A Year Of Political Rights & Economic Wrongs

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By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Have you learned nothing from history?”~ Freud (The Future of an Illusion)

One year after winning the parliamentary election of August 2015, the government is on track politically.

One year after winning the parliamentary election of August 2015, the government is straying economically. Ranil and Maithri

In the year gone by, Sri Lanka has moved towards greater democratisation and reconciliation. The pace may not be to everyone’s satisfaction; much remains to be done – and undone; but the overall direction cannot be in doubt.

Economically the government has veered sharply from its initial promises. It is bereft of a clear vision or a strategy, teetering from one mistake to the next and increasingly willing to borrow from the Rajapaksa economic copybook.

A critical lesson of 2016 is that the wrong kind of economics can undermine the right kind of politics, and make even advanced democracies vulnerable to the siren song of racism, bigotry and xenophobia, an old lesson which each generation prefers to learn the hard way. The Brexit disaster and the rise of Donald Trump are warnings of what might await Sri Lanka if the government fails to right its economic path, in time.

Governance today is better than governance under the Rajapaksas, but given how bad things were, that is not saying anything very much. Every time President Sirisena soliloquies about good governance while favouring the likes of the pistol-toting former mayor of Hambantota, every time PM Wickremesinghe perorates about good governance while trying to impose more economic burdens on the masses, they are reducing the distance between themselves and the Rajapaksas.

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration’s VAT imbroglio is symbolic both of what is right and what is wrong in today’s Sri Lanka. It is also an indication that what is right about Sri Lanka – its greater democratisation – might succeed in alleviating the worst of its economic wrongs.

The VAT Hike – A blast from the Rajapaksa past

Had the Rajapaksas been in power, the VAT increase would have gone through, just as the previous hikes in indirect taxes were carried out with nary a negative word. The traders would not have protested, the courts would not have intervened and government ministers and parliamentarians would not have made their objections known.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration tried to sneak in the VAT proposals and failed, not only because Sri Lanka has become re-democratised but also because the two components of the hybrid government often counter each other’s destructive and self-destructive excesses. According to media reports, PM Wickremesinghe wanted to resuscitate the VAT proposals, but abandoned this piece of unintelligent governance when some of the SLFP ministers refused to play ball.

Some UNP minister called the VAT proposal a Rajapaksa tax. They were right, though not in the way they intended. The VAT hike is the clearest indication that the new government does not intend to carve out an economic path of its own but plans to amble down the Rajapaksa way.

The Rajapaksas followed a strategy of taxing-borrowing-and-spending, albeit with a difference. Rajapaksa taxing was of the indirect variety, targeting essential goods and services, placing a disproportionate share of the burden not on the rich but on those clinging to the bottom half of the income-totem pole. Rajapaksa spending was mostly military-related or on physical infrastructure projects with little forward or backward linkages and extremely limited employment and income generation.

A severe imbalance in the proportion of direct to indirect taxes was a major flaw in Rajapaksa economics. The ideal balance is said to be 40% in direct taxes and 60% in indirect taxes. By the time the Rajapaksas were voted out of power, the Lankan ratio was 20% in direct taxes and 80% in indirect taxes. This meant a policy of imposing a severely disproportionate share of the burden on the poor and the middle classes. High living costs and increasing inequality were among some of the more pernicious results of this tax imbalance.

The UNP was critical of this imbalance while in opposition. In the early months of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration, there was some talk about redressing this situation. But those glimmers of politico-economic sense seem to have evaporated, as this government too becomes accustomed to power. The VAT proposals, if implemented, will exacerbate the existing direct to indirect tax-imbalance to even more precarious levels and cause further increases in living costs and income inequality.

The high growth rates of the Rajapaksa years acted as a facade for an economy which was structurally weak and dangerously flawed. These included the mushrooming of debt, growing economic inequality, high levels of youth unemployment (20.1% in 2014) and the absence of quality jobs (most job creation was in the informal sector). Though Sri Lanka continue to have a high human development index, the value dropped significantly when adjusted to inequality – from 0.757 to 0.669 in 2014 (a loss of 11.6%, which stemmed mainly from inequalities in income and education levels). Of the employed, 20.4% constituted working poor while vulnerable employment was as high as 43.1%. Sri Lanka also ranked as a country with serious risk of hunger, even in 2014, according to the World Hunger Index.

These were not abstract problems, but politico-electoral time bombs. The Rajapaksas thought they could neutralise these problems with glitzy propaganda-hypes and daily doses of minority-phobia. They were wrong. As the Top Line Survey by the CPA revealed, by December 2014, cost of living was the number one problem affecting the electorate, a prioritisation which cut across ethno-religious lines and administrative boundaries.

Political unfreedom couldn’t prevent the regime from losing its unpopularity. All it could do was to ensure that the regime had no idea of its own unpopularity.
When national elections came, those voters who were affected by Rajapaksa economics used their franchise to unseat the Rajapaksas.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration won two elections promising to tread a different economic path. Increasingly that promise is being honoured in the breach. Not only does the government continue to spend lavishly on political elites (members of the Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition have no hesitation in enjoying this largesse); it also displays a disconcerting inability to imagine a different developmental model and a tendency to impose more and more financial burdens on ordinary people.

