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“Before you study the economics, study the economists!”
Steel is Rice & Rice is Steel
e-Con e-News 29 March – 04 April 2020
“There are decades where nothing happens & weeks where decades happen…”
(Guess who gave us this perfect epigram for these times? – see ee Quotes )
The New Year approaches, the sun is directly overhead, and the rains have come. What better time for everyone to truly share? State production, distribution & rationing must be implemented now under the armed forces! The forces must be guided by cultivators & worker – and not by profit- & rent-seeking businesses – to avoid social mayhem. In South Africa headlines blare about widespread looting, yet this only follows on the failure to end ongoing white plunder after 31 years of ‘freedom’!
Capitalists in white countries recognize that their policies of the last 40 years are a dead failure! But not here! Local capitalists here are already indicating (through their English media) they will sabotage any attempt to set up a modern self-reliant industrial economy.
ee’s cry remains: Modern industrialization! Nascent industries, built with great sacrifice throughout the 20thC, were dismantled. Remember: colonial invasions, where the main villages first targeted and attacked were those where steel was made, and tools & weapons forged! (see, The Pride of the Nation – 20th Century Industrialization in Sri Lanka – eesrilanka.wordpress.com/2019/08/24)
• ee has detailed before what was enacted under the English in Ceylon, during their WW2 (see, Iron Curtain, eesrilanka.wordpress.com/2020/02/15), and what the US Defense Production Act, recently re-enacted to protect their economy (see, Viral Wars, eesrilanka.wordpress.com/2020/03/2)
• The most-forbidden news is exposing the monopoly media, controlled by multinationals like Unilever & Ceylon Tobacco Co (BAT) who fund & dominate media via advertising and other means. Scarily, they also still dominate import, export & distribution networks, so crucial at this hour. Even worse, they rob the home market, so crucial for setting up local industry, with imported goods parading as ‘local brands’.
The state must protect cultivators & workers, not bail out corporations again – this is absolutely vital now. As popular memes extol, it’s not multimillion-dollar celebrities who are most valuable, but ordinary health workers! Common sense, let alone the revolution (as the song goes) will not be televised.
• As ee readers have recommended, this ee’s Random Notes offers a summary discussion of the ee News compiled from what dominated this week’s media (meaning economics, not the bulky vapid entertainment & advertisement sections!)
A1. Random Notes –
• Expose Media & Advertisers • Fake Promises by Banks & Corporations • Unending Debt Game • Tie Loans to Investing in Industry • Steel is Rice & Rice is Steel • Why Food Costs are High • Advocata wants Workers to Pay • US Issues Visas to local Health Workers? • S Africa Looting Follows White Looting • The Real Debtors • Clinton & Elephants • War Pardons • Multireligiosity • US & Local White Media Blame China • The Diaspora Game • Merchant Terror • War is a Crime • Chiefly Justice • Ireland Nationalizes Health But • US Battleship Corona • Gun-sellers Essential • Biowarfare on Korea • The Spirit of Senaka Bibile • English Justice • US Tech & Terror Hearings • Fake Industrialization • Cabral, Casino & EPF • Economists & Meltdowns • Advocata’s Crocodile Tears • White Marxists? • Only Oil & Pharma Imports allowed • Relaxing Exchange Controls for What? • CBSL Brains • Mangala’s Scrutiny • Stimulate What? • Lebanon Defaults • G20 Interference? • IMF wants to suspend not retire debt • Screwing FTZ Workers • ILO 25mn Unemployed • Hi-tech Amazon’s Lowlife • Covid Kills Nursing homes 1st • What Happened to Yester Profits • TeenVogue Socialists • Home Gardens & the Spirit of Sirimavo • Prima Monopoly • Advocata Wants More Imports • Cybernetics • Nationalize Banks • Flush Fitch • Monks & Elections • White Media & China
A2. Reader Comments –
• Time to Industrialize • Talking Big about Data • Capital Controls Needed • ee Illusions • Tourists Profits: Where did they go? • Big Data & Planning • Neoliberalism Done!
A3. Quotes of the Week –
• Distribution a Problem • Machinery Imports Increase • Lenin on Relative Time • Investment Group Forecasts communism • Millions Jobless • Transform the Banks! • End of Gold
B. ee Focus
B1. “When England sneezes…” – Vinod Moonesinghe
B2. FTZ Success Stories Exposed – Harini Amarasuriya
B3. SL’s trade deficit widens in Jan 2020 as exports decline, imports rise
B4. 12 different tasks
B5. Rs5,000 allowance for low-income families
C. News Index
D. History –
• Rice Trade: Burma, Lanka & India
A1. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_
Summary of ee Sovereignty News:
• This ee lists the official numbers of workers & types of sectors affected by the crisis (see ee Focus)
• “Standard Chartered Bank commits… Akbar Brothers pledges… Hayleys donates…”
Gaining headlines for supposed philanthropy, while demanding bailouts: banks & businesses that keep underdeveloping the country should come clean and cough up the billions in profits they have secreted away in foreign banks.
Then there’s the unending debt payment game. Those who skimmed off earlier loans through commissions, etc, must pay it back, otherwise properties should be confiscated, & they must be jailed.
Any future loans must be tied towards investment in local modern production and not consumption of imports. This would be the only atonement for the destruction the IMF/WB have wrought in public services, through privatization, deregulation. Instead, their ventriloquist dummies are still crying to buy up the remaining govt services and want no controls on their rapaciousness!
• Beware of fake claims to ‘industrialization’. Modern production is NOT handicraft, assembly or labor-intensive manufacture, but involves local supply & building of machines & biotech (chemistries) etc. This requires capital investment.
If we have to import machines, etc, then there must be ‘content’ regulation, meaning a certain percentage of the parts must be made here, with a time limit for when we will eventually build the whole machines…
In the case of weapons contracts among industrialized nations, the sale is often accompanied by juicy inducements known as “industrial offsets”, involving the vendor country promising to purchase goods from the vendee country, or to provide production contracts for part of the weapon system, or technology transfer & licensed production – eg, India has signed 54 defence contracts, for which industrial offsets will account for US$11bn.
This system could perhaps be adopted here in terms of non-military, as well as military hardware imports. Only those countries agreeing to such national priorities may be considered friends.
• Economist & foreign-funded NGOS like Advocata, Verite, Pathfinder, etc, trumpeted by local media choirs, have long promoted destroying not just national health policies but also local industry & agriculture, demanding we turn arable land into real-estate.
Yet a Daily Mirror editorial, in a fit of common sense, noted: “Until 2 weeks ago, for nearly 4 decades or so, political leaders happily imported rice citing the high cost of production here. Farmers were neglected & 100,000s of paddy lands abandoned due to poor patronage by consecutive regimes.
Despite this pathetic state of affairs, some 100,000s of determined farmers toiled on. Thanks to them today, though the country is locked down, still there is enough rice for a few more months. It is anybody’s guess as to what would have happened, had the remaining farmers too given up agriculture. With no ships coming, Lanka would have been forced to starve!
It is high time the rulers realize their mandatory duty towards farmers. There is no other option left for us, but to be self-sufficient and if possible, make SL the ‘Granary of the East’ once again”
• But it’s a limited common sense, the Mirror exhibits. In fact, the import of rice, especially accelerated with the English destruction of the irrigation system during its genocidal wars here, with the English expropriation of farmers’ common & forest land, and with the imposition of the slave plantation system in the 1840s. (see ee History)
The Mirror editorial crucially also does not ask: Why is the cost of agricultural production high? Is it due to the high cost of labor? Why is the cost of labor high? Is it due to the cost of food? Why is the cost of food high? We can keep going around in circles with these questions.
One reason has to do with the enigma of having both a surplus & a scarcity of workers at the same time. Why is this? It has to do with the particular cycle of rice production, due to the sporadicity or the uneven application of rural work. How have other countries dealt with this issue of large numbers of workers having no work during certain periods of production?
They have based modern industrial production in the countryside, utilizing the gaps in rice production. In fact, the making of parts was designed to fit into the rhythms of the agricultural cycle. This, accompanied by land reform, which ensured farmers a minimum economic holding of land, enabled a boost in labor productivity, which kept prices low.
