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Towards an economically prosperous Sri Lanka

3 January 2019 12:00 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Given the disruptive weather patterns it now seems advisable to import much of the agricultural products we consume (Pix courtesy www.irinnews.org)

The majority of Sri Lankans showed their eagerness to usher in 2019 which they did by the lighting of thousands of firecrackers and sky rockets on the stroke of 12 midnight on December 31. 

Stepping into the future with zest is good, but when its done with an intoxicated mind, which for a moment makes us forget our responsibilities, liabilities and commitments, a question arises whether we have messed up our priorities?

 


  • Now the GoSL must take measures to stop the rupee from reaching the 200 mark against the US Dollar
  • Last year again agriculture was a disaster given that there was a drought and later a flood situation
  • This cash-trapped GoSL needs the much looked forward to IMF Loan

The year 2019 is so important because the Ranil Wickremesinghe Government must make things happen rather than wait for things to happen. Past governments were not proactive and that contributed to the depreciating of the Sri Lankan rupee. Economic experts state that when the governments of other countries took adequate steps to deal with the developments in the global markets the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) allowed its economy to ‘run its own course’ without taking protective measures. 
One factor that affected the global financial market was the deposited money in other countries flowing back into America because the Trump-led administration began paying a higher return for investments. Now the GoSL must take measures to stop the rupee from reaching the 200 mark against the US Dollar. For this to happen the GoSL must maintain a healthy balance between imports and exports. 

For the IMF to release the loan, ‘Sri Lanka must agree to implement policy reforms that require strict financial discipline and reduce Budget deficit and the accumulation of debt stock’

The biggest challenge for the Wickremesinghe led Government is to have the support of the minority parties within the Parliament. Budget 2019 has to be passed, but before that the Government must reveal its plan to escape from the present debt trap. 

Financial experts have warned that the government must financially discipline itself. There is a past history of a request having being made by the Yahapalana regime to raise the salaries of a minister by over 200%. This move was thwarted by President Sirisena. With over US $ 4 billion needed to pay off annual debts this year, the Wickremesinghe Government must cut down on lavish spending. 

This year there are almost two elections on the cards. Elections mean there would be spending and such activities tax the Government coffers. Any government will have to spend money to buy votes. As stated by the Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshappriya an election would cost as much as rupees 4.5 billion while a public referendum would cost around rupees 3.5 -4 billion. 

TNA Leader R.Sampanthan wants a permanent solution to the national question and President Sirisena quoting poet T.S Elliot has looked to the future with a sharp pair of eyes

The Elections Commissioner also said that these three elections-Provincial Councils, Presidential Elections and General Elections-have to be held within the next two years.  Last year again agriculture was a disaster given that there was a drought and later a flood situation. Time and again adverse weather conditions in the island have underscored the fact that Sri Lanka doesn’t have a bright future in agriculture anymore. We have never been able to negotiate the drought and floods. Given the disruptive weather patterns it now seems advisable to import much of the agricultural products we consume. Some experts also point out that we also don’t have the needed machinery expertise and have to hire machine operators from countries like India to work on agriculture fields. 

This cash-trapped GoSL needs the much looked forward to IMF Loan. The IMF has promised to resume a 3-year US$ 1.5 billion extended loan facility given that Sri Lanka meets certain conditions. For the IMF to release the loan, ‘Sri Lanka must agree to implement policy reforms that require strict financial discipline and reduce Budget deficit and the accumulation of debt stock’. If Sri Lanka meets these conditions the IMF will release the Sixth Tranche which amounts to US$ 250 million. 

Given the disruptive weather patterns it now seems advisable to import much of the agricultural products we consume

New Voice 

Given that 2019 will centre around the economy and the possible elections it is interesting to note what top politicians have said in the releases issued to newspapers to be carried on their issues on new year day. Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has played on the patriotic theme once again asking the citizens to protect the country from the enemy, Premier Wickremesinghe has promised to make a better society for the future generation, TNA Leader R.Sampanthan wants a permanent solution to the national question and President Sirisena quoting poet T.S Elliot has looked to the future with a sharp pair of eyes. Sirisena has quoted Elliot saying, “for last year’s words belong to the last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice”. This is quite interesting given that we have tried all our present leaders of the likes of Sirisena, Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa to establish a ‘healthy system’ where state funds are not squandered and there are checks and balances with regard to spending. For this to happen we need a ‘new voice’; most importantly of an individual with a proven track record in business and finance who wishes to give quality time to politics and most importantly someone who can boast of a clean character. Is this too much to ask for from a citizens perspective?

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  • Thanga Thursday, 03 January 2019 11:00 AM

    The new year messages by political leaders are a ritual devoid of meaning. They have been repeating ad-nauseam for the last 70 years. The Sinhalese politicians have proved time and time again they have no stomach for good governance. As for president Sirisena, he has damaged his image beyond repair. Many consider him as a political joker. He says one thing in the morning and something else in the evening. His claim he acted according to legal advice from the "best legal experts" experts turned out to be a huge joke. He obtained the worst legal advice from th likes of GL Peiris, former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva and others. GL Peiris is a chameleon and capable of speaking through both sides of his mouth.


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