If the government re-imposes the same – or even similar – set of VAT proposals, the main beneficiary of that politico-economic inanity will be none other than the Joint Opposition.
The link between economic discontent and racism/populist authoritarianism is almost an axiom. If the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration continues along its current economic path, it will jeopardize its own political achievements, especially in the areas of democracy and reconciliation.

Economic Disasters and Political Time Bombs

During his Uganda tour of May 2016, the then president Mahinda Rajapaksa was reportedly enchanted by the servile conduct of the Ugandans he came into contact with. According to the political column of the Rivira of May 12th 2013, Mr. Rajapaksa asked his Ugandan counterpart, “When we look at them (Ugandans) it is clear that they have a very obedient nature. How did you manage to make them so obedient?” President Musevini’s response was that this servility was a relic of the Colonial ethos, when White Masters kept their Black and Brown Subjects in total subjugation.

Rejected by the not-so-servile Lankan citizens twice, Mr. Rajapaksa might be thinking back to that incident with a good deal of nostalgia. But the incident is of relevance to Lankan’s current government as well. The much-postponed local government elections will have to be held sooner or later. If the government is serious about bringing in a new constitution, it must be ready to face and win a referendum. Both a new constitution and a political solution to the ethnic problem would require public approval in a referendum. And winning a referendum would be impossible, if the people, especially the Sinhala majority, are not relieved of their economic burdens. If the government wants to implement the rest of its political agenda, an economic policy of rice-and-curry now – rather than one of Jam Tomorrow – is a necessary precondition.

Even more than the UNP, President Sirisena and his SLFP cannot afford to antagonise the electorate. The President is particularly vulnerable, since any new political party by Mahinda Rajapaksa will be a direct threat to him and to the SLFP. If the government he heads continue to impose burdens on the electorate, Mr. Sirisena’s SLFP might slip to the third place in any future election, local, regional or national.

The Rajapaksas are experienced creators of minority bogies. Their efforts to incite Sinhala anger over such measures as singing the national anthem in Tamil failed. But if the government continues to mess up economically, the next time the Rajapaksas try to ignite minority hatred, be it over a new constitution or an attempt to find a political solution to the ethnic problem, they might succeed.

Stable societies are cohesive societies. Cohesion is impossible when a society is racked by inequality. Inequality’s destabilising impact can assume particularly deadly forms in countries beset with ethno-religious divisions. If some people feel that development is something that happens to others, disenchantment sets in and politico-psychological fissures develop. Instead of the necessary ‘national’ perspective, ethnic/religious/caste/class perspectives become predominant. Instability breaks out, even in the midst of spectacular growth. As history shows, ours and others, when masses are suffering economically, it is very easy to bamboozle them into demonising the ethno-religious ‘Other’.

If the economic distress of the masses worsen, it will not be long before the old myths of ‘rich’ Tamils preying on ‘poor’ Sinhalese will be resuscitated, joined by newer myths of ‘wily Muslims’ standing in the way of Sinhala prosperity.

If the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration does not cease straying into Rajapaksa territory economically, it will undermine its past political gains, its future political plans, its own political existence and peace and stability of Sri Lanka.

The Rajapaksas lived in their very own make-believe world. In that imaginary world, Sri Lanka was a rapidly developing land – its debt burden was not spiralling out of control; its poor were not been deprived of their homes and livelihoods; its environment was not been degraded; its health and education systems were in mint condition. In the end, they didn’t succeed in hoodwinking the electorate; just themselves.

Now those who succeeded the Rajapaksas, promising to alleviate the economic suffering of the masses are imitating the Rajapaksas. They too are trying to impose the superstructure of a prosperous, developed nation on the base of an underdeveloped, cash-strapped economy. They are too are trying to waste borrowed money on unnecessary military hardware, such as the MIG purchases. They too are trying to force the poor and the middle classes to foot a lion share of these bills.

In governance, speed is a virtue, only if the path is the right one. Non-democracies might move faster than democracies, but more often than not the movement is in an erroneous direction. The VAT disaster was averted because Sri Lanka now has such democratic basics as the right to protest and a non-cowed judiciary act. Hopefully, the reinstated checks and balances will act antidotes to the disastrous economic path of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration and prevent it from hurling itself and the country down the precipice of a Rajapaksa return.

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41 Responses to A Year Of Political Rights & Economic Wrongs

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    It would be better if the government were to stop all taxes for it is merely legalized theft and morally wrong. It would be better if all the existing state run enterprises were privatized. Privatization would cause some or all of these industries to grow, shrink, or go bust, reacting to the actual market and hence needs of the people. In this way a starving family may not be in the weirdest of situations of having FREE education but no bread on the table. Needs and want would logically align itself to what is right and proper. It would be better if the people are asked to accept all of the burdens and responsibilities of their existence with none of those responsibilities resting with the government, for the government and politicians are not Gods to calculate what resources are best allocated where. In this way the government could not be held to blame for disasters and mismanagement. Such is the price of TRUE freedom.