Another significant target of colonial invasions was the irrigation systems. So what happened to the JVP’s 1,000 Vaeva program to revive the ancient waterways? Irrigation tecghniques and the solidarity needed to build and maintain the great & multitudinous reservoirs & channels was at the very basis of those feats (see ee History).
• Why does the WB seem so eager to sleep with the government & seduce them to torpor. They wish us to go back to the old supine import-export economy that left us almost defenceless. Why is the IMF so solicitous and still giving advice? And the ADB also, so eager to help? After helping to almost destroy public health systems, why are we even talking to these criminal fronts of the US Treasury? Is it because they wish once again to prevent us taking steps towards a truly national industrial policy?
They will as usual demand we privatize & sell off national assets, and call for the ‘independence’ of the Central Bank from public & parliamentary oversight, as they were demanding as recently as Jan. (see: Policy-oriented Banking for Industrial Development, eesrilanka.wordpress.com/2019/10/05)
We must start a movement to not just retire (default?) all debt, but also sue the IMF-WB for imposing policies that left us open to contagion & ignorance thru destroying public health & education (about a producer culture, which our celebrated intellectuals know little of). E’nuf is e’nuf!
• IPS, & US-funded thinktanks like Advocata & Verite, who promoted the disembowelling of the state, and public health, exactly as the IMF & WB orders, are still offering fake prescriptions? They’re tentatively poking their heads out of their US-bankrolled orifices, demanding the private sector keep importing medicines & equipment.
• US-funded NGO Advocata signals that it is workers who will have to pay by working longer hours and for less pay! Corporations are publicly promising millions to fight the virus. The same companies who promoted policies to destroy public health programs. The same fatcats the government is being forced to bail out. (see ee Economy, ee Business, ee Workers)
• Beneath the struggle to protect people & find a cure for Corvid, battles rage about how to profit from it, and who’s responsible. In the end it depends on a knowledge of history of who has used such weapons often, & one’s worldview.
• Why is the US promising aid to fight the virus, when they seem unable to care for their own citizens, At the same time they’re asking Lankan health workers to apply for visas? What happened to their wall? Please build it higher than an metre high, so Corona cannot jump back out! Meanwhile, Mexican workers in US companies in Mexico are manufacturing health products for the US, yet those companies are refusing to share their goods in Mexico! Where’s Pancho Villa & Zapata?
• Suspend debt? No, retire it! Or tell us who profited from those debts most? How long can we keep paying interest on interest? What kinda sovereignty is based on such usury?
People suddenly got excited talking about debt while knowing nothing about the IMF-WB holding SL’s economy hostage, for the last 43-72 years at least. Some even claim we became dependent on loans & imports because of China! They also conveniently ignore our ancient relationship with China.
• Why is the Rockefeller’s Clinton Foundation so interested in resolving human-elephant conflict? Which elephants are they trying to save? Two-legged green ones? What happened to the Clinton F’s wish for National Unity & Reconciliation? In South Africa, reconciliation has meant the Black majority getting used to the deadly crumbs of white minority rule. Reconciliation’s not even mentioned in Israeli-occupied Palestine who’s long suffered under a pre-Corvid quarantine. Canada has long dumped Truth & Reconciliation, for like Australia, it is a genocidal settler state built on a mine.
• The US govt, another settler state, who just pardoned a US soldier who killed civilians, and stripped prosecutors who had charged him, is upset about the pardon of a SL soldier? Who was responsible for these wars fought on our soil? The village youth who filled the ranks of both sides, and had to sacrifice their lives & limbs for Colombots? What of those who profited from continuing those wars rather than resolving the underlying roots of our discontent? Which companies profited by keeping those wars going & weakening workers endlessly?
• There’s a lot of talk about multireligiosity & people treating religions equally. But religions don’t treat religions equally. The basis of their existence is their singular preciousness of chosen people and promised holy lands that are not here. But ee sees all people as chosen, all our land as holy! Also, can religions based on deserts with no groundwater visible, decide how people in monsoonal lands should live? Buddhism here is not beholden to Lumbini. ee insists all gods, whether in Jerusalem, Rome, Canterbury, Mecca, Delhi, Kansas or Orange County USA, be approached via the Kotte parliament. Most of these religious fractions are led by money sects. And as long as we have a merchant-dominated economy, they will reign under various robes!
• The US government & allies are using Covid19 to both justify capitalism & blame China? The so-called liberal press here, which claims to abhor racism, has no problems in attacking Chinese people. Various NGOs – notably the WION media outlet, owned by lunatic fringe rightwing billionaire BJP MP Subash Chandra Goenka – circulate videos & social media memes either attacking China directly (often accused of attempting world-domination by deploying Covid), hint at China’s culpability, or simple contain subtle reminders that the SARS-COV-2 virus is “made in China”.
Meanwhile East Asians are being attacked on streets in white countries. Many Asians think they are better than Black people, who – more than any other, except the original Americans – know the white man better than the white man himself. Yet note how Trump now positions some Black man & white women behind him at every press conference. He also must play the liberal game of claiming how ‘inclusive’ they are. US imperialism believes they have successfully neutered those movements by raising a genetically modified pliant Black petit-bourgeoisie, which was their goal from the 1960s.
In ee Security news this week:
• The usual funded crews are attacking the govt for using the virus to install dictatorship. On the other hand, those who have vowed to undermine the Lankan state are unrelenting and also heightening their activities? Again, ee declares, only the armed forces directed by workers & cultivators, can resolve the crisis.
• ee recalls when Canada promoted Sikh separatism & Khalistan, standing by while progressive Punjabis in Canada & England were attacked. Yet after signing business deals in India gaining market access, the Canadian govt shut down the Khalistani diaspora, or rather sent them into hibernation. ‘Diasporas’, whether refugees or minorities, simply have no power.
Now many such Khalistanis have re-emerged as strong backers of the white-settler states, appointed there as token ministers & leaders. Many of the strongest supporters of rightist govts belong to fragments of Indian merchant cliques, Ismailis, etc, expelled from Africa, etc. The Khalistani movement itself was bankrolled by Punjabi Kulaks enriched by the chemical-infested ‘Green Revolution’. Separatist movements were coterminous with the privatization & state deregulation.
• The most dangerous terrorist threat comes from the merchant/usurer class who adore profits over nation. Why is the government depending on these merchants like Uber who even in pre-Corona times were treating their employees dangerously? The warlords & their merchants across the country will undermine any act that promotes safety and diminishes their power.
Former govt servant Garvin Karunaratne, in a public letter to the President (see ee last week), suggested the re-establishment of the Marketing Dept (privatized long ago), in order to ensure the collection and distribution of agricultural products at reasonable prices for both producers & consumers. The visible, disastrous privatization of public transport was accompanied by the subtle & not-so-visible privatization of goods transport. Ubiquitous state & co-op lorries & vans have been replaced almost completely by private ones. The result of the absence of state marketing & transport bodies is seen in the large markups for dry rations, vegetables & fish being delivered to homes by pirate ‘entrepreneurs’.
• Analysts like Dayan Jayatilaka talk of war crimes, but war is a crime. Again, who was truly responsible for the wars waged on generations in SL? What of arms merchants & their corporations? What of those countries that encouraged such conflicts and then imposed fissiparous amendments.
• A former Chief justice flays the judicial system, selectively divulging the extrajudicial prudence behind their verdicts. How are judges judged? Their duty, like the education business, reproduces an unequal system.
• Ireland has nationalized its hospitals, but only for the duration? So after saving people, they will hand the public health system back to the capitalists who brought us all to this pass. Can we go back to that fraud, that was considered ‘normal’?
• Biowarfare was used extensively in Korea. Why doesn’t the US etc come clean as to how they deploy such weapons? The late Prof Stephen Endicott wrote a definitive book on the US use & coverup of biological warfare during the Korean War against the Korean & Chinese people 1950-53: “You may rest assured that I stand by every word of The US & Biological Warfare: Secrets of the Early Cold War & Korea.” – telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Expert-Exposes-US-Biological-Warfare-During-Korean-War-20171005-0006.html
US warships have contracted the virus, and the captain who called out for help has been demoted. Here are countries who demand loyalty at any cost. Are they models to emulate?
Gun sellers have been declared as essential in the USA. ee’s not laughing. But these countries are also offering us advice on peace and good governance!
