20 July, 2024

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RW’s Economic Transformation Bill & NPP’s Systemic Transformation

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

RW’s Economic Transformation Bill (ETB) passed in parliament aims to reach an economic growth target of 5 percent by 2027 and 8 percent thereafter for 15 years. ETB has been hailed as an ambitious yet achievable agenda for promoting sustainable development, enhancing productivity, social progress, and creating equal opportunities for all citizens.  These objectives are expected to be achieved through a series of institutions such as the Economic Commission of Sri Lanka, Investment Zones, Office of International Trade, National Productivity Commission, and Sri Lanka Institute of Economics and Trade. These structures replacing the all-in-one Board of Investment of 1978 is more a paraphernalia to decorate the institutional landscape of the economy than to produce any tangible outcome. However, unlike RW’s earlier target of transforming the economy into an export paradise by 2048, ETB has somewhat modified his target to achieve just a respectable growth rate of 8 percent following the footsteps of China, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh. But, once again the error is in isolating the economy from the poly-crisis and hoping that economic growth alone would be the panacea for all other crises. In reality, the economic crisis is only a symptom – though a serious one – of a malignant cancer killing the entire system. The solution therefore needs the removal of the system itself.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake | Photo Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi

As one writer poignantly commented, ETB attempts to provide “imaginary solutions to real problems”, and according to another, it as an attempt to set up an “economic constitution within a constitution” to lock the IMF path of economic reforms unchangeable by any future government. In essence, this Bill, introduced just a few months before an election supposed to be held on October 5th according to one minister, is another politically motivated instrument to prevent system change. It is a propaganda tool for RW to frighten the voting public that the call for system change by NPP is a direct threat to economic transformation, which according to his colleagues is already under way. But Verite’ Research after analyzing the 2023 budget proposals has pointed out that the government’s information disclosure regarding fiscal consolidation is at an all-time low. Does this mean that the real picture of the transformation is being camouflaged by statistical massaging of reality? Yet, and in spite of concealed facts, Sri Lanka has been admitted as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for a three-year term. This is not surprising under IMF direction. For whatever its worth RW may claim credit for that membership and even advertise it as evidence of the transformation.   

But the reality is otherwise. In a system built on a culture of corruption, nepotism, discrimination and legal impunity, of what use are institutions and imaginary visions? The institutions proposed under ETB would be filled by the same cadre of managers, lawyers and accountants schooled in the same system that turned the SOEs into lossmaking white elephants. As long as corrupt management culture and the system that promotes it remain unchanged no economic transformation could be sustained. For instance, how could sustainable development, productivity, social progress and equal opportunity for all be guaranteed when the ruling political culture advocates open discrimination against ethnic minorities, sacrifices merit in the interest of ethnic majoritarian politics, rewards the corrupt and kleptocrats with legal impunity for their economic crimes? How could the economy deliver economic justice when mafiosi are allowed to rule the market? How could economic development be funded without falling into more debt when the moneyed class is allowed to evade paying its share of the cost burden? Why is IMF reluctant to introduce a wealth tax targeting this class instead of a property tax affecting every householder? No wonder Sri Lanka’s debt sustainability is at knife’s edge. Funding sustainable development and economic transformation with borrowed money and without system change is to take one step forward and two steps backward. The system of governance requires radical transformation before targeting growth rates.

NPP’s Commitment

Post-aragalaya NPP representing the aspirations of a new generation of voters across the nation is the only political entity committed to the transformation of the system itself. NPP’s call for a radical transformation of the country’s political culture through a social revolution captures that goal. Unlike the urban centred leftist movement of previous decades NPP is heavily rural centred with urban support. It is also penetrating into the vote banks of minorities who had been traditionally conservative in their voting behaviour. All this means that NPP is seen as a mortal threat to the interests of the country’s geriatric leaders. That explains the endless media propaganda and scare mongering about the insurrectionary past of JVP and its leader AKD.

It now appears that a loophole in the constitution may allow RW to continue in his position for another 12 months at least, although he claims not to go against the democratic socialist principles, whatever that means. There is also a general feeling within the local officialdom, foreign interests and the moneyed class that he is the man for the season. But more than that and importantly, those political leaders who still sit in parliament and whose corrupt past is destined to bite them when the system is transformed under NPP would have no alternative but to rally behind RW to save their skin. That explains why he is trying hard to contest as an independent candidate so that he could garner the votes from all quarters. When the time approaches SJB may not even enter the presidential contest, which means the final lap would be a race between AKD and RW.