    Rizwan
    August 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm
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      Brilliant as usual Thisaranee Dear. Thanks a million and hats off! Accountability for Financial Crimes is as important as accountability for War Crimes. Also, if those accountable for Financial Crimes are locked up and the monies they looted and stashed in off short bank accounts in Sechelles and Panama are traced at got back the National Debt could be reduced and thus the tax burden on the masses. Ranil dances to the tune of the West which is steeped in financial crime and whose financial system is completely corrupt. The west benefits from the billions looted by third world dictators who buy property in London and LA for their holidays. The IMF and world Bank that calls itself knowledge bank should be asked to use its so called experts track down the looted funds so Sri Lanka can pay off the crippling debt generated by corrupt politicians who live the good life at the Dyawenna Pond and drive in SUVs while the people suffer and are asked to pay more taxes.. Maihdna Jarapassa his sons and brothers must be put behind bars and their assets ceased and sold to pay off some of the national debt.

      Dodo
      August 21, 2016 at 4:00 pm
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        “Maihdna Jarapassa his sons and brothers must be put behind bars and their assets ceased and sold to pay off some of the national debt.” Why only them. Why not Chaowra Regina, Robber of Central Bank, Arajitha who was called to FCID 19 times but did not show up. List can go on….

        Saradiyel
        August 22, 2016 at 2:37 am
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          Saradiyel , “”Why only them. “” Que sera sera… Humpty Dumpty won’t stand the fall. “List can go on….” Stupendo stereotype. The on and on are `backscratchers` survivors in the non system of governance. Go ride a mule- doing the hora police. The authority weighs the truth but the authority is a thief by nature and put there by the general populace of puddus. disenfranchise the voter.

          ☀Asterix☀
          August 22, 2016 at 8:34 am
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        “”The IMF and world Bank that calls itself knowledge bank should be asked to use its so called experts track down the looted funds so Sri “” Both are private banks registered in the west not policemen for thieves scroungers of the 3rd world. Neither a borrower nor lender be for a loan oft loses both itself and friend. Debt 78% GDP Policing your money is your sovereignty not others bottleneck. yours is more of a comment from a muslim deriving honey from all avenues- socialist? Margaret Thatcher — ‘The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. India has 1/2 trillion reserves so it can afford the all round salary increases for government and expect that extra spending would add to the growth. How is SL the monkey going to pay the salary increase- more bonds no problem you can have 4 times GDP till you drown like Zimbabwe or worse Yemen. Even Swiss bank won’t listen to hearsay but have frozen proved terrorist accounts. So keep on electing kuddu dealers as MP’s and protect them- sovereignty boomerangs too..

        ranjith
        August 22, 2016 at 8:50 am
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        Yes!must get back the looted wealth to pay the national debt.

        Nimal
        September 11, 2016 at 11:57 pm
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        Agree with you/.I doubt that it is easy to invest looted to buy properties in UK,as the property prices are beyond the reach of the locals and they will oppose any dirty intrusion of money into the country that will further increase the property prices.

        Nimal
        November 3, 2016 at 10:32 pm
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      “It would be better if the government were to stop all taxes for it is merely legalized theft and morally wrong.”” That is an illusion for sri lankans- you do not have a `way of doing things and solving problems` like stand in PM Boris or Trump. Boris “one-man melting pot” London is proof. – (with a combination of Muslims, Jews, and Christians as great-grandparents.) Liberty and freedom are not for gass gembos at asia to spend time, but honest, effective and efficient governance. Sinhala Muslim governance is the art of robbery but not that tamils are not known for it- Ratnam, Emil. Arab Spring failed because Liberty and Freedom are not for arabs- see how they raped the children of the friend who lent a helping hand- Germany- almost 2 million cursing muslims MR1 and MR2 are ekka walle pol. and that goes recurring until an external invasion occurs

      ☀Asterix☀
      August 21, 2016 at 6:15 pm
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        You have mixed up liberty and freedom with anarchy and an absence of laws. On the contrary, liberty and freedom can ONLY be possible with laws in place. These laws defending natural rights – i.e. life, liberty and property. We need government! It is a necessary evil. We need it to do what we cannot do by ourselves – i.e. uphold laws defending the aforementioned natural rights. We need it to do this as well as it possibly can. We need institutions in place to keep the corruption and decadence that is natural to government in check. What we do not need however is for it to do anything else!

