There are a few occasions when I felt genuinely proud of being a Sri Lankan. One such occasion was when Sri Lanka won the cricket world cup on 17th March 1996. But I guess the most important occasion was when Sri Lankan Government announced on 19th May 2009, that it has completely eliminated terrorism from the face of Sri Lanka.
I was 44 years old then. I had spent almost 30 years under the cloud of terrorism. More than half of my life I had lived in a country where people feared for the lives of themselves and their dear ones on daily basis. Being an engineering graduate from University of Moratuwa, I was amongst the handful of my batch mates who had not made use of the opportunity to migrate to a more peaceful country seeking greener pastures. With an honors degree in Engineering, an MBA and two professional qualifications in both Accountancy and Marketing I would have being accepted to any developed country. My wife Manouri who was also an Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer would have made the selection process that much easier.
So I had every reason and every right to be proud when the war ended. I had kept faith in Mother Lanka and remained loyal to the country. I had contributed to the country in my little way whilst working for the private sector. I had paid my taxes and I had help the companies I worked for to grow their businesses, generate employment opportunities and bring foreign revenue to the country.
By 2009 I had just left the corporate sector having worked for others for 16 years. I was hoping to start my own business. Fortunately for us finances were not a problem as I had worked for good paymasters throughout my career. With our simple life style, which doesn’t cost much, there were enough savings with us to even retire prematurely.
But then the fate called me up for a government responsibility. Initially as the competent authority of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and then onto several other tasks ranging from heading the insurance corporation, tourism industry and capital market regulation. I also served on boards of several other state institutes contributing to a wide range of industries.
Many people do not realize that these government positions do not pay you much except for a small allowance. But there is so much prestige attached to the government positions and that’s why even rich and famous seek such positions. I have learnt through experience that if you genuinely want to contribute to the country, private sector is no match to the state sector. That is because when you hold a responsible position in the government, all your decisions have a national impact.
Usually for one to be appointed to a responsible state job, either you must have worked closely with the political bosses before the election or you should have some personal connection to them. I had neither of these two pre-qualifications. So I consider my self very lucky and indeed grateful to president Mahinda Rajapaksha for finding me and giving me such responsibilities. On contrary the current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe didn’t even call me up for a discussion when I handed over resignation from SEC chairmanship, though I had completely turned around the capital market during the last two years. Even after two months into business, the new government yet to see the level of stock market performance that the country had, when I relinquished responsibilities.
Since my appointments were always under the Ministry of Finance I had the opportunity to closely observe the three most powerful people who held the reins of the economy apart from the President. They were Basil Rajapaksha who ran the Ministry of Economic Development, PB Jayasundara who ran the Treasury and Ministry of Finance and Nivard Cabral who ran the Central bank.
Like dinosaurs ruled the earth during the Mesozoic era, these three powerful men controlled the economy during 2005 -2014 period. Then like what happened to dinosaurs, they also suddenly disappeared from the seen. Though many of the readers may be critical of them due to political reasons I have seen both the good sides and the bad sides of them. So in PART 11 of this article ‘walking with the dinosaurs’ I hope to discuss my observations in more detail.
PART II here Continued:
Last edited by StockGuru on Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:25 pm; edited 1 time in total