28 September, 2020

Blog

President Rajapaksa Needs To Drop The SLFP’s Economic Legacy

By Arjuna Mahendran

Arjuna Mahendran

“Mrs. Bandaranaike angrily accused the American Government of trying to dictate terms and said, ‘Ceylon is not prepared to dance to the tune of the capitalist countries to obtain aid!’” ~The Observer (London), Feb.24, 1963

In January 2019, soon after his switching of Prime Ministers was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court, the former President made one of his regular trips to Singapore. His excuse was to attend a minor conference on the environment but he also made it a point to meet the PM of Singapore. Sri Lanka media carried a story soon thereafter stating that he had informed the Singapore PM that ‘Sri Lanka would be adding (sic) amendments to the Sri Lanka Singapore Free Trade Agreement’.

A year earlier, the highlight of the state visit of the Singapore PM to Sri Lanka was the signing of a free trade agreement between the two countries. The ink had barely dried on the agreement before it created a political storm within Sri Lanka’s then coalition government. Soon after that, the coalition fared badly at local government elections and the then prime minister almost lost a confidence vote in parliament.

A report published in late 2018 by a committee of experts (COE) appointed by the ex-President, to evaluate the Sri Lanka-Singapore free trade agreement (SLSFTA), went on to savage the entire process of negotiating the SLSFTA. Among other things, it said that FTAs were ‘of no use’ in the prevailing economic environment at the time, that the New Trade Policy of the previous government had failed to meet its goal as a national trade policy and further alleged that proper procedure had not been followed in the passage of the SLSFTA through the cabinet of ministers.

It was sad to see Sri Lanka airing very publicly the sordid details of internal bickering within the then government on the relatively dry technical issues of a trade agreement. The COE also made a remarkable statement to the effect that some infant industries in the country were expected to remain infants in perpetuity because of the adverse business conditions prevalent at home. That admission and the COE’s call for a comprehensive national economic plan was an echo of an oft-repeated theme which has regrettably never seen the light of day for over half a century.

In the near term the brute reality of the government’s stifling debt burden has pretty much shackled any form of trade reform. No trade promotion policy can be effectively articulated so long as debt service payments gobble up more than ninety percent of government revenues. Revenues of which the bulk are derived from taxes on trade. Any government attempting to liberalise trade barriers will face a corresponding disruption of these revenues and thus impair the government’s ability to repay its debts. Perhaps the dryness of the technical details of government debt management don’t make it an appealing subject for wider discussion in the media. Nevertheless it is surprising that this topic, and constructive proposals to address it, do not get more airtime in Sri Lanka considering the disproportionate impact it has wreaked on the lives of its citizens.

But there is also a political dimension to the crucial issue of refashioning the economic structure of the country which has to be surmounted if Sri Lanka is to face the coming challenge of growing the economy out of the debt-induced hole into which it has dug itself. A stark illustration of this was the opposition that the first Rajapakse administration faced in its plans to introduce world-class casinos and the port city in 2014. The defeat of that regime can be attributed in no small measure to the antipathy that those two initiatives elicited from the small but significant section of the intelligentsia.

The roots of that attitude which repudiates the introduction of ‘corrupting’ foreign influences into Sri Lanka have hoary antecedents. Mr Bandaranaike famously closed down the Colombo race course where his own father was a proud owner of several thoroughbreds that Bandaranaike père personally selected and imported from prized bloodstock stud farms in the UK.

The son went on to abruptly kick the British forces out of Katunayake airport and Trincomalee port thereby depriving the treasury of the valuable funding and technical inputs that flowed into those establishments from the UK. After his untimely death, his wife dutifully kicked out international petroleum companies operating in Ceylon thereby invoking the sanctions of the US Hickenlooper Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1962 which killed any investment and aid flows from the US to Sri Lanka for several years thereafter. Ceylon had the dubious distinction of being the only country to be sanctioned by this law.

In stark contrast over a decade later, Singapore lobbied hard to keep the main British naval base from leaving its shores, having already seen the damage done at Trincomalee. A key economic advisor to the Singapore government in the ‘60s, Albert Winsemius, persuaded it to not rename the streets nor tear down the statue of its modern ‘founder’ Stamford Raffles in order to make westerners still feel comfortable in the city and ensure that uninterrupted inflows of western capital and know-how continued to flow in.

