28 October, 2020

Blog

Emerging Autocracy In A Debt-Trapped Economy

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Nothing can be kept a secret in Sri Lanka, and so is the supposed to be confidential document handed over to the Speaker of Parliament from the Supreme Court. Even before the Speaker could place that document before the House, on 20 October, it was already there in the internet, and lawyers, appeared on behalf of the appellants, were fuming at their “disappointment”. It appears from what has been reported, that with few amendments at the committee stage, 20th Amendment has got the green light from the Supreme Court and scheduled to be passed with two-thirds majority and without any need for referendum.  However, opposition is mounting from civic and political groups putting pressure on parliamentarians to deny the Bill the necessary majority. If the Bill passes there is nothing to prevent the emergence of autocracy under Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Rajapaksa clan. GR wants strong executive powers the “deliver” what he promised.   

What did he promise to deliver? He promised virtually a Valhalla with “prosperity and splendour” within a “secure, disciplined, virtuous and lawful” society. To provide security and maintain discipline, in other words law and order, he has commandeered the tri-forces, and cautioned the judiciary not to put unnecessary hurdles on his way. Judiciary has demonstrated its compliance by its latest act regarding 20A. To infuse virtuousness, GR has sought regular advice and guidance solely from the Buddhist and not from any other hierocracy.   

The two over riding features of GR autocracy will be, (a) that it will be family oriented and clannish, and (b) that it will be molded by political Buddhism, an outgrowth of the anti-colonial Buddhist cultural awakening of late 19th century, which became politically mixed up with Sinhala ethno-nationalism in the 20th and metamorphosed into a movement for Buddhist Sinhala supremacy in 21st.     

GR, the Buddhist autocrat, is determined to lead a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Sri Lanka into a paradise of “prosperity and splendour”, headed by the Rajapaksa clan but molded by ethos of political Buddhism. Beside the dangers that such an autocracy poses to the future of democracy and existence of a plural polity, how this regime is going to free the country’s economy from its debt trap and pave the way for the much-touted post-pandemic V-growth is a mystery. The country is financially bankrupt. Even to finance the coming budget government is seeking a new loan of $500 million from China. Until now, the rulers and their economic and financial experts have not come out with a comprehensive set of policies or strategies, let alone to set a time line to free the country from debt and achieve economic independence. There have been plenty of ad hoc announcements by GR and his ministers about import substitution, agricultural reformation, foreign direct investment, employment-oriented education and promotion of industries to diversify the economy and increase exports. But how these segments are to be tied together while taking into account their linkage effects, in an overall working plan or strategy with sufficient incentives is not at all clear. 

The country needs years of sustained economic growth to free itself from debt and achieve economic independence. With crippling debt and the need to borrow more to finance budget expenditures the economy is in dire straits. True, it has so far managed to avoid debt default, but that was made possible not by earning surpluses through growth but by incurring more and more debt. Debt incurred from one source was serviced through debt incurred from another. As a result, debt to GDP ratio is expected to reach 100% by the end of this year. The pandemic driven global recession has made the situation even worse and any economic recovery appears more painful and tardy.  The latest prediction by World Bank for the economy to shrink by 6.7% in 2020-21, and Moody’s earlier downgrading of the country’s credit rating by three notches, have sent a warning signal to foreign investors and lenders. Meanwhile, the pandemic virus shows no sign of disappearing.  

The economic challenges are too many and too complex and they need a coordinated and cooperative effort to meet. Autocracy is the last thing the country needs. An autocracy surrounded by a cartel of Buddhist supremacists, clannish power brokers and greedy capitalists is a recipe for political conspiracies, economic collapse and social unrest. 