        Rizwan
        August 22, 2016 at 8:35 am
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          “On the contrary, liberty and freedom can ONLY be possible with laws in place. These laws defending natural rights – i.e. life, liberty and property.” you cannot think like occidental to appreciate liberty & freedom We or the English, always play by human dignity that differentiates us from animal being. then when `human values` slides away we speak of self governing `rules` never about law.(muslims and immigrants with no knowledge of culture and race try imitating western L&F and mess it up So when checked calls the kind west racist,- because they all came as economic refugees not knowing We let it be, then come rules and finally law) Finally we may reluctantly bring laws ** the final battle against intolerance is to be fought — not in the chambers of any legislature — but in the hearts of men. muslims have wooden hearts to be slitting throats like the abattoirs they run. First Inaugural Address (20 January 1953)Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose. We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. These basic precepts are not lofty abstractions, far removed from matters of daily living. They are laws of spiritual strength that generate and define our material strength. Patriotism means equipped forces and a prepared citizenry. Moral stamina means more energy and more productivity, on the farm and in the factory. Love of liberty means the guarding of every resource that makes freedom possible–from the sanctity of our families and the wealth of our soil to the genius of our scientists. May the light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands, flame brightly — until at last the darkness is no more. May the turbulence of our age yield to a true time of peace, when men and nations shall share a life that honors the dignity of each, the brotherhood of all. “”We need government! It is a necessary evil. We need it to do what we cannot do by ourselves – i.e. uphold laws defending the aforementioned natural rights. We need it to do this as well as it possibly can. We need institutions in place to keep the corruption and decadence that is natural to government in check.”” from 1948 Sinhala Buddhist regimes destroyed those very institutions- power to the stupid plantation worker Corrupts. Mrs B the weeping widow`falls into admiration the postman’s son terrorist of the world Nasser of egypt and screws the island to starvation in return for the glourious economy, well being european coloniser left. Simple fact is rome was not built in a day and you are devil in disguise asking for it but never meaning it in actions. Vote MR2 from MR1 and continue to breed different forms of warlords like the muslims of afghanistan. A nation with a begging bowl bull shitting caseroles of different looks and spices.

          ☀Asterix☀
          August 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm
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      Rizwan, Can be done only after that comprehensive tax-system is in place, rather than only VAT.

      ramona therese fernando
      August 22, 2016 at 6:05 am
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      Privatize as much as possible to make it efficient and accountable.

      Nimal
      November 26, 2016 at 5:28 am
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    Well stated but the readers would have wished to know more than to be left there. Bensen

    Bensen Berner
    August 21, 2016 at 3:53 pm
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      obviously TG main content is dehumanise Rajapakse familial for watti amma CBK entry from the front door to continue her dynasty build than anything like her imaginary nation at stake. Neymar makes big decision: “I do not take it as a burden, it is you [the media] who put it on me,” Neymar said in an interview with SporTV.” It’s what Trump is facing, what killed Princess Di and killing India and Lanak. The all want more celebrity status to sell their space. ¬News of the World¬ Murdoch and editors scandal UK- all topcats PM and Murdoch got away because its them and them only.

      timbuttu
      August 22, 2016 at 1:44 am
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    This government is definitely floundering on the public relations, publicity and revenue raising revenue fronts in the short term. It seems to be laying the foundations for solutions on the ethnic and better governance front. We are breathing freer and are seeing the judiciary moving in the right direction. It has also failed to counter the sinister moves of the MR front, permitting the media to create the impression that MR is soon to be back in the saddle. The court- remand/hospital-release merry-go-round is becoming an ugly spectacle. Why is Duminda Silva on bail, while Pillaiyan is on prolonged remand? Both were charged with murder related of fences! Will someone responsible explain? The President threatening to reveal secrets , sounded like crass blackmail. Why are we kept in the dark about these secrets, held by the President in reserve as weapons to bludgeon Rajapakse and Company, if they do not tow the line. This sounds like a mafia tactic. The government should tax luxury goods and motor vehicles- except vehicles for public and goods transport- heavily. All duty concessions on motor cars should be halted forthwith. The taxes on the duty free permits or vehicles sold, since January’2016 should be levied. These measures should be in force for two years. Public servants and politicians who cannot explain their wealth, should be hunted relentlessly by the tax authorities. The Samurdi scheme should be audited to weed out the undeserving receiving benefits. I know families receiving more than Rs.20,000 per month as remuneration, receiving Samurdi benefits. Grama Sevaka’s are part of this racket.Similarly , school uniforms should be distributed to only the poor and deserving. Let those who can afford, buy their school text books. It is time for the welfare state to be rationalizedand contracted. There are many ways to curb wasteful and ill targeted expenditure and save money than increasing revenues through punitive taxes on an overburdened public. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
    August 21, 2016 at 4:16 pm
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    “One year after winning the parliamentary election of August 2015, the government is on track politically.” From Mr Sumanthirans speech https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/thoughts-on-sri-lankas-progress-in-this-transitional-phase/ …. When the change came the communities that are small in number – the Tamil and Muslim communities – voted in large numbers. 80-90% of their vote went for change and President Maithripala Sirisena came into office promising various things. Some of those were abolishing the executive presidency and bringing about a permanent solution to what has come to be known as the ethnic conflict …. UN Human Rights Council; three resolutions have been adopted and after the change, last year in the September session …. there is serious concern when the progress is slow that it can even slide back. I am not going to go into much of that at the moment but focus on a positive, which is the constitution making process which will potentially bring to an end a seventy year old conflict. …. . So one of the antidotes of that has been the suggestion that at least in the areas in which the other communities are a majority you devolve power so that certain aspects of governance, ….. . Justice to the victims and reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence were all promises that were made in that resolution that I referred to. Most of it has not been addressed as yet. Only the Office of Missing Persons legislation has been gazetted about which we have expressed our satisfaction. But that is just a tiny step …. that there was a promise to release all private lands which hasn’t been realised as yet. A small portion has been released in stages, but the promise was to release all of it in 100 days from January 2015 and one and a half years later about 70% still remains in the hands of the military … They are running 18 tourist hotels in those places. …. their patience is running out. … there was hope, there was initial euphoria, which is now turning into frustration and disappointment. … Sinhalese population in the East was 9%. Now between 1947 and 1981 the Sinhalese population in the whole country grew by 238% (2 ½ times) and during the same time the Sinhala population in the Eastern Province grew by 888% (9 times), …. the Indo-Lanka Accord that the Northern and Eastern provinces are areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking …. So even when a promise was given that greater devolution will be granted, the fundamentals of the 13th amendment, which included a merger, was agreed to. …. there are 168,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who are living in South India. ….. that they produced a draft law, a new national security law, and presented it to the Government, but on protest by the security sector I am given to understand that the draft has been dumped and a new committee formed now, most of whom are from the security sector, and a new piece of legislation has been drafted which I am told is worse than the PTA. …. Our plea to the US Government would be don’t express satisfaction too early as there is still a lot to do during that phase. …. All the multiple voices that you talk about say ‘international involvement – yes, but not judges’. …. having compromised and settled to a model which in the Resolution doesn’t merely say hybrid but explains in detail judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys and investigators, it obviously means judge qua judges, prosecutors qua prosecutors, so on and so forth. So it does not mean (for) judges to be advisors or judges to be involved in some other capacity. …. it is not open for the Government now to shift its stance and say ‘well, international involvement yes ,but it’s in a different form, now…’. That is not acceptable to us at all. …. So we will wait until we reach that particular point of setting up a court of the Special Counsel’s office and so on and so forth and insist that every word, and spirit, in that resolution will be complied with.

