By Rifaq Azhar –
The economic growth of our country has been threatened by various elements and consequently it has become the fate of our nation to be always backward in socio-economic developments. Yet, no one could come up with best ways and strategies to heal this prolonged situation other than blaming global trend and changes or pointing out external factors and interference immediately. Meanwhile, it became the habit of our governments, which come to power periodically, to seek support from general public to cooperate with them in bearing financial burden and to align with global economic trend while hiding their inability, corruptions and inefficiency. Nowadays, we happened to face critical scenario due to so called loan repayment and devaluation crisis.
As usual, this time also, current government has put forward an appeal ahead of general public requesting them to bear the ongoing economic constrain for a short span of time. Such appeal would have been a positive approach and successful strategy to certain extend as in the case of Turkey, Malaysia and Iran that however managed to overcome similar scenario effectively and efficiently with the support of general public. But, when it comes to Sri Lanka, the context completely differs to that of models and therefore, this appeal will not work out here any longer and moreover it may bring negative implications among public. The prime reason for this contradicting scenario is that each government, which seized the power especially during the period of 2004 – 2015, failed to deliver their utmost promises to general public even though optimum opportunities were given to those rulers by general public during this period to fulfill their aspirations and bring sustainability to the nation. But, unfortunately, none of governments use these opportunities utmost for the betterment of general public; instead, all of them irrespective of their political identities and background multiplied the burden and sufferings of general public.
In the year of 2004, Tsunami, which is still alive in our minds and soul, paralyzed us mentally more than physically and our souls were scatted without any hope for our future. It left hundreds of thousand people killed and affected the lives of many families. It took long time to recover from this tragedy. Entire world shocked by this incident and subsequently extended their fullest supports and unconditional cooperation to us in various ways. In following years, we received abundance of resources from all around the world especially financial aid and assistance from thousands of experts that never happened in the past and will not happen any more in future and by which we could have been recovered completely and might be able to lead a new life free from all burdens. But, eventually it became a daydream for general public and fortune for then politicians and elite group. They were able to make use of these resources for their own benefits and to establish in politics as well as in business forever leaving affected people to suffer lifelong.
It is obvious that then government and policy makers didn’t take any proactive measures to funnel these material and expert resources for structural reforms that would have been surely paved the way for sustainable development and growth of the nation. In turn, people would have been never compelled to any form of hardship that prevails currently. Meantime, we as general public also failed to stand against those who looted and mismanaged these resources that belonging to those affected people. It is very difficult to distinguish the cause of this collective failure precisely and to whom we should attribute this cause whether it is our inability and negligence to stand against these malpractices or it is ability of tricky politicians who act covertly to keep general public diverted and mesmerized. However, general public tolerated all burdens loaded on them dreaming out that our politicians would make this nation prosperous and sustainable in near future. In the course of time, people were deliberately deviated from these ground realities by the emergence of new socio-economic issues.
By the year 2009, we had similar experience in tolerating of all kind of burdens when our country plunged into bloody civil war which ended in 2009 by uprooting the clutches of terrorism. Particularly, during the latter part of this war, then government had imposed huge burden on general public in the name of military and security expenses, but all people had willingly admitted those burdens especially economic burden in anticipation of real freedom and peace to nation. The moment people heard the news of victory in the war that lasted around three decades, they soon forgot all the sufferings and the hardships that they had gone through as if nothing happened to their day to day lives. In fact, they strongly believed in that peace is more important than anything to their lives and it will subsequently bring prosperity to their lives in one day. Thus, the only desire of these people at that time was none other than to lead a peaceful life without any pressure and fear as other developed countries enjoy their lives for centuries. Therefore, people tended to blindly believe in then politician dreaming out once again the uncertain sustainability.
Nothing happened dramatically except the same routines and unproductive infra-structure developments and one-step further staging revenges of which some are personal while most are political as it is very common to South Asian politics. On the other hand, the cost of living was at that time at spike even though military expenses had been already reduced to a larger extent and many investors from all around the world had congregated in Sri Lanka to invest in lucrative fields. Still, people continued to suffer financially, but this time the suffering had adjoined with some sort of despotism. In addition, as most objective observes suggested, most of policies taken by authorities of then government with regards to economic development had widely faced lack of consistency and inclusivity.
