20 May, 2022

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Will Ranil Rescue The Economy Or Rajapaksas?

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

That political stability is the most urgent prerequisite to start repairing the economy and provide some relief to a battered nation is beyond debate. The Governor of CBSL added his voice to this urgency and warned that he would not hesitate to throw the towel unless that stability is restored without delay. Even the world outside, including IMF, stressed political stability as precondition for economic assistance and revival. But whether the choice of Ranil Wickremesinge (RW) as stopgap prime minister and a new team of around fifteen cabinet ministers, all handpicked by the President, would bring that stability is questionable. It is indeed a rocky road to travel for RW.

To start with, RW is a weak leader with a blemished record of trying to please everyone and ending up pleasing no body. This was clearly proved by the way he led the yahapalana government from 2015-19. He ended up splitting his own party, the UNP; led his splinter to a record rout at the elections; lost his own seat; and reappeared in the parliament through the backdoor. More than that, when he was the Yahapalana PM he took no action against the previous Rajapaksa government, which had serious allegations of corruption, mismanagement and war crimes. Instead, he tried to protect that regime so that in case it came back it would show its gratitude to him.

Lo and behold! That was what happened. When Rajapaksas were returned to power in 2019, RW’s central bank bond scam episode was forgotten, and the PCoI report over 2018 Easter bombing, in which RW and MS jointly ignored all intelligence provided to them, was also allowed to rust in parliament’s archive. Now, with the collapse of that government amidst a state sponsored bloody riot and mayhem that allowed its main culprit, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to escape and seek protection inside Trincomalee naval base, President GR, under whose watchful eyes that riot took place, had appointed RW to become a stopgap prime minister with a stopgap cabinet to be appointed soon. The advertised reason for these appointments was to rebuild the shattered economy and unite a divided nation. However, RW’s name was circulating to become PM long before the resignation of Rajapaksa. The task facing him now is too huge and the odds in RW’s favour are too little.

As a student of that prestigious Royal College in Colombo, as an attorney-at-law, and with an Honorary Doctorate from Australia’s Deakin University, RW commands a better reputation internationally than his predecessor. He is a centre rightist as far as economic philosophy is concerned. Understandably therefore, no sooner was he appointed, the stock market reacted favourably, rupee appreciated marginally and foreign governments, notably US, India, China and Japan were quick to send him congratulatory messages and well wishes. With the appointment of a Minister of Finance talks with IMF could also recommence in earnest. In fact, RW was one of the earliest to pressure Rajapaksa Government to approach IMF for assistance and advice. Yet, his personal reputation, IMF assistance and generosity from friendly nations are not sufficient enough to make the economy revive and grow.

Tough measures are needed, such as an increase in tax revenue without hitting low-income earners, radical reforms to reduce the size and increase efficiency in public service and state enterprises, measures to end rampant corruption and the power of mafias, improving public welfare and ensuring a safety net for the poor and down trodden. These are urgently needed to restructure an economy that has become moribund and lost its productive capacity over decades. But to accomplish this immense task there need to be a government that carries the wholehearted support of the people. Being an appointed and anointed PM by a beleaguered president and a few Buddhist monks respectively does not guarantee popular support. The aragalaya wants GR to go home. Period. Thus, caretaker RW will not have the strength and resolve to undertake the remedial measures mentioned.

Already, three major parties in the opposition, SJB, SLFP, JVP and another 11 independents had refused to accept ministerial positions in the caretaker government, but promised to lend support to meaningful measures to revive the economy. This promise has to be tested. However, there will always be a few parliamentarians who are up for sale to the highest bidder, and one may see them creeping into the new cabinet. Whether these new faces have a clear grasp of the issues mentioned above and the required skill and strategy to tackle them is yet to be seen. Unless fresh calibre is brought from outside the parliament and introduced into the new cabinet, it would be a story of rehashing old ideas from the stock of 225.

The immediate problem facing RW therefore is the future of aragalaya. Although RW declared support for GotaGoGama, which was also endorsed by the army commander on condition that it remains peaceful, his master GR would wish that to disappear. Because, GotaGoGama’s demand for systemic change includes not only the removal of 20th Amendment with a 21st to disempower the presidency and send GR home, but also, and more immediately, to bring Rajapaksas to justice regarding allegations of gross mismanagement and financial misdemeanours. This is a tough ask. RW would therefore be trying every tactic under his sleeves to weaken aragalaya’s resolve and to protect the Rajapaksa clan. If his tactic ends in another bloody episode, one could wish good bye to RW also and his efforts, if any, to repair the economy.

