By Hema Senanayake –
Sri Lanka’s currency, the rupee will be kaput soon if the country cannot form a legitimate government which would be acceptable to the international community as legitimate. Significantly depreciating currency has a disastrous power to bring down any economy – big or small-, in no time. The rupee had been very week for past few months. The constitutional conspiracy was hatched exactly at a time when the rupee has shown unprecedented level of weakness. As a result, hopes for the rollover of foreign debt is in peril or at least would have to pay higher interest rates that have never been paid previously. This might lead to further depreciation of rupee. Severe depreciation would make dollar denominated debts more expensive for the government. The rests of economic peril are just details. If readers need an example, look at the recent economic crisis in Argentina.
Argentinean economy was, in fact, booming in the year 2017. Economists had painted a rosy picture. Given this background, the incumbent president’s coalition easily won the legislative election held in October last year. Within six months, that is by April this year, Argentinean currency, peso, depreciated over one hundred percent. Rests of the crisis were just details. Interest rates went up and inflation hit exceeding thirty one percent by mid-July this year. Investor confidence declined to its lowest level in recent times. All these were happened so quick even without having constitutional conspiracy and having IMF granted a massive loan to boost Argentinean foreign reserves. Now imagine, what would happen to the rupee if this political crisis continues for a few months.
For the first time, the people of Sri Lanka, including venerable Maha Sanga and religious leaders in other faiths who admired the arbitrary actions of the president and Mahinda, would soon realize how important is the international acceptance of the national government just to stabilize the rupee and to achieve our national economic goals, at this very moment of our history. Presidents should never have done this kind of blunders. Parliamentary opposition should never be a partner in this kind of political crimes. People of this country should teach all of them an unforgettable lesson at the next election: kick them all out, kick all conspirators out. Mr. Kumar Welgama has just reiterated it.
The crisis is serious, and this crisis is created by none other than the Head of the State. That is the sad part of it. The gravity of the crisis has begun to cross the minds of its perpetrators. They might not get the majority of the legislators when the parliament is convened on 14th November 2018. The nature of the crisis is that, even if Mahinda did win the confidence of the majority, it would be considered as rouge majority and possibly never win the true recognition from international community who uphold democratic norms.
The second possibility is that it might revert back to the previous status quo sans “national government” under the premiership of Ranil, and that would be equally worse now, because they will never have a good working relationship with the president who still is the elected Head of the State who is also the Head of the Executive and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. However, as Ranil mentioned in his Deepavali message that it is easy to be get divided and mad with each other, but it remains a challenge to be unified. Given his vision, he perhaps might find a way to reconstruct a functioning government under president Sirisena by putting the country before self.
The third option advised by former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva is the worst. He has advised that the parliament can be dissolved by ignoring the constitutional clause which restrict the president to dissolve parliament before it completes four and half years from the date of its first sitting. The intention of this clause was to have a stable government preventing frequent change of governments. This is an essential requirement to maintain higher investor confidence.
However, such an abrupt and unconstitutional dissolution of parliament would tell the world that the Constitution of Sri Lanka does not support for a stable government even though whatever has been mentioned in its various clauses.
Finally, Mahinda told the nation by addressing his supporters gathered at Battaramulle, that if he were the president, he would not have had taken the decision to remove Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe from premiership. That is done now. But, now our question to him is this. Would you prevent the dissolution of parliament unconstitutionally if the president wants to do it?