Upon the victory of the collation government which came to power in 2015 under the slogan of ‘Good Governance’, people felt bit relief that this time around, the dream will become true by the hand of politicians believing in their lofty promises. Although the democracy recession was somewhat overcome by present government, the economic and political systems in our country still continue to be unchanged or stagnant at the point where it started its journey in 1956s. Likewise, this government as previous regimes is not ready to concentrate on structuring consistent policies and highly regimented social progress indexes. Moreover, the present government failed even to look at issues as a matter of national importance. As the result of bankrupt policies, which are still untouched by relevant authorities, people are compelled to bear all the consequences. Having understood the root causes of economic crisis, people are still confused why this government is so reluctant to design more consistent policies over economic and political issues. Are they striving to protect the interest of respective parties instead of fulfilling the aspiration of general public or are they really unable to find comprehensive solution for all the problems.
As such, it should be pointed out here that the efficiency of the government institutions and its unproductive bureaucracy are another important area that this government neglected to carry out real reform. Expecting public oriented services from such institutions is merely a mirage. However, physical evidence of these institutions with smart atmosphere looks very attractive and impressive and should be highly appreciated, but the speed of delivery or productivity is unfortunately very pathetic. It is just like a beautiful smart phone in terms of its appearance, but when it comes to its speed, it is similar to that of early cellphone. Unless government embarks on radical reform within its institutions instead of sporadic shallow reforms by installing consistent policies in those institutions, public will inevitably lose their hope that they have placed on government mechanism.
It is blatant truth as well that the politicians are more affectionate and striving eagerly to seize the power at any cost projecting themselves as patriotic heroes of nation whereas we as general public keep lamenting among ourselves that government always fails to fulfill public demand and aspiration. This regular lament will not help us anymore unless we choice right people who are capable enough to act at the interest of general public by constituting consistent national policies and progressive social indexes. But it is unfortunate too that we have failed to find a visionary leader to parade with him towards prosperity as Turkish people succeeded within one decade. In short, throughout the past decades, general public of this country endured a greater deal of tolerance anticipating sustainable development. But, the turn is now in the hands of politicians to bear all the consequences due to their failure to come up with consistent policies while reducing all kind of extravagancies of government and reinvigorating all institutions to be more productive with minimal cost. Otherwise, people will have to bear all the consequences unwantedly because of the failures and inefficiency of so called politicians.
Lankan / October 25, 2018
Sri Lanka could not put its economy rights since 1948..
Since we got our independence..
But today; except Afghanistan; all Asian countires are doing well..
Sri Lanka is next to Afghanistaan in its economic policy ..
Why could not do well .
Is it war;
Is it politics;
Is it mismangment.?
Why Sri Lankan economy goes down day by day?
I think it is because of politics ..
War is over for more than 10 years now ..
Why do not do well ….?
It is because;
Polititians spoil it…
Fathima / October 25, 2018
If people don’t develop, country does not develop.
Mallaiyuran / October 25, 2018
Many economic theorists are willfully ignoring why the war was brought in. They demand as war is over now where is their dividend. These theorists are far away from the politicians who brought the war for Lankawe’s advantage mainly, not for theirs. The author is arbitrarily fixing the date of economic down turn starting date as 1956. The biggest exporting economic structure was dismantled in 1948 & 1949. Author does not want any problem seen on Don Stephen, who propped up the Muslim male political culture in Lankawe. The authors’ bias is not seeing Don Stephen as a wrong one, but seeing Ranil who has declared that he is following Don Stephen’s policies as wrong. Before British Colonist come, these Mountains were good only for sightseeing for tourists, who never existed. 70 years of destruction has left that area extremely poverty haunted. Appe Aanduwa presented Tamils as villains from 1948> Now after annihilation of the villains, the author is asking for his share of the dividend. He avoided even accidently mentioning the words “War Crime UNHRC or Reconciliation” The stupidly of these economic theorists is they rarely understand or willfully hiding why Don Stephen, SWRD, Sirimavo and JR started the war, making Tamils as villains. The author while trying to trick others that SWRD’s politics started only in 1956, but hiding while Tamils properties were burning the country wide, JR said if “Tamils are starving the Sinhalese will be happy”. Mahaweli crash programs, which were beneficial only to Southerners and enabled JR and subsequent rulers to effectively carry out the Don Stephen Galoya Colonization schemes, made the country permanently an agrarian medieval time society.
