Omicron could hamper SL’s economic recovery – The Island


In the short term, all political parties in parliament are expected to bury their respective axes and agree to a political truce for the next two years. They could take the next step and agree to form a national government, or a national governance council, for two years. The theme of such a government or entity should be responsible governance, because the most important political activity at the moment is responsible governance.

By Raj Gonsalkorale

Sri Lanka’s dependence on export earnings, foreign remittances and tourism earnings for its survival has made it very seriously vulnerable to the effects of the latest COVID mutant, Omnicron. If it spreads and restrictions on international travel become widespread, foreign remittances and tourism revenues will suffer, and it could be a fatal blow to Sri Lanka which is already on the verge of bankruptcy.

The government appears to continue to show confidence that the country’s economic situation will be resolved. Increasingly, incompetence in governance, internal struggles within government, an apparent lack of leadership, are dashing the hopes of many who have placed their hopes on the president and the government. Government media strategists appear to be in a daze that they have failed to proactively capitalize on positive government activities. They have become a reactive and ineffective force.

The opposition, like a group of vultures, sniff out a political opportunity, thinking and hoping that they will soon have a carcass to feed on. Some other politicians continue to put their eloquence on all that is wrong, but never offer solutions as to how the wrongs can be righted. The TNA and some other Tamil political parties in the northeast symbolically act like the three monkeys (the deaf, the blind and the dumb) when it comes to national issues as they seem to give the impression that they do not are concerned only with the welfare of Tamils ​​in the North and East and not Tamils ​​elsewhere, not to mention Sinhalese and Muslims.

The situation in the country is reminiscent of the children’s story of Sybil Wettasinghe “Labugediye Thoilaya”. Sri Lankan politicians of all stripes seem to be inside the labu gediya, participating in a political ritual to ward off the evil forces that afflicted Mother Lanka, while the labu gediya was swallowed by a large fish as described in the story of Wettasinghe.

In contemporary Sri Lanka, the labu gediya could be the equivalent of Parliament, and the fish, of the country’s external debt which could very possibly and very soon engulf the entire country along with the politicians and, unfortunately, the people of the country as well. Some may not say so cynically that parliamentarians will not fail if they are swallowed up like this!

The naivety of the opposition is only replaced by the reported dependence on staff similar to the devil dancers in the Labugediye Thoilaya by the powers that be, trying to ward off the evil that has plagued them and the country.

For the sake of the country and future generations, one can only hope that this collective nonsense stops and that immediate corrective action is taken to keep the country afloat until the global economic situation shows positive signs of a sustainable recovery.

Urgent need for a political truce

In the short term, all political parties in parliament are expected to bury their respective axes and agree to a political truce for the next two years. They could take the next step and agree to form a national government, or a national governance council, for two years. The theme of such a government or entity should be responsible governance, because the most important political activity at the moment is responsible governance.

What should be the key tasks of a national political consensus on responsible governance? There is a lot of. However, three key areas are mentioned here.

A stable economy
management structure

For the present and foreseeable future, Sri Lanka is unlikely to be able to earn enough foreign exchange to support itself, unless full foreign debt repayments are delayed by at least two years. by mutual agreement with the lending entities. Considering that 45% of foreign debt is in the form of international sovereign bonds maturing in the short term, this is going to be a difficult task. However, mechanisms will have to be found to achieve this.

One possibility would be to seek IMF assistance to take over the short-term external debt component with a long-term, low-interest repayment arrangement. This alone may not be enough, and IMF assistance may also be needed to increase foreign exchange requirements for the import of oil, food, and medicine.

The IMF’s conditions for such support will be strict, but Sri Lanka is slowly but surely heading for disaster and may have no choice but to agree to such measures.

This is where a political truce becomes critical. All governments in Sri Lanka have contributed to the perilous situation the country finds itself in, and today the opposition cannot afford to trumpet and say they can do better as she contributed enormously to the perilous state of the country with her incompetence for four and a half years, before the advent of the current government.

So the problem is a creation of all previous governments and therefore the solution must also be worked out by all political parties that were part of a previous government.

A political consensus achieved through a two-year truce is expected to engage in some high-level priority policy frameworks on economic management, foreign policy, defense, food security, energy, environment and education . These key areas should not be treated like political balloons as they have been for 73 years, endangering the hopes of future generations.

Measures to fight corruption

Second, there should be a consensus on measures aimed at combating corruption, which is the scourge of the country’s society and which has a direct impact on the much sought-after foreign investments. The instability of the Sri Lankan Rupee with an official rate for one US dollar being 203 Rs as the black market converts it to around 240 Rs, and the actual value of the US dollar believed to be above 300 Rs, show the volatility and instability of the Sri Lankan Rupee and why many potential investors do not invest in Sri Lanka. On top of that, it is well known that corruption adds another tax to any potential investor, and the alleged range of this tax would be between 10% and 50% of a project’s value.

Corruption has become endemic in the country and stemming it is in the hands of politicians as they are the ones responsible for introducing it and spreading it to new heights. They must enact new laws if what exists is not enough, but very important, they must leave the judicial system and the law enforcement system to perform their duties and responsibilities WITHOUT interference. A strong anti-corruption body with strong teeth, including judiciary powers, is needed to instill fear among potential bribe buyers that they and their families could be called upon to pay for the crimes committed and languish in prison even for the rest of their lives depending on the seriousness of the crime. Everyone from the President to the bottom must be subject to anti-corruption laws and punishable regardless of whether they are in office or not.

Legal framework for media operations

Third, certain steps should be taken through such a political consensus to determine how politicians and the public should act to facilitate responsible governance through the media. Consensus on a legal framework for the functioning of media including, very importantly, social media is needed.

Social media, in particular, has become the repository and facilitator of real news as well as fake news. Some information circulating through social media platforms is highly irresponsible and detrimental to the very society in which these platforms allow information to proliferate.

While the intention should never be a restriction on media freedom, responsible governance should essentially be seen as a two-way process where those who govern and those who are governed should take equal responsibility for what they do. say and do. Many steps could be taken to introduce a framework for all media operations without infringing on media freedom.

In this regard, Danushka Medawatte in an article entitled Wild ass freedom (https://danumedawatte.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/freedom-of-the-wild-ass/)

states the quote “The law is an ass,” says Charles Dickens. This certainly appears to be true in light of the freedom enjoyed by the media thanks to the protections afforded both by national legal systems and by international law. While I reap the benefits of free speech by making these claims, it should be emphasized that some freedoms must be curtailed and / or revised for other rights to exist. At present, it is possible to observe that some journalists exercise their freedom of expression in a manner detrimental to society. It is questionable whether such practices should be continued in the light of several recent circumstances. While freedom of speech is, without a doubt, one of the most important rights that perhaps functions as a premise for other rights, it is important to establish the framework within which one can kick fist without hitting another’s nose.

Medawatte sums up the point of view of all fair citizens on democracy and media freedom.

In essence, media freedom must come with accountability, because the irresponsible flow of uncontrolled, unverified, inaccurate and harmful information is not a hallmark of accountability. As politicians are tasked with reviewing and enacting laws, political consensus becomes essential to ensure that any law on media operations, including social media, has general support and does not become political football in the dark. kicked by political parties.

Major social media platforms are under scrutiny around the world, and the good faith of some companies is called into question as they have given the impression that revenue and revenue growth is what matters to them, not the means. that they provide for the good, the bad and the ugly, to spread information and disinformation, with noble intentions as well as despicable intentions. Irresponsible information proliferators, using social media, must ask themselves whether they are doing a service or a disservice to society and the country in which they live.


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