by Rajan Philips
There is no transfer of state powers in Britain following the death of Queen Elizabeth and her succession by old Prince Charles as new King Charles III. The powers of the British State reside not at Buckingham Palace but in the British Parliament, and are exercised by a cabinet government with a Prime Minister as its head, who by convention is only the first among otherwise equal ministers and MPs.
There is no risk of the vast powers of the state being passed from proper hands to wrong hands, or from bad hands to worse hands. British Monarchy doesn’t even need any checks and balances to ensure good behaviour. All that the modern royals have to do beyond their routine roles, is to pay their share of taxes (may be times two) for the properties they have amassed over centuries through acquisition and inheritance, to compensate for their costly upkeep by other taxpayers.
Everything turns upside down in other countries when upstart politicians become elected presidents and start pretending to be kings. And they keep pretending even when they are no longer presidents, and join the club of former presidents to enjoy never ending perks and privileges, more so in Sri Lanka than anywhere else. The country with a crashing economy now has a growing club of former presidents and offers its members a unique range of post-retirement benefits which are outrageously more generous than in other countries. Why should they be given a house in Colombo where they had none before? It is fine to pension off retired presidents, but not if they continue to be in politics as MPs, Ministers or even a Prime Minister. Like Maithripala Sirisena, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and now even Gotabaya Rajapaksa?
The ex-presidential club in Sri Lanka had three members and the number increased to four overnight with the daylight return of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, two moons after he furtively flew away in the dark of night. And it may become five sooner or later: Sooner, if another Aragalaya were to get Ranil Wickremesinghe to go home and complete the vicious Ranil-Rajapaksa circle. Or later, as and when Mr. Wickremesinghe realizes that he cannot be President till 2048 to deliver in person his version of Saubhagyaye Dekma to the country.
Unlike in monarchical Britain, the Republic of Sri Lanka has to periodically go through power transfer spasms every time there is a change of President after a presidential election, with parliament as a sidelined spectator. In July, the military was called in to protect the brick and mortar of parliament allegedly from a mob of protesters. But no one cares when parliament is sidelined during presidential transfer of powers between elections, or after a president resigns from office. Ranil Wickremesinghe, as Acting President, requested the army to protect the parliamentary precincts. As interim President he has been making all the right gestures towards parliament, while wielding presidential powers to a far greater extent than Gotabaya Rajapaksa did after the start of aragalaya protests.
Aragalaya was able to get rid of an elected president, but it has since been smothered by an unelected interim president. Over 3,000 aragalaya protesters have been arrested according to a statement by Champika Ranawaka. President Wickremesinghe made a show & tell of not extending the emergency rule beyond its first month, but then he silently gave the green light for arrests to continue under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which everyone was made to believe was at the point of being rescinded by the Rajapaksa Administration.
By way of mitigation, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena announced in parliament that no one arrested under PTA will be charged under it. If so, the arrested people should have been discharged immediately. On the contrary, there are rumours that it is the Prime Minister who might be relieved of his post. If true, is it because he has run afoul of the SLPP for changing the government’s position on the use of PTA?
To be sure, President Wickremesinghe will not countenance any ploy to get rid of Prime Minister Gunawardena. Not only the two men go too far back, but it is also true that it was Dinesh Gunawardena who gave Wickremesinghe significant credibility among lawmakers when he was candidate for President. Basil Rajapaksa had his SLPP toads lined up to vote for Ranil Wickremesinghe, which gave him victory but not credibility. Dinesh Gunawardena will do his job as PM and will have no further claim on the President. Not so with Basil, who is virtually holding the President to ransom and there seems to be no way that the President can put an end to it. In fact, there is a way out, but Mr. Wickremesinghe will not take it.
The way out
The Sunday Island in its editorial last week neatly summed up President Wickremesinghe’s difficulties in governing while on an SLPP, rather Basil’s, leash. The title, “Hobbled President and jumbo administration,” could not have been more apt. The editorial went on to bemoan that “until he is constitutionally enabled to dissolve parliament early next year, President Wickremesinghe will remain hobbled.” I would argue that President Wickremesinghe finds himself hobbled not only because of the antics of Rajapaksas and Basil’s machinations, but also because of his own cynical ploys and the self-serving choices he has been making.