The three fundamental Ps of economic growth are population, participation and productivity. There are no better assets to an economy than its population. It is the people who produce and benefit from the economy and without them what use of an economy? When that population is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-talented as in Sri Lanka that diversity is a bonus given by history, and which should be harnessed for prosperity and development. Larger is the population, more diverse is its expertise and greater its participation, greater will be its productivity and prosperous will be the economy. Under the emerging autocracy this diversity is in danger of being homogenised, under the aegis of a supremacist ideology to which GR is committed. This is why 20A is also a death-knell to the much-wanted 13th amendment. There is a growing belief within the ruling cartel that economic growth and development should mostly if not totally be a Sinhala-Buddhist phenomenon and the cartel has no room to incorporate other ethnic communities into this effort. GR autocracy will therefore keep the population divided with differential treatment which, combined with its characteristic absence of democratic freedom, liberty and natural justice, will discourage dedicated participation and deprive the economy of opportunities to increase productivity – essential ingredients for economic revival and growth, not normally emphasized by economic theoreticians. 

Given the perilous state of the economy an autocratic regime in a plural society can only survive with a policy of divide and rule. One could see plenty of signs of that policy since GR became President. Now, with autocratic powers grabbed rather ironically through the democratic process, how GR and his regime are going to navigate through competing pressures from foreign lenders without (a) mortgaging the territorial sovereignty of the country, and (b) deliver at least a modicum of economic comfort to the people, will be the most absorbing drama to be watched in this decade.    

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  • 20
    1

    By the way anyone see the last act of North Korean supreme leader where he cried, sobbed and asked for apology (very unusual) for failing his own people. Very soon it will be our turn. Yes Lanka has requested $ 500 million loan from China to keep country running. The Chinese foreign ministry and GR , again reiterated there is no such debt trap. If true why do we need reminders every now and then ????World Bank reported 6.7 % contraction this year which puts us third from bottom among South Asian countries. Bangladesh and AFGHAN has + 6% growth. Only India and Maldives are below us.The actual estimation are much higher due to more than 15% expected reduction in foreign remittance which fortunately has been under 2% this year.. The real impact will be felt soon and may last much beyond this pandemic.

    • 2
      8

      The Euro-American empire is crashing under a mountain of trillions of Debt and hence they have unleashed a Hybrid Cold War on China’s BRI and Asian economies. Euro-American debt is far worse that third world debt as the Empire crashes.
      Covid is milder than seasonal flu in Sri Lanka, the Covid-19 HOAX media show and narrative is meant to shut down global trade and transport systems and stop brown and black migrants from the global south to US and EU and attack Asian economies.
      The US-Euro hybrid Cold War on BRICS and emerging economies also entails Weaponization of Religions and ethnic and religious identity politics – Buddhism and Islam – to de-stablize Asia and particularly Russian and Chinese borders.
      ISIS which claimed the Easter Sunday attacks was set up and owned operated by CIA, Mossad and funded by Saudi as was Zaharan and various Muslim politicians. This is the wider context of religious tensions in Sri Lanka at this time..
      Strategically located Lanka is in the midst of a huge Cold War propaganda and psychological operation.

  • 19
    10

    It looks as if buddhism is going to have a new worshipping idol
    Lord gotta the kallathoni murderer of the Innocents and the hapless.
    What an idol to worship.?
    b.
    He will commander the voters to dance to his wishes and if there’s any objections he will be getting his gang of unruly murderer military to force the objectors into a meek surrender.
    c.
    The island ?️ hold s a pride of invincible place in.the exclusive club in the colony of the beggars.
    d.
    With the ways in which the nation in every aspect is progressing the respective donor and money lenders will shun away as far as possible to one who’s has the cholera.
    e.
    Only China who greedily enter into shithole s will come to the party I mean to grant high interest rate loans.
    They have become the scourge to many a needy soul who in their desperation will pawn their cherished beloved s to get out of a sticky situation.
    F
    In reality China by their uncouth unsavoury antics have made themselves as the PARIAHs of the world who rave and rant to poke around the opening s that the rajapukas open and provide for them.

