Deceptive commitments, talks and peace process

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

The title of this article seems to become more and more relevant with the confusing statements of the parties in the conflict on the failed Geneva 2 Talks and their demands and actions after the Talks. Norway’s International Development Minister Erik Solheim expected the two sides to at least agree to meet again after talking or rather trading charges for two days. The refusal to meet again without conditions would have also surprised those who thought the warring parties needed some respite to recover after incurring heavy losses. The LTTE is still adamant unless the A-9 main road to Jaffna is opened for traffic as agreed in the February 2002 Cease-fire Agreement (CFA), they would not attend future talks.

Government chief negotiator

Government Chief negotiator Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva in his opening address said: “The opportunity that we have here today in Geneva is one where we can address core issues and address the challenges that lie in the way of a peaceful future.

If we want these talks to be of relevance beyond these walls, if they are to be meaningful for our people, there is an urgent need to address the issues of democracy, human rights, and economic development, and thereby ensure that all the people of our country will enjoy the same rights. It is our responsibility to move beyond peripheral constraints and to begin taking steps towards a permanent peace in Sri Lanka and in particular address the aspirations of all our people, in particular, in the East and the North”. The pertinent question that one cannot avoid asking is – Did the government raise these general issues expecting a discourse or to point out to the world the LTTE’s disinterest on them?

The meeting was used by the government to tell the world that the aggressor is the LTTE. This is evident from the following statement. “The government, reflecting its commitment, is here today despite, I repeat, despite the horrendous campaign of terror and violence undertaken by the LTTE in the period since April. A total of 897 service personnel have been killed since Geneva 1, which is the period from 24th Feb to 17th October 2006. Many were killed indiscriminately, while being unarmed. Many while going on leave. The LTTE have been responsible for a total of 1363 killings including civilians in the same period. These figures when compared with the total number of killings by them between February 2002 to 17th October 2006 make it apparent that in the period since the Geneva talks of February 2006 there has been an alarming rise in violent incidents in which the LTTE have blatantly launched provocative attacks on the security forces as well as civilians. It is also disturbing to find that the LTTE have systematically assassinated other Tamils who chose to differ from the views held by the LTTE, leaving no room for any other Tamil political voice to be heard”.

“At the same time the recruitment of children by the LTTE for military purposes has continued unabated, paying scant respect to the abhorrence expressed by the international community, including the UN Security Council, to this appalling practice. Since the Geneva talks in February 2006 the level of violence was rapidly escalated when LTTE deliberately denied water to over 60,000 civilians by closing the Mavil Aru sluice gate in July 2006. This was an act of senseless callousness”.

Briefing the Heads of Missions and the Co-Chairs of the Peace Process at the Foreign Ministry on November 2, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva informed the diplomats that “the land route up to Kilinochchi, a 110 kilometer stretch, is open for transport of essential items. The route is closed only at the Muhamalai point, following the LTTE’s attack on the Muhamalai Forward Defence Lines (FDL) on August 11”. Emphasizing the Government’s commitment to ensure a free flow of food supplies to the Peninsula he said the government would seek an alternative land route to ensure an unrestricted flow of essential items to the North if the LTTE delays the reopening of the A9 by continuing the attacks. Contrary to widespread local and international opinion, the Minister said, “Government considers Geneva 2 a success, despite no agreement being reached on a date for another round of talks, because the LTTE agreed that a political settlement was the only solution to the North and East issue”!

The previous day November 1 at a media briefing at the Presidential Secretariat he said, “the discussions with the LTTE at Geneva 2 were cordial and were a way forward in the overall Peace Process, despite some disagreements between the LTTE and the Government.” He added: “The discussions per se were held in a very conducive environment and we exchanged our views very freely. While the Government was more concerned on political pluralism, democracy and a political settlement to the conflict, the LTTE raised humanitarian issues such as the food shortages in Jaffna and the re-opening of A-9 Highway in Jaffna.” At least with regard to priorities, the LTTE was apparently right, albeit they were responsible for starting the war that led to the present deplorable situation.