My hunch is that President Wickremesinghe will not dissolve parliament even when he is enabled to do as early as next year (after March 2023), simply because dissolving parliament at this juncture will not help his case to extend his tenure as President beyond November 2025. There is no question that he means well when he speaks of progressive political reforms and a process of economic recovery that will keep moving forward until its total fruition in 2048. One might even grant that other than Ranil Wickremesinghe there is no one else in the current parliament who is capable of articulating a comprehensive diagnosis of the country’s ills and suggesting remedial measures for them. Granted, Champika Ranawaka could be an exception, but he has more political enemies than personal friends.
As for Ranil Wickremesinghe, there are fatal flaws in his premises and in the trajectory that he is projecting. First, even as his visioning is sweeping in its scope it is bereft of realistic and demonstrably achievable goals and targets. The reason for this, and therein is the second flaw, is that he is quintessentially a one man band. Not merely by virtue of his being the lone National List MP for the UNP, but also seemingly to the manner born. His public and political life over 45 years amply attests to this. For all his sweeping vistas he cannot cultivate durable political loyalty in anyone other than those who are beholden to him.
The third and the biggest flaw, in my view, is his insatiable presidential ambition. It would be far fetched to suggest that when Ranil Wickremesinghe decided to become the UNP’s sole national list MP in parliament he was already scheming to succeed Gotabaya Rajapaksa. However, when chips started falling and Gota’s short lived presidency foundered through incompetence, and the chance opened for him to become a crisis Prime Minister, it is reasonable to suggest, Mr. Wickremesinghe’s long-game mind started ticking.
It is my contention that everything that Ranil Wickremesinghe has been doing after he became Acting President has been geared to realizing a single-minded objective of his: to remain President till November 2025 and to be elected President thereafter for one full term, for one last hurrah. The same singlemindedness, to contest the 2019 presidential election, coloured Mr. Wickremesinghe’s entire tenure as yahapalanaya Prime Minister from 2015 to 2019. Yahapalanaya is now water under a broken bridge, but what Mr. Wickremesinghe is doing now or, more pertinently, what he is not doing now, is what is before us for analysing the inconsistencies between his words and actions, and the clever obfuscation of his true intentions.
Let us take Mr. Wickremesinghe at his word that he accepted Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s offer of crisis premiership and then became acting president only for the sake of the country and that his all-party government intentions are genuine. Then why did he not involve the opposition MPs in all the arrangements he made with Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the beginning, when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was agreeable to practically everything except resigning as President prematurely? Whatever arrangement the two men made between them backfired and Rajapaksa was forced to resign within two months of Ranil Wickremesinghe becoming Prime Minister.
Stand tall or stay hobbled?
After Gotabaya Rajapaksa left, was there anything to stop Ranil Wickremesinghe, as acting President, from reaching out to the opposition MPs rather than to the SLPP? At that point Mr. Wickremesinghe owed nothing to any of the Rajapaksas, but he owed everything to the Aragalaya protesters. The Acting President then did an about turn. He abandoned the protesters and gravitated to the Rajapaksas.
For all his talk about youth parliament, endless promises about committees and fundamental reforms, he never sent any credible emissary to engage the protesters. Instead, he sent the police and the army to expel them from occupied public places, while promising to set up special zones for protesting. This is a new development for urban planning – from zoning for land use to zoning for protests. The UDA, which the Rajapaksas had under the Defence Secretary, can look after Colombo’s protest zones.
All of this invariably led to Mr. Wickremesinghe relying on Basil Rajapaksa and his SLPP contingent to secure victory in the election by parliament of a successor to GR’s balance term. Mr. Wickremesinghe won quite handily with 134 votes. But he lost his credibility yet again. And Basil Rajapaksa is collecting his IOUs. He wanted SLPPers appointed as State Ministers before he left for the US, his home away from home. President Wickremesinghe had to and did oblige, appointing State Ministers including MPs who are convicted felons.