• You can hardly hear a pill drop! Why are multinational pharmaceutical companies so quiet? Should medical imports not be nationalized now? – as the late great Senaka Bible tried to do, paying with his life. Why is the US signing vaccine contracts with MNCs, and what is the link between Bill Gates, the pharmaceutical companies & the WHO? Let’s see if we can come out of this crisis immune to MNCs?
• The trial of a Scottish leader shows how the English state bring politicians to heel! Politicians are usually held hostage by being allowed to rob & abuse women & men, and thereby kept on a leash. That’s what parliamentary ‘whips’ are for. As enforcers, they store all the dirt, and expose them when needed, and when such dirt is unavailable, they make it up, with a pliant media.
• Listen to the recent US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime & Terrorism trying to prevent use of Chinese technology in the US, saying their social-media platforms will be used to spy. So why then are we allowing Facebook, Google, etc to dominate bandwidth? Should we also replace them fast?
This hearing recalls earlier events that sparked the 20thC arms race. On Nov 25, 1957, US-Senator Lyndon Johnson began hearings, “Inquiry into Satellite & Missile Programs,” in which over 60 ‘experts’ testified on US war readiness & implications of the Soviets’ recent launchings of Sputniks.
Johnson used these hearings to mount pressure on the Republican administration, implying weakness in the face of the Soviet threat symbolized by its successful satellite program. US Military Spending exploded under the Democratic Party Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
• ee Economists:
ee’s ceaseless motif is to promote industrialization. Of course, now token efforts are being publicized by famous merchant fractions like Hemas, etc. They’re promising to make ventilators & even robots. Some tell ee to calm down, that such small steps are important. But many older ee contributors have lived through many false starts & pseudo-claims. ee states clearly again: Handicrafts, assembly & manufacture are primitive pre-industrial industry. We require a holistic political, economic & military industrial policy, for there are organized powerful parties, merchant lobbies & warlords who will sabotage any such moves. Before robots and fast cars – please start with making a simple pin first, and requisite supply chains! One thing will then lead to another!
• Does Nivard Cabral wish to play the casino with cash from workers’ EPF? It may be a desperate move after running out of all available monetary & fiscal tools. Many parties are against it. But with the current ‘balance of forces’, who knows how it will play out? Anti-worker policies eventually end up undermining everybody except the capitalists, and them too in the long run. Note that Foreign Relations & Skills Development, Employment & Labor Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has denied any attempt to utilize EPF funds in such a manner (see video).
• Our economists are hard at work, ignoring the need for industrialization: Hema Senanayake blames the debt-based monetary system, and calls for retiring the debt. K David, a notorious chauvinist parading as a Marxist, blames the 2008 cure. Abeyratne is waiting for the virus to pass & globalization to return. Media toyboy WA Wijewardena (who Wijeya Group’s Financial Times loves for his long sermons about how everybody must love each other, including merchants & usurers) repeats the chorus of ‘pay the debt’, and notes the rupees fall is not new. But debt is no problem if there’s a solid economy.
Anyway, ee thinks we should get the mint to forge a quadrillion or zillion rupee coin to deposit in the Central Bank. We must then demand that all moneys borrowed go towards investment in modern industry, paying cultivators & workers well to work hard. This does not mean giving cash to workers & cultivators to just hand it over to retail thieves & private banks. Their funds should go towards co-ops & credit unions, who will buy wholesale, making sure everyone’s needs are met, while investing in the rural home market to make the products & the machines needed to make them.
• Advocata – whose toyboy with the fancy title ‘Chief Operating Officer’ has been rudely called a teenie front for Razeen Sally et al – signals the wish lists of the capitalists post-Corona. They want more working hours, paycuts & unemployment. They’re now shedding crocodile tears for the poor daily worker. But it is they who encourage ‘flexibility’ and the removal of labor laws, damning workers to insecure precarious work.
• Western Marxists are recalling the attack on planning from the 1920s, against the USSR model. Some recall, Marx compared capitalism to a virus, a vampire sucking the lifeblood from the worker and the soil. But the discussion on planning is no longer whether there should be planning at all, but how to best go about it. (see ee Comments)
Imports except oil & medicine are being put on hold. Well, not all, we’re now told. Monster Pharma & Rockefeller’s Caltex-Chevron are still safe. Drilling the Mannar Basin is not to be mentioned.
Recall the spirit of Senaka Bibile, who paid with his life, for drafting the National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP), with the Akuressa leader of SL’s Communist Party, SA Wickremasinghe.
• Why is SL relaxing exchange controls, wanting expats abroad to invest. Good! But what will they do with it? Invest in what? Bail out capitalists again? Who refuse to invest in a proper economy? Oh dear!
• The president is consulting the CB’s top brains. But where have these brains been? The CBSL has always opposed the independence of the country. (see – eesrilanka.wordpress.com/2019/12/21)
• Everybody is asking for a loan, the capitalists particularly.
• Ex-Fin-Min Mangala wants parliament to scrutinize the budget. Why did they ignore the bond robbery? And under him, they wanted the Central Bank ‘independent’.
• Stimulus is the name of the game, but stimulate what?
• Lebanon has defaulted. Can it escape the IMF-WB’s panaceas? Some Lebanese legislators want to pay it off in hashish…
• The G20 does not want “unnecessary interference” on exports. Yet downright interference in our economies is their middle name.
• The IMF/WB wants only to ‘suspend debt! And suck our blood later. How generous is that! What did these loans pay for but for foreign goods, machines & experts!
• The private sector from plantations to supermarkets has waged a war on workers for decades, destroying unions, forcing workers to live in cramped quarters (ee knows of landlords renting to Keells workers at Rs50,000 a room for 4 to share!), and working long hours (supermarkets squeeze workers for 15-hour shifts!). They are now at one end promising large donations (where will those end up?) and at the other, asking the state for bailouts and to pay their workers’ wages! (see ee Focus, B2)
• The ghost of JR in a Times cartoon tells the worker to look after himself, and summarizes the laissez-faire sermons of the last 100 years…
• The Employers’ Federation, ironically the first trade union registered in Lanka, is still telling employers to comply with curfews. Wonder why? And wonder why the minister has to plead with the FTZ companies to pay salaries? What happened to labor laws? The FTZ is asking the govt for more assistance, but what will they do with that money, invest in what? Capitalism & colonial independence has bestowed upon us: an insecure workforce.
• ILO says 25 million will become unemployed. Others claim even more.
• Why Covid kills the elderly in nursing homes first…
• All these so-called moderns, Amazon etc, mistreating workers in the most primitive ways…
• Again, governments have to pay private employees.. But where are the profits of yesteryear? Capitalists should have to hand their profits over. (see ee Focus, B2)
• Why is TeenVogue talking so ‘Left’ these days? They’re even offering a guide to general strikes? Yet, read it to get some selective history.
• Suddenly everyone is talking home gardens, as the spirit of pre-’75 Sirimavo also rises along with that of the destroyer JR. Remember when the Colombots complained about eating Kurakkan flour, during the worldwide food crisis? But when the whites began calling Kurakkan aka Finger Millet, such names as ‘organic’, natural, etc, oh my goodness, how prices shot up & the Colombots loved it!
• Meanwhile, Prima is promising to help out, but how did they get their monopoly? and how they tried to displace rice in our diets, and to a certain extent have, is a fascinating tale in itself.
• A lot of people are suddenly ’making’ various devices, ventilators, even robots, etc… Talented we are, there is no doubt, but genuine industrial policy requires a political, economic & military will & strategy to defeat the merchants who have undermined such policies for 72 years. Meanwhile, the ex-PM Ranil & Advocata are demanding that private sector keep importing!
• ee carries some links to how the socialist countries attempted to harness cybernetics to create a national economic plan, with links to Chile’s attempts that prefigured what is now called, Big Data.
• The state must nationalize these private banks & finance companies that are sucking people’s blood! Isn’t it a scandal how private banks make a good proportion of their money from pawning? If bank employees are to be helped then the govt has to demand that banks comply with labor laws and as importantly, national goals. to invest in industrialization.
• Meanwhile Fitch is still offering their pseudo-forensic indices, warning of recession. Well, recession is usually a ploy by big capitalists to end the orgy they’ve let smaller players indulge in, by enticing them to play stock markets & increase their greed. The game is over again. Time to flush Fitch!