NPP and 13th Amendment

NPP is not a Sinhala racist party as its opponents are trying to portray, but a national power representing all communities. It has been criticized by certain Tamil factions for not promising to implement the 13th Amendment to devolve powers, as SJB and RW had done. On the contrary, NPP is promising to go beyond that Amendment. It is worth looking at the logic and rationale behind this promise. Historically, the demand for Federalism, the Eelam War, the 13th Amendment and in a sense even the Muslim political parties were all reactions to an ethnonational political model erected on the edifice of Sinhala Buddhist majoritarianism. If that model could be replaced by secular democracy guaranteed by a constitution that ensures the same rights and obligations to every citizen irrespective of that citizen’s ethnicity, religion, caste or culture, as Singapore has done, and protects the cultural pluralism of the country, why the need for 13th Amendment? It is this logic that lies behind NPP’s promise to go beyond that Amendment, and the party’s resolve to look to the future and not the past. The commitment for system change cannot exclude this political necessity. RW’s promise of ethnic reconciliation is impossible within the current political model and any party promising to implement the 13th Amendment can do so only at the peril of creating another cycle of communal mayhem. System change is a national and generational necessity and without that neither the economy nor the society can expect sustainable development with communal harmony.   

Turning Point

After more than seventy-five years experimentation with Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism in the name of parliamentary democracy the country is witnessing the stark reality of the damage that experiment had done economically, politically, socially and internationally. The nation is at a turning point. The forthcoming election whether Presidential or General presents a hard choice between the continuation of the old but moribund and destructive socio-political majoritarian system, and a new system founded on secular democracy and cultural pluralism and with a constitution guaranteeing equal rights for all, economic justice and rule of law. NPP represents that systemic transformation.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Business School, Murdoch University, W. Australia

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Latest comments

  • 5
    9

    Ameer Ali is caught hook, line, and sinker!

    • 4
      4

      He has company!

      • 3
        4

        So am I!
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of 51B, Golf Links Road, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

  • 9
    5

    RW is trying to his maximum to create a fear that if he is not elected the country and people have to face worse than the Gota period. IMF also tries their maximum to keep Ranil because of their influence by the west.
    Considering the Tamil political parties they already decided to give their support to Ranil . But this time Tamil people will not give their votes any of the candidates.
    This does not mean they are against to NPP. So NPP should focus on improving their votes share of other communities. But Tamils will support to NPP in the parliament elections.

  • 13
    3

    AA puts it in a very good way as always. Thank God that our Lankan have been intelligent enough to create a party called NPP, otherwise our Motherland would feel that our old, moribund, destructive aristocrats are part and parcel of life’s tribulations and sufferings. Finally, there will be redemption!

    • 8
      0

      rtf, I hope the final redemption will come sooner than later. Destructive aristocrats and tribulations need to be destroyed so as never to return.

      • 3
        0

        “Destructive aristocrats and tribulations need to be destroyed”
        HOW?
        You are getting rather violent for a man of God– perhaps inspiration from Bibi of Israel.

        • 1
          4

          “You are getting rather violent for a man of God.
          How many from Deva paramilitary regiments members are on the lookout for “Men of God” to deliver their knock on those heads and keep floating their boats on the Aanduwa’s freebees.

          “perhaps inspiration from Bibi of Israel.”
          Thanks to Lord Buddha, DTG didn’t take his example from the Sinhala Buddhist Mahanama Veda! DTG sounds like a true god man rather than the SLFP-UNP Union’s Stalinists-Putinists-Mavoists

          HOW”
          How ready are you to follow the Lord’s bible, instead of Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism? Have you learned to spell your name properly now? Then we can start the lesson on “HOW”.

          There is no more chance to bully school kids, is that why you are wandering all over everywhere to take your own lessons?

          • 0
            0

            Mallaiyuran, you are right. Jesus is not wimpy. Rev.19,11 shows Jesus coming from heaven with his armies to judge and make war. Those against him will have to be eliminated.

  • 9
    5

    This country was handed over to Sinhalese leaders by British in a good economic situation and a stable peace condition. There was no poverty, no conflict between races and religions. But now after 75 years the country declared as bankrupt and people are in poverty and now again Sinhalese leaders are telling us we will make this country into a paradise in 2048.

    • 1
      0

      There was no poverty, no conflict between races and religions.
      Were the British out by 1915 when Muslims were attacked?
      Were they out by the1930s when AEG went on an Anti-Malayali campaign?
      Read something informative before belching.

  • 4
    15

    “After more than seventy-five years experimentation with Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism”

    The author should take responsibility for the Easter Attacks. That was worse than any race riot or language policy.