This reflects the marked difference in attitudes between southern Asian nations versus their south-east Asian counterparts towards opening their borders to foreign trade. Most of south-east asia had encountered the terrifying occupation by Japanese forces in world war 2 and were arguably less inclined to sever their links with their saviours, their erstwhile European colonisers, after the war. The familiar devil from the west seemed relatively more palatable and a comforting presence to them. Singapore went on to develop the second largest petrochemical handling port in the world, initially servicing flows of crude oil from the middle east to Japan. Trincomalee and Sri Lanka missed a trick.

The sub-continent which had borne the brunt of suffocating British overlordship despite periodic revolts, nevertheless successfully resisted the Japanese ww2 onslaught even as the British fleet fled to Somalia. In the afterglow of the war, their new leaders naturally felt fully capable of grabbing their manifest destiny with their own two hands. Mr.Bandaranaike trained his followers to persist in keeping the foreigners at bay. With a single act of banishing the use of the English language he pretty much locked up his island nation from meaningfully ramping up its trading activity with the rest of the world for several decades.

However, when considering the tenure of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, there is a tantalising hint of a gradual thaw in his previous attitude of xenophobic nationalism. He, who initially banished the statue of Victoria, Empress of India, from the Presidential lawn at the start of his term, ended his Presidency welcoming Emperor (in all but name) Xi Jinping and an Aussie casino mogul to invest in Sri Lanka. It remains to be seen whether his thwarted plans will find fresh impetus under his brother’s rule.

Another Rajapakse sibling has vowed to emulate the China Communist Party and the India BJP. Both nations have transformed their economies by welcoming foreign investment while maintaining tight control of their respective political domains. With their extensive experience of having lived in and interacted with America, perhaps the Rajapaksa clan-dominated SLPP and its economic and trade policies will mark a distinct shift away from those of its predecessor SLFP. Who knows? We may yet see the SLSFTA becoming a fully operational reality against the backdrop of a comprehensive national development plan. Watch this space.

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Latest comments

  • 21
    23

    Mr. Arjuna Mahendran,
    .
    I don’t think GR needs your advise my dear.
    Stay put till we drag you to jail.

    • 13
      9

      Mr. Arjuna Mahendran,

      WELCOME again. Many of us CT readers need you to draw attention on the following questions.

      Why not you use your pseudo name ? This was made clear by former stupid president, now a MP, Gamaralage SIRISENA, that you are now on a pseudo name.

      And if INTERPOL is searching you, how can you be seen as a writer on this PLATFORM ?

      Most Stupid Person on CT – Ms SCP @

      If you think GR is intelligent than Mahendran, please go back to their credentials and study it.
      :
      GR is just a diploma holder AND the last job he had been busy before becoming a PATRIOLT in 2005, was “petrol shed assistant”.
      ., but AM is an Oxford educated Graduate with world records of exp in much higher bank in MIDDLE east, Singapore and srilanka.

      • 11
        11

        leelagemalli,
        Do they teach how to rob Central Banks in Oxford University?
        ===
        “but AM is an Oxford educated Graduate with world records of exp in much higher bank in MIDDLE east, Singapore and srilanka.”

        • 5
          1

          Eagle Eye,
          as a backlicker of Rajakshe family you would never respect the truths. Australian govt could invest lot more for the poor not conitnue to feed you the kind of curseful men.

          From the begining on, I had the doubt if there were BOND scam … to the manner they highlighted.. Singapore is a country to my knowledge – hold very strict with their law and order – not even chewingum is permitted to chew within their Shangi Airport.

          So AM as a CITIZEN of that country to be not treated with their law if he had been a scammer as MR and others go on pronounce it ?

          I think BOND SCAM caused RW to go down- but MR and his criminals to allow harvesting the votes. Now that most stupid president o fthe world Gamarala is sitting with dogs, I noticed him calling the current president as ” Athigaru”. My gosh… SIrisena acted the FILM very well, so that Rajakash criminals could harvest the votes. No point of talking about CRIME politics being promoted by Rajapkshe ULTRA criminals.