The President apparently refused to appoint Namal Rajapaksa to anything, but compromised by appointing Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Namal’s cousin and son of Chamal Rajapaksa as State Minister. The appointment of 37 state ministers flies in the face of all the President’s lofty promises and lecturing about political reform. This political hypocrisy at home will not go unnoticed abroad at the IMF, among Sri Lanka’s creditors, and at the UNHRC which has started yet another session on Sri Lanka.
The power of dissolving is the ultimate weapon a Prime Minister has over all MPs in a parliamentary system. This is not a power that should be granted to the President in a presidential system, or a semi-presidential system like Sri Lanka. But in Sri Lanka the President has restricted powers to dissolve and there is no better time to use it. Since Mr. Wickremesinghe’s election by parliament as Interim President, the SLPP has gone through some splits and the current number of Basil Rajapaksa loyalists is said to be around 100. That is, the SLPP is not the majority party in parliament anymore.
If Mr. Wickremesinghe wants to dissolve parliament before March 2023, he should get the support of all non-Basil-SLPP MPs to support a resolution for dissolving parliament. He will not do it because it will upset his personal calculations to remain as long as President, not so much to salvage Sri Lanka as to keep his options open to be a presidential candidate in 2024. Like Trump in the US, but far less obnoxiously. On the other hand, if he chooses to continue his reliance on Basil, via Zoom to USA, he will not get the support of opposition MPs to do anything positive in parliament.
The only way President Wickremesinghe can get all-except Basil’s MPs’ support in parliament is by committing to dissolve parliament after an agreed upon interval – say between six months to a year. The JVP and the SJB have been saying this all along. And the only way Mr. Wickremesinghe can restore his credibility in the country is by announcing that he will not continue as President after the remainder of the term that he inherited from Gotabaya Rajapaksa is over in November 2024.
Two years (2022 to 2024) is more than enough for the President to finalize agreements with the IMF and external creditors, to implement electoral reforms, to establish a new roadmap for positive changes to address the growing list of concerns at the UNHRC, and to even prepare a referendum question for changing the presidential system by removing direct election by the people and providing for election by parliament. The referendum question can be put to the people at the next parliamentary election, and the new parliament can act on the people’s verdict after the election. This is the opportunity for President Wickremesinghe to stand tall, offer selfless service and leave with dignity. The alternative is to remain hobbled until is forced out like the Rajapaksas.
Italy: The Hard Right nears power
By Gwynne Dyer
There’s an election in Italy next Sunday, almost exactly 100 years after Benito Mussolini’s ‘blackshirts’ marched on Rome and brought the first fascist dictator to power.Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right populist politician who is likely to win that election, rejects any comparison with that ugly past. The party she leads, Brothers of Italy, has some ‘nostalgic’ neo-fascists in its ranks, but she prefers to compare it to Britain’s post-Brexit Conservative Party or the US Republican Party as rebranded by Donald Trump.
She shares her hostility to the European Union with Britain’s Conservatives, her hatred of immigrants, gays and Muslims with the US Republicans, and her truculent nationalism with both those parties. She is also militantly Christian, and she dabbles in ‘Great Replacement’ paranoia. And just like them, she wages a non-stop culture war.
“There is no middle ground possible,” Meloni told a rally last June. “Today, the secular left and radical Islam are menacing our roots…Either say yes, or say no. Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobbies. Yes to the universality of the Cross, no to Islamist violence. Yes to secure borders, no to mass immigration.”
The brutal simplicity of these slogans works just as well with lower-income, poorly educated Italians as it does with the same sort of people in ‘heartland’ America or ‘red wall’ Britain. The goal is to distract them from the fact that their populist heroes really govern in favour of the rich (which explains why those leaders must be shameless liars).
Giorgia Meloni lies, too, but when you compare her to populist peers like Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Donald Trump in the United States, she actually doesn’t seem that bad.
Like them, she has no permanent political principles, just a bundle of cynical techniques for attracting distressed and desperate voters. But she needed to shift towards the centre ground to build her Brothers of Italy party up from 4% of the vote in the 2018 election to a predicted 25% this time – so that’s what she did.
