Central bank governor Ajith Cabraal said “This would include the fact that Sri Lanka has recorded a more than 8% growth for two consecutive years in 2010 and 2011, and a projected growth of 7.2% this year. Our country’s foreign reserves are at a level of over USD 6 billion. The recent depreciation of the rupee, although the subject matter of many comments, is one of the lowest ever in our history. The Public Debt to GDP ratio in our country now kept below 80%, the lowest ever in 27 years.” He said further “Our inflation is at single digit levels during the last 39 months – which is the longest ever continuous period of inflation in single digit levels in our entire history. The unemployment level is now at 4.2%, being the lowest ever in our history. The current poverty level in our country which is at around 8% is the lowest in our history.”
This performance he compares with that of the UNP regime in the post 1977 period. In that period too treasury officials described the excellent performance of the open economic policies and told us that the economy was developing at a rate of more than 8%. But a general strike broke out at a time when inflation as was over 20%. Strike was brutally suppressed and the regime continued using emergency powers. We were imprisoned and I can still remember well the time we spent in the magazine prison. The difference today is that Mahinda regime started with all components of brutal repression activated: detention, abductions. Para military and under world actions, use of court actions against trade unions violating trade union rights, etc. Such suppression controlled the demand for higher wages and protest against cuts in subsidies and welfare measures. Ajith has taken the easy path of referring to the days of JR in order to say that the economic performance is better today. He has proved that JR would have done better if he started with a brutal chauvinist repressive apparatus in hand! It is obvious that the performance is better, looking from the side of global capitalism! Yes, IMF and other agents of global capitalism have praised the performance and given good certificates. But the protests are suppressed in a manner which the conservative JR regime never could have imagined. Populist turned brutal chauvinist, MR having centralized power, boldly and shamelessly suppress every shade of protest.
Ajith continued “In that scientific measurement exercise, Sri Lanka is recording an inflation rate of around 6% today, even after the increase in the price of fuel. But, what happens in practice? When the price of any popular item goes up in price, you as well as many others, talk about such an item only. When the price of some other item comes down, no one talks about it, and everyone is silent. For example, today, no one speaks about the price of rice coming down – or the price of vegetables decreasing. Today, no one speaks about coconut prices which have reduced to modest levels.” Clearly while the prices of imports are going up local products are unable to get even the cost of production. With subsidies and welfare gone the local producer is at the mercy of MNCs. Ajith is correct; farmers, peasants, fishers, and local industrialists are strangled by the mode of the economy. So, not only workers have to mange and cut down their expenses but also the local producers have to bite the shoe string.
Ajith says “Some dress glamorously and spend on expensive clothes and accessories; others do not spend too much on personal grooming. Some are fully into high social living and entertainment; others prefer to engage in less costly religious activities. Some like to go abroad and see the world; others prefer to go on internal pilgrimages. I could go on and on. But, I think the point is clear. Different people make ends meet, in different ways. That is why I think we should not try to teach people as to how they should spend their money, or as to how they should tackle their individual family budgets.” Thank you Ajith, for not advising us: as to how to live with 2500 Rs a month. As you say the rich bourgeoisie agents of MNCs will live in glamour while we have to tighten the belt. However in addition to less costly religious activities mentioned by you, we are engaged in revolutionary praxis as advised by Marx.