    Anpu
    August 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm
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    Some economic reforms which Ranil could not push through: 1Pension reforms 2Fertilizer subsidy reforms 3Reforms in issue of free school uniforms 4Curtailing recruitment of unemployable arts and social sciences graduates to public sector 5Increasing govt sector salaries linked to productivity 6Private medical education 7Holding politicians and officials accountable for economic crime during last 10 years 8CBSL fiasco 9Reforming loss making state institutions 10Appointment of competent officials to state institutions Hope the second year will be better!!

    Jagath Fernando
    August 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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    Further, to my previous comment: The government should take stern measures to curb consumer credit. Easy credit is destroying families and villages. Motorcycles, trishaws, household appliances, clothes and even groceries are being vended door to door in the villages, with no down payments, checks on income and ability to repay. Multiple items are bought almost at the same time and the vendors appear weekly to collect their dues with interest. The credit bubble soon bursts and the result is suicide. The apparent prosperity in our villages, towns, cities and households is a mirage. Most homes have no savings. Once people get into the debt trap, they borrow money from the local Shylocks at high interest rates and further sink to a point of no return. There is no money available as saving for productive investments, as a result. Finance Companies are exploiting the vulnerability of the people who want what the others have, easily, to the hilt. As a result the wages go up and the those who need employment are pricing themselves out of the market. This is major weakness in our economy and bodes ill for the future. This phenomenon is a social curse and a unjustible burden on our import bill. As a country and people, we have to learn to live within our means and learn to save money for productive investment. Dr.RN

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
    August 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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    Why not tax the politicians and stop the free massages, comparatively free ‘five-star’ meals, and super-luxurious vehicles? This will surely save a few millions of our tax-payer’s monies!!

    Tax Man
    August 21, 2016 at 5:48 pm
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    Both Mahinda Rajapakse and Maithripala Sirisena believe in “Divine Power” to solve the nation’s problems. They seek help not only from the Dhamma, but also from Hindu deities, especially in south India. MR failed to boost the nation’s economy, but succeeded in boosting his personal fortune. MS is now trying hard too. Latest attempt is the erection of a Paththini Statue in a Devalaya.

    justice
    August 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm
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    Tisaranee” You can very well speak of Sirisena- Wickremasinghe’s joint effort of economic development and democratisation and their Yalpanaya government. It is for the Sinhala people to absorb it. please do not speak about reconciliation. The word reconciliation cannot be one sided approach but should be the affected party’s satisfaction for reconciliation. The Tamils made a mistake in electing Sirisena as president. It is all the same for the Tamils weather Sirsena rules or Rajapaksa rules. Both are two sides of the same coin with a different approach as far as the Tamils are concerned. What you have written about the current economic disaster created by Rajapaksa and the same trend goes on in Sirisena-Wickremasinghe’s government is correct but Sri Lanka cannot improve on it whoever is in power.Because that has been the norm. That is why the Tamils are asking to leave them alone.

    Sellam
    August 21, 2016 at 11:01 pm
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    “Have you learned nothing from history?”~ Freud (The Future of an Illusion) The Lankan language-divide was political hard currency in 1948. It survived till 08 January 2015 when allegations of mega corruption masked it temporarily. There are Soros speculators who are waiting to resurrect the hard currency and cause a run on SLR.