She now claims to support both the European Union and the NATO alliance. Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she avoided the pro-Putin stance that was common on the radical right in both Europe and the United States. With the fragile Italian economy teetering on the brink of recession, she is promising good behaviour to Brussels.
So not a complete disaster, then. Continued access to the EU’s Covid recovery fund, which has promised Italy 191 billion euros over the next six years, should keep Meloni from straying too far from orthodox economics. If the EU withholds those funds, her prospects of remaining in power would be slim.
Brothers of Italy will probably be the largest Italian party after this election, but with only 25-30% of the vote she will not be able to govern alone. The problem is that the two parties she will need to make a coalition with, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia! (Go Italy!) and Matteo Salvini’s Lega (The League), are direct rivals of her own party.
Berlusconi at 85 is still a big political player thanks to his huge media empire. Salvini is willing to bring any coalition down if it improves his chances of being prime minister in a different one. Both men will be trying to claw back the popular support that Meloni’s Brothers of Italy has stolen from them, so there will be tears before bedtime.
In normal times, their chosen tactic would be to undermine Meloni’s party by pushing for harsher policies on immigration and bigger conflicts with the EU. With the Russian energy blockade promising a hard time for Europe economically this winter, however, the obvious strategy for far-right parties is to advocate a softer line on Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Both men have been Putin fanboys in the past. Berlusconi sees the Russian dictator as a personal friend, and Salvini called him “the best statesman on Earth” three years ago. Now Salvini soft-pedals his admiration for Putin, but he demands an end to the sanctions against Russia because they are allegedly hurting Italy more than Russia.
Meloni can’t afford to play that game, and the expected post-election coalition of far-right parties is unlikely to last very long. She has sufficiently detoxified herself that she could lead a coalition with other parties instead, and that may well happen.Post-fascist parties in power in Italy are still bad news, but the damage to the European Union and the NATO alliance can probably be contained.
Why do we go to the IMF?
By Shahid Mehmood
THE resumption of the IMF package, that was badly needed to avert an external payments crisis, has reignited passions. As most countrymen wrestle with the question of whether or not the Fund is a tool of neocolonialism to keep countries like Pakistan sedated and subservient, what is lost in the debate is why we always wind up at its door. Let’s take a peek.
Energy is the relevant sector to get this conversation going as it constitutes the largest portion of our import bill. Economic growth and economic mobility depend on energy, whose demand rises as economies expand (along with other factors like population growth). A large portion of Pakistan’s entire energy edifice is dependent on imported fuels, given our meagre internal energy sources.
Aside from raw material, the machines and equipment underpinning our power production are also imported — from turbines at hydel power plants to equipment at LNG, coal and furnace oil plants. So, not only are we importing raw materials, we are also importing services to sustain them over the long term. All these have to be paid for in dollars.
Read: Wanted — a non-partisan economic plan
Here, let me address a misconception, that ‘indigenous’ sources of power will take care of the matter. Think again. These can’t be utilised without outside help. Decades after the construction of the Mangla and Tarbela dams, we still need foreign experts to solve critical issues related to them. Consider the Neelum-Jhelum run-of-the-river hydel power project, which has extracted gazillions from Pakistanis under the label of ‘surcharge’. Meant to utilise an ‘indigenous’ source of energy, hardly a year later it is down due to a ‘fault’ that required the services of foreign experts because our own ‘experts’ could not identify it. (It meant inflicting losses in the billions on consumers due to power production from expensive, imported fuel).
We are importing not only raw materials, but also the services to sustain them over the long term.The case of other indigenous sources is somewhat similar: we cannot build nuclear power plants without foreign help; we had to hire foreign experts to determine whether our coal plants could use Thar’s indigenous coal, etc.
This is not a revelation: there has been recognition for long that Pakistan creates problems for itself that, in turn, generate a demand for dollars, which we are usually short of. The Economic Survey of 1980-81, for example, recognised that long-gestation projects under the public investment garb was the main reason for saddling Pakistan with an external debt of $9bn. Yet, PSDPs refuse to budge! It’s still about grand projects like roads that incentivise an increase in vehicular traffic, in turn creating more demand for dollar imports, as the main components of the products of our highly protected car manufacturers are imported.