The Minister mentioned the following as the ‘plus points’ of the talks with the Tigers. The LTTE gladly acknowledged the moves to reach a Southern consensus on the national question. “They are now eagerly waiting for the proposals on the devolution policies acceptable both to the North and South,” he said. Issues related to the strengthening of the SLMM and the non-violation of the CFA was also discussed at the talks. The LTTE vouched to uphold the CFA 100 per cent. The LTTE had only made a passing reference at the discussions, to the recent court decision on the “de-merger”. Both parties said in Geneva they would abide by the Cease-fire Agreement (CFA) and not launch military offensives.

The blatant violations during and after the Geneva 2 talks tell all about their assurance to adhere to the CFA! The artillery and mortar attacks on Muhamalai and the government aerial bombing on targets in the LTTE-controlled areas in the North and East made a mockery of the commitment of the parties to peace and safety of civilians. Following the bombing of a house in Kilinochchi on November 2 that resulted in the death of five civilians and the damage to the Kilinochchi District Hospital that caused the patients to flee, the Co-chairs – USA, EU, Japan and Norway issued a joint statement on November 3 expressing deep regret over the bombing in Kilinochchi and urged both the Government and the LTTE to refrain from military action. This tragedy occurred on the third consecutive day of air strikes since the Geneva 2 ‘peace talks’ ended in a standoff on October 29. Disregarding the expressed concerns of the co-chairs, the attacks and counter-attacks intensified since the November 2 tragic incident resulting in more civilian deaths.

Contrary to the government’s earlier claim, except for some items like spices there are adequate supplies of essential food items, the people in the North have been experiencing unbearable suffering as a result of the closure of the A-9 road at Muhamalai entry/exit point. This blockade happened after the artillery and shell attacks on government positions there by the LTTE on August 11. But neither side was willing to compromise on humanitarian grounds to enable the movement of people and goods by either road or sea to and from Jaffna. On the re-opening of Muhamalai check point, the Minister told the media: “We cannot compromise on our national security, merely to get a date for discussions. We value our national security. Therefore, we told the LTTE that we will discuss more on the modalities of opening the A-9 Road.” The Minister also gave a positive twist to the condition laid down by the LTTE in Geneva for future talks. He said, although the LTTE had not agreed on a date for the next round until the re-opening of A-9, they had expressed willingness to talk.

The Sunday Times November 5 editorial has said bluntly that the Talks “collapsed before you could say Erik Solheim”. Furthermore it mentioned – “by its conduct in Geneva last weekend (October 28 – 29), the Government betrayed its bona fides, intentionally or otherwise, revealing that it was not genuinely interested in pursuing peace through negotiations”. On the other hand, the LTTE that went for talks having declared its commitment to ‘negotiated settlement’ had a different agenda that focused on problems that had arisen following the intense fighting along the Muhamalai FDL.

The sea route

The difficulty with the sea route is due to the refusal of the LTTE to give assurance that ships carrying civilians and essential goods will not be attacked. The ICRC refused to escort without this guarantee. Goods had to be shipped under the aegis of the Sri Lankan Navy, which was deemed to be not a satisfactory arrangement by the government because of the Navy’s other pressing duties.

ICRC delegation chief Toon Vandenhove said on November 2 the ICRC would not agree to escort humanitarian supplies to Jaffna by sea, unless a security guarantee was given by the LTTE. He said it was the practice of the ICRC worldwide to work in agreement with all parties to a conflict as otherwise its officials could be subject to attacks. “We will therefore not be sailing to the North without a firm security guarantee from the LTTE,” he said. According to ‘The Morning Leader’ November 8, the LTTE has decided not to provide any security guarantees to ships moving supplies to the north even with UN facilitation unless the A-9 road is opened.

LTTE chief negotiator

S. P. Thamilselvan before leaving for Geneva announced in Kilinochchi that the LTTE will discredit the government by exposing its hostile actions to the world and this is exactly what he did in his opening address on October 28. Paradoxically, many of the charges against the government are applicable to the actions of the LTTE since the cease fire and the launching of the deceptive ‘peace process’. Not only the peace-loving people in Sri Lanka but also the international community was deceived. The hostile acts inimical to peaceful settlement of the conflict were camouflaged as warranted in the interests of the Tamil people. They were used as pawns in the contest between the government and the LTTE for controlling powers.