          • 1
            0

            Mahindapala, “Do they teach how to rob central banks in Oxford university”. I am not sure about it, but it appears that they not only teach how to rob central banks, but also how to do ponzi scams in Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka.

        • 1
          1

          `Eager-less Puntak.?
          \
          You are the only hypocritical who beds a para demala but feels ashamed to accept his windfall.
          Due to his matrimonial bedding where he enjoys revelling in the kama-sutra, had his life spared by Velu Annai due to this.?
          A terrible error.
          \
          you are the first beast on this planet who glorifies the criminal murderous doings of the mangy Rajapuk’s.
          \
          Have balls and respond to me.?

      • 23
        6

        Dear Leelagemalli, I cannot fathom why you incessantly refer to GR as a former petrol shed assistant. He worked in IT at Loyola Law School in California not in a petrol shed. But even if he did work in a petrol shed, does that not make his achievements even greater? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotabaya_Rajapaksa
        .
        Our Sri Lankan people have this sickening habit of trying to drag down and belittle anybody who has managed to better himself. They refer to the school he went to, his caste, his lowly occupation, his poor parents or what his father’s job was. You can see this in the way that President Premadasa’s rivals sought to ridicule and discredit him over the years. When the General Hospital had a new laundry installed, they even invited him to open it – a reference to the dhoby caste. This is how petty and cruel our people can be.
        .
        Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a grocer, Harold Wilson the son of a dispenser. Willy Brandt the German Chancellor did not even know his father, he was a bastard child. These people are admired in the West for their achievements but our people would only mention their origins.

        • 6
          1

          Stanley
          Thank you.
          I think that many should seriously read the comment by you.
          *
          Even in the Far East people do not waste much time on ancestry.
          Ours is a South Asian tragedy, deriving from traditions of caste based societies.

        • 5
          3

          What an IT job ? Can be a IT shop holder for his living. There are lot s IT shops in Europe, that run by the kind of refugees.
          .
          If you know more about the jobs he may have done, please add the links so that the CT readership could get more of the facts. That can definitely help us all to guess about his profile. We dont need to rely on fake news being telecasted by Rajakshe TV channels.
          :
          My friends in the US have shared me that GR had been a fulltime refugee in the states.
          U dont need to bring examples from other countries, but our Mrs B was then called as one came with Kitchen qualifications even if she was the world’s first female PM.
          :
          My point was people adulate GR to be a person with wonderful vision about the future of our country, what has he done during the last 9 months ? I am not a supporter to lanken politics, but Previous govt, during their 100 day period, achieved a lot more for the benefit of the masses. But these guys only misled the easy targets in that island.
          Not few days ago, I spoke to 100 of srilankens via Whatsup through my networks in SL, most of the them believe Gota protected them from COVID … haha…

          • 3
            0

            Leela,
            After leaving the army, he trained at DMS for a while . In the US he was a System Administrator at Loyola University, California. I know this first hand, so you can take it as true. You know I am not a Gota fan.

            • 2
              1

              old codger

              After leaving the Army did Gota not complete a MSc course at University of Madras?

            • 2
              1

              Thank you OC. I was not aware of that. Anyways, let s patiently wait and see how he would make his wonders within next 6 months.
              We need to have figures of Kamala Harris nature to convince srilankan masses. But this is very unlikely in a country of our nature whose majority would never see it right.
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4v68JFyVYw

              • 0
                0

                Leela,
                You are right. Let’s wait and see . Gota has appointed a Minister for Batik but none for IT. With that sort of thinking, we won’t have to wait long.