Let’s move to the role of public regulations. A few of endless examples will suffice. We have this infinite fascination with horizontal sprawls, complemented by ‘housing societies’ in the public and private sector. Aside from cities becoming administratively difficult to govern, a result of these endless sprawls is the need for more vehicles, leading to greater demand for energy products such as oil and diesel. There has, arguably, never been an estimate of the increase in energy imports that accrued to the country due to this endless expansion. But if ever such an exercise is carried out, the results will make other import-related issues — like IPPs — look puny.
These endless sprawls have resulted in millions of acres of fertile agricultural land being gobbled up over time. Given that more than 100 agricultural ‘research’ institutes are producing little or nothing in terms of higher land and crop productivity, complemented by a rapidly expanding population, there is little choice but to import food staples to meet our food requirements — so much for being an ‘agricultural country’.
Another good example: the illogical fascination with uniform pricing. In terms of the ultimately imported energy products, it leads to waste. Pakistan’s fast-depleting natural gas reserves are an apt illustration of this phenomenon. First, it was Balochistan, and now it is Sindh whose natural gas reserves are dwindling fast. There has, historically speaking, always been an incentive to consume it inefficiently because they have been under-priced, primarily due to uniform prices that are way below the market prices. Had the pricing been market-based from the start, there might not have arisen the need for importing expensive LNG or coal, which severely taxes our dollar earnings.
Moving away from big-ticket items, even the micro level does not inspire much confidence. Consider the common office chair. Some time back, they were in short supply, carrying a premium. That’s because they are merely ‘assembled’ here from imported parts. Most other products fare little better.
To summarise, Pakistan’s economic edifice is built in a manner that, unless we import, our economic activity will come to a standstill. And as GDP inches up, we end up importing more — to the extent that our dollar earnings will never be enough to pay for our imports. So whether it’s the IMF or anyone else, Pakistan will sooner or later knock at their door for dollars.
How to change all this? Before someone presents ‘import substitution’ as the Holy Grail, God save us from that predicament. Our earlier experiments only ended up producing rent-seeking seths and the likes of the car industry that sells low-quality tin for millions — the promised ‘localisation’ never happened. For a start, enough of brick-and-mortar ‘plans’ that create more liabilities than assets, besides raising pampered generations of subsidy-sucking businessmen under the banner of ‘infant industry’ and ‘qaumi mufaad’ (national interest). Neither do we need NOCs or hundreds of regulatory agencies to scare away foreign and domestic investors.
The way out of our dollar cash-flow troubles lies in greater global integration and trade, promoting competition and developing our human capital base. For a change, take the government out of business and let Schumpeterian creative destruction prevail on a level playing field. (The Dawn/ANN)
The writer is an economist and research fellow at PIDE.
National Day of Saudi Arabia – 23rd September 2022
Crown Prince Message- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
It is my pleasure to present Saudi Arabia’s Vision for the future. It is an ambitious yet achievable blueprint, which expresses our long-term goals and expectations and reflects our country’s strengths and capabilities. All success stories start with a vision, and successful visions are based on strong pillars.The first pillar of our vision is our status as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds. We recognise that Allah the Almighty has bestowed on our lands a gift more precious than oil. Our Kingdom is the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, the most sacred sites on earth, and the direction of the Kaaba (Qibla) to which more than a billion Muslims turn at prayer.
The second pillar of our vision is our determination to become a global investment powerhouse. Our nation holds strong investment capabilities, which we will harness to stimulate our economy and diversify our revenues.The third pillar is transforming our unique strategic location into a global hub connecting three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa. Our geographic position between key global waterways, makes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia an epicenter of trade and the gateway to the world.
Our country is rich in its natural resources. We are not dependent solely on oil for our energy needs. Gold, phosphate, uranium, and many other valuable minerals are found beneath our lands. But our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our younger generation. They are our nation’s pride and the architects of our future. We will never forget how, under tougher circumstances than today, our nation was forged by collective determination when the late King Abdulaziz Al-Saud – may Allah bless his soul – united the Kingdom. Our people will amaze the world again.