The difficulty of reaching a constitutional settlement was emphasized. Referring to the recent Supreme Court declaration that the merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province under the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 29 1987 is unconstitutional, he said this must be seen as part of this ongoing saga of the judicial system coming to the aid of Sinhala majoritarianism. “The latest ruling by the SC adds to the mounting evidence that a solution to the ethnic conflict cannot be found within the current Sri Lankan Constitution”. (The perception that the judiciary in Sri Lanka is aiding the executive is discussed by this writer in another article in this issue of Tamil Week.)

The importance of the February 2002 CFA to the LTTE is evident from Thamilselvan’s statements in his opening address. The keenness of the LTTE to retain balance of power was also evident. The down grading of the government delegation was given as the reason for the LTTE’s refusal to join in the scheduled Oslo talks. Addressing a media conference in Geneva after the talks collapsed, S. P. Thamilselvan was beating the ‘war drum’. He said the Tamil Tigers are prepared to face a war, if the Sri Lanka Government tries to force a war on the Tamil people. He portrayed the LTTE as peace seekers keen on a negotiated settlement. He said: “Even when attempts are made to reach a peaceful solution the Sri Lanka Government closes all the avenues for peace and is taking measures to impose a cruel war on our people and on our land. Therefore, whether we like it or not, we have to face it. I think Tamils have no other alternative to safeguard themselves”.

He blamed the international community for not forcing the Sri Lankan government to stop the attacks by the military. He said: “We are not left with another course of action other than to face the war. If it is possible for the International community, then it can implement the Ceasefire Agreement that was signed with the concurrence of the international community, make the Truce monitor function, end the violence and make the Sri Lanka Government take forward the peace process”.

“We already told that we will make use of the Geneva talks to expose the humanitarian catastrophe we are facing today. We are today in Geneva which is the centre for the human rights and from here we are appealing for our peoples’ rights. Our efforts have succeeded in presenting our case. But our request has been rejected. Before coming to Geneva, we placed our position very lucidly. We never believed that the Sri Lanka Government would relent or cooperate to give in to the smallest things that would benefit the Tamil people. We have told that we came over here completely placing confidence in the international community. We came without a slightest degree of believing that Sri Lanka Government would cooperate to solve anything. It has been now proved right. Sri Lanka Government has exposed its true face. International community would have by now realized the position of the Sri Lanka Government”.

The Geneva 2 meeting was not intended by either party to sort out their differences and move forward towards a final settlement. The accusations made by each party against the other tantamount to the old saying – ‘pot calling the kettle black’. The confusing situation facilitated by the absence of independent observers does not help to create an environment conducive for meaningful talks. Early access to troubled spots has been denied to the few members of the monitoring mission remaining in Sri Lanka. If the parties are genuinely keen on ending the violence and easing the suffering of the people, they will not be concerned about balance of power and having equal status or indeed insisting on talking outside Sri Lanka in some far away location in Europe.

Norway’s disappointment

Norway’s Vice Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen who accompanied Crown Prince Haakon on a six-day visit to India, said the October 28 – 29 weekend talks between Sri Lankan government and LTTE in Geneva had been “quite successful.” He told reporters in New Delhi: “Now we have to see the situation on the ground before we make further assessment.” Johansen’s view contrasts that of Erik Solheim, who said at the end of the two-day talks that the parleys collapsed because neither side was willing to compromise on the A-9 highway issue. Referring to the efforts being made to maintain the strained ceasefire amid spiralling violence he said: “It is up to the parties themselves to show restraint… We are prepared to continue to cooperate.”

In his inaugural address Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim urged the parties to focus on – bringing an end to civilian sufferings due to the increased violence; reducing violence and bringing an end to the culture of impunity for those who commit such violence; and finding a lasting political solution to the national question, which has to be within one united country. “Since the last talks in Geneva, between one and two thousand were killed in Sri Lanka, a similar number of people killed in the war in Lebanon. There have been human rights violations, there have been disappearances, there have been military campaigns, and there have been terrorist killings,” he said.

