During the LLRC investigations, the Chamber made written and oral submissions before the Commission, highlighting the following key areas of concern, which we believe have a major impact on the economic development of the country:
I. Economic and social infrastructure development
II. Measures required for post conflict reconstruction and reconciliation
III. Constitutional provisions to promote good governance and devolution
The Chamber notes that most of our suggestions have been considered and wish to express our appreciation to the LLRC Commission for the well compiled report, where the recommendations made have a direct contribution to inclusive economic growth of our country.
The Chamber agrees with the Commission’s view that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people. A political solution is imperative to address the causes of the conflict. LLRC states that everybody speaks about it, though there is no agreement about the diagnosis and the prescription.
Whilst agreeing on the recommendations of the LLRC on conscription of children, vulnerable groups, internally displaced people, freedom of religion, association and movement, language policy and education; we believe that great emphasis should be placed on the following LLRC recommendations, which have a direct bearing on the Rule of Law and economic development of the country:
1. We reiterate the importance of upholding law and order in SL and giving full effect to eliminate recurrence on incidents mentioned by the LLRC.
2. Recommendations on eliminating Illegal Armed Groups, we emphasis the importance of government cooperation in enlisting and engaging the services of relevant international organizations and civil society groups, who have expertise and resources to assist in this task. Sustaining Peace is of fundamental importance for speedy economic development.
3. Freedom of expression and the rights to information are essential for effective dialogue between ethnic groups within the country and hence agree with the LLRC recommendations thereto.
4. Post conflict reconciliation as recommended by LLRC to take a heady start with the cooperation of all political parties arriving at a bipartisan understanding that national issues would not be used as tools by political parties in the Government and the Opposition to gain narrow political advantage. We also agree on the LLRC view that such a bi-partisan approach is an imperative in promoting national reconciliation.
5. Further following LLRC recommendations on the need for Devolution of Power should be given attention by the Government and the relevant parties:
a. (Quote)“ In addressing the question of devolution two matters require the attention of the Government. Firstly, empowering the Local Government institutions to ensure greater peoples’ participation at the grass roots level. Secondly, it is also imperative that the lessons learnt from the shortcomings in the functioning of the Provincial Councils system be taken into account in devising an appropriate system of devolution that addresses the needs of the people. It should at the same time provide for safeguarding the territorial integrity and unity of Sri Lanka whilst fostering its rich diversity.
b. All parties must commit themselves to finding solutions internally through negotiation with each other. The Tamil leaders should take account of the unnecessary internationalization of the ethnic issue and the external pressures exercised by the Diaspora and its impact on the negotiations for a political settlement. The perceptions of external threat and intervention can create a sense of insecurity that can seriously impede the progress towards an acceptable solution.
c. To this end, the Government must take the initiative to have a serious and structured dialogue with all political parties, and those representing the minorities in particular, based on a proposal containing the Government’s own thinking on the form and content of the dialogue process envisaged. That dialogue must take place at a high political level and with adequate technical
back-stopping. The Government must pursue with renewed vigour, a programme of equitable distribution of educational facilities so that it will contribute towards a concerted effort to minimize any feeling of discrimination felt by the minorities. At present the proposed plan to upgrade one thousand secondary schools island wide from 2011, will provide another opportunity to minimize and eventually eliminate imbalances. This policy should be implemented without creating tensions and fissures in society. (unquote)”
6. We emphasize the need for Political Consensus in the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC and also on the wider issues connected with national interest. We urge the Government to arrive at a road map with clear timelines after a consultative process for the implementation of the recommendations made in the Report.