• Why is the media headlining donations from banks, exporters, hotels, etc, when these very companies are demanding bailouts?
• The liberal media is always against monks contesting in elections, but religious leaders have also been involved in politics. Buddhist monks always led the major resistance against colonial rule. The first President of Sri Lanka’s Communist Party was a Buddhist monk. England too, priests are famous for leading resistance to tyrants from Wyclif & John Ball, to Thomas More (who Eleanor Marx called the first English communist) and Thomas Becket, even as there were those priests who also justified colonial invasion (most of the popes & archbishops of Canterbury) as well as those who stole land in Sri Lanka, owning plantations, and also profiting from the opium trade to China.
1840: Opium dealer William Jardine met with English Lord Palmerston, with a letter of introduction written by Superintendent Charles Elliot, and petition signed by hundreds of English businessmen, giving him a plan aka Jardine Paper to wage war on China. • William Jardine defended his role as leading opium merchant, stating that both houses of Parliament “with all the bench of bishops at their back” saw it is uneconomical to abolish the trade.
Brazilian Archbishop said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” Nicaragua’s Sandinista Minister of Culture, was asked by the New York Times why he became a Marxist, he replied, “I read the gospels!”
• ee Media:
The English media – particularly the Anglomaniacal Wijeya Group, but not only, seem to have been paid by the US embassy to parrot their line and make scurrilous attacks on China & Chinese, suggesting they’re waging biowarfare on the world. Articles by such nefarious NGOs as the Freedom group, to hack Indian commentators promoted by purportedly pro-govt newspapers like Sunday Morning, also mimic the same line.
A2. Reader Comments
• “Hope SL makes the most of this crisis. We may not get another chance like this to industrialize.”
• The honchos at Cargills & Keells talk big about AI, big data, but can’t sort out basic food delivery better than the paanchun man.”
• “The govt should put capital controls and regulate Uber out of the market. Migrate the drivers to PickMe &…scale them up and buy stakes.”
• “Is ee under the illusion that SL can go from underdevelopment to a state-controlled command economy overnight? How is your position different from JVP in 1971? Do you wish the state to overstretch itself and collapse out of some adventurist ideal? An underdeveloped state cannot do everything. It has to build its strength slowly. It took China 70 years!”
• ee responds: ee is not asking the JVP, but asking the state. The private sector is far far more rotten than the state structure. In fact, they’ll undermine any progressive move if their quick profits are threatened.
• “Where did this tourism sector invest its profits all these years? They want to be bailed out by the govt each time such incidents happen to disrupt their business! Why can’t they afford to stand on their own feet for a change? If the govt ends up bailing them out or giving concessions, how on earth can they afford to run the economy or address more pressing needs of a country? What’s the point when there probably won’t be any tourists coming down here or traveling elsewhere for the foreseeable future. ee is right to point out the tourism industry is only a service provider and adds no longterm value to society or the environment. Just for a few to get rich quick, selling off people & the environment.
• “I hope Covid jumpstarts some good discussion and action on industrialization, breaking the bankrupt shackles of neoliberal debt & dependency. From a planning perspective, I’m especially curious about Chilean President Allende’s app – his Cybersyn project and its applications. Any more information on that or related socialist planning methods? Recall that Hayek’s main argument against planning (the most sophisticated version of neoliberal ‘free market’ ideology) was an epistemological one: ie, the ‘spontaneous order’ of the free market cannot be modelled by any mind or computer, and any attempt to institute social policy by doing so leads inexorably to totalitarian tyranny. But recent developments concerning big data seem to fly in the face of Hayek – although from the wrong side (Google etc, including their urban planning projects).
It’s important therefore to revisit, recover & revolutionize the idea of planning in the age of data & apps from a socialist standpoint. This cannot be done merely by repeating old formulas of state socialism – as if all the problems have already been solved in China or somewhere else, and without self-critique of certain problems of ‘actually existing socialism’s – but by thinking on our feet with the help of roads taken and not taken – or indeed bombed out, as in Allende’s case.”
• “Neoliberalism, which had persisted undead after the 2008 credit crunch, is finished. War economy, of which the current emergency era of global capitalism is an unusual variant, has always been the nemesis of neoliberalism because, as the political economist Otto Neurath demonstrated, war proves it is possible to abolish the price system. The calculus of ‘in-kind’ prevails over pricing, allowing even incommensurable goods, such as butter & guns to be traded. The economy becomes, not a spontaneous order, but a human organism that requires management & care. It was as a result of being caught in the crosshairs of that problem that Ludwig von Mises developed the first precepts of neoliberalism. Thence the framing of the ‘socialist calculation debate’.” – salvage.zone/articles/the-mask-of-the-red-death-dispatch-one-from-a-changing-world
A3. Quotes of the Week
• “Steel is the rice of industry” – Japanese proverb
• “The network that manufactures & transports essential items also contribute to the problem.” – (see ee Security, GMOA)
• “Expenditure on investment goods imports increased in Jan 2020 due to higher imports of machinery and equipment and transport equipment. The increase in expenditure on machinery and equipment imports was mainly driven by turbines, telecommunication devices and electrical machinery and equipment.” – (see ee Business, Trade deficits)
• “There are decades where nothing happens and weeks where decades happen” – VI Lenin
• ‘Analysts from the Australian investment group, Macquarie Wealth, one of most capitalist companies in the world, tell investors: “Conventional capitalism is dying, or at least mutating into something closer to a version of communism.”’ – see ee Economists, Signal
• “Bank of America expects that up to 20 million people will lose their jobs through the third quarter with the unemployment rate potentially peaking north of 15%.” – plawiuk.blogspot.com/2020/
• “Our main goal should remain: transforming financial institutions, which are the lifeblood of crisis-ridden global capitalism, into public services – to ensure the democratization of the decision-making that governs investment & employment.” – eesrilanka.wordpress.com/2019/12/21
B. Special Focus__
B1. “When England sneezes…” – Vinod Moonesinghe
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought chaos to the world. On the other hand, the prompt and no-holds-barred approach of the Sri Lanka Government, while having its drawbacks, seems effective in slowing down the spread of the disease.
However, the economic consequences of the pandemic, not least the blow-back from the measures instituted by govts, globally, have been catastrophic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which measures the stock exchange performance of 30 large companies in the USA, which peaked at its highest-ever value of 29,551 on 12 Feb, plunged to 18,592 by 23 March (although it did recover slightly to 22,552 by 26 March).
Klemens Metternich, the Austrian Empire’s Chancellor, once said “When England sneezes, Europe catches a cold.” This has been paraphrased as “When England sneezes, Sri Lanka catches pneumonia,” meaning, SL’s economic dependence on the First World means our prosperity if totally reliant on the economic wellbeing of the latter.
Dependent economy – The outbreak of Covid19 in China proved just how dependent Sri Lanka really is. Not only did the shops run out of manufactured goods (most of which come from China), but even the garment manufacturing sector, one of the 5 main bulwarks of the economy (the others being foreign employment, tourism, tea & rubber, and software) suffered.
One telling factor proved be garment factories’ shortage of sewing machine needles. The late Dr SBD de Silva, one of the world’s leading development economists, was wont to express Sri Lanka’s lack of industrialisation as “we produce garments, but not one single needle.”
By this, “SB” meant (although he did not say so in so many words) that Sri Lanka lacks an industrial eco-system, with integrated supply chains. We have industries, but they receive their raw materials and machinery from overseas, and their markets are overseas.
Hopefully, the jolt provided by Covid-19 will now cause Sri Lanka to wake up, and proceed with an industrialisation strategy.
“SB” pointed out that industrialisation means that farmers and fishers need to be freed from debt-peonage, and for investment to be made to increase their productivity. This creates an internal market for industrial goods, both in terms of machinery and equipment, and of consumer goods.
Former govt servant Garvin Karunaratne suggests that the Marketing Department be revived, allowing farmers to sell their vegetables and fruit at reasonable prices, and for consumers to buy these at reasonable prices.
Technology – Technology can help, especially the big data apps, which developed from [1974-assasinated] Chilean President Allende’s Cybersyn project, which are currently being used to provide curfew-bound consumers with food supplies. The Fisheries Corporation is using an app to provide fresh fish to suppliers and, via them, to consumers. An extension of this to the farming sector could help eradicate rapacious middlemen.