He also said both the Sri Lanka government and the Tigers failed to fully implement the agreements during earlier peace talks (7 rounds in 2002-2003). The united view of the international community is that the parties should find their solution based upon the agreements reached so far, including the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) signed in 2002. He said the parties should abide by the agreement reached in Oslo in 2002 as well as agreements reached in February this year, in Geneva. The LTTE agreed to a federal model of devolution at the third round of talks held in Oslo. Minister Solheim said the international players are ‘running out of patience`. The parties to the confrontation in Sri Lanka must realise, that there are many other conflicts in the world where international leaders are involved, not only in Sri Lanka he said. Any sensible person who has studied all the statements made in Geneva 2 Talks will admit only Erik Solheim’s one has meaningful substance in so far as a viable political settlement is concerned, which is crucial for lasting peace.

But the Sri Lankan government, according to Defence Spokesperson and Plan Implementation Minister Keheliya Rambukwella has decided not to accept the six agreements arrived at with the LTTE in previous rounds of talks. The reason given is that its approach to resolve the ethnic conflict is different.

More than 50 refugees were killed and at least 125 others suffered injuries when the camp set up for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in a school in the rebel-held village of Kathiraveli in the Eastern Province came under artillery attack from security forces on November 8. Amnesty International in a press release the same day said: “It is appalling that the military should attack a camp for displaced people — these are civilians who have already been forced from their homes because of the conflict. We condemn all attacks on civilians and are particularly saddened and shocked to see such a large-scale attack on civilians (including infants, children and women) just days after the government’s announcement of its Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses”. Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission spokeswoman Helen Olafsdottir said: “Our monitors saw there were no military installations in the camp area, so we would certainly like some answers from the military regarding the nature and reasons of this attack”.

In a separate incident in the North, head of the Nordic monitoring mission, Lars Soelvberg came close to being hit by grenades fired by the Sri Lankan army near Pooneryn. He was visiting the region on November 8 along with LTTE peace secretariat chief S. Pulithevan to inspect a road suggested by the government as an alternative to A-9. “It is very worrying that the civilian Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, headed by Lars Soelvberg, came close to being hit by grenades fired by the Sri Lankan army near Pooneryn, in northern Sri Lanka,” Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim said in a statement issued in Oslo. He said: “We have asked the Sri Lankan government for an immediate explanation”. The LTTE has also rejected the alternative road because it is infeasible.

The government must realize that its military operations, particularly the air strikes and artillery attacks such as the one that killed the IDPs in the East on November 8 are counter productive. There will be growing pressure by the parties in Tamil Nadu on New Delhi urging to intervene and stop the aggression against the Tamil civilians in the North and East. The people not only in Tamil Nadu but also elsewhere will perceive it in this manner. It is important to note that the reckless attacks have occurred on the eve of President Rajapaksa’s visit to India (November 25).

Assassination of TNA parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj

On November 10 morning less than 48 hours after the horrific killing of displaced Tamils temporarily housed in a school in Kathiraveli in Batticaloa district, the TNA Jaffna district MP Nadarajah Raviraj was murdered by ‘unknown’ assassins in Colombo. A day earlier, he had participated in a demonstration before the UN offices in Colombo, in protest against the massacre of the Tamil refugees in Kathiraveli. Raviraj was also an active member of the Civil Monitoring Committee (CMC) and had participated in protest demonstrations in Colombo against extra-judicial killings, abductions and disappearances.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a statement released on the same day, November 10 said: “The death of the legislator took place in Colombo, the capital which has received international attention in recent months for a series of abductions and disappearances that happen despite the many heavily guarded check points within the city. The crisis of the capital is just one more indication of the crisis within the country that is facing a situation that seems to have gone out of control. As the rule of law machinery has been in a state of collapse now for a long time it is no surprise that things have gone out of control”. AHRC blamed the authorities for failing to take active action to bring under control the worsening law and order situation. The statement said: “With the two leading parties in political agreement at the moment there should have been a strategy developed to deal with the basic rule of law situation, without which the degeneration into a situation that produces more and more tragic events cannot be brought under control”.

