By Manel Fonseka –
On 6th February, The Sunday Island carried “Fixing the dollar exchange rate: A major mistake,” across 2/3 of its editorial page, headed by a grim portrait of the author, economist, Romesh Dias Bandaranaike, Ph.D. I emailed a crazy response. The editor ignored it.
Four days later, the article appeared in the Financial Times, again, alongside the editorial. Sorry to see the impulse of a moment spurned, I ventured another foray into the murky realms of finance, this time prefixed with: “I wonder if my sense of humour (born & bred in England, alas) might appeal to any of your readers.” Persistence paid off. Two days later, I, too, occupied the editorial page – at the very bottom.
“Fixing the dollar exchange rate: A major mistake,” by Dr Romesh Dias Bandaranaike
On reading this article in the Financial Times on 10 February 2022, a stream of brilliant ideas poured forth from this economic neophyte.
If they don’t provide solutions to our parlous situation, maybe – maybe — they will at least give you a good laugh. If not, forgive my wasting your time.
Kindly tell the writer I particularly appreciated his article because I could more or less understand everything he said. No mean feat on his part! And no wonder he looks so grim in his photo.
Can’t he gather up whatever educated, like-minded, experienced economists are left in this Land of Hope and Glory, and carry out a raid on one ANC’s CB office, late at night or very early in the morning — when the poor guy sits there, pouring over basic books on economics, when no one is around to see, tho so far, he has only picked up a few economically-speaking, expert-sounding words and terms that he can impress with when the Minister of Finance, Poverty and Corruption calls upon him to disclose his latest take on the state of the economy — when he (ANC) least expects it?
Romesh (Editor, please note, I am economizing on the appropriate form of address) should arrange a safe house — preferably in the Vanni — where the gentleman (?) in question can be accommodated with every facility except a phone, a computer and an unlocked door or open window. A bill may be presented daily for his previous day’s expenses. This need not worry his ‘bearers’ (i.e. R & co.) as he is one of the blessed in this Land of Hope and Glory for whom money is no object.
The experts can then proceed to act for him (in wotever guise they find convenient, and the Minister of FPC won’t see thru), gather up all the necessary data, apply to it their abundant acumen, and work out what — if not too late — can be done to stem the rush to chaos, set the wheels in motion and bring us at last a glimpse of those long-promised Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour.
Most important, Romesh, arrange for the regular delivery of first-class meals from the best chef in town, to keep your bodies and spirits up, while your mental efforts to save us all from the flood about to engulf us threaten your health and sanity.
Naturally, your valuable service to your long-suffering country will be entirely honorary. And not a cent will be borne by the Bank or the Ministry.
To this end, a special assistant must be assigned to record every expense incurred during this noble undertaking. Nothing is too small to be included: electricity, water, paper, biros, tea, coffee, sugar, saccharine, toothpaste, Kleenex, Siddhalepa for aching necks, regular cleaning of offices in use, and so on. And don’t forget special overtime rates for the poor watchers guarding you night and day from the elite members of the tri-forces who will certainly be ordered to do wotever necessary to extricate you from the seat ordained for that gentleman in the Vanni.
That gentleman will be only too happy to receive your bills until such time as you have installed a permanent solution that even he cannot mess with.
When that day dawns, appoint a force of experts different from the ones who bore him thither, to release and carry him back to his freshly painted office, where a dainty tray of tea and milk and sugar and biscuits awaits him on his new desk.
Thinking to sink into his erstwhile plush and comfy luxury chair, he will be brought up short as his bottom hits the hard seat with a bang.
But his lonely days in a room in the Vanni, with only Andy Capp & Jiggs cartoon books (not even Calvin & Hobbes!) to keep him company, have inured him to accept any situation. He even tips his bearers.
Finally, the oath-taking ceremony, when he swears to keep his hands, and wotever is left of his mind, off anything to do with economics, the country’s economy, expertise, etc. All he has to do is turn up for work at 8 am every morning, sit on his hardback chair, order tea whenever he wants and leave everything untouched, neat and tidy, at 5pm, and drive himself home. He will receive an allowance for as long as he continues to occupy that chair 5 days a week, an allowance that will provide for his tea and biscuits.
He is to leave the economic plan he has inherited in place until such time as he feels like bowing out for an ‘expert’ to take over.
And don’t worry about his financial situ…his investments will keep him laughing to his grave.
So, Romesh, you’ve got your job cut out for you! Go ahead!