Government seeks shift from focus on human rights

The Government has urged the international community to focus on other issues in Sri lanka and not just the human rights issue.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told the diplomatic community based in Sri Lanka that for far too long now, Sri Lanka’s relationship with the international community has been dictated by ‘human rights’.

“I can confidently say that the Government of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is committed to address human rights and related issues, work on changing the political culture and achieve meaningful reconciliation. In fact the President, in keeping with his constitutionally mandated duty under the 19th amendment of being in-charge of reconciliation and integration, has decided to establish a Ministry under his purview for these important subjects. As much as we would need your invaluable support in terms of technical expertise in the setting up of domestic mechanisms and assistance for peacebuilding related efforts such as resettlement, infrastructure development, and providing psycho-social support, we think the time has now come to focus our attention to other areas as well which will contribute to strengthening our economy. This, we are of the view, will be key in ensuring long-term peace and stability and preventing the recurrence of conflict, the Foreign Ministry today quoted the Minister as telling the diplomatic community at a meeting yesterday.

038 036Samaraweera said that Sri Lanka wants to discuss with the international community ways to secure access for Sri Lankan goods and services in the global market. He said Sri Lanka also looks to the international community for assistance in terms of expertise in enhancing the quality of Sri Lankan goods and services for this purpose to be able to plug into value chains.

“We want to focus on making our exports competitive. We want to create new jobs. We want to equip our young people with the technical skills required for success in the present job markets around the world,” he said.

The Minister noted that Sri Lanka has in place, free trade agreements with both India and Pakistan and he invited investors from other countries to explore opportunities available in setting up manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka to access the large markets in the subcontinent.

“The Government will enact necessary legislation required to create investor confidence without delay. But we are aware that legislative reform alone will not reset the investment climate. Therefore, ensuring policy stability and creating a level playing field for all investors is a priority for the new government. The bi-partisan consensus resulting from the National Government I am sure will aid in this process,” he said.

He also said that fighting corruption will be one of the Government’s primary objectives and new laws and institutions in line with the UN Principles on Anti-Corruption will be adopted.

The Government is also keen to pursue new trade agreements with foreign countries and aims to set up 45 Economic Development zones with 11 Industrial and technological zones throughout the country including in Hambantota for ship building and manufacturing, Raigama for consumer and new technology, Maha Oya, Vanni and Killinochchi for Manufacturing, Colombo for commercial and monetary services, Kandy, Jaffna and Galle for IT. (Colombo Gazette)