What every Sri Lankan needs is a chance to develop this bountiful land. More than resolutions or aid, this will improve peoples lives. To that end, BizPAct is having a symposium and regional tours this month to promote investment in Sri Lanka. This Business For Peace Alliance is, IMHO, the best thing we can do right now. Relief must be ‘given’ right now but this is neither sustainable nor right in the long run. At some point people can and will move from being alive to making a living. Sri Lanka will develop. I personally think it’s a good time to invest.
With the end of war Sri Lanka is going to develop. Who knows, I’ve been disappointed before as my parents and grandparents before me. But even a halting peace will bring development, despite general economic mismanagement. Terrorism hits economies hard and without it lives can improve.
According to a Commercial Bank report, some of the projects planned include highways connecting Colombo, Kandy, Katunayake, Anuradhapura and the south. There are also three power generation projects and port development in Colombo, Galle, Oluvil and Hambantota, plus an international airport in Weeravila. I also know that part of the latter telecom boom was due to rapid take-up in the North and East. When the war began you could see the profitability plummet. There’s huge possibility in that sector alone.
Without LTTE occupation miles of coastline can now be developed, roads can be built, hospitals, schools, etc. Under the LTTE everything down to children was militarized and social service were still run by government agents. That is, schools and hospitals were still government run, but disconnected. Now it is possible to develop those social services without sacrificing everyone and everything to military ends.
Personally, I think developing business and livelihood is one of the most important things we can do for a lasting peace. All the resolutions and statements in the world don’t mean anything if they don’t deliver some improvement in peoples daily lives. The concepts of human rights and civil liberties don’t have teeth if people are too poor to exercise them. More generally, I think Sri Lanka itself is a wealth of untapped potential, the North and East in particular. It could all go to seed, but we might as well give it a shot.
For further reading I’d check out the Business For Peace Alliance Site, Point Pedro Institute For Development (which the Commercial Bank report cribs shamelessly from), or the development blog New Sri Lanka. Two bank reports are also linked below.