    • 4
      13

      rj
      Don.t talk bullshit you scum bag
      even so call rich – 1st – world countries are begging now
      check their budget deficits you moron

      Sri Lanka will be the winner while you lick the white asses

      • 9
        2

        Wimpy cry-baby kid who’s constantly soiling his/her panties.
        b.
        Have I written any lies.??
        Ever since 1956 you and your fellow Yakkos have shat on the rich in the black economy so diligently/well that it has now become the undisputed king of the world-renowned colony of the beggars.c
        c.
        An hour ago I had a desperate S.O.S. telephone call from a lady school teacher who very badly needed cash to meet the day to day rising costs of living in the most well to do shithole as proudly claimed by your bad self.
        d.
        I asked how much and said that I will forward it to her early next week.
        At the moment, even though being a disabled dude a retired company director a para demala am able to help 12 persons with their monthly needs.
        I do it happily.
        e.
        Am able to come to the rescue of these needy Sinhalese folks and to date I do not help any Tamils.
        f.
        Due to the white folk happily licking and savouring my black arse I am able to do charity for the last 4 years.
        g.
        Are you that fortunate wimpy kid momma’s darling of doubtful sex?

      • 9
        2

        Whimpy Kid

        “Sri Lanka will be the winner while you lick the white asses”

        Be serious you little wimp.
        Could you give us the break down of countries to whom your winner wimps owe $66 billion, to which country the little wimps export the bulk of their garments, to which country the little wimps export their women folks, ………….. I am told in almost all cases the a***s happened to be white.

        Do you now believe licking brown & yellow a***s will bring prosperity to this little island when little islanders themselves failed miserably in the past 72 years?

        Head of little wimps brought in about 15,000 single handed generals and their fellow 400,000 Ranaviruses to contain Corona under the leadership of Kamal, Shavendra, …. and rest of the 15,000 single handed generals who boasted that they won Lethal LTTE for them Corona was nothing.

        It appears Coronavirus is winning Ranaviruses.
        Why don’t you bury your head as usual in HLDM’s bump and come back in few months time.

  • 19
    7

    From independence the goal of the Sinhalese Buddhist leaders and the clergy has been to make the island a Sinhalese Buddhist country with Tamils and Muslims subjugated.

    They are quite successful in the project. However the Tamils’ quest for freedom ended in a 30-year war which ended with the genocide of Tamils, and hundreds of thousands of Top Tamil talents, who could have contributed to the prosperity driven away from the island.

    Instead of uniting all the communities and making the country prosper and progress, the Sinhalese leaders indulged in propagating Sinhalese Buddhist hegemony throughout the island.

    If they took the more capable Tamils (according to the late statesman Lee Kwan Yew) in their confidence and moved to develop the country, the costly 30-yer war could have been avoided and every community would have enjoyed the piece of the cake in a fair manner. Instead they wanted the Sinhalese have have cake for themselves. Now the end result that the cake has shrunk in size.

    Without the help of 23 countries they could never have won the war. They ended up like international beggars carrying the begging bowl. Chinese are claiming their pound of flesh and land too.
    As in Mahabharata Thronars didn’t want to give even five houses to Pandawas and ended up in humiliation.

    • 4
      7

      Thiru,
      Sinhale (aka Sri Lanka) has been the country of Sinhalayo who followed Buddhism before colonial rulers introduced Christianity. At the time Europeans colonized this country there were few Demalu. The Demala population increased dramatically in Sinhale because colonial rulers brought Dravida coolies to work in their plantations. In the Kandy Convention, British recognized Buddhism as the religion of Sinhale and agreed to give due place to Buddhism.
      In 1948 British returned the country they took from Sinhalayo who are the Native people in this country. So what is the problem if Sinhalayo want to call this country a Sinhala Buddhist country? Do Sinhalayo have to take permission from ‘Paradesi’ people to call their country a ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ country?
      —-
      “From independence the goal of the Sinhalese Buddhist leaders and the clergy has been to make the island a Sinhalese Buddhist country with Tamils and Muslims subjugated.”

  • 5
    16

    Dear Sir

    Thank you

    I totally agree with a caveat on how we will all see the outcome….in your eyes “autocracy” and respect.

    “If the Bill passes there is nothing to prevent the emergence of autocracy under Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Rajapaksa clan. GR wants strong executive powers the “deliver” what he promised.
    What did he promise to deliver? He promised virtually a Valhalla with “prosperity and splendour” within a “secure, disciplined, virtuous and lawful” society. To provide security and maintain discipline, in other words law and order, he has commandeered the tri-forces, and cautioned the judiciary not to put unnecessary hurdles on his way.”

