“The views and suggestions the people made when they went around the country meeting people to formulate a national policy and a programme for the country to make it a Resilient, contented, unwavering and an ethical Sri Lanka have been included in the national policies we are presenting to the people today,” said Prof. Liyanage Amarakeerthi of the Department of Sinhala in the University of Peradeniya at the National Convention of National Intellectuals Organization (NIO) and launching of its national programme held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium yesterday (19th) participated by a large number of intellectuals, scholars and professionals who had come all parts of the country.
The programme to build the country formulated by the NIO was presented to the people at the Convention and Prof. Liyanage Amarakeerthi further said, “What was launched today is the policy programme we have formulated using our imagination and deliberation with what we gathered by going from village to village, having a dialogue with the people and the intellects we met. A large crowd that has come from all four corners of the island has gathered at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium. This is a large crowd that has gathered to build a resilient, contented, unwavering, ethical, cultured and civilized Sri Lanka. The suggestions, proposals made by the people have been entered in the manifesto we are presenting to the people today.
The President of NIO Prof. Chandana Abeyrathne, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences in the University of Kelaniya addressing the gathering said, “It is very clear that today is a historic day for Sri Lanka. We, who are participating in this historic event, are pioneers who have a deep belief regarding what Sri Lanka would be in the future and would act to make it righteous. You have become eye-witnesses to this great event.
The NIO was born with a collection of conscious citizens who love our Motherland immensely and knew this country cannot go forward any further as the country was entangled in a tragedy of mismanagement for 70 years. The group of citizens whose thoughts were different and revolutionary engaged in a task to formulate a series of policies that could build our Motherland. The process of formulating the policies for ten sectors took our members to all corners of the island and they had dialogues with all communities so that they could gather information, views and suggestions. The manifesto or the policy programme was prepared taking into consideration all the information, views and suggestions we gathered. We also accept the fact that it should be further sustained. What we are presenting today is only the initial framework. We hope to introduce a policy programme that would not change with the change of governments or individuals but contains a scientific programme that could be implemented.”
The Leader of the JVP Anura Dissanayaka, in his speech, said, “The ‘Let’s Build Sri Lanka’ programme of the NIO points out how the path that had been taken for 71 years should change and on what direction. The policy programme that indicates what should be changed will be launched today. We have confidence that the leaders of the NIO and its membership would bring victory to this programme.
At the end of 71 years, the country has been pushed to the most extreme calamity. Today the debt burden is Rs 10,500 billion. This year more than US$ 5200 million has to be paid as the instalment. Only US$ 2771 million was spent to build Maattala Airport, Hambantota Harbour, Katunayaka Speedway, 1st phase of Norechcholai power station and the Southern Highway. This instalment has to be paid until 2022. What has been created is a country full of debt. The daily income of 43% of the population which is about 8.4 million people is less than US$2. In the estate sector, the daily wage of a worker is only Rs.750. Ours is a state that has a wide gap between imports and exports. US$ 21 billion is spent to import goods but the country receives only US$ 11 billion from exports. It is a difference of US%10 billion. A country with crime and looting, where raping of women is on the increase, has been created. Do we hand down such a country for our children? We shouldn’t allow the country to be dragged to such an end. We should act to change this situation.
These rulers robbed people’s assets. They have encouraged theft. Throughout the last 71 years, they have committed crimes and protected thieves and criminals. This destructive journey should be stopped. Instead, a new society with social equality should be established. This goal could be achieved by carrying out an unceasing struggle against the inequality of capital and power. This policy programme gives that struggle a good start.
The people should actively mediate in building the economy and society. People should be given strength and should be prepared for it. The world is speedily getting contracted commercially as well as in human values. In such a world we are recognized from our accomplishments. The achievements our country is known at present are for distribution of drugs, exporting untrained labour, getting trapped in a debt burden, political instability, committing suicides, higher rate of drunkenness etc.
We should take the responsibility of ‘rebranding’ these so-called achievements. The country should be managed in a manner to gain good achievements. We should gain achievements such as a country with an educated nation, a country which is suitable for living, that accomplishes an important in global production etc. Sri Lanka should be superseded. Today 17% of the children under 5 years suffer from malnutrition. The government has been unable to sustain the children of our country. No one in the country should starve. Ours is a country where food that we need could be grown. The national security is confirmed not by having a ring of battleships around the country but by establishing food security.
27% of the labour force is engaged in the agriculture sector. However, their contribution to the national economy is only 7%. The agriculture sector needs a modern technological and strategic approach.
Paying a minimum price for the producer and a higher price for the consumer has created a distortion. This distortion is created by middlemen. The price the farmer gets for his paddy is minimum. However, the price of rice is higher. There is a monopoly in the rice trade. A just trade policy should be formulated. People should live before looking for profits.
The human resource in the country should be developed. 698 schools have had 2 or lesser admissions. 1/4th of schools have had less than 9 admissions. However, thirty odd schools have received more than 200 applications for admission. The school of admission should not be decided on the economic ability of the family. In Singapore, 57% of school admissions come out to the society as graduates. However, it is 8% in Sri Lanka. Our target should be to make it 50%.
Due to the inefficiency in the transport sector, people spend 1/6th of the day on the road. Accordingly, a person who lives for 60 years spends 10 years of his life on the road. Our country needs a modern transport policy and a programme. It should be a public service and not based on profit.
A massive programme to create an educated, healthy, environment-friendly cultured human being. We believe that this programme will make a massive transformation to the future of the society. We need not limit the programme only for words. We all should take this message of social equality to the people. People should be rallied not around individuals but around policies. The necessary programme has been launched as ‘Let’s build Sri Lanka’. We would assure that the broad people’s movement based on these policies would be definitely created. We are quite definite that we could bring victory to our task.”