In other areas, progress occurs, but fitfully. The Govt has begun locally sourcing protective clothing for use by medical staff. All over the country, tailors have begun making face masks. A team of technologists is working on a cheap, easy-to-make ventilator. And a private firm has developed a remote robot for medical uses.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then Government support is the wet-nurse of development. The Govt must make use of this opportunity to develop an integrated, self-reliant local industrial sector, able to operate in isolation from the rest of the world.
This means vertically-integrating the supply chain. The products being made locally need to source their raw materials and the machinery locally. The tailors making face masks need locally made textiles & needles. The ventilators and robots being developed need to have locally made parts.
There are reports from China, South Korea and France, that Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine have been effective in treating Covid-19 patients, although clinical trials are continuing. Both substances are made from quinine, which is extracted from the bark of the cinchona plant.
In the days before tea became widely grown in Sri Lanka, and after the coffee blight, many coffee planters turned to growing Cinchona. Consequently, the world price of quinine, then used only for treating malaria (and for making tonic water) plummeted.
Perhaps today we should start re-planting uneconomic mid-grown tea lands with Cinchona, and jump-start our pharmaceuticals industry on this basis. Certainly, we need to be putting more research and development more into this area.
We can turn this monstrous pandemic to our advantage, but it needs considerable funds and Governmental will. We must strive to become immune to England’s sneeze.
B2. FTZ Success Stories Exposed – Harini Amarasuriya
“The inhumanity and cruelty of our current economic system is revealed in all its ugliness when you listen to the stories of suffering workers in the free trade zones. Workers have not been paid because their employers claim their global orders have been cancelled. Some continue to be stuck in the zones because they were working till the last day on which curfew was imposed. Those who were sent home (after agitations by trade unions), are in quarantine in their homes, and struggling because they did not get their salaries or simply paid a pitiful advance. They have no savings to fall back on. Thousands of workers who are hired through ‘manpower’ agencies are completely out in the cold with no one for them to turn to. Local government agencies say that these workers are not their responsibility and should be taken care of by the BOI. The BOI thinks the problem has been solved and anyway, they are busy responding to the problems of panic-stricken companies who are seeing their global orders cancelled and their profits plummeting. The hunger and misery of these factory workers are hardly on their list of priorities at the moment.
The workers are being asked to go home – back to their villages – but there are some who don’t want to go back to their homes or who cannot go back to their homes. There are others with infants, disabled children and other dependants who cannot travel. The local economy which survived by providing services (lodging, food, transport etc) to the workers is now at a standstill.
When everything was going well, these zones were the success stories of our era. The mainly female workers it was claimed were ’empowered’ and showcased as success stories reflecting the ‘new women’ of our times. How rapidly things have changed. The very same symbols of success have hardly been able to survive a month without pay and have been dropped like hot potatos by their employers who on March 8 were serenading them and conducting panels on women’s empowerment.
I hope we will remember these stories when all this ends and we start talking about bail outs and how to revive the economy. I hope we remember who and what stayed with us during this time of crisis; who we turned to for support and help and what systems kicked in and which simply vanished into thin air. If nothing else, I hope we will remember the choon paan and the local kade which came to our rescue at this time and how much time we spent clicking refresh on our computers trying to order groceries on line.”
B3. SL’s trade deficit widens in Jan 2020 as exports decline, imports rise
‘Earnings from agricultural exports declined in Jan 2020 (year-on-year) driven by all of its sub-sectors except for minor agricultural products. Earnings from exports declined due to the combined effect of lower export volumes and average export prices. In addition, earnings from spices declined in Jan 2020, mainly due to lower export volumes of many subcategories, while export prices also declined except for nutmeg and mace. Earnings from seafood exports declined with lower demand from the USA. Meanwhile, earnings from coconut exports declined, mainly due to lower export earnings from desiccated coconut categorised under kernel products and fibre under non kernel products. In contrast, earnings from export of minor agricultural products increased during the month, mainly led by exports of arecanuts & betel leaves.
Earnings from industrial exports declined in Jan 2020 in comparison with Jan 2019, with low earnings from almost all subsectors, except petroleum products, chemical products & gems, diamond & jewellery. Earnings from food, beverages & tobacco exports declined, led by manufactured tobacco exports and miscellaneous food preparations. In addition, earnings from rubber products declined mainly driven by lower tyre exports. Earnings from textiles & garments declined marginally, as a result of lower earnings from the USA and nontraditional markets such as India, S Korea & Mexico, despite an increase recorded in exports to the EU. Further, earnings from machinery & mechanical appliances declined with lower exports in all subcategories. Conversely, export earnings from petroleum products increased substantially, due to higher earnings from bunker & aviation fuel exports resulting from higher bunker quantities and prices as well as higher earnings from naphtha exports.
Earnings from mineral exports recorded a decline in Jan 2020, year-on-year, with weaker performance in all subcategories.
Expenditure on Merchandise imports increased, on a year-on-year basis, in Jan 2020 for the 2nd consecutive month, by 4.8% to US$1,735mn, driven by higher consumer & investment goods imports.
Expenditure on consumer goods imports increased in Jan 2020 with the increase in expenditure on both food & beverages & non-food consumer goods imports. Accordingly, vegetables (mainly big onions), dairy products (mainly milk powder), sugar & spices (mainly chillies) imports, categorised under food and beverages, increased. Meanwhile, under non-food consumer goods category, expenditure on personal motor vehicle imports recorded growth, on a year-on-year basis, for the 2nd consecutive month in Jan 2020. However, expenditure on personal vehicle imports declined significantly when compared with Dec 2019. In contrast, expenditure on beverages (mainly alcoholic beverages) & seafood (mainly canned fish) imports declined, in comparison to Jan 2019.
Meanwhile, expenditure on investment goods imports increased in Jan 2020 due to higher imports of machinery & equipment & transport equipment. The increase in expenditure on machinery and equipment imports was mainly driven by turbines, telecommunication devices & electrical machinery & equipment. Meanwhile, expenditure on transport equipment increased with higher expenditure incurred on railway equipment such as locomotive engines & carriages, & lorries. However, expenditure on building material imports decreased mainly due to low expenditure on iron & steel and those articles imports such as iron bars & rods although higher outlays on the importation of the bridges & bridge sections continued to increase in Jan 2020.
Expenditure on imports of intermediate goods declined in Jan 2020, mainly due to lower expenditure on fuel, owing to lower import volumes of all subcategories namely crude oil, refined petroleum & coal, although average import prices of crude oil & refined petroleum increased, when compared with Jan 2019… expenditure on base metals (mainly iron & steel), wheat & mineral products (mainly cement clinker) imports declined in Jan 2020. However, import expenditure on textiles & textile articles increased, led by higher expenditure on fabric & fibre imports.
The import volume index increased by 7.3%, while the unit value index declined by 2.3% in Jan 2020, indicating the increase in imports was driven entirely by higher volumes when compared to Jan 2019.
B4. 12 different tasks
“Basil Rajapaksa has been given the title of Special Envoy, usually one that is used in the conduct of diplomacy. Of course, in that capacity he is armed to represent the President on foreign assignments as well. 12 different tasks have been placed as his responsibility:
1. Provide facilities required by farmers for farming activities for the production of paddy, cereals, vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, milk, eggs, plantation products such as tea, cinnamon, pepper.
2. Organise and operate Lanka Sathosa, cooperative networks, Cargills, Keells, Arpico & Laughs retail networks to supply agricultural products direct to customers.
3. Operate the distribution mechanism to supply farm products received at Economic Centres to customers in those areas as well as in towns at household level.
4. Coordinate with SL Ports Authority, Sri Lanka Customs, corporate Banking Sector and other Govt regulatory agencies and take necessary action to facilitate the import of essential foods & drugs as well as the export of tea, sanitary clothing etc.
5. Provide fuel, security, banking assistance for transport of rice, coconuts, tea, animal feed, domestically produced sanitary clothing & food.
6. Provide health & sanitation facilities to drivers & assistants of vehicles such as lorries, 3-wheelers, buses and motorcycles transporting essential services & goods to customers and keep selected fuel stations of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation open during curfew hours to supply them with fuel.
