Govt. opt for the purchase of emergency electricity – The Island
The impact of shortages of essential items and people spending hours in queues has been both economic and social, Karu Jayasuriya, chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ), said yesterday.
Jayasuriya said many poor families don’t have access to day care centers or nurseries, and when mothers line up for kerosene, gasoline or other essentials, children are left unattended.
“Because of these queues, the family structure completely collapsed. It is a tragic situation,” Jayasuriya said.
The only silver lining for the country is the decline in the spread of the devastating Covid pandemic, he said. However, all aspects of daily life for many Sri Lankans have been disrupted due to continuing shortages of essentials such as fuel, cement, gas and powdered milk.
Statement by Jayasuriya experts: “It should be noted that if the government had followed the advice of the professionals and taken the necessary measures in a timely manner, this unfortunate situation would not have occurred. When the country’s foreign exchange reserves dwindled, the majority of the population believed that a $500 million loan should not be repaid all at once. Instead, it was suggested that only the interest be paid and that advice be sought from the International Monetary Fund or another institution on the repayment of the loan. The National Movement for Social Justice has also expressed and informed this opinion.
“However, the government was not willing to accept these sincere offers. We also pointed out that allowing the rupee to float would be fair to those employed overseas and encourage exports, and that the import process would reflect realistic prices. This would inevitably lead to the automatic reduction of unnecessary imports. Despite the delay, it is vital that the government realizes this.
“In our opinion, one of the main reasons that led to the economic collapse is the inability of the government to maintain a point of view. This is a major weakness of governance. The 20th Amendment delegated the full powers of government to a single person and not to Parliament. Therefore, it is the president with a two-thirds majority who is accountable to the people.
“But many promises made after the new government came to power have yet to be fulfilled.
1. Present the draft of the proposed new constitution within one year and eliminate the clause allowing dual citizens to work in government
2. Strengthen national and religious harmony while cooperating with civil society
3. Protection of democracy and freedom of expression
4. Stop political revenge and give people full freedom
5. Reduced cost of living
“None of the above conditions have been fulfilled. Constitutional proposals should not be prepared by a group of pro-government jurists, but by Parliament and the people. This is a serious shortcoming as well as a mistake.
“Vengeance is still being extracted from political opponents through the Upali Abeyratne Commission. Malefactors are freed while opposition figures are investigated at the BMICH. It is an attempt to ruin their political career. Acts of sabotage are openly committed to disrupt meetings held by the leader of the opposition and the leader of the National People’s Power. The government’s One Country, One Law policy has become a complete joke. Talking about this in itself is useless.
“The person who was responsible for the destruction of King Buwanekabahu’s palace and the minister who broke into the prison to issue death threats to the prisoners managed to remain free without investigation into these incidents. People are very critical of these transgressions. The Auditor General investigated the sugar scam and it was reported to the Parliamentary Finance Committee that a fraudulent act had in fact occurred. However, those reports are now gathering dust. The so-called sugar scam at first glance seems much bigger than the central bank bond scam. While Central Bank funds are now in the hands of the government, fraudsters continue to be in possession of the funds obtained through the sugar scam.
“Just recently, the President, the Minister of Finance and many others publicly assured the citizens of the country that power cuts would occur after March 05. However, this promise only held for a few hours. Currently, power cuts lasting up to seven hours are imposed on the population.
“We underscore these important issues with the utmost sincerity, because under the 20th Amendment, the responsibility for the people of this country rests with the President and no one else. When the head of state fails to keep his promises, people’s trust deteriorates and the leader’s reputation is tarnished. Loss of confidence in future promises is also inevitable. Therefore, we believe that in the future it is wise to only talk about promises that can be kept with certainty.
“We can recover from this disastrous situation. Countries that were reduced to ashes by World War II became powerful states because of their national consensus. We must follow the example of Germany and Japan. In 1991, India also faced a major economic crisis. There was a strict import restriction. Foreign exchange reserves for imports were only available for 15 days.
“Prime Minister Narasimha Rao has appointed World Bank veteran Dr. Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister with full powers to do the needful. Knowledgeable and independent economists have been appointed to the Central Bank. Politicians were not allowed to disrupt the program. Prime Minister Rao reached an agreement with fifteen political parties to form a “joint program to deal with the crisis”. This led to an immediate economic recovery in India. Foreign exchange reserves, which were limited to 15 days, were increased to 100 billion dollars in 2004.
“Today, their reserves are around 650 billion dollars. Despite the Covid pandemic, the Indian economy is growing rapidly. India is today a world economic power. China’s economy is also led by world-renowned economists. In the 1980s, leader Deng Xiaoping sent Jiang Zemin, who would later become president, to Sri Lanka to study the public-private partnership model established by President JR Jayewardene. During this trip, he only visited Sri Lanka and Singapore. I also had the opportunity to meet the Special Representative when he was then Chairman of this joint venture. Even though many Sri Lankans are unaware of these facts, China still remembers this past.
The National Social Justice Movement has also presented a proposal to the government and the people titled “A Common Minimum Program to Respond to the Current Crisis in Sri Lanka”. We hope that these issues will be brought to the attention of the country’s leaders and people. We urge the government not to act with narrow intentions, but rather to extend the hand of friendship to the people of the country. When 6.9 million citizens voted for the president, at least 6.2 million citizens did not approve of him. But he is now the head of state for all Sri Lankan citizens.