20 May, 2022

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What’s The Country Need Now?

By Sunil J. Wimalawansa –

Prof Sunil J. Wimalawansa

Part 10: Sri Lanka—Changing Pillows to Cure Headaches: What’s The Country Need Now? 

Country’s men and women must forget minor differences of opinions and get united against corruption, pilferage by politicians and business people, selling the country, and the government’s incompetence in running the country. It is blatantly unethical, unconstitutional, and stupid for the police and the military to harm fellow citizens just because they are being manipulated and used (wrongfully ordered) by the president and a handful of crooked politicians and their commanders.

Rapid changing of the ground situation—what’s needed right now?

It is time for police and the armed forces to set aside their batons, recently imported sophisticated water cannons and dangerous tear gas canisters, armoured vehicles, and weapons and join the struggle as free citizens to liberate the country from tyranny. The junta control will be over within 24 hours, without further harm to people, bloodshed, and destruction of the country.

It is time to re-establish democracy: the president to resign immediately and elect an interim president who can make the crucial tough decisions under the current situation to control the crises—somebody capable and charismatic like F/M Fonseka, among the parliamentarians, as per the constitution. Unfortunately, no one else in the current parliament is capable of doing so.

The interim president should appoint a twelve-member multi-party temporary cabinet to resolve the crisis with an additional twelve members, a non-political expert committee. They must solve the financial, political, and other crises of Sri Lanka, including enforcing needed austerity measures and taking difficult decisions. Then interim cabinet can arrange the next general election in February 2023.

Prime responsibility for the interim administration

The two main goals of the interim administrations are establishing the stability of the country and overcoming the fiscal crisis. Once political stability is established with firm leadership and responsibility, Sri Lanka can offer formal guarantees and engage in proper negotiations with the IMF to secure funds to bridge the finance. It is customary for the IMF to release funds stepwise based on milestones achieved by the administration.

This approach provides Sri Lanka with a breathing space to come out of bankruptcy, enabling it to restart paying the due loan interests that were created by unnecessary borrowings by greedy local politicians to garner commissions. Nevertheless, receipt of a reasonable IMF loan would improve the credit-worthiness of Sri Lanka that reopens the door to attracting Foreign Direct Investments.

Importance Of The Reduction Of Costs

Firm decisions are needed to reduce government costs:

For a sustainable economy and to prevent future fiscal chaos, including bankruptcy and the need for additional loans, the interim government must start enacting laws and actions to eliminate extensive subsidies that successive governments have been dished out to the populous to attract votes. These include fuel, electricity, gas, agrochemicals, and free education and healthcare. Some of these, like fuel/oil and electricity, require prompt elimination, while the others could be reduced over time.

The administration must clearly explain the intended elimination of each of the subsidies to the public in all three languages. Explanations must include why the government has to do such and how and when these measures will be implemented? While removal of subsidies invariably will cause hardships for the population, people will soon get used to it. These measures are necessary to get out of the impending bankruptcy, achieve financial stability, and long-term success and prosperity of the country.

Improving health and reducing food wastage:

The interim government must also take proactive steps to mitigate hardships, especially for the rural communities. For example, guidance to increasing local production and straightforward public health measures intended to maintain good health (physical activity, balanced diets, micronutrient sufficiency, home gardening, collaborative farming, opening-up rural hospitals and clinics for disease prevention, etc.).

Through the department of agriculture, it should also provide improved methods to enhance crop and dairy output, a better supply chain (and curtailing competitive imports), and improved perishable food storage (e.g., refrigerated facilities for food storage and trucks for fresh food transportation, etc.) to keep the cost of food low while minimising wastage.

Revocation of the 20th amendment and executive presidency:

There is no place for authoritarian policies or rulers or dictators in the democratic republic of Sri Lanka. Such is against the constitution and should not be allowed ever. While the cancellation of the 20th amendment is needed right now, the plan must be implemented to abolish the disastrous executive presidency.