7. Direct and provide facilities to Agriculture Department, Agrarian Services Dept, Samurdhi Authority, Cooperative Farmer Societies, Farmer Organisations, and private seed production organisations to supply seed, seedlings, fertilizer & machinery for farming activities.
8. Direct officials engaged in rural projects to encourage seed farms, popularise organic fertilizer use & encourage production of home crops, and as far as possible, popularise home gardens as supply for self-consumption.
9. Direct and take measures to provide required loan facilities to farmers via Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, Regional Development Banks & Samurdhi Bank branches.
10. Implement appropriate measures for waste disposal in rural and urban areas and maintain continuous electricity and water supply services.
11. Take steps to focus special attention on women, low-income families and persons directly at risk when undertaking above measures.
12. All bank branches to remain open for a minimum of 4 hours a day utilising minimum staff to provide essential banking services to customers.
A 30-member Presidential Task Force has been placed under Basil Rajapaksa’s charge: Roshan Mahesh James Gunathilaka Governor, Western Province, AJM Muzzammil Governor, NW Prov, PSM Charles, Governor, Northern Prov, Gamini Sedara Senarath, Secretary to the Prime Minister, SR Attygalle, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Economy and Policy Development, Wasantha Perera, Secretary, Ministry of Power & Energy. S Hettiarachchi, Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils & Local Government, H.K.D.W.M.N.B. Hapuhinna, Secretary, Ministry of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development, Dr Priyath Bandu Wickrema, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Facilities, Major General (Retd) Kamal Gunarathna, Secretary, Ministry of Defence, G.K.S.L. Rajadasa, Secretary, Ministry of Internal Trade, Food Security and Consumer Welfare, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff / Commander of the Army, Vice Admiral Piyal de Silva, Commander of the Navy, DC Wickremaratne, Acting Inspector General of Police, Rear Admiral (Retd) Ananda Peiris Director General, Civil Security Force, Ms J.M.C. Jayanthi Wijetunga Chief Secretary, Western Prov, P.B.M. Sirisena, Chief Secretary, NW Prov. A Pathinadan, Chief Secretary, Northern Prov, Major General (Retd.) Shantha Dissanayake, Chairman, Consumer Affairs Authority, Mahesh Gammampila Director, Fertilizer Secretariat, J.A. Nushad M. Perera, Chairman, Co-operative Wholesale Establishment, Bandula Thilakasiri, Director General, Department of Samurdhi Development. Bonniface Silva, General Manager, People’s Bank, Sudath Gunasekara , General Manager, Bank of Ceylon, Vijitha Herath, Chairman, Lanka Electricity Board, W.W.D. Sumith Wijesinghe, Chairman, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, A. Wimalaweera, e Commissioner General of Labour, S. Singappuli, Commissioner of Co-operative Development, Major General (Retd.) G. Vijitha Ravipriya, Director General, Sri Lanka Customs, Pradeep Yasarathna, District Secretary, Colombo, Sunil Jayalath, District Secretary, Gampaha, K. Mahesan, District Secretary, Jaffna, U.D.C. Jayalal, District Sec’y, Kalutara, L.J.M.G.C. Bandara, District Secretary, Puttalam, N.W.G.R.D. Nanayakkara, Assistant Governor, Central Bank, Ms. T.M.J.Y.P. Fernando Assistant Governor, Central Bank, Major General (Retd.) Sudantha Ranasinghe, Director General, Disaster Management Centre, S.B. Divaratna, Co-Chairman, Task for Poverty Eradication and Livelihood Development and Major General (Retd.) Sumedha Perera Esquire Co-Chairman, Task for Poverty Eradication and Livelihood Development.
B5. Rs5000 allowance for low-income families affected by Covid19 outbreak
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed the Presidential Task Force established to administer essential services that provision of Rs5000 as a single payment to the low-income families will ease the financial difficulties faced.
The declared concessions and the eligible groups, according to President’s Media Division:
– Measures have been taken to pay Rs5,000 each to all 416,764 senior citizen allowance recipients and to the recently registered 142,345 senior citizens.
– An allowance of Rs5,000 will be provided to 84,071 disabled persons & 35,229 newly registered disabled persons.
– A total of 160,675 farmers who are registered under the Farmers’ Insurance Scheme will also receive an allowance of R5000 each.
– An allowance of Rs5,000 will be paid to 25,320 kidney patients & 13,850 newly registered patients.
– Thriposha and other nutritional supplements will be delivered directly to the residences of expectant mothers and families with malnourished children.
– Measures have been taken to provide R5,000 each to all 1,798,655 Samurdhi recipients and to the recently registered 600,339 Samurdhi recipients by the Samurdhi Bank/ Authority.
– Payment of the pensions to 645,179 public officers.
– Steps will be taken to pay the April salary for 1,500,000 Public Sector employees and loan payment deductions from salaries to be suspended until further notice.
– Relief on lease instalments for 1,500,000 self-employed persons, including owners of 3wheelers, trucks, school buses and vans and self-employed motorists.
– Reliefs will be provided for the private businesses that are not in a position to pay employees’ wages due to the prevailing economic hardships.
The circular signed by the Secretary to the President Dr PB Jayasundara on the concessions granted by the President and how they will be implemented was issued yesterday.
The circular had been referred to the Secretaries of Ministries of Finance, Economic and Policy Development and Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Govt and all District and Divisional Secretaries. This relief program will continue to operate until the priority program to eliminate the novel Coronavirus from Sri Lanka declared the completion of its mission…
C. News Index____
• ee’s new provides headlines and links. It’s strongly recommended readers scan carefully the ee News Index to gain a sense of the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’.
C1. Sovereignty (ee is pro-politics, pro-politician, pro-nation-state,
anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)
ee Sovereignty news emphasizes sovereignty as economic sovereignty – a strong nation is built on modern industrialization fueled by a producer culture.
• President urges WHO DG to pursue IMF/World Bank debt
• USD1.3mn from US to fight coronavirus
‘The US State Dept announced $1.3mn aid to help the government prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, risk communication, infection prevention and control, and more. Over the past 20 years, US investment in Sri Lanka has included more than $26 million in health alone out of more than $1 billion in total assistance, the department said.’
• China’s US$500mn tops MCC offer from the US
‘The US offered $450 million, stretched over 5 years, via its MCC fund. This offer raised much discussion and even fear in some quarters. Meanwhile, a Chinese funding facility of US$500mn is accepted with hardly any discussion, and comes handy to handle the extra expenses caused by the Coronavirus. The difference is, while the Chinese funding facility seems to be offered via a standard banking mechanism with no ideological underpinnings, the US program was high on the ideological side. The MCC funding comes with its own ideology, which is stated at its website. It is based on “partnerships with developing countries who are committed to good governance, economic freedom and investing in their citizens”.’
• Clinton School of Public Service partners with Gammadda
‘The Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas in the US will partner the Gammadda Movement, Sri Lanka’s largest non-government humanitarian initiative….[They] will focus on a seemingly insurmountable problem faced by rural villages; the Human-Elephant Conflict, which claims the lives of hundreds of humans and elephants, each year.’
• US State dept reacts to the recent presidential pardon
‘The US: “The Pardon of Sunil Rathnayake after SL’s Supreme Court upheld his conviction is deeply troubling. Justice, accountability, and reconciliation, are needed for long term peace.”’
• Sunil Ratnayake: Politics of a presidential pardon – Chandraprema
‘The judgment, however, does not state anywhere that there was any evidence to show that Ratnayake personally killed any of the victims.’
• Red Mosque defended over negligence claims
• Rauff, Mujibur says Govt violated WHO guidelines
• Muslims must adhere to govt directives – Muzammil
• Democracy in crisis: avoiding dictatorship – Hoole
‘The country is functioning with Votes on Account without a Parliament. The army is out doing the work of a police. The hallmarks of military government are fast emerging. We have made a mistake in dismissing Parliament on 2 March despite all the signs and warnings.’
