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PAK-SRI LANKA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT SOON

 

Sri Lanka's experience in education sector can provide a guideline

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By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Mar 22 - 28, 2004
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The moves are being geared up for signing of a free trade agreement between Pakistan and Sri Lanka which would obviously result in enhancing economic cooperation and trade volume between the two countries.

Apart from improving business relations between the two countries, sincere efforts are need to gain from the outstanding performance and experience of Sri Lanka in the field of education.

The literacy rate in Sri Lanka is said to be higher than 95 percent. The public spending on education reflects in the fact that education from Montessori to graduation level is free in Sri Lanka. The schools and colleges provide free meal, free text books and uniform to the students.

Despite all tall claims made by the governments in Pakistan, we are lagging in the field of education, perhaps on the bottom in the region. Look around the world, the economic progress and prosperity is education based and those countries lack in education are left behind.

The education becoming expensive day by day in Pakistan which would draw a line of discrimination between the have and have nots. The private sector education institutions have been given a free hand to operate at their whims. It is not only the private sector but even at the public sector education centers like IBA, are also charging a price for education which is beyond the reach of the low and middle income group of people which constitute 92 per cent of the total population of Pakistan.

Recently, the Industrialist of Pakistan at SITE Association of Industry have taken a lead for setting up a Pakistan-Sri Lanka Business Form for promotion of trade and industry activities and cooperation between the two countries. Similar forum in the field of education is the need of the hour to gain from the experience of Sri Lanka, which provides basis for growth in aspects of life.

Since the education sector in the private sector has gone beyond the limits for making money, it is suggested that the trade bodies like Karachi Chamber of Commerce, FPCCI and other leaders in the economy should also form a Pakistan-Sri Lanka Education Forum in the larger interest of the country. Despite all efforts, the real rate of literacy in Pakistan is not impressive. The growing drop outs among the school going children are mainly because of economic reasons which are formidable and calls for remedial steps for those who desire to see Pakistan a growing concern in future.

 

 

How our political leadership is sincere for the cause of education is exposed by the rate of literacy we achieved during last 55 years. The leaders are least bothered about state of education because their own dear and near ones have the opportunities to go abroad especially the US for education.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka, already developed better trade understanding, are about to go ahead with signing of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

The Consul General of Sri Lanka Ms. Manel De Silva, who recently visits Site Association of Industry, Pakistan's largest industrial sector, said that the two governments are moving on a fast track to achieve the purpose. This provides basis for PTA between Pakistan and Sri Lanka which would be a reality soon.

She was of the opinion that the agreement for free trade would bring the regional countries closer to each other and that the scope for economic activities was formidable for the SAARC nations.

Describing Asia as the future of the world, Manel De Silva asked that Pakistani and Sri Lankan business must gear up for the challenges and the opportunities in the coming years.

Appreciating the initiative taken by the SITE Association of Industry for setting up of Pakistan-Sri Lanka Business Forum, the Sri Lankan diplomat said that the move signifies the pragmatic and positive outlook of the industrial leadership in Pakistan.

Regarding FTA, she said that the Indian-Sri Lankan FTA has already resulted in a tremendous growth of business volume resulting in bilateral trade in excess to 120 billion Lankan rupees. She said that this should be an eye-opener for other member countries to enhanced cooperation which produces results and that a basis could be formed taking this into account.

It may be mentioned that over 56 percent of the total trade in European Union, transpired within the region and only 44 percent of the trade is left outside the zone. This can be taken as a good example by the countries in this region and an enhanced economic cooperation among the SAARC and ECO region can do economic magic, if pursued sincerely.

The business community in Sri Lanka is keen to have FTA with Pakistan at the earliest. She suggested more exchange of trade delegations and making fast moves to establish business relationships without waiting for FTA.

Manel de Silva also highlighted the need for more tourism activities and said that both the countries could promote tourist attractions. She further said that Sri Lankan airlines have come out with many attractive packages for tourism from Pakistan.

There are a number of areas where the two countries have good chances of cooperation by going into joint ventures.