) emphasized that the country could no longer ignore rising unemployment. The failure on the part of the government to address contentious issues could cause a catastrophic situation, the minister warned.
The Cabinet recently decided to implement a National Human Resources Development and Employment Policy in collaboration with the private sector and trade unions following the submission of the Cabinet Memorandum by Senior Minister for Human Resources Gunasekara.
Minister Gunasekara said that though the unemployment rate had declined to less than 5 per cent, the rate of unemployment in relation to the young people with GCE (O/L) and GCE (A/L) ranged between 15 per cent and 20 per cent.” The MP said that it wouldn’t be an easy task to provide employment opportunities to those entering the job market unless tangible action was taken to create new industries.
“This task needs economic planning. Self-critically, I say that it is high time that we restored the Planning Mechanism which was abandoned in 1978. I wish to draw your special attention to what is happening in the Arab World. All these countries, where there was unrest and turmoil – Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria etc., have higher GDP, Per Capita Income and Foreign Exchange Reserves than Sri Lanka for a pretty long time. Yet, due to the absence of planning, the local industries have collapsed. There was unbridled imports and quick outflow of capital. Consequently, there was acute unemployment amongst the young men and women, in particular amongst the educated.”
“Thus, demand for democracy and struggle against authoritarianism emerged from the economic factors. Our economists should draw necessary lessons from these events.”
“I also wish to draw your particular attention to another factor – i.e. the Human Resources in the Public Service. As Chairman of COPE, I have, examined the performance of over 150 State Institutions in the last ten months and I find that quality of Human Resources in these Institutions is on the decline. They need Enhancement and Development.” (SF)