SRI LANKA NEEDS LESS NUMBER OF POLITICIANS AND MORE NUMBER OF TECHNOLOGISTS – by N.S.Venkataraman
There are rumours that Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to take over the finance portfolio also, since no member of Sri Lankan parliament was willing to take up this challenge of managing the country’s finance. Instead of looking at the scenario in such negative manner, it would be appropriate to think that Prime Minister taking over the finance portfolio also is a progressive step , as the finance portfolio requires the maximum
attention at this stage.
While the Sri Lankan government is negotiating with IMF to get financial assistance , it appears that the decision of IMF is yet to be taken firmly. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan government approached the World Bank and it is said that the World Bank ruled out any new assistance to Sri Lanka , until an adequate macro economic policy framework would be in place. World Bank has said that it was working with IMF and other development partners to advise an appropriate policies to restore economic stability in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka government is losing time, as the shortages in fuel and other essentials are creating restive conditions amongst the people.
It is said that Sri Lanka has decided to seek fresh assistance of 500 million USD from India to augment it’s fuel imports. So far, it appears that only India has responded to Sri Lanka’s need with great sense of urgency and good will. But there is a limit to the capability of India to financially help Sri Lanka , since India is a developing country with a huge population.
Obviously, Sri Lanka government, instead of thinking that external loan and grant would be the only solution, has to look within and examine all possibilities to augment the country’s resources and earnings and develop a time bound contingency action plan on the economic front. However, it appears that such plans are yet to be evolved and announced to the people with clarity.
What Sri Lanka urgently needs is short term action plan as well as long term action plan.
There are some announcements such as about the plans to advertise plots for studies on oil exploration in the Mannar basin , privatisation of loss making national carrier Sri Lanka Airlines, printing more money to pay state sector employees etc. These steps will not happen anytime soon and do not create confidence that Sri Lanka government is capable of solving the economic issues . Printing more currency is not the elegant way of solving Sri Lanka’s economic woes at this stage.
There are several short term plans that can be quickly implemented. For example, Sri Lanka’s production of tea is estimated to be lower by around 18 to 20%. Sri Lanka caters to majority of global market to supply tea including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Russia and others. Tea production efficiency can be increased in quick time and Sri Lankan
can request for advance payment for the tea export from other countries by indulging in suitable negotiations . Similarly, Sri Lanka has several mineral deposits which are currently exported and this can be stepped up. There are so many other immediate opportunities and avenues, about which the government is not talking.
The problem today in Sri Lanka is that there is more talk about politics than about technology solutions. Politics in Sri Lanka is now becoming counter productive and many politicians seem to have prejudiced approach and do not seem to think that the national interest must precede personal interest. It is sad that even at this critical time , the politicians belonging to different parties in Sri Lanka have not come forward to offer unconditional support to Prime Minister in implementing the strategies to overcome the crisis.
The utterances and behaviour of so many politicians in Sri Lanka are so disgusting that international agencies like IMF and World Bank are suspicious about the political stability in Sri Lanka and do not get the confidence in the capability of politicians in Sri Lanka to stabilise the country’s economy and other growth oriented sector.
Now, the initiative and responsibility has to be with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister rather than the President Gotabayya, whose leadership qualities and capability have been questioned. The country expects more from the Prime Minister and the country wants the President to give free hand to the Prime Minister.
Given the ground realities in Sri Lanka, whatever decision that the Prime Minister would take and implement would be questioned by some politicians and political parties , may be without even examining the merits. The Prime Minister should take the people in to confidence and build a climate where people would have confidence in the
government and give time for the government to enable Sri Lanka to get out of the present messy situation.
Section of politicians in Sri Lanka may continue to whip up passion amongst innocent people and organise demonstrations and protests. It causes concern that even religious heads are interfering in the matter , without confining themselves to the matter concerning religion . There is, however, a silent majority in Sri Lanka, who would respond to positive governance.
The Prime Minister should talk more about technological solutions , industrial ventures and give greater prominence and importance to the views of experts in different fields rather than that of politicians.
Sri Lanka’s governance should be guided by technologists and engineers and economic experts and not by politicians at the present time This is possible only if the Prime Minister would recognise the talented people in Sri Lanka publicly and give them prominence and without losing further time in organising a taskforce of experts to guide the country at this critical time. So far, there is no indication that technologists and experts are heard in Sri Lanka adequately.