    K.Pillai
    August 22, 2016 at 1:59 am
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    “When national elections came, those voters who were affected by Rajapaksa economics used their franchise to unseat the Rajapakses” Around 5.8 million approved Rajapakse economics. Rajapakse was unseated not by those voters who were affected by Rajapakse economics but by voters who were made to believe that they will be able extract something more than what they could get from Rajapakse and voters who were brainwashed by constantly uttering the ‘Manthra’ ‘MAHINDA HORA’. Before the election, economic Pandith like Harsha kept on boasting that they know how to fix the economy using Socialist Market Economy. Instead of fixing the economy, only thing that they have successfully done is ‘Rajapakse Bashing’. Now it is the Pundiths from IMF that determines everything. Ranil likes that. He has no faith on local expertise. Ranil thinks that by signing Free Trade Agreements, economic problems of the country can be solved. But the government does not have a plan to produce goods and services that can be exported taking advantage of Free Trade Agreements. Eventually these agreements create a One Way Flow. That will work as long as our hard working ladies in Middle Eastern countries remit $$$s. Instead of using that money for productive activities, these goons are wasting foreign currency for duty free luxury cars, bullet proof vehicles, foreign trips, fighter jets. Nine athletes to Olympics and 40 odd officials. Whose money these rascals are wasting. Instead of flying in the national carrier, our President travels in foreign airlines wasting foreign exchange. Is he a patriot. The mother crab walks sideways and tell the baby crabs to walk straight. I always travel in Sri Lankan Air Lines although sometimes I have to pay more. So who is a better patriot.

    Kautilya
    August 22, 2016 at 3:48 am
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      Very well written KUTILYA

      Nimal
      December 31, 2016 at 1:36 am
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    Well, it’s obvious that the only way to go economically, is the Rajapaksa way. From Hambantota harbor to Financial-City to VAT, all is the brainchild of Rajapaksa. Only difference is that Yahapalanaya is going the extra mile in ambition with ETCA (thank god there’s not going to be the land-bridge). Also is the absence of the casinos. Rajapaksa had a more comprehensive tax-plan over VAT, which was never implemented of course, although the third term might have shown progression. Hope Yahpalanaya will implement it. Once the comprehensive tax-plan is implemented, all racist bigotry, national question etc. will be very much reduced. A country-wide referendum will show that many Tamils are in favor of country unity over separate devolved parts. A N&E only referendum will be unfair to the rest of the country with the presence of gigantic Tamil Nadu in the north – hence the difference from the Scotxit vote. Comprehensive tax-plan will open the way to greater realization for any Muslim monopoly of commercial systems to become more inclusive. But we hope that Financial-city will have some true meaning for Sri Lanka, over off-shore tax-evasion accounts and global illegal monetary deals (casinos have better karma)…..besides Trump or Clinton taking their chance to bomb and drone us over it (unless they are in, with the deal).

    ramona therese fernando
    August 22, 2016 at 6:08 am
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      granny ramona therese fernando the new economic refugee in the west.(watch out big brother `border security force` is watching your activity.) “”Well, it’s obvious that the only way to go economically, is the Rajapaksa way.2” truly a stunted comment from sinhala puddu. Xi will not spare him money either – Chinese half/half wisdom unless sovereignty over patches of land are given in return. South Africa is rich in resources so China got 30% of Africa’s biggest Band Standard chartered. Theresa May will have nothing of Chinese money embedded in the French contract to build nuclear reactors that would eventually supply 7% of energy requirements.China has no stick to dangle against the former rulers of Hong Kong who understand Chinese psyche than Gamayata magic Higgano.

      timbuttu
      August 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm
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        Na….skilled migration of previous generation due to common, albeit misguided culture of peers.

        ramona therese fernando
        August 23, 2016 at 1:50 am
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          you can be skilled or unskilled or even born here like the british family that got locked out of usa. His mp did not receive answer finally Cameron requested- so the ans he had accessed forbidden sites. As it is you are revolutionary anti west living off the west on mission unlike us. if your skilled is… For decades American embassy Chennai issues the maximum number of H1B visas in the world- you must feel furious but you are nobody compared to the power of India.

          timbuttu
          August 23, 2016 at 3:28 am
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            “… you must feel furious….” Not as furious as the Americans whose jobs stolen by those same H1B visas who work for peanuts and produce crap-quality work which has to be reworked by better educated and more quality-conscious Chinese.

            maalumiris
            November 3, 2016 at 3:23 pm
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    the best lesson we have learned from history is that WE DO NOT LEARN ANYTHING FROM HISTORY.quotation is not mine. -dayal

    d
    August 22, 2016 at 7:14 am
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    Dayan Jayathilaka put it in the best possible way: “The more you push economic shock therapy together with ethnic devolution, the more you risk a backlash. The more you combine economic shock therapy, ethnic devolution and wartime accountability into a cocktail and shake it, the more likely it is to become incendiary.” Soma

    soma
    August 22, 2016 at 2:17 pm
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      Soma, Dr.Dayan Jayatilleke, ably assisted by Prof. G.L. Pieris p desperately searching for the tinder, and are ready with the fuel and match stick. Unfortunately, they are finding it hard to find enough tinder, despite seeking it high and low. There are also elements on the other side of the ethnic fence, who are also desperately searching for the tinder to supply them and their co-travelers. Sometimes, wishes however evil come true! What a tragedy! Dr.RN