    Yep that is what the head of state and the military should do and the rest of the good and hard work to develop the Nation has to be come from us all the constituents/voters/elected MP’s. That is what people do to developing their Nation……..not running around asking whatever I feel on a silver plate/break all the law and kill the fellow man and woman and applying law of the jungle? misuse the term democracy for all the crime?

    • 1
      11

      At last we have what we needed a basic structure/platform to work with and let us see the so called intellectuals around the world/well wishers can help our Nation of people with the actual substances that makes our Nation have developed status ?? elected MP’s action list/progress report/surgery report of their constituents needs will be a appropriate content to discuss in the Parliament?? and not a court room drama??

      • 6
        1

        Thiagarajah,
        Have you been surrendering your note books to Kadalaikara Achchi at Kirimalai beach and is that why you are redeeming that sin here. That is out of lot of love man, anyway. You might have had felt the worthy of the note books every time when you see Kadalaikara Achchi and might have been realizing the burden of them, when in the mornings, you throw them on your class desk, after a tiring exercise. Is that right? Keep writing, you will have redeemed yourself one day.
        Best Wishes!

  • 14
    8

    SL is not officially a multicultural or multi-ethnic nation.

    Some countries are.

    • 10
      6

      Do you agree that it is a multicultural or multi-ethnic country even if there is no ‘official’ declaration?
      We need to address reality more than formality to solve problems.

      • 10
        7

        SJ
        It may be the wishful thinking of some people that Srilanka is a multicultural/multi-ethnic-country. Just because different ethnic people with different culture have been living in this country for many many years it doesn’t automatically becomes a multicultural/multi-ethnic-country. The concept has to be accepted and implemented by the governing body and by the vast majority of the people. Then only you can call it a multicultural/multi-ethnic-country. Srilanka today is far far away from that situation,

        • 14
          2

          Umberto@
          Fully agree with u. They are Buddhists just because they are born into such families. Actually Buddhist s tolerate more that buddhagama followers are up to sofar. Sinhala buddhism is not “true buddhism ” as lord buddha taught it. Just imagine how they went on destroying the the livelihood scoff local muslims after that easter Sunday disaster though all was clear most of them are innocent people. Who were behind those mob attacks ? PRO Rajapakshe sentiment sor not? ??????????

          • 6
            1

            leelagemalli / October 14, 2020

             2

             0

            Umberto@
            Fully agree with u. They are Buddhists just because they are born into such families. Actually Buddhist s tolerate more than buddhagama followers are used to up to sofar. Sinhala buddhism is not “true buddhism ” as lord buddha taught it.
            Just imagine how they went on destroying the the livelihoods of the local muslims following that easter Sunday disaster though all was clear most of them are innocent people.
            Who were behind those mob attacks ?public secret PRO Rajapakshe sentiment sor not? ?????????????????

    • 5
      2

      There is no mechanism to accept in democratic constitution a country as multi ethnic. Democracy recognizes only one group, the citizens. Majoritarianism is not part of democracy. Government is run by people’s opinion (right-wrong for humanity), not by physical or theoretical division like religions. Defining ethnicity in constitution will defeat the democracy. UN and other international organizations use many mechanisms only to beat the practical divisions, not to encourage & recognize at internal governmental level. UN recognizes an ethnic people’s self-determination for the purpose of solving an existing problem by making the both divisions equal within them. Then, when they become UN members, they both are made equal at country level. UN doesn’t recognize multi ethnicity to install different hierarchical government rule for each ethnicity. But locally, Federal system is a solution, without splitting the country. UN recognizes only secular governments. It does not give any priorities for any language, though it officially operates in four languages. America operates only in English. Canada Operates in English and French. Singapore operates in English, Malay, Chinese & Tamil. This is only facilitation to operate not official racial recognition of these people and discard others. In all these countries you can request service in any language as long as an interpreter is available. (still Sinhala and Tamil are Official Languages)

    • 5
      0

      GATAM

      “SL is not officially a multicultural or multi-ethnic nation.
      Some countries are.”