• Sri Lanka & Coronavirus
‘Sri Lanka is setting a global example’
• North Korea: Not one single person here has Covid-19
• South Africa Looting Follows White Looting
• Johns Hopkins University has set up and is operating THE COVID 19 GLOBAL DATABASE and crafting the narrative
‘JHU’S Operation Dark Winter operates on Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, outside Washington DC. ODW was code name for a senior-level bio-terrorist attack simulation conducted from June 22-23, 2001, designed to carry out a mock version of a covert and widespread smallpox attack on the USA…’
• The Corona Virus Wakeup Call
‘The US army’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) research and testing involving bats and coronaviruses and gene editing ‘bioweapons’ may have had a role to play in the outbreak of the virus in China’
• China’s negligence despite warning signs – Nitin A Gokhale
‘Beijing consistently failed to clamp down on Chinese virus… calling it the “Chinese virus” would be more appropriate’
• Covid19 Kills Postmodernism!
‘Social planning has been an anathema to neoliberal politicians and their allies for at least 35 years. Yet social planning and the emergence of public health and post WWII social welfare schemes, are what helped industrial and colonizing nations manage their own domestic class discontent’
C2. Security (the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of violence)
ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of legitimate violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance as the basis of a truly independent nation.
• GMOA presents govt with 8-step plan to minimise spread of Covid-19
‘The GMOA says there are 5 million households in 14,002 Grama Niladari divisions.’
• SL spy agencies on high alert to face any possible security threat – Kamal
• Business gets in way of STF disinfection task
‘The STF was unable to properly disinfect the Dambulla Economic Centre yesterday due to the objections and obstructions of vendors there.’
• Dambulla: Shops closed to reduce congestion
‘Earlier, the Government Medical Officers’ Association had asked the government to take stern measures about hot spots, like the Dambulla Economic Centre, fisheries harbours, like Thudawella, Tangalle and Lellama, Negombo, commercial centres, like the Manning Market, and tea factories.
• Warning issued to local authorities not to interfere
• Lockdown blues
‘Most families, in the high risk areas, have run out of their food stocks. The govt has promised to have essentials delivered to everyone’s doorstep.’
• SL cannot afford to be another Italy’, says top Microbiologist
‘Modifying public behaviour, dispelling the myths surrounding Coronavirus are the needs of the hour’
• Back to the future, forward to the past – Dayan J
‘By overriding the verdict of the Supreme Court in the case concerning so ghastly a war crime, the release succeeded in perforating the dense corona shroud to make the international media, prompting the NYT to report, The Hindu to editorialise, & reputed global institutions on Human Rights to protest’
• 22 civil society organisations criticise Presidential pardon
• Chief Justice 43 flays judiciary in her explosive memoirs
‘The alleged attempt to drive the vehicle carrying CJ 43, her husband Pradeepa and son Shaveen on their way to Colombo, off the Kandy-Colombo road at Kadugannawa, should have been inquired’
• Can We Trust the WHO?
‘Many of the other WHO scientific experts who advised Dr Chan to declare pandemic were receiving money directly or indirectly from Big Pharma including GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and other major vaccine-makers…The current WHO Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) is riddled with members who receive “financially significant” funds from either major vaccine makers, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BGMF) or Wellcome Trust’
• Was Corona in Italy before China
‘A “strange pneumonia” was circulating in northern Italy as long ago as Nov, weeks before doctors were made aware of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, one of the European country’s leading medical experts said this week. “The virus was circulating, at least in Lombardy & before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China.”
• Ireland Nationalizes Hospitals for Duration of Corona Crisis, Sparking Demand for US to Follow Suit
• Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier faces dire coronavirus threat
• US navy fires commander who raised alarm about coronavirus on ship
• Gun sellers listed as ‘critical’ infrastructure
‘Gun rights groups sued the county, saying the closures of these stores violates the Second Amendment, according to the AP.’
• The Corona Virus Wakeup Call
‘Controversially, the Gates Foundation also funded the Pirbright Institute which ‘owns’ the patent to the deadly virus and is working on a vaccine against it.’
• Exclusive: US slashed CDC staff inside China prior to coronavirus outbreak
• US Tech Companies & China
‘Data Security Threats – Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, March 4, 2020’
‘A 22-person team from Police Scotland worked for over a year identifying and interviewing almost 400 hoped-for complainants and witnesses against Alex Salmond. This resulted in nil charges and nil witnesses. Nil. The accusations in court were all fabricated and presented on a government platter to the police by a two-prong process’
C3. Economists (Study the Economists before you study the Economics)
ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefine, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.
• CP Leader says law deliberately delayed to save fraudsters
‘Lanka would have been economically in far better position to face covid-19 fallout if not for massive corruption’
• Govt has its plate full, won’t be able to support SMEs in worst case scenario, says an economist
‘The government doesn’t have money. It is deprived of its revenue through corporate and personal taxes. We won’t be able to maintain our exports to the EU and the U.S.A at the current level of 55% of our total export volume…’
• Sri Lanka’s Trade Policy
‘The best place to find the trade policies of the WTO members is the WTO TPRM website, where comprehensive information is available on the trade policies of the members…. Some countries have already notified to the WTO the trade policy measures they have initiated to face this crisis. We could learn from those notifications and develop our own policy options.’
• Series of Strategies for Reviving the Economy in the ‘post-Covid-19’ era – Ajith Nivard Cabraal
‘Strategy 1: Return approximately 20% of the balances amounting to around Rs500 billion of the Employees Provident Fund, lying to the credit of members, directly to the Members.’
• Fate of the rupee: Culprit is untamed inflation & budget deficits, not Covid19 – Wijewardena
‘For instance, in the next 12-month period, according to the Central Bank data, Sri Lanka needs about $5.8bn to meet its foreign debt obligations. But this is a challenging task given that the available liquid foreign exchange reserves have amounted only to $7.5bn. They have been made liquid by selling the Bank’s gold reserves, according to its data, to the extent of $594mn in Feb and adding the sale proceeds to the freely available reserves. As such the gold reserves of the Bank now stands at $ 342 million at end-February, down from $ 936 million a month ago.’
• Chicago Plan – a Mechanism to Create Debt Free Money! – Hema Senanayake
‘It is a plan to retire government debt rather quickly and to enable the government to function without being indebted.’
• Keynesian & Fisherian solutions to current medical crisis – Hema Senanayake
‘The world learnt two lessons from the Great Depression in 1929-1933. One was provided by John Maynard Keynes in 1936. His General Theory evolved to dominate macroeconomics later with brief periods of setbacks. In a crisis like this suddenly all become Keynesians. The second lesson was provided in 1936 by Irving Fisher, a great US economist. He insisted that the economy must be founded upon Full Reserve Banking, as the Fractional Reserve Banking might lead to creating excessive debt bubbles which are bound to crash’
• Covid catalyst not cause of recession: Top engineer not economists got it right – David
‘One of the few, to be truthful the only one I know, who insisted for 10 years and made himself a pain by repetitious but clear logic, that what governments and central banks had done in the decade after the 2008-9 Great Recession was flawed, is Prof Harsha Sirisena (better known as HRS).’
• Here comes the recession again! – Abeyratne
‘The forthcoming recession has all necessary ingredients to usher controlled policy regimes with domestic market focus, until the need for integration and globalisation arise again as a necessary condition.’
• Corona and neoliberalism
‘The people of the world will have to find an alternative to the capitalism-liberalism-democracy combination which has failed to deliver up to now.’
• SL heading into economic recession, analysts warn (errr… it’s Advocata)
‘6-week-long working days, unemployment, pay cuts, a drop in profits and tax collection, depreciation of property, and price wars could be experienced once the pandemic is dealt with’.
• The other side of the Government’s relief measures
‘Small-time tailors, barbers, car mechanics, fruit and vegetable sellers, furniture shops, and many businesses operate within this informal sector. They do not operate within the system of formal bank facilities through commercial banks or non-banking financial institutions. Instead, many work with loan sharks’
• Advocata urges private sector involvement to rapidly expand SL’s Covid19 testing capacity
‘Engage with the private sector to identify barriers to the import of rapid testing kits, and facilitate where possible.’
• An Isolated Bolsonaro Seeks Support among Military
‘Politicians are uneasy about signals from the armed forces, which fear instability’
• Take Back Control. Digital Capitalism & Beyond: Call for Papers
‘In the 1920s, a wide-ranging debate took place over the feasibility of planning a socialist economic system – the socialist planning debate. The so-called Austrian School around the market liberals von Mises and Hayek argued at the time that a socialist economy could not function at all given its lack of a market mechanism. With the fall of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, the Austrian School was finally able to win a late but clear victory in the conflict between economic systems: “the market,” according to prevailing discourse, had triumphed over “the plan.”’
