“Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is keep it to a minimum. No one has ever eliminated any of that stuff.”- Alan Greenspan
A good government trying to minimize corruption will have to take it one step at a time. Minimizing corruption in a state that was ruined by it will take a long time. “Good governance” is an extremely elusive objective. It means different things to different people. It’s like the clean air you breathe, when it’s there you don’t appreciate it but when it’s not there you feel it. Many who benefited in a myriad corrupt ways continue to complain about “things are slow” or “nothing’s happening” or about “inconsistent policies.” This is not to say that there are genuine concerns but these need to be weighed against the benefit of having “clean air. ”
Let me narrate a bar joke. A western politician walks into a bar in London and after a few shots, was boasting to the bartender about his mansion on the beach and the fast cars. The bartender asks “so how did you earn so much.” The politician points at a bridge far away and says “10% of that cost” and winks at him. Once he leaves, a Sri Lankan friend of the bartender who was listening to the westerner says, “In our country it would’ve been 100%.” Reforming such a culture and diverting such waste to benefit all citizens of the country is no easy task!
The general party circuits, board meetings and official get togethers have a little bit of government bashing. Some of these Colombo based influential people don’t realize what human rights is or how it’s linked to governance and may never realize it until they’re directly affected by misdoings. These people are most probably influenced by the political satire “Puswedilla” made to highlight the comedy that was called governance by a previous government. May be the play writer should do one about how such people of Sri Lanka behave when the government is trying to do something better.
United Nations links good governance to an enabling environment conducive to the enjoyment of human rights. Without good governance, human rights cannot be respected and protected in a sustainable manner. This government has tried to restore human rights for all and has addressed few of the corrupt deals, but economic performance will improve only slowly, as there’s lesser encouragement for manipulation. Business confidence index has dropped but an important finding is that optimism appears widespread among businesspeople, with nearly 60 percent of respondents to the LMD survey expect an improvement in sales volumes over the next 12 months, while only eight percent have a negative outlook. This is good news to those who believe in good governance and bad news for those clinging on to corrupt politicians.
As Alan Greenspan says, successful economies keep corruption to a low level. Just believe that the structural reforms put in place will yield results, slowly and steadily. On the other hand I hope our rulers don’t think that;
⏺ FDI will just role in, when the president visits a country, or
⏺ Veiled threats to the private sector businessmen will result in GDP growth, or
⏺ Ultimatums will get bureaucrats to become effective overnight, or
⏺ Changing policies rapidly and inconsistently will improve business confidence, or
⏺ Continuing nepotism and justifying same is good governance, or
⏺ Bringing back those who were rejected by voters will improve ease of doing business, or
⏺ Compromising every time a group protests/pickets for some trivial reason, it will improve confidence in the government.