    • 4
      6

      Lester, easter attacks were done by Islamists who were handsomely paid off and armed by our murderer robbers against churches for them to come to power. Such a desperation to kill God’s people and did they not know that they will have consequences. Still investigating after 5 years and may take longer for all to go to hell. Did that government last. Did Raisi last after attacking God’s people. How long did the Turkish Law Maker in parliament Hasan Bitmez last after blasting God’s people. So ignorant that there is no fear of God before their eyes.

      • 1
        0

        “Such a desperation to kill God’s people “
        Are Roman Catholics God’s people in your book?

        • 0
          1

          SJ, God’s people Roman Catholics were the oldest in the Christian denominations here.

      • 2
        9

        davidthegood,

        The Easter Attacks are a strange business. SL politicians are corrupt. But they would not go so far as to bomb churches. There are much easier ways to come to power, e.g. rig the ballet. Keeping in mind, Rajapakse controls the government through SLPP. No one who comes to power can fight their influence. That is why Ranil made a deal with Gotha. There is only one way to loosen Rajapakse’s iron grip, and that is to turn the military against them.

        • 1
          0

          Lester, Rajas have printed money which can turn many towards them.

      • 0
        0

        Hello DTG,
        “easter attacks were done by Islamists who were handsomely paid off”
        They are dead.
        Best regards

    • 4
      2

      Lester,
      .
      I don’t often respond to what you say. Why? Because I don’t totally disagree with every word that you utter.
      .
      However, this is unfair! In what way do you hold Dr Ameer Ali responsible for the Easter bombs? He has done what he could to present us with “moderate Islam”, and has been showing his fellow Muslims that there is no need for them to show their commitment to the religion that they were born into with greater moderation.
      .
      What would you be saying now, had you been raised within a Muslim family? Why does almost nobody actually change their religion? Ameer has studied his religion thoroughly; he’s actually a scholar. He has also studied other religions in much greater detail than others. Now, older than me (we have not actually met), he’s doing all that he can to bring about understanding among all people in this country.
      .
      What riot has he contributed to? Language is a huge problem for us all. Ameer is fluent in Tamil, and has written articles in that language. Since I don’t know any Tamil at all, how can I know what they are like? I’m judging him on what he writes in English. He knows almost no Sinhalese. Result? When AKD visited Perth he didn’t even know about it. That’s when I asked him for his WhatApp number. By then I had had found out his email address. How? I can’t remember. He is older than me, but more intelligent, better qualified and has somehow got to Australia. At our age, we don’t expect rewards for what we do.
      .
      Let us all do what we can.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of 51B, Golf Links Road, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

      • 10
        3

        SM,
        There are those who are so insecure that they stay up all night giving themselves upvotes.
        There are those who stay up all night downvoting others.
        There are those who claim not to be racist, but blame all Muslims for the 2019 attacks.
        There are those who say that Black July was “collateral damage”
        There are those who claim expertise in meditation, but cannot hold a civilised conversation.
        .
        These miserable creatures are to be pitied.

      • 0
        12

        Sinhala_Man,

        The term here is “collective responsibility.” It can be defined as “a situation where individual members of a group are held responsible for the group’s actions as a whole.” To the best of my knowledge, Ameer Ali has not condemned the Easter Attacks as a “terrorist act.” Unfortunately, this is the norm for Muslims, including intellectuals. Very few of them will condemn Hamas as terrorists. Hamas are considered “martyrs.” On the other hand, you have many Jews condemning the Israeli government. What emerges here is a pattern of extreme violence, on the part of Muslims, that cannot be attributed to “Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism” as Ameer Ali claims. It can be attributed to the nature of Islam itself, especially such radical ideologies as Wahhabism.
        Regarding the NPP, they should focus on economic development first and foremost. Create financial incentives for Sri Lankan expatriates to invest in Sri Lanka. Invest heavily in education, especially STEM subjects. Cut off ties with India and align with Russia & China. Once China retakes Taiwan, you will see a significant shift in global power.

        • 10
          2

          “Ameer Ali has not condemned the Easter Attacks as a “terrorist act.”
          True to form, lying as usual. Ameer Ali condemned it not once but several times .
          https://thuppahis.com/2021/03/22/ameer-alis-academic-works-and-career/
          He is not one-sided unlike some fake patriots who see only one kind of terrorism.
          What an incompetent liar.

          • 10
            2

            OC, ” there are those who . . . . .. . . . .”, LOL. I enjoyed the comments much more than the article “Buddhist revolution in the making “.

            • 7
              1

              Chiv,
              Lester-bashing is such fun🤣

            • 0
              5

              “There are who went to real medical schools and then there are those who had to settle for third-rate facilities in the world’s biggest slum.”