We are confident about the Kingdom’s future. With all the blessings Allah has bestowed on our nation, we cannot help but be optimistic about the decades ahead. We ponder what lies over the horizon rather than worrying about what could be lost.
The future of the Kingdom, my dear brothers and sisters, is one of huge promise and great potential, God willing. Our precious country deserves the best. Therefore, we will expand and further develop our talents and capacity. We will do our utmost to ensure that Muslims from around the world can visit the Holy Sites.
We are determined to reinforce and diversify the capabilities of our economy, turning our key strengths into enabling tools for a fully diversified future. As such, we will transform Aramco from an oil producing company into a global industrial conglomerate. We will transform the Public Investment Fund into the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. We will encourage our major corporations to expand across borders and take their rightful place in global markets. As we continue to give our army the best possible machinery and equipment, we plan to manufacture half of our military needs within the Kingdom to create more job opportunities for citizens and keep more resources in our country.
We will expand the variety of digital services to reduce delays and cut tedious bureaucracy. We will immediately adopt wide-ranging transparency and accountability reforms and, through the body set up to measure the performance of government agencies, hold them accountable for any shortcomings. We will be transparent and open about our failures as well as our successes, and will welcome ideas on how to improve.
All this comes from the directive of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, may Allah protect him, who ordered us to plan for a future that fulfills your ambitions and your aspirations.In line with his instructions, we will work tirelessly from today to build a better tomorrow for you, your children, and your children’s children.
Our ambition is for the long term. It goes beyond replenishing sources of income that have weakened or preserving what we have already achieved. We are determined to build a thriving country in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions. Therefore, we will not rest until our nation is a leader in providing opportunities for all through education and training, and high quality services such as employment initiatives, health, housing, and entertainment.
We commit ourselves to providing world class government services which effectively and efficiently meet the needs of our citizens. Together we will continue building a better country, fulfilling our dream of prosperity and unlocking the talent, potential, and dedication of our young men and women. We will not allow our country ever to be at the mercy of a commodity price volatility or external markets.
We have all the means to achieve our dreams and ambitions. There are no excuses for us to stand still or move backwards.Our Vision is a strong, thriving, and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all. Our Vision is a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method. We will welcome qualified individuals from all over the world and will respect those who have come to join our journey and our success.
We intend to provide better opportunities for partnerships with the private sector through the three pillars: our position as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, our leading investment capabilities, and our strategic geographical position. We will improve the business environment, so that our economy grows and flourishes, driving healthier employment opportunities for citizens and long-term prosperity for all. This promise is built on cooperation and on mutual responsibility.
This is our “Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030.” We will begin immediately delivering the overarching plans and programmes we have set out. Together, with the help of Allah, we can strengthen the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s position as a great nation about which we should all feel an immense pride.
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.
History & Heritage
Saudi Arabia has long occupied an important role at the center of the Islamic and Arab worlds. Located at the heart of three continents, the Kingdom has served as an important ancient trade route and a vital link connecting East and West.
It also has a unique heritage landscape that has developed over the centuries, including 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
People & Culture
Saudi Arabia has a rich culture shaped by the diversity of its people, which has formed the basis of its cultural identity. The Kingdom has 13 regions across which 34 million people live who are united by the Arabic language, but each region has a unique dialect, traditions, heritage, and culinary identity.
The Kingdom has four official yearly celebrations; two Islamic celebrations, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, Founding Day (February 22) and Saudi National Day (September 23).
The people of Saudi Arabia embrace many social values influenced by their Islamic values which preserve the Kingdom’s ancient customs and traditions, including generosity, courage, hospitality, and maintaining strong family relationships.
Economy & Business
Saudi Arabia has implemented structural economic and financial reforms since the launch of Vision 2030, which established a new economic system that prompts the creation of a diversified and robust economy that achieves sustainable growth for the Kingdom.
Investing in previously untapped sectors has supported the Kingdom’s economic diversification efforts and led to an improved business environment. Thus, strengthening the role of the private sector in the economy and creating the necessary environment for sustainable growth.
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