Let Not the Politicians Drag Down Sri Lanka’s Recovery

If the politicians would continue to insist that Gotabaya should go at any cost and they keep the focus on political issues and political bickering, these politicians would be solely held responsible for destabilising Sri Lanka at this critical time.

by N.S.Venkataraman 

While the economic crisis in Sri Lanka has drawn the attention of the entire world and several governments are concerned about the turn of events in  Sri Lanka, it is sad that politicians in Sri Lanka are discussing more about political issues rather than about economic issues.

The ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka can be sorted out in quick time only by finding technological and industrial/agro management solutions and not by political solutions.  Obviously, the fate of  Sri Lanka today depends on utilising the services of economists, technologists and industrial executives   who have the expertise and not by the antics of politicians.  The present situation demands that politicians should go silent at least until such time that Sri Lanka’s economy would be brought to a level of reasonable control.

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya has  handsomely won the 2019 Presidential polls  and he has the mandate of the people to remain as President of Sri Lanka for his prescribed term.   He has responded to the demand of the opposition parties to remove Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet ministers from their positions. He has also suggested  a national unity government   to have a coordinated action plan to save Sri Lanka’s economy.

Unfortunately, the opposition parties have rejected  his call for unity government and has been demanding Gotabaya’s resignation , as if this would solve Sri Lanka’s problems. The opposition parties do not seem to be concerned about the consequent constitutional crisis and instability  that would inevitably happen in case that Gotabaya would resign as President of Sri Lanka  at the present juncture.

Under the present circumstances, Gotabaya has taken the right decision to appoint   Ranil Wickremesinghe  as the Prime Minister. Obviously,  Wickremesinghe having served  as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister several times and with high level of exposure   to the governance  in Sri Lanka as well as in dealing with the overseas governments,  is the most appropriate choice to be appointed  as Prime Minister from the opposition parties. At the same time , credit should be given to Gotabaya for not nominating a person from his own party as the Prime Minister.

 Instead of understanding and appreciating the intensity of the crisis situation  and without keeping in view the overall need for political stability in Sri Lanka, the opposition parties have questioned the move to appoint Wickremesinghe as the Prime minister and such  move of the opposition parties will only contribute to further chaos .

What is needed today is that politicians in Sri Lanka should simply remain as observers and keep away from creating controversies or focussing on hate politics.  This is the biggest contribution that they can make in the interest of Sri Lanka.

Gotabaya and Wickremesinghe should urgently constitute a team of   economic, technological and industrial experts  to quickly work out action plans and implement them competently. Certainly, these experts,  unlike politicians , would not have self centred or prejudiced views and can be expected to  work solely on achieving the purpose  in time bound manner.

One may recall that when India faced somewhat similar economic crisis a few decades back, the then Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao brought an economic expert Dr. Manmohan Singh as finance minister  which obviously mean that Narasimha Rao  decided that any politician as finance minister cannot retrieve the situation. In the process, Narasimha Rao ,Manmohan Singh team brought the situation under control in quick time.

Experts say that the problems of Sri Lanka are not insurmountable. 

Sri Lanka has to significantly increase the export earnings by creating production centres  in multiple ways  that  do not call for huge investments from the government.  This can be done by strengthening  the services sector ,  which is possible in quick time. For example,  software expertise can be quickly built , just as India has done admirably.   Sri Lanka has  reasonable level of well qualified people both in Sri Lanka and abroad who can build such services sector in quick time. In the services sector, there are many alternate ways and options to make quick progress and experts know this.

Optimising the agricultural management to boost agri exports  is also a quick option.

Even in the case of fertilisers, whereas setting  a project for fertilisers like urea , di ammonium phosphate etc. are time consuming and capital intensive, there are other fertilisers like single super phosphate for which production plants can be quickly built.  Depending on import for all fertiliser needs is not a desirable option for Sri Lanka.

Till now, Sri Lanka has been heavily depending upon tourism income. Obviously , time has proved that tourism income is uncertain  and Sri Lanka should give up the obsession  that tourism income can be  the be all and end all of economic prosperity.

All that is urgently required in Sri Lanka today is that politicians should go silent and enable the experts in different domain to occupy the pivotal place and guide the country. 

If the politicians would continue to insist that Gotabaya should go at any cost and they keep the focus on political issues and political bickering, these politicians would be solely held responsible for destabilising Sri Lanka at this critical time.

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