              • 0
                5

                *those

          • 0
            10

            Where you do you see the word terrorist? Three articles on the “Easter Attacks” (i/ii/iii), no mention of the word “terrorist” or “terrorism” to describe the attackers.

            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/anatomy-of-an-islamist-infamy-i/

            You don’t know how to argue. Go back to your slum.

            • 7
              1

              There are some who pretend not to understand English too. I don’t think I need to waste my time explaining language to infantile jungle residents, even private school educated ones.

              • 9
                1

                Just because some are hung up on the words “suicide bomber” or “300 psi Sinhala Buddhist pump” it doesn’t follow that others should be hung up on other words.

                • 0
                  5

                  So the government school fool admits Ameer Ali did not condemn the Easter Attacks as a “terrorist act.” Now he is doing his usual circle jerk of ad hominem and straw man. You can’t fix a low IQ.

                  • 5
                    1

                    “So the government school fool admits…..”
                    I don’t know about some jungle mathematicians, but I would think actually completing a government school education is better than being expelled from S. Thomas’.

            • 5
              0

              I am so thrilled that those who don’t understand English have decided that my writing style worth imitating.
              Then there are those who pretend to be Sinhala Buddhists living in UK, but are reduced to swatting flies in a jungle., and doggedly claim that Sigiriya had a 300 psi. Sinhala Buddhist water pump running on cow dung.

              • 5
                0

                Lester dear,
                If you want to get your customary last word in, comments end today. But of course you know that.
                How childish.

        • 0
          0

          Hello Lester,
          Do you know that Qatar is a Wahhabist Country. The only time that I encountered views like you ascribe to Wahhabism, were from one of my Pakistani Colleagues. He wanted Sharia Law imposed on the UK, thought that Bin Laden was correct in conducting 9/11 and would not condemn the actions of ISIL/ISIS. If we were working in Saudi, I am sure he would have reported me to the Muttawas. In Qatar the Government would have laughed at him. Their attitude (unofficially) in Qatar was that your religion was your affair. There is a fairly big Shia community in Qatar (around 10%). As long as you were discreet (and not Proselytising) you were left alone to live your life. “Boston University’s 2020 World Religions Database states Muslims are 78.5 percent of the population, Christians 13.1 percent, Hindus 3 percent, atheists and agnostics 2.2 percent, and Buddhists 1.8 percent”.
          My ex-Colleague now lives in New Zealand.
          The link below will explain some of the reasons for the differences _ https://ciaotest.cc.columbia.edu/wps/rsis/0028977/index.html
          Best regards
          https://ciaotest.cc.columbia.edu/wps/rsis/0028977/index.html

  • 3
    11

    Author:
    “When the time approaches SJB may not even enter the presidential contest, which means the final lap would be a race between AKD and RW.’

    I think that Sajith will contest is almost certain. But if it came to a contest only between AKD and RW, I think RW would probably win.

  • 1
    11

    Author:
    “If that model could be replaced by secular democracy guaranteed by a constitution that ensures the same rights and obligations to every citizen irrespective of that citizen’s ethnicity, religion, caste or culture, as Singapore has done, and protects the cultural pluralism of the country, why the need for 13th Amendment? It is this logic that lies behind NPP’s promise to go beyond that Amendment, and the party’s resolve to look to the future and not the past.”

    It was reported today that under a NPP government the primacy accorded to Buddhism in the Constitution would remain intact, so Ameer Ali needs no longer to entertain any illusions about NPP’s stand on this issue.

  • 8
    0

    Ajith, ‘There was no poverty, no conflict between races and religions ‘
    .
    No poverty? Have you ever heard of the Estate Tamils?

    • 1
      7

      Svenson, it is foolish to think that conflicts will cease, unless all are subject to the God who created them. But then when Eve disobeyed God, Adam too fell into the trap. The conclusion is that we need someone to save and liberate us, and not try to find own solution in riches by robbing and murdering. Trust in the God who is able to save no matter what we do. So, the need to repent and ask for mercy from the one who took our sins and died on our behalf so we could instead have eternal life. Jesus ascended but is coming back again to continue with God’s original purpose for his creation. Wise to get on the right side.

