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Let the experts speak...

28 December 2021 12:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Government’s desperation over the looming food scarcity owing to the prevailing fertilizer crisis was well manifested with the recent suggestion by Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena to the people of this country to plant a few seedlings of chilly or any other essential vegetables in their home garden so that they can use them during the next Sinhala and Hindu New Year. 

This is not a bad idea and any such effort has to be encouraged, but it is sheer desperation on the part of the government and not a viable solution to the problem the country is currently faced with and going to face with in the near future. Neither is it anywhere near the solution to the problem. Besides, there are so many practical issues including time and space currently involved in home gardening, especially in urban areas. Also the home gardeners too have to encounter the same issues that are encountered by the ordinary farmers these days. 
One might recall that the Economic Development Ministry of the former Mahinda Rajapaksa government in fact launched - rather than merely suggesting – a home gardening programme towards its end, even supplying seeds to every household in the country. It flopped not because it was a bad idea, but because the authorities failed to convince the masses that it would help them economically in a substantial manner.  There cannot be haphazard micro solutions to macro problems.  


The suggestion would only be another weapon in the hands of the Opposition parties to be used against the government which is already under attack over its poor handling of the economy. The government’s desperation would undoubtedly boost the morale of the Opposition, but it would dampen the already sagged spirits of the masses as they who have to bear the brunt of the failures of the government, irrespective of which party is in the saddle. 


On the other hand, government’s failures and mishandlings alone are not to blame for the current state of affairs. It is a combination of those failures and mishandlings, the unprecedented impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the economy and most importantly the passive economic and governance related legacy of the past governments since Independence, especially the highly corrupt policies maintained by the governments since 1977.
 In an environment with lack of independence and collective contribution of individual ministers of the Cabinet and officials under the highly concentrated executive presidency, everybody naturally tend to please the higher-ups rather than creatively and objectively taking corrective measures. Thus the economic crisis has become a vicious cycle. 


Is our Opposition capable of breaking of this cycle, in case of a regime change? Have they at least put forward any credible solution to the immediate problems that the country has faced with, such as the dollar issue? Are their proposals to reschedule foreign loans and approaching the IMF viable solutions? Most important question is whether the government is prepared to give way to the Opposition before the next election, even if any Opposition party is capable of taking the economy to the right path.


Hence, it is appropriate to have a mechanism of relevant experts outside the government to guide it, as the medical professionals did recently to guide the government, in the face of surging COVID 19. It was they who acted as a pressure group to persuade the authorities to implement various restrictions, which ultimately bore fruit. 


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