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
      August 22, 2016 at 4:03 pm
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    In addition to what Kautilya has written: There is a myth about what’s going on within the SLFP today! Some say: if the SLFP is split the UNP will win future elections. This is not only a wrong assumption but an illogical view of the facts as far as Sri Lanka is concerned! Why? The majority voters are neither UNPers nor SLFPers. They are the poor masses who are engaged in a constant struggle to make their ends meet. For them, Ranil+My3 Yahapalana government is nothing but a set of broken promises! They feel it on a daily basis especially when they reach their wallet. They don’t see anything ‘worthwhile’ that occurred during the last 20 months. To say the least, they think now that Ranil+My3 had no plan for the country but hatred-filled, empty, dream-like set of promises only! Since Ranil+My3 coalition has failed to deliver what they promised during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections it is likely that the voters will reject it outright and vote against it at their first possible chance. The voter wouldn’t see whether the Yahapalanaya is a single party or a combination of two or more parties. Enemy is an enemy whether he/she comes in the form of a single individual or a couple or a group of individuals. The best example for this type of ‘voter behavior’ is the last general election: those who went against Mahinda were defeated by the people even if they contested under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s betel leaf. People are not seagulls; they can think especially when everything has gone against their wishes after the Yahapalanaya came to power. That’s why My3 uttered threats at the duo’s first ‘wedding’ anniversary and Ranil is running throughout the country to promote UNP membership! What the voters question themselves today is whether My3+Ranil fooled them to believe that Mahinda was a crook but Ranil+My3 are Lilly white! Nevertheless, what they had observed today is quite the opposite! (My3 is a silent witness for the Central Bank bond scam and Ranil is a silent witness for My3’s nepotism and cover-up of his own crooks or ministers.) Therefore, what the voter sees at future elections is not a ‘split’ SLFP or a ‘united’ UNP but the governing coalition headed by President and Prime Minister as one party that contests against the Joint Opposition headed officially or unofficially by Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is the fact.

    Siribiris
    August 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm
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    In addition to what Kautilya has written: There is a myth about what’s going on within the SLFP today! Some say: if the SLFP is split the UNP will win future elections. This is not only a wrong assumption but an illogical view of the facts as far as Sri Lanka is concerned! Why? The majority voters are neither UNPers nor SLFPers. They are the poor masses who are engaged in a constant struggle to make their ends meet. For them, Ranil+My3 Yahapalana government is nothing but a set of broken promises! They feel it on a daily basis especially when they reach their wallet. They don’t see anything ‘worthwhile’ that occurred during the last 20 months. To say the least, they think now that Ranil+My3 had no plan for the country but hatred-filled, empty, dream-like set of promises only! Since Ranil+My3 coalition has failed to deliver what they promised during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections it is likely that the voters will reject it outright and vote against it at their first possible chance. The voter wouldn’t see whether the Yahapalanaya is a single party or a combination of two or more parties. Enemy is an enemy whether he/she comes in the form of a single individual or a couple or a group of individuals. The best example for this type of ‘voter behavior’ is the last general election: those who went against Mahinda were defeated by the people even if they contested under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s betel leaf. People are not seagulls; they can think especially when everything has gone against their wishes after the Yahapalanaya came to power. That’s why My3 uttered threats at the duo’s first ‘wedding’ anniversary and Ranil is running throughout the country to promote UNP membership! What the voters question themselves today is whether My3+Ranil fooled them to believe that Mahinda was a crook but Ranil+My3 are Lilly white! Nevertheless, what they had observed today is quite the opposite! (My3 is a silent witness for the Central Bank bond scam and Ranil is a silent witness for My3’s nepotism and cover-up of his own crooks or ministers.) Therefore, what the voter sees at future elections is not a ‘split’ SLFP or a ‘united’ UNP but the governing coalition headed by President and Prime Minister as one party that contests against the Joint Opposition headed officially or unofficially by Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is the ground reality. Thank you!

    Siribiris
    August 23, 2016 at 12:27 pm
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      Siribiris, Your slip is showing. It is wishful thinking that your MR will ever stand a chance once the JO supporters all of whom have issues of corruption are dealt and debarred from taking part in future elections. MR himself will be a non starter once all the allegations are proved in Court. So keep dreaming!

      gamini
      August 23, 2016 at 11:34 pm
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    MR may be a non-starter, but it looks like that he has already started the job. I always believe he called the presidential election to ‘hand over’ the job to those who had been bragging ‘we can do it’ and he let the people observe silently whether they (the Yahapalana regime) could do it. He did this for over a year. He did the same to Prabhakaran and finally caught him and liquidated him. Only history would judge if he did the ‘right’ thing to Prabha and if he would do the ‘right’ thing to ‘Yahapalanaya’. This is not wishful thinking! Just see what’s happening in Sri Lanka today. If you are not in SL to witness it, just listen or watch a few political programs run by Yahapalana-friendly media. That’s it and that’s all. Thanks.