        • 1
          1

          Stanley – the blind-loyal arse licker to the entre Rajapuka clan.?
          \
          Why are you making many a vain attempt to defend the integrity of these undesirable disgusting in their every living habit the vile Rajapuka’s.?
          \
          Only the MODA Yakkos nearly 7 million love them whilst the rest of the 16 million are frightened and loathe them.
          \
          I being a company director in my motherland lived in New Zealand until the 4th March 1994, then lived in Sydney and after a stint for nearly 2 years back home in my motherland now destined to while away the rest of my life in Melbourne never ever did a menial task or two to survive but had the courage with the endurance to begin my own businesses which even proudly exported Australian/New Zealand products to Asia and Lanka too was one of the destinations.
          I was granted Kiwi citizenship 1 1/2 years before my due date in recognition to my commercial achievements.
          \
          you in vain tried to frighten intimidate me to spare exposing the sordid doings of the better to be culled destroyed criminal murdering Rajapuka’s who are now having the best disgusting times of their inept sad lives by taking the foolish sitting shitting on their brains yaks even in their pangs of hunger to the biggest ride or two in their aimless brain-washed misled lives.?

          • 2
            0

            rj1952 / August 22, 2020

            I dont think Stanley is backlicker of Medamulan family.
            :
            His is right, but what I meant is something else. I dont care even a minor worker becoming a leader, if he or she would have the intelligence to do so ? But regarding Gota s profile, I dont see such characteristics -I am afraid, I have been following his actitivies over the last 7 years.

          • 2
            1

            rj1952, I see the Johnpillai family brain cell has been borrowed by some other relative this week.
            .
            It is quite in order to criticise the Rajapakses for thuggery and murder, for assaulting and killing critics and journalists, and for looting the country.
            .
            But it is not in order to criticise any man for working in a petrol shed.
            .
            Understand? No?

    • 13
      5

      You must be joking.
      I do not think he has broken any law to put him jail. If he is to be in jail so must the National MP Cabral.
      Even if he has broken the law you think Rajapakse will put their former investment advisor in Dibai who know their ill gotten money details into jail. They are not as idiotic as you are.

    • 9
      2

      S. C. Pasqual

      “I don’t think GR needs your advise my dear.”

      True he has plenty of crooks to advise.
      Could you ask Gota (when you are carrying his b***s) to get some electricians from abroad and get electricity supply fixed.

      Seriously is he going to ape/replicate Singapore?

  • 10
    7

    Definitely the investment advisor of Rajapakse should know what is on sleeves of them

  • 6
    1

    Rather tendentious but challenging points.
    I hope to see serious responses from our nationalists instead of the usual abuses and personal insults.

    • 5
      1

      eeakdavi

      “I hope to see serious responses from our nationalists instead of the usual abuses and personal insults.”

      It is only natural that all nationalists should attract plenty of abuses and personal insults, more not less. It brings loads of joy to ordinary people. Nationalist are mostly the root cause of all problems, especially the parochial pathetic little islanders.

      • 3
        0

        A.M has written a good analysis of our post-1948 history.
        Imagine what this country would have been if we had not nationalized oil, plantations, bus services, the port, even the bases (the Brits might have stayed into the 70’s with consequent economic benefits) . The bases would have provided a huge pool of skilled English-competent workers for export, as in the Philippines. Trinco particularly would have provided employment and training for Easterners.
        How many lives might have been saved?
        Instead, we export females into slavery.

        • 2
          1

          old codger

          You are asking for trouble.
          SJ would not have it especially “nationalization of oil, plantations, bus services, the ports, even the bases”, as these were done by his dream girl and her husband the weeping widow. One thing, if ports were not nationalised Pandaranayakam would have been alive to observe the consequences of all his fantastic policies and deeds.

        • 3
          0

          OC
          “Instead, we export females into slavery.”
          So does the Philippines.

          • 3
            0

            This is very true SJ@
            Most arabs seem to abuse those housemaids as their sex objects in their 4-walls. More you would get if you would interview those women after on their return to motherland after their stay in such countries. :
            I had close links with rich arab students in Europe. Most of them were rich-kids. They were all making disgusting jokes about Srilanken women, and at us as a very poor nation.
            I think it is high time to export only skilled workers to any country. Indians dont usually export their women as housemaids to middle east countries – because they have a greater respect on their women; even if some parts of india are even poorer than that of our levels, their politicians would not allow any poor woman to leave home for middleeast. Filifinos are the easy prey for cheap labour in Middle east.
            The same is the case with Italy. Some electorates in Italy are highly dependent on cheap labour from developing countries. Please watch the video below.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MaQs3AjhdI

          • 0
            1

            S.J,
            “So does the Philippines.”
            Yes, but there is a difference in quality. Basic English ( not that it makes any difference to Arabs with no English) , ability to use common appliances, etc. Much better skills among skilled workers.
            Yes I was there a long time ago……

            • 1
              0

              Dear OC,
              Dear SJ,
              Please listen to the video below
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upTdje5wQdA
              What happened to Mr Sinhala Man ? Hope not Mr SM might be abducted by a white van .