The London-based Tamil Information Center (TIC) in its statement (November 10) said: “The fact that gruesome events are taking place in the capital, where there seems to be no law and order, is shameful for a country which claims to be a democratic nation and has a place in the UN Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka also has a separate Ministry for Human Rights, a Human Rights Minister, a Permanent Standing Committee on Human Rights, an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights and a Human Rights Commission. Many representations have been made regarding the Colombo abductions and killings to the Sri Lankan authorities, including the President, but these violations continue unabated, deepening the suspicion against the government and exposing its inability to carry out independent and impartial investigations”. What the authorities have not realized is the growing culture of impunity because of their unwillingness or inability to arrest will have a disastrous effect on the future generations changing the country’s face nasty. The terrible weakness of the country’s political leadership since independence has been the lack of foresight in dealing with emerging situations that endanger political stability, unity and the social, economic and cultural advancement of the multi-ethnic nation.

Commitment to human rights will appear deceptive either when it remains only in theory and not observed in practice or when violations by others are condemned while remaining blind to or even promoting own violations. Some comments on the motive for the assassination of Raviraj is said to be his total commitment to human rights regardless of who commits the crime.

Some valuable comments on Geneva 2

D.B.S. Jeyaraj in his comments on the failed ‘peace talks’ in Geneva (Ref. ‘War clouds loom large on political horizon’ – Tamil week 5-11 November 2006) has said: “My heart goes out to the much maligned, grossly misunderstood Norwegians. To Erik Solheim, Jon Hanssen – Bauer, Hans Brattskar and all those other Vikings who toil valiantly against overwhelming odds to bring an end to bloodshed and strife among two groups of ‘pissu’ and ‘paithiyam’ people”. In his concluding remarks, he foresees: “The GOSL would have us believe that they are only launching ‘Defensives’. The LTTE would have us believe that they only engage in strategic defensive operations. There is much commonality at least in this. There will be no victors. Neither side can totally vanquish or annihilate the other. There will be “see – saw” ups and downs in military fortunes. They can however inflict great damage on each other and themselves. Only one thing is certain. The people of Sri Lanka in general and the Tamils in particular will undergo much suffering, hardship and misery”. DBS has conveyed succinctly the true feelings of the majority of Sri Lankans, who want an immediate halt to the destruction that will only complicate further the settlement of the conflict.

Another columnist who writes regularly on the ongoing crisis, Tisaranee Gunasekara in her article – ‘The Unchangeable and the Uneducable’ (Sunday Island November 5) has given reasons for the interminable and intractable nature of the Lankan crisis (the term used by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions). She has said both sides are not ready for serious negotiations, despite the losses incurred by them and the prevailing tragic situation. Their commitments to negotiated settlement are just eyewash that has succeeded in deceiving the international community. If the latter, “instead of focusing on the impossible task of a negotiated peace with the Tigers, concentrates on the more possible goal of a political solution to the ethnic problem based on democratic devolution, the way out of the Lankan cul-de-sac may yet be found”, she has remarked.

On the prospect of a negotiated settlement, Kusal Perera (Ref. ‘No negotiations possible without southern census on federalism’ – Daily Mirror November 4) has also drawn attention to the fact that the two adversaries are far away from the negotiation phase. He has said at the very outset of his article – “Inconclusive conclusion of discussions in Geneva this time is a clear indication that the government has not given up its war plan and there is absolutely no space given for the LTTE to compromise this side of their ultimate slogan, a ‘Separate Tamil Eelam’. This is an opportunity the LTTE guessed quite accurately they would have, when they opted for Mahinda Rajapaksa as President, instead of Ranil Wickremesinghe. And this situation would not change that easily now, despite Wickremesinghe’s MoU with the SLFP, that says it would assist the government in its negotiated peace initiative. It never says concretely, what form and ingredients that peace initiative would have to have, for the UNP to assist”.

Kusal Perera has concluded, “the Tamil polity now, could only be asked to compromise for a devolved system that would not be less than a federal system. And it goes well with the South too, as the political system now holds no credibility in a unitary state”. Tamils regardless of their diverse political views all have lost confidence in a unitary structure that has been detrimental to the unity and well-being of all the diverse ethnic communities and the State. The point that the war path will lead to “growing poverty for the South” has also been emphasized. The warning – “What ever the choice, the choosers and the victims would be the Southern polity” is very timely.

