Business community slams negligence of Government machinery

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is deeply concerned that the events that resulted in the senseless acts of terrorism that claimed the lives of so many people were able to be carried out due to the negligence of the Government machinery.

In letters sent to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said that while terrorist activities aimed at achieving ideological objectives can never find justification, what is deeply saddening is that there was a failure on the part of law enforcement to prevent this attack despite being in possession of intelligence that warned of impending threats.

“The available information points to a serious lack of coordination, incompetence and ineffectiveness in handling national security. It is also abundantly clear that petty divisive political differences among the political leadership has contributed to a situation where interests of the country are subordinated to political agendas,” the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said.

The Chamber said that the events of October 2018 were also an indication of this sorry situation, which was fortunately corrected by an independent judiciary. On that occasion too, it was the people that suffered.

“Going forward, the people of this country need to be assured that the Government machinery to safeguard its people from acts of terrorists is effective, that national security will be accorded the highest priority and that the political leadership of this country has the capacity to work together setting aside political differences to accord the highest priority to national issues,” the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said.

It also noted that it was unfortunate but true that the recent events and the mishandling of security has contributed to the erosion of confidence in the political leadership to keep this country safe and to ensure that its economy which is challenged also due to external factors is further embattled due to domestic issues which are avoidable.

While the immediate victims of the Easter attacks were those that lost their lives and their families, the Chamber noted that the consequences will impact millions more whose dependence on sectors that are seriously adversely affected will impair their livelihood prospects for a considerable period.

“We also condemn the utterances of elected representatives of the people and other political personalities of all parties who are continuing to engage in the blame game in an attempt to make political capital of the current situation,” This is indeed a pathetic display of a lack of sensitivity to current national issues which should be addressed by all political parties collectively and in a spirit that accepts that there’s a national crisis. To engage in such narrow political pursuits is to demonstrate an inability to appreciate the true role of leaders of the people,” the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce urged the Government to ensure the National Security Council mechanism is activated and used with seriousness.

“For this purpose, the portfolios of Defence and of Law & Order should be placed in the hands of those who have the capacity to provide leadership to handle current and future challenges with foresight and wisdom and devoid of political aspirations. The President, the Prime Minister and Government should speak with a unified voice on the current and future actions after considered decisions are taken together. A 24 hour Media response center should be established to respond to false reports that create fears and concerns among thegeneral public. The current legal provisions available (ICCPR Act) should be used to deal with hate speech,” the Chamber said.

It also called for the revival of the economy to be fast tracked and a national policy to be formulated for the revival of the major sectors (such as tourism) that are currently affected. For this purpose, adopt an inclusive process that secures inputs from all stakeholders.

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