By Sumanasiri Liyanage –
In excellent old days, debates in the Sri Lankan Parliament were rich not with nonsense, banality and filth but with substantive arguments, creative vision and humor. Also it is intriguing to note that the debates had been dominated by the left leaders. Speaking at the Spending budget debate in the late 1960s, the Common Secretary of the Communist Celebration of Sri Lanka, Pieter Keuneman, said that this price range and the policies of the UNP government had demonstrated clearly its “economic sterility, political impotency and administrative incapacity”. In this column, I argue focusing more on the economic management that this description is more valid in portraying the policies and the overall performance of the government of the January 8 coalition than that of the UNP government of Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake. It is interesting to note that Comrade Pieter Keuneman did not speak about corrupt practices of the Dudley Senanayake’s government as widespread corruption was not a phenomenon in pre 1977 UNP governments. Had a day time robbery like what had happened recently at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka occurred below his rule Dudley Senanayake would have resigned quickly from the post of PM. Of course, it is tough to anticipate that type of moral behavior from the politicians in this neo-liberal phase.
Let me come to my primary argument. The statements by the spokesperson of the January 8 coalition who have been later responsible for financial management had demonstrated without having any doubt that they had been clueless on the issues and had not possessed a clear strategy for economic development of the country. Prior to the Presidential election, I wrote in this column about this sterility of improvement pondering in Maitripala Sirisena’s election plan. This was what I wrote: “Champika Ranawaka has a formula and Candidate Sirisena has just copied it in verbatim in his manifesto. This formula has a close affinity with Narendra Modi’s plan. No matter whether the economists of Modi government believes it or not, Modi gave a lot of publicity to the idea that bringing black funds deposited in foreign banks would give substantial impetus to the economy.” Candidate Sirisena proposes: “By stopping mega corruption and wastage alone I will act to supply the nation with development ten instances that of the last six years and offer relief to the people”. Anybody who knows ABC of economics or one with just frequent sense could not accept this theory even although 1 assumes that corruption and waste are substantial. Modiconomics is not working in India, so will be the Sirisenomics.’ The UNP spokesperson, Eran Wickramathne also reiterated the same logic of locating required capital for improvement by eliminating waste and corruption.
Prior to the election, in addition to myself, R.M.B Senanayake and Hema Senanayake had also pinpointed this shallow idea of developing nation by transferring money reclaimed from the people who were engaged in corrupt practices to development projects. It is not essential to inform time and once more, the money that is recovered (which is a stock) does not provide a continuous flow of capital required for improvement. In the pre-election period, January 8 coalition supporters tried to inflate the quantity money that could be reclaimed with the assistance of the international banking program. Even so, in the last six months, the UNP government failed to reclaim a single penny from this allegedly stolen money. Hence, it is not a surprise to see that the complete notion of financial improvement collapsed as a result of more than emphasized faith on this shallow notion.
Considering that January 8, the country has witnessed the sterility of this “strategy” as the so-called rainbow coalition had to depend far more and far more taking income even to run a day to day enterprise of the government.
As I discussed in this column many a time, the UPFA government had simultaneously adopted two techniques of economic development. One I called ‘Jayasundara strategy’ and the other “Basil Rajapaksa strategy’. These two have been combined into a single strategy by the Secretary to the treasury. In my writings both in Sinhala and English, I have made an try to reflect critically on these two methods and shown their inherent drawbacks. General, as I pointed out, UPFA method was a outcome of mixing ‘developmentalist state model’ with neoliberalism. Therefore, it failed create anticipated final results. On the other hand, the past six months, we have witnessed under the UNP regime a ‘strategyless situation’. Its whole policy package was primarily based on ‘tactics’, techniques of winning elections. Eran Wickramaratne, in a single of the Tv interviews, accepted that the UNP government had not even thought about financial improvement as it concentrated on giving some benefits to individuals.
So the United National Party that placed so significantly faith on making use of wasted cash on improvement had later turned into strategy much less economic management. A movement from shallow method to method-much less policies. The outcome of this miserable circumstance was a decline of growth rate, rise in unemployment, falling living standards and half-carried out improvement projects.
The microcosm that funnily revealed this pathetic predicament is the road that I utilised every day. It is in Kadirana and comes under Katana Pradeshiya Sabha. It was a gravel road that cannot be used in rainy season. And the folks who use this road produced several requests to repair it. Portion of the road was redone placing tar just prior to the January eight election. It was not a very good job, a job hurriedly carried out. Nonetheless, all worked stopped right after the election. We thought they may restart once the election fever subsided. Absolutely nothing occurred. So the outcome, half tarred road with lots of bumps (UPFA economic plan) and the second half with muddy holes (UNP economic system). When I was asked by one of the newspaper journalist how I see the modify that occurred in January 8. I cited this situation of the road that I use every day. Does the UNP led coalition now have an economic technique? Not yet clear. Champika Ranawaka on behalf of the United National Front for Excellent Governance has not too long ago informed that they would in next five years adopt ‘social industry economy’. I think that Champika Ranawaka borrowed this notion from Dr Harsha de Silva although he put it as its own creation. Social market place economy was the correct wing version of social democracy. It produced some optimistic outcomes for the duration of ‘late capitalism’ specially in Germany. However, it is now an abandoned method and in the context of neoliberal globalization, it does not have practical relevance.
Pieter Keuneman’s phrase that the UNP’s vision and policies on economy is sterile and senile is also valid for these days. It is the dominant celebration in the January coalition. It does not have an financial method that could take the country out of the financial mess. It will just follow the neoliberal agenda developed by the Washington consensus. The identical measures that Germany has imposed on Greece. Chinese military strategist cum philosopher Sun Tzu wrote “Strategy with out techniques is the slowest route to victory. Techniques with no method is the noise ahead of defeat”.
*The writer is the Dean, Faculty of Management and Finance, SANASA Campus (private capacity) – e-mail: [email protected]