        • 2
          0

          Very true OC.
          Brits have built over 101 oil storage tanks in Trinco, but none of the successive govt made us of the capacities to use them for oil storages as is the case in Singapore for example. That alone could bring lots of foreign exchange into the country.
          https://amazinglanka.com/wp/trincomalee-oil-tank-farm/

    • 1
      0

      eeakdavi
      Agree.
      But what you hope for is too much to asked for in this space.

  • 2
    9

    Dear Sir

    I am a bit puzzled the article start with the what our Late Hon PM SB said in 1963 to make a case for 2020 expectations of the newly developed Nations such Singapore and their way of life with all others in the world.

    SL is in a transition from a war that was propt up by the same masters through India a very simple beginnings of political killings in Jaffna when the titled “Ratha Pottu Mafia killings of Tamil in Jaffna 1970-1977-1981” did the dirty work using Jaffna children.

    Now 40 years on and all that Mother Lankan Blood lost/ SL a natural strategic gain robbed and banked in other Asian countries economies yes there will be some alterations to the Trade Deals now against all the odds she is finding her own feet from a rug that was pulled under her feet a long time ago.

    • 3
      1

      Rug pulled under her leg by whom by our Sinhala leaders not by anyone outside. Longtime ago others wanted emulate us.
      Do not make stupid statements

  • 6
    0

    I believe that we are the only country following discarded socialist economic policies given up by the forefathers the Soviet Union and China. Irreparable damage has been done to our economy by socialist policies of successive SLFP govt’s.Time to change or face the consequences of being like a frog in the well.Here are a few examples. Bus services and Insurance taken over by the SWRD given back by daughter. Sirimavo took over the estates and ChandrIka gave them back. Over 200 loss making GOBA’s.

  • 6
    0

    We have lost our way. We happen to be the only country following discarded socialist policies of the Soviet Union and China. Irreparable damage has been done to our economy by the successive SLFP Govt’s following socialist policies. We have to open up or perish like a frog in the well. Here are a few cases. SWRD nationalized the bus services and the daughter invited the private bus services. Sirimao took over the Estates and Insurances Chandrika gave them back.Who did the right thing. Parents?
    There are many loss making GOBU’s.

    • 0
      0

      Upali1942,
      I believe, JRJ government of 1977 that privatised the bus transport service.

  • 9
    3

    They say laughter is the medicine and in the case of the now mighty much corrupt criminal Rajapuka goons.
    \
    The multi-trillion dollar question the talk of the town at this very moment is that what economics do these megalomanic rogues know of.?
    All they very well know is to fill the linings of their multi-faceted amudes with all the hora boru monies they acquire on their sordid travels..
    \
    From 2005 onwards mahindan Rajapuk dipped his filthy fingers into many an illicit pie, by his doings many an innocent deserving poor folk who were affected by many a traumatic happening.
    He ruthlessly stole without caring two hoots the funds that were sent by generous souls to help in the recovery of the happenings in the 2004 tsunami.?
    Rightly speaking he now ought to be behind bars but thanks to a then Chief Justice who also got a monetary share of the pudding first set him free and then profusely apologised to the much in suffering good innocent folk who were ravaged mercilessly by the 2004 tsunami.
    \
    now I come to my buddy the Kalla kallathoni war criminal of a so-called bogus big talking president who made millions of dollars on the acquiring out of date, out of commission never able to fly defective Russia’s MIG jet-fighter aircraft along with