    • 2
      2

      Brilliant, Svenson.
      .
      I don’t think that I have agreed so whole-heartedly with you before.
      .
      Times have changed; if you look at some of the other comments that I have made today, you will find that I’m consistent. It is very important that we always mean what we say, and that we are honest. We must now take the lead in changing the sorry fate of the “Up-country Tamils“. Please call them that. Their ancestors may have been brought in as indentured labour. Then, if assaulted, they were required to say (in Tamil) “Thank you, Dorai, you know how to assault me well, and screw my wife well!
      .
      I’m now 75 years old; I may, sadly not live to see the day when things have got much better under AKD. Ameer is right; sorry Leonard; it is you who have misunderstood Anura. We want every honest citizen to live with dignity – and that includes Leonard.
      .
      I wouldn’t want to predict what I will say six months from now. I’m quite mad with “leelagemalli” right now (at 19:30) but I hope my relations with him improve. That depends on him, and I don’t say that because I want more chocolates from him!
      .
      The next month is crucial for us. If Ranil tries more tricks on us, we will have to launch another Aragalaya. Once nominations for the Presidency are announced, the future will be predictable for the rest of 2024. And I feel, for the next five years under NPP rule.

      • 2
        2

        What BS?
        Anyone who worships the Crying Child aka AKD is hailed as “brilliant”.
        .
        Everyone else who has a different opinion based on their experience is hated by this person.
        .
        What happened to this estranged man, now in his mid-70s? Does he suffer from a rare mental illness?
        .
        He is not alone, many in his age group behave like that – that is a curse. Youth can only curse on the kind of seniors. The truth is they are the ones to be responsible for the mess we are in today.

        • 0
          0

          Hello Leelagemalli,
          Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump are able to string a coherent sentence together. However Noam Chomsky at 95 (but ill) is still pretty sharp so age is not the only criterion. My grandmother at 86 still had her full faculties, but Cancer due to smoking got her in the end. Other relatives have suffered some dementia in old age. If you watch Mehdi Hassan in debates, you will see that he has a phenomenal short term memory (and long term) and an impressive speed of response. Older commentators may still come up with the same arguments but they will take longer to respond. The old adage “use it or lose it” definitely holds for me (and others). I maintain my own IT Suite for Teaching/Training and had to fix some problems recently and had to dig deep into the recesses of my brain before the solutions came back to me. (Using Windows Time (W32Time to synchronise with the Domain Controller).
          Best regards

      • 3
        0

        Sinhala_Man, you end with “for the next five years under NPP rule”, which will put so much fear into Ranil, that he will not announce the next date of presidential elections.

    • 2
      2

      “No poverty? Have you ever heard of the Estate Tamils?”
      Have you heard Sinhalese in Poverty now. Estate Tamils were not in poverty when Sinhalese took the Power. But Under heart core Sinhala Fundamentalist Gota made the Sinhalese to be worse than Estate Tamils.

      • 2
        1

        Ajith,

        ‘Estate Tamils were not in poverty when Sinhalese took the Power. But Under heart core Sinhala Fundamentalist Gota made the Sinhalese to be worse than Estate Tamils’
        .
        You should try to read and learn about the origin of the Up-country Tamils before typing nonsense. I recommend Hugh Tinker’s ‘A New System of Slavery – The Export of Indian Labour Overseas’. You don’t have to take to your keyboard with vigour to prove to us that you are a fool.

    • 3
      8

      Looks like “Ajith” has never been to Singapore. They openly discriminate against Indians when it comes to housing as well as mainland Chinese. Singapore’s politics is mostly controlled by one family. There is very little “freedom of speech.” What this shows you is that economic success is possible without Western-style democracy.

      • 6
        2

        Lester dear,
        If you want to get your customary last word in, comments end today. But of course you know that. How childish.

        • 5
          1

          OC, among 85 countries where quality of life surveyed , Singapore ranked 25 , Lanka 83, and only Bangladesh and Nigeria were ranked after. Yet another Indian origin Murali Pillai was inducted into the new cabinet along with existing ministers
          V . Balakarishnan, Shanmugam, I. Rajah, J.Puthucheary . . . . . . . . . . Sec General of the largest opposition party is Pritam Singh. There are non ministerial members too, representing two major parties. Truly childish.

  • 2
    3

    We hope Dr A A’s the future he wishes to happen for SL materialise and the NPP will go along!
    I still wonder how the NPP is going to get the Buddhist clergy & SInhala Buddhist supremacists to fall in line with his vision.
    JVPers suffered/sacrificed in 70’s 80’s.
    “ Even if we are killed, the cry we raised will never die!’ (Apa maraa damuwath, apa negu handa sadaa nomiyenu etha). ”
    Tamils too sacrificed their lives and their VOICES need to be heard as well.
    The ‘OPEN PRISON’ nature of the Tamil Speaking Areas need to be abolished and freedom to preserve their culture lands and livelihoods
    Unless this happens SL will have to REMAIN at the bottom of the pit.

    • 0
      0

      Naman, all seem to have sacrificed and yet we still remain at the bottom of the pit. Why?

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