Even though the 20th amendment was enacted with two-thirds of a majority pushing the executive presidency toward a dictatorship, the constitution would not allow such. Those MPs who voted to approve the 20th amendment should be made accountable at the next general election.

Other cost-saving measures and elimination of the totalitarianism:

With the crucial requirement for saving funds by the government and the need for a smaller government, it is no brainer that 45% of funding for the military must be reduced immediately. Currently, over 25% of the public servants are employed in the armed forces, which is an excessive proportion and an unnecessarily high absolute number for this small island.

In parallel, a 30% reduction of the allocated budget from all government ministries and departments should be withdrawn back to the treasury immediately. Implementation of these measures will significantly reduce the budget deficit instantly. Over the next year, the strength of the military, especially the army, should be reduced by 50%. Mechanisms of how each armed force section manages to handle the budget cuts could leave to individual military branches.

Prevention of further pilferage and budgetary cuts:

Current wastage and pilferage (i.e., economical fat) from all government institutes, including the military, health department, agriculture, higher education, etc., is estimated to be approximately 35% of their annual budgets. Therefore, these organisations must tighten their belts and manage budget cuts of one-third without affecting their programs. Smaller budgets will increase efficiency and a leaner staff/force. Across the board, a reduction in funding makes public servants more efficient and accountable and reduces pilferage.

There is no question that the declaration of emergency was unwarranted and is unconstitutional. Such inappropriate actions demonstrate how desperate the president and his entourage. It will draw another black line under his presidency. The military has no role in crowd control; they must stay in barracks, engage in training and the country’s strategic developmental activities, and maintain sovereignty and national security.

If the police and military continue brutalities against the public, people and journalists must take pictures and videos to document these, enabling the prosecution of involved individuals, including those who order such brutalities, at a later date.

Conclusion

Every citizen must come together and peacefully protest and support overcoming the failed administration. Protest should be continued without violence while taking care of self-protection from unscrupulous thugs instigated by politicians and extremists, including the LTTE sympathisers who have infiltrated the “Aragalaya” (protests). It is of utmost importance to prevent the destruction of structures and materials belonging to the public and harming people.

Protesters must be vigilant, identify, and weed out religious and ethnic extremists and LTTE sympathisers from the Aragalaya: no place for them in this struggle. Keep calm and protest peacefully.  As per the constitution, we, the people, have the Power in the country; not in a handful of bureaucrats, police, or the military.   The public has the right to protest any dysfunctional government. It is a matter of time: the PUBLIC has the Power, and it will win the struggle.

*The next article will discuss the role of government servants.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    Wow finally some one who got the vision and solve the problems SL facing. Hope the good people read this article and bring the country out of this mess. I want to add one important point that New President should go after all brothers and children’s money that should bring at least 2 billion US dollars. People pass this article to every one to read. Thank you.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Prof Sunil J. Wimalawansa – “Protesters must be vigilant, identify, and weed out religious and ethnic extremists and LTTE sympathisers from the Aragalaya: “

    I am not sure whom you mean by LTTE sympathisers?
    Those who sang the national anthem in Tamil at #GotaGoGama
    Those Tamil mothers who are still waiting for their missing sons at #GotaGoGama?
    Those journalist who carried the photo of Isaipriya at #GotaGoGama?

    you are one of those who is holding the dead tiger by the tail and cant let it go

    In the end it was your Sri Lanka Sinhala Buddhist Prime Minister who destroyed a peaceful protest of 30 days
    He thought he can disrupt the beach party by assembling his thugs at Temple Tress and unleashing them on the innocent peaceful protesters

    In the end he resigned not as a statesman who defeated the very LTTE and united the country but as a pariah who thrived by inflaming racism.

    In the end he went down but he drag the country and the sacred institutions of the country with him.

    The country will survive and come out stronger fresher and united
    The Rajapaksa legacy will be wiped out in this new revitalised country.

    One more to go . #GottaGoHome without cause anymore violence and death

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