      You mean unlike China Sri Lanka is not a multicultural or multi-ethnic nation, liberal democratic country.

      [Mongolian citizens protest at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, against China’s plan to reduce teaching in Mongolian at schools in the neighboring Chinese region of Inner Mongolia on August 31, 2020. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/05/asia/china-inner-mongolia-intl-hnk-dst/index.html%5D

    • 1
      0

      Gautam- Sri Lanka is a multi ethnic society. There are many good history books which give details of the history of the Rise of Sinhalese and Tamil Ethnic Awareness. This date back to ancient times. The Tamil Jaffna Kingdom was conquered by Portuguese in 1619 nearly 100 years after the subjugation of Kote kingdom. If you do not have any book handy I will give a link to a Sinhalese friendly down-loadable history book published under the Country Studies:Area Handbook series of the Library of Congress, USA. It was published in 1988 https://www.loc.gov/item/lcwaN0019992/

  • 9
    0

    If all the people including the religious dignitaries protest, will there be a Military rule on the pretext of preventing coronavirus pandemic? What will be the position of China and India. Will there be a Bloody Revolution like in France or a Glorious Revolution like in England? Let us watch the drama of the Rajapaksas.

  • 5
    7

    Ameer Ali,
    “The economic challenges are too many and too complex and they need a coordinated and cooperative effort to meet.”

    Why do you think only democracy can provide a coordinated and cooperative effort to meet economic challenges? In countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Kampuchea, China autocracy has worked quite well to meet economic challenges.
    You start your articles focusing on economy and later switch to criticize Sinhala Buddhists.
    ====
    “ Autocracy is the last thing the country needs”

    I think your main worry is not the economy but Muslim politicians losing the opportunity to become ‘King Makers’.

  • 5
    0

    The President has promised to deliver on Law and Order. For that he says he needs the 20th A.
    Aristotle thought otherwise………..
    Rule of Law simply means Law should govern [ Rather ] than any one of the citizens.

    So the President has put the cart before the horse. When the Economy takes a nose dive we would see a A Sinhala Buddhist Garrison State.

  • 2
    6

    Autocracy is the solution to a debt trapped economy

    • 6
      2

      Whimpy Kid
      Little wimp

      “Autocracy is the solution to a debt trapped economy”

      You mean autocrat could extract every last cents from the poor and let go the rich, tax cheats, corrupted, politicians, b***s carriers, those who invoke Sinhala/Buddhism, …………………. –
      It appears your head is trapped inside Gota’s bump.

  • 7
    1

    Sri Lanka 2021/22
    .”Zambia is among the countries on the continent heavily indebted to China. Of the more than $10 billion external debt, Lusaka reportedly owes China some $6.4 billion mostly in infrastructure development financed by Chinese lenders.

    A recent assessment by business risk consultancy firm EXX Africa showed Zambia was running into a “dire” straits on repayment. Last year, Lusaka failed to repay a loan to the Africa development Bank on time as well as loan repayments to China.

    Earlier this year, China’s National Complete Engineering Corporation halted work on the $500 million Kafulafuta Dam in the Copperbelt after Lusaka delayed payments due to the Chinese firm.

    “In February [2020], S&P ratings agency lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating on Zambia to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’, warning that the country is vulnerable to non-payment of upcoming commercial obligations,” EXX reported.”

    • 8
      1

      “2020-10-12 · Sri Lanka had $50.8 billion of foreign debt on its books as of June,”

      Where will this be at the end of Rajapaksa families rule? Will the own personal jets or ships?

      • 6
        3

        Burt

        Free Lanka/Eelam from the goons, Gota, his family and 15,000 single handed Generals,…

        Viva la revolución
        Vive la révolution
        long live the revolution

        I know it is premature.

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lanka 2021/22
    .”Zambia is among the countries on the continent heavily indebted to China. Of the more than $10 billion external debt, Lusaka reportedly owes China some $6.4 billion mostly in infrastructure development financed by Chinese lenders.