    Siribiris
    August 24, 2016 at 6:11 am
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    Analysis is the easy part. The challenge is to suggest solutions. There is nothing much here. The economy is in desperate shape. Hugely painful and unpopular measures necessary. There is neither the political talent, courage nor economic understanding to extract us from our predicament. Begin by reforming the labour market whose inflexibility makes in nearly impossible to do business. Shrink the bloated and sclerotic public sector that doubled under MR. A minister tells us this week USD 2bn of black money is siphoned abroad each year….politicians and the inland revenue know more about this than they care to divulge. Follow through on election commitments to crack down on corruption and nepotism at all levels then people will more willingly bear the sacrifices that are inevitably coming. Take drastic steps to stop the bleeding from basket case SOE’s. Start by shutting down Sri Lankan and Mihin….unsustainable. Strengthen institutions that will facilitate ease of contract enforcement and registering new enterprises, cut bureaucracy. Make the rich pay their fair share of taxes ….currently tax is too frequently a voluntary activity save for the ordinary folk. There are too many Mercedes on the roads, our pathetic trade balance cannot sustain this waste of precious hard currency on high end luxury……in the first place earned by the sweat of Lankan workers overseas. Scrap further white elephant projects that entail adding massively to an already unsustainable dollar debt….the port city and Megapolis to start with. Trying to run before we can walk.Minimize the role of politicians in policy making roles and hand over to technocrats, foreign expertise if necessary. Some sectors such as tourism currently the purview of the unqualified and talentless. Sooner or later the people must be told that we are on the rocks, crushed by debt, uncompetitive in export markets, crumbling public services, woeful infrastructure. The reckoning is coming and if the present government cannot change course the environment will be ripe for the return of the masters of family rule, plunder, reckless borrowing and ethnic disharmony. Time to level with the people and candidly explain the extent of our difficulties. We won a military conflict now we must win the economic war……the first step is to acknowledge we are in one.

    Nadi Karunaratne
    August 27, 2016 at 3:29 pm
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    Dayan Jayatilake, GL Peiris are educated fools and where was Dayan when vara perumal declared Tamil Eelam…. GL is suffering form amnesia and it would be better if he could keep his mouth shut so his family respect would be saved. The tax is levied to repay the laons of HORA regime and what is the alternative unless staying poor till the dooms day for the blundering committed by HORA samagama.

    Roshan
    October 17, 2016 at 2:43 pm
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      Well said.

      Nimal
      November 26, 2016 at 5:30 am
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    The Writer is too small to change Capitalism and by her narrow mindset of the political outlook ,her approaches it is NOT that quite sufficient to be revitalization of Capitalism by supporting USA and Indian-RAW neo- Con coloinilaztion of Island by Ranil W.. of Old UNP, MS of New UNP leader and CBK of Neo-Federalist of SLFP’s. The change was advocated by Writer that New USA+ Indian alliance by that time an installed puppet regime in Colombo by 2015 January 9th,which has been led local agents US and Indian are : MS, Ranil.W of UNP-Old and CBK of SLFP- Neo-federalist. Indeed her political cause is that denied by an Economic Sovereignty of all Nationalities of Sri Lankan by that time her an advocated the cause to be surrender vital interest Sri Lankan Economy to hegemonies of USA & Indian’s the Global Strategy. The Writer is working on an Economic dominated by USA & Indian private monopoly Capital by vital interest of Big bourgeoisies. Very inceptions her moral and political that whole hearted support has gone to MS led puppet regime of so-called “good governances and Rule of law” in words but not in deeds . The Country has lost an overall Economic and political sovereignty last 23 months by ruling regime led by MS-Ranil W. and CBK led alliance of mismanagement of state of affairs by UNP Neo-Liberal policies. The accountability of writer has been omitted by blaming current regime. Writer is currently working on that Indian Ocean countries to Sell their an Independent of development to Indian and USA that is by her proposed draft New political Road Map. The Writer politically and Economically betray vital nation interest of Sri Lankan.

    D .Nimal
    December 7, 2016 at 9:04 am
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    Debt is rising. Currencies are backing there currencies with Gold, USA,are going to run on a huge deficit. They have increased their miltary and infrastructure expenditure. American companies will neies from UAd cash for their relocation of factories. China and Japan are slowing down. They are withdrawing treasuries from USA. Less dollar is being used. This money will come back to USA. They may d3efault on their debt if the tyreasuries continue to be withdrawn. The control of multi national companies is unsure. T%hey depend heavily on Bank credit. They thrive on supp[liers from many countries and all ready pay low taxes. Switzelnd habndles funds in many countries and companies and companies may channel hot and black money to investments. Cartels rhrive on panic through controlled media and buy at low prices. Our country must engage in equity swops and depend on FDI s for develo-ment and not loans. When the World changes we should be ready for new oppertunities.

    Ranil Jayantha Wijeyesekera
    March 9, 2017 at 5:26 pm
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