By Ranjit Fernando
This week International Monetary Fund (IMF), downgraded Sri Lanka’s economic growth in 2019 by 0.8% to 2.7% in its October update in comparison to forecast made in April. The downgrade comes midst IMF adopting a similar move for global growth. The growth forecast for Sri Lanka is the lowest in the region after Afghanistan.
One of the worst economic performance of the Central Bank. The Central Bank led by the Governor Kumarswamy has only helped our economy to contract in the last 4 years. The policy interventions by the bureaucracy in the Central Bank has helped to make the government very unpopular and virtually made them unelectable. The government economic leadership team led by Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mangala Samaraweera, Malik Samarawickrama, Eran Wickremesinghe and Dr Harsha de Silva have failed to get the economy going or get the bureaucracy to be pro business. They were not in anyway hospitable to private investments. People out of their depth were appointed. State Assets were unnecessarily targeted for sale.
FTAs were negotiated by Minister Samarawickrama without any consultation with professional bodies. Friends were appointed to key positions not on merit, but on school connections. This country is starved of Dollars, the FDI effort has been a disaster. Almost every country in the region has attracted more FDI than Sri Lanka. In addition, Minister Samarawickrama’s has been marred with controversy. The Stock Market was killed by the government, this was once again due to the lack of political leadership by the government economic team. The Central Bank only made matters even worse. Only 300 million was released in a 4 year period by the EPF , that too was late in the day. The other issue is National security. The President totally let down the government. His stupid leadership finished off the economy, the tourism sector and the Government. The introduction of General Fonseka has helped to address the security issue.
Fortunately, for Sajith Premadasa he is not tainted with any of these miserable people. He has worked independently and created a name for himself. He has so far fared well given the situation the government currently is? He is fortunately facing a candidate like Gotabaya Rajapakse who himself is not sure if he is an American or Sri Lankan citizen? A man who is marred with excesses and murder charges. A family that rocked the country for 10 years and became super rich. Sri Lanka has a future.
This future must not be wasted away by despots who pretend to be patriots. Sajith Premadasa owes to the people of Sri Lanka to put together a strong campaign. This campaign must be led by credible and a fresh team. No doubt experience is required to manage a complex country like Sri Lanka. Those people must be brought into manage the country if he wants to win. Meanwhile if Sajith Premadasa is to win he must pledge to;
weed out the corrupt ministers who are surrounding him and be clear about his economic recovery plan and what he will sell and keep.
If the undecided people are to support Sajith Premadasa he will have to convince them that he is genuinely looking to change the way the government is currently run.