    A recent assessment by business risk consultancy firm EXX Africa showed Zambia was running into a “dire” straits on repayment. Last year, Lusaka failed to repay a loan to the Africa development Bank on time as well as loan repayments to China.

    Earlier this year, China’s National Complete Engineering Corporation halted work on the $500 million Kafulafuta Dam in the Copperbelt after Lusaka delayed payments due to the Chinese firm.

    “In February [2020], S&P ratings agency lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating on Zambia to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’, warning that the country is vulnerable to non-payment of upcoming commercial obligations,” EXX reported.”

  • 1
    3

    “Beside the dangers that such an autocracy poses to the future of democracy and existence of a plural polity, how this regime is going to free the country’s economy from its debt trap and pave the way for the much-touted post-pandemic V-growth is a mystery.

    I have even bigger doubts about this regime. But, going by the 2015-2019 performance, would any other rival with a fighting chance to rule the country have fared any better?

  • 0
    2

    Dear Native,

    When reading Native Vadda’s comments about revolution and all that sentimental junk it is clear
    that NV is an educated Tamil who has migrated to the West and lost touch with the ground situation in Sri Lanka.
    Get real Vadda come visit Sri Lanka / Elam or what ever you call it.
    Wake up from your slumber in LaLa Land.
    You are welcome here , Have a cup of plain tea with a masala vade.
    If you hate the Sinhalese please take the train to Jaffana and get in touch with your brothers and sisters there.

    Take Care

    Wimpy

    • 4
      0

      Whimpy Kid

      “If you hate the Sinhalese please take the train to Jaffana and get in touch with your brothers and sisters there.”

      How can one hate stupid people?
      Poor Sinhalese who have been taken for ride for many many centuries.

      “…. it is clear that NV is an educated Tamil who has migrated to the West and lost touch with the ground situation in Sri Lanka.”

      Whoever gave you the idea that Native Vedda was “educated Tamil who has migrated to the West” was pulling your legs, rightly so.

      Visit Eastern Province where Gota’s Task force is napping. Saffron clad thugs along with a few lumpen land grabbers have forced out the serving GA from Eastern Province for she refused to distribute the only cattle grazing land in Batticaloa to the Sinhalese from Ampara. These lumpen land grabbers were provided with land in Ampara however they refused to take those allocation as they want to relocate to a place where people from local area use it for grazing for their cattles for many centuries.

      The Governor thinks the Sinhala/Buddhists can shit anywhere they chose to as they ….. This is not the first time this person has behaved arrogantly. She has a completely different agenda.

  • 1
    4

    NV,

    Your report about land grabs in the Eastern Proving – by “Thug Monks” may be true.
    However it is not only the Sinhalese , Army and Monks that are involved in this.

    The biggest land grabbers in the North and the East was the LTTE and their cronies.
    Still there are many lands occupied by Tamils who were left behind when the more well to do Tamils migrated to the West, Colombo, and South India. This is much bigger in scale than all the lands grabbed by the Sinhalease in the North and the East.

    This is why I say that you are in La La Land.

    After the Covid 19 is over please come to SL and get in touch with reality.

    The present government will resolve all land issues in the country and Law and Order will be restored.

    Have a Good Day

    Wimpy

    • 2
      0

      Wimp

      “The biggest land grabbers in the North and the East was the LTTE and their cronies.”

      Aren’t you saying “therefore the armed forces, saffron brigades and their fellow thugs are justified being land grabbers”? Is that what you learned at Sunday School?

      Further the biggest living land grabbers are the 21 million descendants of Kallathonies from South India, most of them are free-riders, like you.

      “This is much bigger in scale than all the lands grabbed by the Sinhalease in the North and the East.”

      I am sorry I didn’t know there was a comparative study carried out hopefully by a reputed institution on land grabbing by different races. Could we have a copy of such studies.

      “This is why I say that you are in La La Land.”

      I have known some of your historians tend to believe and have us all believe the origin of Sinhala/Majority people was in Lata land in West Bengal, due to copulation of a beast and a beauty. Do you too believe in that sacred history and do you also a person of Sinha Le?

      “The present government will resolve all land issues in the country and Law and Order will be restored.”

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