Why Singaporean / Hongkong Model will fail and the Chinese Model will work wonders?
I use to visit Singapore almost on yearly or six monthly basis when I had a reasonable amount of foreign exchange in my hand (of course earned abroad not borrowed from Sri–Lankan coffers like our politicians) and the ticket price was very, very cheap even on Singapore Air Line.
I stopped eating big bananas when prices went up for no reason and stopped visiting / going to Singapore when (due to poor management of Rupee currency which depreciated by the minute and exorbitant taxes imposed by the government after the LTTE expedition on Katunayake airport) price of the air line ticket became prohibitive.
This was a very difficult decision given the prices of our commodities here were three times the price in Singapore especially electronics and toys.
Those days Singapore did not make any distinction between a Asian visitor and a European visitor and there was no surcharge for using credit cards. The credit card was like having cash in hand. Then suddenly they imposed 3% interest on credit cards and the reason I am not sure and things started going bad for Asian visitors (not working abroad) who were borrowing money from the government coffers to travel.
This is the period I made a decision if I want something (computer gadgets mainly) I get it down from Singapore if I happen to know a person visiting there for a brief period (pay him little extras for the service which is still cheaper than here).
But even with stock market changes in the West Singapore turned a blind eye to Asian visitor and his needs and tried to look after the European visitor.
In fact the Orchard Street is as dear as Reagent Street in London nowadays.
Now with the credit crunch in America and Europe and consumer goods are universally available outside Singapore, they cannot turn back to Asians and lure Asians again since there are other emerging markets.
Even the Sarangoon street is dearer now.
It is nice to here from a smart businessman in Kandy (small business) that he is prepared to sell things at almost the going price in Singapore for cash (not on credit cards) and there is no need for us to go there if our import taxes are kept at a minimum and import /get things that move fast in our economy and then we can match any in the world in business, now that the war is not a problem.
What I am getting at is if we follow the Singapore Model we are bound to fail and we have to have a strategy that make businessman / women here could take a reasonable risk to outsmart India and Singapore with one breadth or two.
Why we go to India?
Mainly to get sarees and very few young ladies now wear sarees for daily work. If we flood the market with Indian sarees we can limit our visit to India too. We must make it like Southall in England where I could buy Indian saree much cheaper than anywhere in the world.
If we flood our market with Indian saree, we will win that battle too.
To do that of course we must make cloths much cheaper than anywhere in the world and we should not worry about quotas from European community.
Let the European come here and buy the cloths instead of we export them and pay a big sum for shipment. In the process we make money from air lines too.
The cardinal rule should be that our garments to be high quality but cheap in money terms.
1. Singapore does not have water.
2. Singapore does not have fruits.
3. Singapore does not have veggies
4. Singapore does not have biodiversity
5. Singapore does not have elephants roaming (Wasgamuwa) in the wild or Pinnawala
6. Singapore does not have bird sanctuaries
7. Singapore cannot offer helitours to the extent of ours
8. Singapore does not have singing fish
9. We can have sports festivals here
10. Singapore does not have traditional Kandyan dancers and arts and the Perehara
11. Meditation Retreats
12. We have universities which can provide cultural retreats (other than professional)
What we lack are golf flings (that is good it is at the high end) all over, we do not have horse racing and formula motor racing at international level.
What the government did was to start gambling dens to begin with. They got their priorities wrong. Without casino’s and prostitution we can do lot of other things to improve our image.
Do not think most of the visitors are coming for sex.
It is not true.
Most of of them come here because they are fed up of sex exploits excepts paedophiliacs and the sex maniacs who come here to avoid prosecution in their own countries.
The list can go on.
1. But we must eliminate corruption at all levels.
2. We must make sure our people speak many languages not only English and French (Russian, Chinese)
3. We must make sure things are affordable to our people (us) the Sri–Lankans, unlike in Singapore where some cannot afford it since it is catering for outsiders.
But what is happening is things are becoming expensive in every level and not affordable like in Singapore and the trend is alarming.
4. If the visitors are not coming hang that idea and we must enjoy ourselves (not only politicians) and visit the places we could not visit due to war.
Why ill treat locals with exorbitant prices and lure for foreign money?
5. For this to happen our roads should improve and strict laws and punishment to offenders should be imposed and that should include ban on driving for at least 5 years. We have too many bad vehicles on the road and Sri–Lankan drivers are the worst in this world.
If we have a championship for bad drivers we can win the World Cup without batting an eyelid.
We got our priorities wrong.
If we go foe Singapore or Hongkong Models we are going to fail.
We should have our own Model which should be Sri-Lankan, not Western or Singaporean.
But above all look after the locals first and make them happy and then productivity will go up leaps and bounds.
Misguided miracle or wonder (nice catch phrase though) may boomerang if we are not careful.
Catch phrases will not work in the modern world but money in hand will jolly well do wonders.
Lot of us are on credit cards now and look for the heaven to fall to pick up the pieces.
Planners should understand this and should not waste time like we wasted on elections, cricket, heroics like in Olympics.