Unless GR’s removal is assured, parliament regains the powers it lost and fresh elections are held to elect a government with representatives of technocratic calibre, aragalaya would not lose its momentum. If RW’s anointed government could pave the way for these changes that would be its lasting service to the nation. Will RW rescue the economy or Rajapaksas or both?

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

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Latest comments

  • 15
    0

    Ameer Ali, out of many articles on this, I find yours most plausible. Hope you are right on this.

  • 7
    0

    Due to the incident at Temple Tree events intimidation the Present Government has lost people trust
    and Present prime minister can initiate rescue with the implementing condition met by all party we need dollars
    when the prices are high and curfew in place from where will the strength come. Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle how can we plant this to people All are in empty stomach Hunger does not understand patients

    • 9
      0

      “Unless GR’s removal is assured, parliament regains the powers it lost and fresh elections are held to elect a government with representatives of technocratic calibre, aragalaya would not lose its momentum”
      Well, GR himself has agreed to restoration of 19A. Also, Parliament if it wishes can impeach Gota. Let’s do things the legal way.

      • 8
        0

        “Unless GR’s removal is assured, parliament regains the powers it lost and fresh elections are held to elect a government with representatives of technocratic calibre, aragalaya would not lose its momentum”
        Wasn’t the Pohottuwa regime supposed to be “technocratic “?
        GL Pieris, PhD Oxford
        Nalaka Godahewa PhD
        Channa Jayasumana FRCP
        Not to mention the various Admiral Professors, Brigadiers, and captains of industry who propped up Gota.
        I am afraid qualifications matter little . It’s ability that counts.

  • 9
    1

    Will RW rescue the economy or Rajapaksas or both?
    Gota brought Ranil not to rescue the economy but to rescue Rajapaksa family and its cronies. The first people congratulated were Mahinda and Namal Rajapaksa. Yes, he will bring some money and fuel from west on loan or selling country and some changes to the 20th amendment until he rescue Rajapaksa family and its cronies but it is impossible to rescue the economy while keeping the same old group of politicians and same old corrupted Team. Ranil or Gota will not allow any one in the ministry from outside from their circle. We have already seen GL Peris, Dinesh Gunawardena, Prasnna Ranatunga. Ranil may bring his nephew and few others who are slaves to him as ministers.
    The way things are changing every day and anything can happen in Sri Lanka whether it is good or bad to people and economy.

  • 8
    1

    Vistas of prosperity and splendor brought about at last by Appe Aanduwa in 73 years!

    Three hearty cheers to the rulers of the past and the present, and for the people who voted them in. Fools leading fools to prosperity!

  • 8
    0

    Ameer Ali,
    I am unable to grasp the strength and meaning of, ‘allegations of gross mismanagement and financial misdemeanors’, of Rajapaksas.
    Misdemeanor? A ‘minor’ wrongdoing? Even ‘mega’ would be inadequate an adjective.
    I don’t need to give you more examples. Just one would be more than sufficient. Nivard Cabraal.
    That name is enough to size up the extent of mismanagement and robbery, under Rajapaksas.
    .
    I’ll help you with the question that you have left in limbo.
    “Will RW rescue the economy or Rajapaksas or both?”
    Even God can’t do both!

  • 9
    0

    தண்ணீர் விட்டோம் வளர்த்தோம் சர்வேசா
    இப்பயிரை கண்ணீரால் காத்தோம் கருக திருவுளமோ.
    – Bharathi
    (Not any water we irrigated, but with tears we shed this crop survived, Oh the mighty, saves all lives, is it your grace burning that to ash?)

    The child of the mother, who was infertile for eternal prior births, is taking its last breath lying on her lap. Encircling her hut, with spooky, glittering eyes for light from her only lamp on her hand, the wolves are peeping through the windows and howling, sensing a chance of fresh meat. Will the child Ceylon survive or perish? Will people, after 600 years, have their own government to take care of them?

  • 9
    0

    The 225 Brutuses they elected one more time have stabbed on the people’s back. Every political hyena got together and reduced the peaceful protest to yield to Ranil’s UNP-SLFP regime change. Our eagerly awaited fruit burst and we are seeing only the worthless kapok cotton flying out of it. The saying in Tamils is “Mountain stomach endured pain and bore a mouse”. Here the mountain stomach has borne an unbelievable sized monster, the Batalanda proposition monster, who denied justice for Ceylon by denying signing the Rome Accord. The rolling UNP SLFP regime change that safeguarded the Sinhala Buddhism for 75 years is now safeguarded from the protestors by Sinhala Intellectual politicians. In 2019, how Ranil, New King and Rowdy Mahinda joined and launched a Jihadist fight to seat Hitler King, it is in the same manner they unleased a pride of wolves into the protestors to create chaos and defeat the protestors to bring the Batalanda Mass torture criminal to power. The light is being put off in the tents where a new political future for Ceylon was being drafted. Standing on principles based positions, progressive policies, statesmanship are still a long distance for Langkang politics. Ranil, number one foxy politician, who was eager to restore the Sinhala Intellectual politics if it faced defeat by the people’s protest, immediately grabbed the opportunity.