Not surprisingly author is citing, unlike all others cited Singapore, Turkey for an example Lankawe to follow, but it is still suffering by its debt burden and exchange crisis, because Lee recognized that time racial nature of Malaysia, a Muslims country.
Mallaiyuran / October 25, 2018
From lefts, though ultra-racists, to all Tom, Dick & Harry have a solution to the country’s economic problem, but not ready to recognize why Sinhala leaders follows this path.
There is mountain and valley reason between Lee who established Singapore and Don Stephen who accepted the freed Ceylon. The war, the economy, the corruption, the racial hates, the backwardness, the morality suffering everything is flowing from the fountain Don Stephen opened up. Time to time the author like Economic theorist preach lessons to political leaders, but path they propose is not Aanduwa to leave its track.
To look at after 2015 polices, Ranil planned to cut off from West and carry out his own capitalistic policies. This is not internal, external individuals freely developing the economy. He planned to maintain the 150,000 troops in the North. Then thought of borrowing from China and do some White Elephants. The main object of keeping out West was to consolidate the War Victory and safeguard the War Crime criminals. So it is pointless for author to blast the Lankawe Economic policies for hour and hours when he is not ready to recognize Ranil’s need of protecting Old Royals and consolidating the war victory, which receives author’s reverence.
When Soviet Union failed it was taken as a conclusive evidence of failure of Communism and Socialism. But there is hundreds of failed, behaving like Capitalistic economies, but it is not concluded free market economy is a failure. Because none of the failed economies are anywhere near to democracy, which basic requirement to Laisse Faire economy. For Example, Lankawe has elected dictatorial governments to keep Tamils under control. So this basic policy is guaranteeing the economic failure for the country as a whole, not just to Tamils. Muslim-Sinhala Appe Aanduwa is not planning to develop the economy, but trying to ensure sure that Tamils are permanently under control. Author need to recognize that before he starts to preach to Muslims- Sinhala Government.
K.Pillai / October 25, 2018
In using the words ‘National Policies’, Rifaq Azhar quite rightly implies benign policies which benefits everyone. From day one of independence there was the Frankenstein elitism lurking behind.
SWRD B quested an egalitarian society through “Sinhala Only” which resulted in the language-divide. But sent his children to Paris and the UK for education.
The elitist class got established and this trend has continued right down to right now!
To name a few:
GR sent his son to US for education.
The international travel by MR family is far far beyond average Lankans. How many can afford the Rohitha R proposal to his girl friend at the top of Kilimanjaro?
The Duminda Silva recuperation in Singapore?
The Rajitha Senaratne heart by-pass in Singapore?
The list is very very long.
Rifaq Azhar does not mince words here when he alludes to some ‘wrong doings’ by the elitists.
We are trapped in the culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity. In this toxic atmosphere, ‘National Policies’ do not mean much.
PS: SLPP has already thrown the language/religion bait. This will be the ONLY issue at the next election.
Richard / October 25, 2018
Dear Author and all participants,
You are all right on the spot. That is why the UN, the international community offered help for implementing the right constitution and abolish the existing communal and corrupt practices. But the existing leaders having got used to coming to power with the help of the communal majority on both side of the divide, continue with their own and their predecessors methods of politics. After their cosigning the UNHRC, they were doing the same traditional politics of Sri Lanka. They had to get MR and family out of the mess at the same time satisfy the communal majority that bring them back to power. So the way found was to swindle more and prevent the Tamils from pressurizing from pending war crime hearing. Because of the existing racial divide, just giving the Tamil Leaders is not possible without satisfying all the majority over 200 Parliamentarians! The dramatist politician master plans as always only to safeguard the racist politics. Country wise there is yet no one to deal with genuine effort. This is a sorry state to which Sri Lanka is led entirely different from Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, or any other Country!