- Says Sri Lankans dislike to see fellow countrymen succeeding
- Believes rupee depreciation can be halted by backing local entrepreneurs
By Nishel Fernando
A highly successful local entrepreneur who made it to the global stage this week urged Sri Lankans not to become dogs in the manger for fellow Sri Lankans who aspire to progress and turnaround the country’s economy.
Delivering the keynote speech at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka’s 39th National Conference last Monday, Founder of MillenniumIT, Chairman/CEO of Ustocktrade LLC and Co-Founder/Director of The Cainan Foundation, Tony Weeresinghe said, “I say Sri Lankans are brilliant and I proved that by building MillenniumIT.
I said we were going to be the best in the world and for three years, and all international brokers voted MillenniumIT trading platform as the best trading platform in the world. I am saying if you give them the opportunity, we will turn this country around.”
However, he pointed out that the major obstacle in realising this potential is the attitude of Sri Lankans, who don’t want fellow countrymen to succeed in their ventures.
Illustrating an example he experienced at the Colombo Tea Auction in his younger days, Weeresinghe said, “I sat in the auction and what I saw as a young guy surprised me. There was a heated debate for tea. One guy was bidding while the other was over bidding; just the same two guys going on and on and finally one guy won. The guy who won was fuming; I could see he’s not happy, though he won the bid. The guy who lost was very happy, I couldn’t understand that. So, I went up to him and asked him ‘you were bidding for tea, but you didn’t win it; but I see you smiling.’ And he responded saying that he knew that the other guy had a buyer and he wanted to make sure that person didn’t make a profit.”
“That’s the status of the country; it tells everything and we need to change it. If you don’t need it, it is okay let someone else make use of it, don’t kill it for him,” he stressed. Speaking on the recent depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar, which has concerned many, Weeresinghe emphasised that Sri Lankans tend to cling on to problems rather than coming up with solutions.
“We are very good of being the problem to the problem and then you don’t need rocket science to understand it. If you import more than you export, then there is going to be a deficit,” he said.
He stressed that simply backing local entrepreneurs and firms to earn an additional sum of foreign exchange per annum would solve the current crisis.
“If 100,000 Sri Lankans can make extra US $ 10,000 per year, that’s US $1 billion; if they make US $50,000 per year, that’s a US $5 billion. If you help 5,000 companies to do US $10 million, that’s US $5 billion. We don’t have to sell pieces of our country; we don’t have to go a begging aboard,” he stressed.