  • 8
    1

    Buddhists by asking for their freedom that the racist politics in Lankawe is capable of yielding greater harvest to politicians than unity, liberty, and equality. Government by police torture, pollical wage by theft & bribe, and anarchy & poverty for the poor will be the judgment of the continued Sinhala Buddhism. From the start of the protest, political parties did not agree for a national government; for 40 years, neither the political parties nor the people have recognized Ranil as a leader. What is the message in appointing him as the Prime Minister for the people’s protest? Is that an answer of “Go to hell” to people who protested in hunger? Is that how Appe Aanduwa is showing that they have heard the hungry cries of the people? If Rowdy Mahinda resigned by people protest, then is there no need to people’s voice in the new appointment. Who gave out this Pan to Fire judgment?

  • 6
    1

    Ranil W.has become PM.He is desperately trying to rope in the Political parties in the opposition with no luck.They would not touch Ranil even with a barge pole dipped in shit.
    The whole country knows that Ranil.w. has come on stage to look after the interests of the Rajapaksa family. Besides he himself does not enjoy any clout in the country.

    So,with this appointment we are back to square peg one.
    Exit Mahinda; Enter Ranil……….
    The more things change the more,the more they stay the same.
    Who knows he may be waiting till President Gota is unable to continue in office so that he may end up as President!
    Well that is a sweep…………
    A sweep ticket is prized at Rs.20.
    Presidential sweep with 20,000 votes?

    • 7
      0

      Basically, Ranil has joined Pohottuwa and Mahinda is on a short gardening leave.

  • 5
    1

    Ranil, in 2019, who resigned his government which the people had entrusted with him, one year early while he was having 115 members’ support, and gave a chance for Rowdy Mahinda to start his government, now what was thinking when he accepted the PM position without any seat in the parliament? Is the nincompoop thinking that people select him only when he is defeated? It is complete denial for the people for their own government, but Sinhala Buddhist elites enforce their government on people with their dubious logics. Mahinda rowdy resigned when he could not overcome people’s resistance. When is Ranil going to resign as people have already started to protest against his government?
    Remember the Chitanta government’s Humanitarian Rescue Mission operation in the North with the holocaust of 150,000 Tamils? Same way there is very hard bargaining taking place for minister positions in the name of saving the people out of their hunger.

    • 0
      2

      Mallaiyuran
      “Remember the Chitanta government’s Humanitarian Rescue Mission operation in the North
      with the holocaust of 150,000 Tamils?”

      This is like inflation in Sri Lanka. Started with 40,000. Now figure has gone up to 150,000. Demalu could not find even a mass grave with 4000 skeletons. Wonder how they are going to find 150,000 skeletons?

  • 3
    0

    A tyrant has resigned on the accusation of having the economy run aground. He staged amuck to chase people protesting from Galle face and TTH. Under whose instruction he is provided palaces to spend his vacation, at people’s expense, until he returns to his work. How the judge who placed travel restrictions on him on the pending legal hearing is ensuring his order is acted upon? How come his “Flight Risk” is not recognized and he is not taken into custody by the court? All that what is happening in Colombo is saving Mahinda Rowdy from people’s anger, but none of these dramas have anything to do with eliminating people’s hunger.
    The King of the Impunity for the criminals, is saying that the protestors can continue, but the shoot to kill on sight is in order. That is why The UN has to provide the protection right away for the people from Rowdy Mahinda’s hooligans to restart the protests. If not from the world governments, is it not even from the god for these dire people are not worthy for any justice?

    “We give an assurance here, If CT is here, we will be here until Ranil resign.
    Jayawewa the protest!

  • 8
    3

    RW is just a TROJAN HORSE for the RAKSHApakses. He is as much corrupt as the RAKSHApakses that resulted in sinhala land being now INTERNATIONAL BEGGAR LAND! RW has a deal re corruption ie scratch my back and I will scratch your and we will live of the misery of the sinhalas

  • 7
    0

    It’s like giving torture victims some bitter gall before they can be tortured again. Our Lankans are courageous!

