Goodness Gracious Me! How Siri-Ranil-Paalam has boxed itself into a Corner

N. A. De S. Amaratunga in The Island, 3 December 2015, where the title is “Government’ Dilemma” ….

1364002696fea9-4The government seems caught up in a quandary of its own making. In both the economy and the security spheres, the Government seems to be perplexed as to what it should do on its own will rather than on the bidding of its Western “friends”. It appears the Government has got into an intransigent alignment with the West, with all the benefits accruing to the latter. In the economic sphere, the alignment is designed to drain our wealth, as clearly shown by the gradual devaluation of the rupee, which amounts to about 8% since January 8th 2015.

Several Western leaders and officials have visited Sri Lanka but none had pledged meaningful economic assistance, other than money for the North and the East, which is part of their political game in Sri Lanka. IMF officials came and laid down their conditions which have never helped any poor country to rise above poverty. IMF, World Bank and the ADB are the tools of the West, which make sure the passage of wealth is in one direction.

GGme-22 The situation in the security sphere is even more dangerous. Our security forces who saved the country from terrorists are being insulted, penalized and their appreciation devalued, while the terrorists who savaged the country are being rejuvenated and made ready to do battle if and when necessary. The West seems to have secured the power to interfere in our defense affairs, as demonstrated by Ms Samantha Power who made an entry into our army camps in Trincomalee. And Britain, which did not lift a finger to help us during the war, and in fact tried its best to stop the war when the terrorists were cornered, proposes to fund military reforms in Sri Lanka! What all this means is that Tamil separatism is being strengthened so that it could serve the West as it did in the past. This two pronged attack against the vitals of this country would finally drain its nationhood, independence and sovereignty to the core and make it a vassal of the Western powers. Sadly, our Government seems to be in connivance with the West in all these treacherous acts.

The IMF and the World Bank, originally, were set up to help countries affected by the Second World War and the intention was to give unconditional loans, but this arrangement changed due to US pressure which controls 18% of voting rights in these institutions. Now the conditions imposed through the so called Structural Adjustment Programmes include privatization, trade liberalization, high interest rates, currency devaluation, cuts on state expenditure etc. These measures affect education, employment, health, housing, local industry, ecology etc. A good example is Somalia, where the social structure and the economy were devastated due to these policies. Another is what happened to Indonesia, which, when badly affected by the East Asian Economic crisis sought IMF assistance. Implementation of IMF recommendations made matters worse. When a country is assisted by the Bretton Woods duo, it means the economy would be planned, funded, monitored and controlled by Washington. No country except Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Taiwan and few other vassal states have benefitted from IMF, World Bank or US economic assistance. Could we get their assistance by shifting our alliance into their camp? This is the hope of the Government, but so far we haven’t got anything. But the Government will have to grin and bear because after all they helped them to come to power, didn’t they?

The dilemma faced by the Government is compounded by the Chinese factor. When the Chinese leader visited Sri Lanka he pledged billions, whereas our western ‘friends’ come empty handed and make inroads into our institutions and establishments and tell us how to conduct our affairs. The Chinese left us alone in that respect and had nothing to do with Tamil separatists. Their financial assistance had no strings attached or conditions that made matters worse. There is no such thing as a free lunch and we had to help them in their global aspirations which did not encroach into our independence, sovereignty and internal affairs. The Government was obliged to move away from the Chinese sphere of influence, and to symbolize that move they suspended the work on big projects funded by China, such as the Colombo Port City Project. But that move has proved to be very costly. Simply put, the dilemma is that the West does not want the Government to go back to China, but it is not willing or does not have the capacity to help the Sri Lankan economy to develop, and the Government cannot afford or does not have what it takes to go against the wishes of the West.

Meanwhile, the economy will decline. The budget was expected to be the catalyst for growth, but the downturn in the share market continues, no foreign direct investments are coming, no new projects are being started, projects already started by the previous regime have stopped due to lack of funds the government says; Colombo, which was rated the number one developing city recently is going to rack and ruin, the budget has fabricated figures, they say, and what next? Selling the family silver? Partitioning the land and selling it to foreigners?

Sooner or later the Government may have to eat humble pie and mend its fences with China. If Britain, the best friend of the US could do that, there is no reason why Sri Lanka cannot. China is the only country in the world that has the capacity and the good heart to help us. If we try to go back to China, the West, I am sure would not like it and would try to stop it. The West does not have the money to give us but they would not hesitate to stop us turning to China. China is our only hope, but this Government which seems to be more pro US than Barak Obama, may not like to turn to China. Therefore, we may have to gird ourselves to a future of low growth, unemployment, increasing poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, poor health, labour unrest, loss of independence and sovereignty, the rise of separatism, and even terrorism again. Sadly, we will be ill prepared to face these adversaries.



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