    • 5
      2

      As my loving mates, the rajapuka’s not having an iota of an IQ – better known as intelligence they are totally lost at sea trying to fathom the meaning of the word ECONOMICS.
      \
      They are only the past masters the unqualified experts in crippling and robbing the island of all its income along with the high-interest loans that they have been forced to feed the starving people.
      \
      At the present juncture the stores in the government hospitals are bare, no funds available to import the much-needed Zmedication to prevent the death toll from rising.
      No stents are available for the heart patients and the private sector keeps on increasing the costs of these products by the second conveniently stating that the USA dollar is going down against the world’s best-sought currency the Lankan rupee all the time.
      \
      If these Rajapuka nitwits just cannot look after the essential medical needs of the much-maligned poor poverty-stricken hungry peasants, the only option available for them is to commit suicide.
      \
      This is why it is called the best of the biggest beggar’s colony on this always smiling planet.
      Another original Rajapuka creation.

  • 2
    2

    I thought SLPP is in power and not SLFP?

    • 7
      3

      Rajash

      “I thought SLPP is in power and not SLFP?”

      SLPP and SLFP are interchangeable.
      Gota’s father was heavily involved in the manufacturing of old racist SLFP.
      Gota’s crooked brother is heavily involved in manufacturing this new racist SLPP.
      In the meantime old racist party was being repackaged, rebranded, retooled, …. in the pursuance of building a dictatorship followed by a dynasty.

      Sirisena while being president and leader of SLFP, he spent 99.9999999% of his time on protecting members of SLFP, clan, Gota, Wimal, Namal, Mahinda, … all crooks and war criminals………….

      Why do you believe SLFP and SLPP are different and separate parties?

      • 3
        0

        Native Vedda – agreed
        Sirisena’s maiden speech today in the Parliament is about monkeys.
        How appropriate

  • 2
    0

    The debt burden is the biggest economic crisis facing the new government.

    Arjuna Mahendran as a loyal citizen of Singapore recommends Sri Lanka-Singapore free trade agreement (SLSFTA).

    and also massive foreign investment to rescue Sri Lanka from the debt burden.

    Are they realistic proposals?

  • 2
    1

    President Gotabaya Rajapakse wants to eradicate corruption in high places, including Police. Before he embarks on his journey, may I remind him to settle the amount due to LLRDC  in respect of the construction of the D.A Rajapaksa Mausoleum and Museum at Medamulana, Weerapitiya. This was the balance amount due out of the total expenditure of a thumping Rs. 81.3 million.
    While Gotabaya has been let go after he got elected as President, the poor officials – six of them – who carried out the orders of Gotabaya are charged with for alleged misappropriation of Rs.48, 563929.06 being balance owed by him to SLLRDC! Those charged are Chairman of the LLRDC, Prasad Harshan de Silva, former General Manager, Badhra Udulawathi Kamaladasa, Susammika Keyminda Attygala, Saman Kumara Abraham Galapaththi, Mahinda Saliya and Mallika Kumari Senadheera, who were also members of the LLRDC Director Board.

  • 4
    1

    If you care for the country respect its laws and do not abscond in Singapore which citizenship you have chosen.

    You are the typical adventurer who uses a qualification a Western country and your English jargon as a licence and a tool to confuse and steal. You really had that half baked wanna be economist Ranil W fooled. The damn fool fell under your spell and ended up as the biggest scoundrel in recent history.

    You are so insensitive to the damage you have done a poor third world country ant you dare to write about its economy ! Why dont you write about selling all the soverign bonds to your own son in law

    • 2
      4

      deepthi silva

      “If you care for the country respect its laws and do not abscond in Singapore which citizenship you have chosen.”

      Mahinda, Gota, Basil, ……………………. all these crooks and war criminals are absconding in this island under the cover of Sinhala/Buddhism (whatever that may be) not in Singapore.

      “You are so insensitive to the damage you have done a poor third world country ant you dare to write about its economy ! “

      However those who did most destructions are sitting in the parliament and holding highest jobs in this island. One got Sirisena to stop him being charged for misappropriation of funds from MIG deal, …………

  • 3
    0

    Vedda, what proof have you got they are crooks ? Your big leader RW had 4 years to prove his case.You cannot go on chanting crook ,crook to others, while sitting on Bond scam money !

    Come on ,your opinion is your own, 6 + million voters think you are just a angry one sided, bias man.

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