  • 6
    4

    Ranil never had Sri Lanka’s best interests in mind. He always believed in grandstanding when there was a crisis, and has always attempted to give away the nation’s sovereignty, by asking LTTE leader Prabha to share govt with them, as well as wanting to invite Portugal to commemorate the 500 years of that invasion. He allowed his friend Arjun Mahendran to raid the central bank, and also will allow friend Percy to escape prison for crimes against humanity. He will also try to erase any evidence of Gota’s culpability in the Easter bombing. All the while, he will appear as a saviour of the nation. People must not forget how pretenders appear from time to time, as saviours of the nation and then allow its further rape.

    • 5
      1

      At least Prapakaran may not have sold the nation’s sovereignity to foreigners like most Chingkalla leaders have done in the name of Chingkalla Buddhism, especially the Rajajapkses and looted the country’s wealth. we may have had a chance of real peace and prosperity if Prapakaran had agreed. Most probably Ranil knew stubborn Prakapakaran will never agree to this. Many former banned guerrila organisations and so called terrorist leaders have become leaders of nations and eminent politicians . The latest is Sein Fein in Ireland.

      • 4
        0

        Sorry Sinn Fein and not Sein Fein. They went from a Pariah organization or party to a political powerhouse. Remember it was state sponsored Chingkalla racism and terrorism against the Thamizh that gave birth to the LTTE. It is not come from nowwhere or for no reason. People constantly writing and calling LTTE terrorist but keeping quiet and being apologetic about the reason for its birth and condoning state sponsored Chingkalla racism against teh Thamizh are being hypocrites. You see that many times even here from the commentators and bloggers. Any form of terrorism by anyone should be condemned , especially by the state on a section of its citizens

  • 4
    0

    The reality is that the administration miserably failed and that is why the people are in short supply of essentials. We have become a destitute nation. If one were to visualize a set of beggars living in one roof squabbling, rightly or wrongly, would any one part even with a symbolic twenty rupee note to any one of them? My answer is NO. United, the set of beggars must get their supplies. Get help to build their capacity and finally get out of begging and be a group of self-earners. The same is true for Sri Lanka. I think the protestors have done a wonderful job in making even this amount of change in the political landscape which was hitherto unimaginable. But now? Are we to keep on shouting, like the beggars in the den who are hungry and malnourished and continue to be so or think far and act prudently? We know the nature of 1 + 225. We have no choice but to put pressure on them to do the right thing for the betterment of the nation. Though we know who Ranil is, on second thoughts wasn’t he courageous to accept position when others refused?

    • 1
      2

      Good Sense,
      You have had a momentary lapse of good sense.
      What are friends for!
      (No second guesses aloud.)

      • 4
        0

        I know, all of us are angry. After all were we born in this beautiful Island to be a part and parcel of short supply? Good amount of these 1 + 225 are septuagenarians and if they can stand the shot I am inclined to slap them in private. But remember the choices we have are limited. The citizens give these 1 + 225 a blank check to gallivant and line their pockets. We have no choice but get these jokers to give us our basic supplies. Some call Ranil as the new brother in the family calling him Ranil Rajapakse. Whatever it is we all must do our part sensibly to get out of this mess.

  • 3
    2

    Will Ranil be the wing man of “GOTA-STAY-GAMA”.

    ” Intelligence agencies have warned of erstwhile cadre of the banned LTTE regrouping to launch attacks in SL, as the country is embroiled in a deep economic and political crisis. As the island nation has declared emergency twice amid escalating violent protests, some sections of the SL Tamil diaspora, with multinational links, were trying to make their presence felt in the ongoing clashes between protesters and security forces, police sources said on Friday”

    Is this the same intelligence that did not see Rajapaksa goons been assembled in front of Mina-go-gama. At least 8 buss loads coming into a troubled area when there was an emergency on?

    LOL

  • 3
    0

    Right now, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    If I can make that decision ………… I’ll be the happiest man alive.

    • 3
      1

      nimal, I’ll make you the happiest. Just cry!

  • 2
    1

    I believe that the two countries who are currently calling the shot in Sri Lankan matters , America and India are trying to remove the Rajapaksas from power but are also trying to protect them. News coming out of Tamil Nadu India suggests that India may be trying to resurrect the LTTE to create an ethnic issue in Sri Lanka to help fizzle out the enthusiasm for the protest movement.

  • 3
    0

    Ranil has everything to lose by doing the things that people think he might do.

    He has everything to gain by resuscitating the economy and restoring some respectability to Sri Lanka.

    I would take the position of supporting him in all his efforts. Otherwise we will all be losers in the end.

    The next few weeks will show us which way we are heading.

    Let us wait and see.

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