pledges support to private sector
and Telecommunication minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said the United
People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was committed to private sector
participation to the fullest extent and will sponsor and promote it in every
possible way in order to achieve rapid economic growth for the country.
minister, who on Tuesday, February 17, was briefing business leaders and
diplomats at the BMICH Colombo, said the Alliance stood for an open, mixed
economy. “International and national investment would be welcomed and
wooed”, he said.
text of the speech]
of the Business Community
in the United People’s Freedom Alliance
of the Press Corps
It is not without significance that the first public event being held
by the Freedom Alliance is this interactive discussion today with the
business community in the presence of the press corps.
It is an indication of the important place which in view of the
Alliance the business community holds in the life of our country.
We have come to this meeting to meet you, to discuss with you your
ideas, your hopes, your aspirations for the future of our country and the
role that you, as the business community, wish to play in shaping our common
We have come to listen to what you have to say, to give you the
assurance that we will give close attention to your ideas and your
suggestions, and having heard you we will, in formulating the election
manifesto of the Alliance, take into account what you have said about the
future of our country.
On business matters you may have better ideas than we have.
We ask you to share those ideas with us.
This meeting is the first important step that the new Alliance is
taking towards forging a partnership with the business community.
The Alliance believes that the private sector has a vital, even
decisive, role to play not only in the economic development of the country
but also in other spheres of our national life.
Memorandum of Understanding which was signed by the two major parties that
constitute the Alliance on the 20th of January and later adopted
by four other parties sets out five objectives of governance.
Again, it is not without significance that the economy is placed
first among those five objectives.
We will lay emphasis on increasing productivity in both public and
Both will be afforded significant roles in economic development.
We will promote an economy which will emphasize local production in
both the agricultural and industrial sectors, encourage local farmers,
entrepreneurs and industrialists and rejuvenate local companies and
We will emphasize the significant role in development of efficiency
and modern management, including all necessary measures to promote
transparency and good governance.
We are committed to receiving and adapting global advances in modern
technology with a view to opening our country to global economic progress.
is a modern alliance in tune with the world around us.
Young people are flocking to the banner of the Alliance.
The future belongs to them.
We are a party of the future.
We will speak for them.
We will work for them.
They are clever.
They are eager to learn.
They want to improve the quality of their lives.
I request all of you to help them too.
The wealth of our country lies not in its land, not in its crops, not
in its metals and minerals.
It lies in our young people – our greatest treasure, our most
valuable renewable asset. We
are deeply and sincerely committed to solving the crushing economic problems
of the vast majority of our people by granting them a variety of relief
If we forget them, ignore them or marginalize them, unwittingly or by
design, through ignorance, lassitude or arrogance, we will condemn our
country to permanent deprivation, a desert devoid of hope.
this means, ladies and gentlemen, that the Alliance stands for an open,
National and international investment will certainly be welcomed, nay
will encourage tourism.
We stand for a strong, accountable and clean public sector and an
honest and accountable private sector.
We will sponsor and promote the private sector in every possible way
because it is very important to achieve rapid economic growth for our
Growth is not possible without private sector participation to the
That is the policy of the Alliance, that is the policy that we have
agreed to implement.
we do not stand for and will not tolerate is corruption, unfairness and
These evils have become the curse of our economy; they have earned us
a bad reputation internationally.
They have drained our creative energy. We do not stand for waste,
plunder and inefficiency.
We will try, indeed we will try hard, to restore within the public
and private sector a sense of the need to work harmoniously to promote the
Help us to root at corruption.
If as a party we fail to do so collectively then hound us out of
office at the earliest opportunity.
Those individuals who wallow in corruption should be drummed out of
Let us be partners in that campaign.
The business community will no doubt bear in mind that it takes two
to make a corrupt transaction.
Be not one of them.
second objective of the Alliance relates to the restoration of ethnic
The Alliance believes strongly that none of the people who have made
Sri Lanka their home, none of our communities, no group or individual should
suffer any discrimination on grounds of race, religion, language and
We are committed to remove totally all manifestations of differential
You have our assurance on that.
On the basis of equality we will guarantee fundamental human and
democratic rights to all our people.
have already made it clear, and I take this opportunity to repeat the
assurances we have already given, that all the parties to this Alliance have
agreed to enter into a process of political dialogue with the LTTE and all
other relevant groups and communities with a view to accommodating their
rights, eliminating inequality and mistrust among them and consolidating
The Alliance further agrees to go forward to a final solution and
abide by the results of the negotiation process and the wish of the majority
of the people who will ultimately have to be consulted if a just and durable
solution is to become the foundation for the Sri Lanka of tomorrow.
the question of the ceasefire, I would urge you not to become ensnared in
semantic quibbles – whether the ceasefire is a document or a state of no
wish to take this opportunity of re-affirming what the President has said
more than once – the ceasefire stands.
This is the definitive position of the Alliance.
The people do not want war.
The Alliance reflects the will of the people.
The ceasefire is a state of affairs.
In that state of affairs there is no armed conflict, at the moment,
between the forces of the government and the forces of the LTTE.
We are strongly committed to maintaining that state of affairs.
Similarly, I urge you not to get embroiled in another philosophical
conundrum – whether we will continue the process interrupted last April or
start a new one. It matters not – the crux of the matter is that there
will be a dialogue with the LTTE and others in order to achieve a political
third objective is the strengthening of democracy.
We will place before the people our wish that a new constitution be
formulated and adopted which will contain a number of features on which
there is already a great deal of agreement across our political spectrum.
fourth objective deals with our cultural policy.
We believe that the cultural heritage of all sections of our society
should be preserved and protected and promoted.
While we are fully cognizant of the pervasive influence of other
cultural traditions in the borderless modern world we will accept and
welcome those influences which suit our own traditions and values.
We deplore the culture of greed and exploitation that is rapidly
overtaking our national life.
We will seek to strengthen the belief in community, mutual
responsibility and political decency which alas has been replaced by a
winner takes all philosophy which has no place for the poor, the
underprivileged and the handicapped.
fifth objective is to restore a foreign policy which we believe served our
country well in the past but is now in danger of being refashioned to our
Our foreign policy will not be aligned or subservient to the
interests of any other country or group of countries.
We will seek to safeguard our sovereignty and independence while
maintaining and promoting the friendship and goodwill of all States and
We will do nothing to endanger the security and sovereignty of our
We will expand the existing goodwill with our neighbours in the
spheres of political, economic and cultural relations.
closing let me say, ladies and gentlemen, that the Alliance does not seek
confrontation; we seek cooperation.
We wish to see hostility replaced by understanding.
If you have a vision share it with us.
There is one vision – a peaceful, prosperous, fair and just society
in Sri Lanka
- which has no prospect of achievement unless we work together.
Whatever the outcome of the election may be the Alliance will poll
millions of votes.
We would reflect the hopes of those millions of our compatriots.
We believe we understand the needs and aspirations of our people.
We believe that you, the business community, have the means, the
experience to help to meet those needs and fulfill those aspirations.
Then, let us work together, let us share what we have, let us pool
Our common goal must surely be a better Sri Lanka for all our people.
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Date: February 19, 2004 -