Tisaranee, in her analysis has drawn attention to LTTE’s rejection of the Indian model via the mouth of their proxy TNA Member of Parliament Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam. He said recently: “The conflict resolution process in Sri Lanka will have to address the strong secessionist desires of the Tamil People. In other words, whatever model that is being mooted will have to be attractive enough for the Tamils to consider it as a viable alternative to the creation of a separate state”. Moreover, “the Tamils have consistently stated that if a viable alternative to separation is to be considered, such an alternative will have to recognize the Tamils as a distinct Nation of people, recognize the areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people, and the right to self-determination of the Tamil Nation. In giving expression to these aspirations, one will also have to accept certain ground-realities namely, the existence of a de-facto parallel state”.

On India’s Panchayat system, G. Ponnambalam said it was “enacted mainly to promote grass-root level democracy, to empower poor women, and to enable feudally-strapped residents of rural India to participate in the world’s largest democracy”. In this backdrop, he questioned the relevance of the current Indian constitutional model as a basis for conflict resolution to the ‘Tamil National’ issue in Sri Lanka.

The need to change the present unitary system from a broad national perspective taking into consideration the sovereign rights, concerns and aspirations of all ethnic communities within a united country to enable them to share power equitably at the central and regional levels cannot be circumvented by singing the same tune – ‘we are committed to negotiated settlement’. The features in the present and previous constitutions that led to the present crisis must be discarded and new constitution for power sharing and devolution drafted not through negotiation but by a rational approach aimed at securing unity, peace and prosperity for all citizens. The changes should be seen by the majority on either side of the ethnic divide as promising to prosper in a peaceful and secure environment. This will then serve as the instrument to end the ethnic conflict peacefully. It is clear a negotiated political settlement with the LTTE is out of the question on the basis of a structure acceptable to Southern polity. Those who do not want to accept this fact will be fostering the destructive process.

The underlying problem

The IANS report November 7 said: “The co-chairs to the peace process — the US, Japan, the 25-nation European Union and peace facilitator Norway — have concluded that the Sri Lankan crisis is a lot more difficult to resolve than what was thought of four years ago”. It recalled the co-chairs’ appeal to both parties when they last met in Brussels September 12 to cease all violence immediately and to ‘show real political commitment’ to achieving a political solution. “But this is not happening. Killings, counter-killings and abductions besides military battles including air strikes are continuing in Sri Lanka’s northeast, frustrating the international players”. Apparently, when the co-chairs meet in Washington D.C this month to consider the imbroglio in Sri Lanka, they will discuss, “how to bring in more players to actively take part in conflict resolution”. Some would prefer “India playing a more direct role in the peace process, possibly by becoming a co-chair itself”. It is high time the international community comes to terms with the dual nature of the problem in what is generally considered as ‘ethnic conflict’.

Dialogue with the LTTE is necessary to deal with a variety of problems they face which have been tied to the ethnic problem making its resolution difficult. Although, the LTTE leadership for obvious reasons does not want to talk about their distinct problems that have a bearing on the future of the leaders, the reality is these too have to be resolved to end the violence that has become necessary for existence. Real peace must be sought through the dual track approach in view of the complex nature of the problems that have arisen as a result of the fierce armed conflict and the belief that liberation can be achieved by killing fellow countrymen including many Tamil civilians.

The failure to separate the two sets of problems has contributed to the lack of progress in the ‘peace process’ since the December 2002 Oslo declaration. In reality, the undeclared aim of the process was to sustain the ‘no war’ situation and not to seek a final settlement. But this failed horribly as seen from the tragic events since the beginning of this year. It was deceptive mainly because of this concealed aim. Even now there is no definite commitment by the main political parties to change the present constitution despite their declared willingness to settle the conflict through sharing and devolving governing powers. Having agreed in Oslo to explore a federal solution to the ethnic problem, the then government did nothing towards the search for a suitable federal structure. Not even an expert committee was set up to recommend proposals for constitutional reform. Was the UNF government waiting for the LTTE to come up with a federal framework?


Durable peace (the preferred term of the present government is ‘just and honourable peace’) cannot be achieved by any deceptive ways. Sincerity, trust and frankness are essential for realizing this righteous goal. No sane person will believe those carrying a loaded gun in one hand and an olive branch in the other are seeking just peace for all.

[The writer is Former Additional Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Sri Lanka and UN Advisor, Development Economics/Planning]

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