• The sociopathic calculus of capitalism in a crisis
‘The ruling class is debating whether or not it’s worth saving the lives of those it can no longer exploit; this is barbarism, ‘
• Will coronavirus signal the end of capitalism?
‘The peasants’ revolt after the 14th-century plague saw off feudalism. After COVID-19, will it be the turn of capitalism?… Much of the growth we have experienced during the 12 years since the last financial crisis has been fuelled by central banks printing money, governments bailing out the banking system and debt. Instead of paying down debt, we amassed $72 trillion more of it.’
C4. Economy (Usually reported in monetary terms)
ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, etc.
• SL to control imports except oil & medicines, grow vegetables: Minister
• Govt to ink a loan agreement with the WB
‘Attygalle also said that the govt will not default its external debt repayments, but instead would seek a moratorium from lenders owing to the current economic impact caused by the Covid19 pandemic.’
• World Bank fast-tracks $128mn Covid19 support for SL
‘In addition, the first Bio Safety Level 3 laboratory will be developed at the National Medical Research Institute, Sri Lanka’s premier biomedical research center and main laboratory for virology, bacteriology, and parasitology’
• ADB, UNICEF join forces to supply emergency medical equipment to support SL’s Covid response
• Sri Lanka relaxes exchange controls, appeals for forex inflows to combat Covid
• President discusses economic impact of pandemic with Central Bank top brains
• President, CB officials discuss economic impact due to Covid19
‘The Bank officials were also instructed to workout post-COVID- 19 economic strategies. Secretary to the Treasury, the CBSL Governor and its three Deputy Governors, Assistant Governor in charge of Bank Supervision and Director of Information Technology participated.’
• Central Bank of SL Decides to Establish a Rs50bn, 6month Re-Financing Facility & Issues Instructions to Financial Institutions to Support Covid-19 Hit Businesses & Individuals
‘A wide range of concessions including a debt moratorium (capital and interest) and a working capital loan for COVID-19 hit businesses and individuals.’
• Central Bank Further Reduces Policy Interest Rates
• Rupee depreciates 4.7% in first 3 months of 2020
‘The rupee has depreciated sharply by 4.7% by end March, with the speculative behaviour in the market given the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Central Bank revealed yesterday.’
• Rupee falls further. Selling rate of US$ recorded at Rs193.75
• Sri Lanka inflation falls in March 2020
‘The food index fell 3.2%, helping bring down the overall index, non-food continued to grow.
• Sri Lanka considerably feels initial economic pressure – CB says
‘The government established a fuel price stabilisation fund to maintain stable energy prices domestically, while enabling the utilisation of benefits accruing on account of the sharp decline in international crude oil prices more productively, the CB disclosed. (BS)
• Small & micro enterprise sector seeks Rs500k, 3-year interest-free loan to navigate Covid
‘SMEs account for over 60% of enterprises and 40% of employment in Sri Lanka, while there are another significant number of self-employed persons in the micro sector, which largely forms the informal sector.’
• Mangala sets Catch 22 posers for govt
‘Former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera [said] that Parliament should have the opportunity to scrutinize and debate a Pre-election Budgetary Position Report released by the Secretary to the Finance Ministry last week. Parliament should also be able to convene to legislate in order to provide the country with the relief it needed at this precarious time…’
• CB unveils Rs50bn refinance deal for banks
‘The Central Bank has unveiled a Rs50 billion 6-month refinancing facility for banks to help COVID-19-hit businesses, individuals and the self-employed…. The Central Bank specified that import facilities will not be permitted under this refinance facility for imports other than pharmaceutical drugs, medical equipment, food, fertiliser and essential raw materials, and machinery and equipment.’
• War against an unseen enemy –120nm in diameter
‘The Government will have to think of financial stimulus packages – even if it is broke, for industry big and small and the daily wage-earner. There is dengue waiting in the wings; Agricultural production to feed the people and export earnings to be seen to. Ensuring that the people do not face a food crisis, meanwhile, must also be addressed but for now, the priority is to keep people safe: the urgency is to ‘flatten the curve’ and win the war against an unseen enemy…’.
• Fitch sees ‘deep global recession’ in 2020 as Covid crisis escalates
‘Most noticeable has been the dramatic fallout in the labour market, particularly in the US and Canada, where weekly data for new unemployment benefit claims have smashed all records.’
• After default, Lebanese bond holders meet to discuss restructuring of debt
‘Seeking a loan from the IMF would establish some credibility with bondholders during restructuring talks. However, IMF loans are usually conditional. The Fund would likely seek a dramatic hike in the country’s value added tax. Such a change is vehemently opposed by the government as it would hurt everyday citizens and probably spark another round of mass protests.’
• WB Group & IMF jointly urge G20 to offer debt relief for the poorest countries.
• G20 leaders to inject $5trillion into global economy in fight against coronavirus
‘It stopped well short of calling for an end to export bans that many countries have enacted on medical supplies, with the G20 leaders saying their responses should be coordinated to avoid “unnecessary interference”’
• A call to action on the debt of IDA countries
‘With immediate effect—and consistent with national laws of the creditor countries—the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) call on all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance.’
• Govts, central banks must boost efforts to help economies cope with crisis – Bank for International Settlements chief
‘Rules brought in after the 2008 crash were designed to prevent banks overextending themselves, but the worry now is that they are not stepping in and lending when the capital markets have slammed shut for many firms.’
• Defaulted Lebanon hopes to pay off debts with hashish
C5. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)
ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power
• The ghost of JR
• Labour Relations Minister assures to protect EPF
• Employers’ Federation of Ceylon lists out measures to work during extended curfew
• EFC that salaries & festival advances will be paid as usual to all Employees
• PHIs to withdraw from duties if needs aren’t met
‘Four specific demands, including basic personnel protection for PHIs, transportation requirements for field work and other basic requirements including the provision of food.’
• PHIs postpone trade union action for 2 weeks
• Minister urges FTZs’ factory owners to pay March salaries of workers
‘Minister of Industrial Exports, Prasanna Ranatunga said more than 137,000 people worked at 278 factories in 14 FTZs spread across the country.’
• Microcredit borrowers left in the lurch?
“The government announced that the recovery of personal loans below Rs 1 million given by banks and financial institutions has been suspended for three months. Many who drew microcredit loans believed that applied to them as well, but many lenders insist that it doesn’t apply to them,” he said.
• Daily wage earners say ‘just surviving temporarily’
‘A leading gas distributor in Padukka said that he has been operating his distribution network on a special permit issued by the government and he saw for himself the real ground situation in Avissawella, Ingiriya, Padukka, Homagama, Kottawa areas where thousands of people live and that some incidents he saw were heart breaking. “Some daily wage earners cannot afford to buy either gas or food with the money they have in hand. The situation is getting so pathetic. If there isn’t some thoughtful mechanism to cook curfew-round meals, chill them, pack them and deliver them on wheels, food scarcity will cause more harmful impacts than the virus”, he said. Meanwhile, woes heard about people scrambling to get lifesaving drugs were no less grievous.’
• Many Samurdhi beneficiaries continue to be denied interest-free loan
• Apparel workers struggle to meet expenses during curfew
‘Thousands of employees are suffering without money as their monthly salary will be paid on or before April 10 and hundreds of daily paid manpower agency workers had to beg for some payment from agency owners, he revealed.’
• FTZ workers back in their homes but some suffer without wages
• FTZ workers’ salaries: BOI says paid, unions deny
• Redundant estate sector workers returning home placed under self-quarantine
‘There were many practical issues in self- quarantine as families live in small line rooms, which were generally congested even in normal times’
• RPCs assure workers provided with safety gear
‘However, estate workers unions claimed that the workers were not being provided with proper safety equipment such as masks and that social distancing was not being practised while working in the field.’
• Are we prepared for the economic doomsday resulting from the pandemic?
‘The SL tourism sector directly employs close to 600,000 while a further 300,000 are employed indirectly. Almost a million workers face redundancy… Our garment sector…directly employs 350,000 and indirectly employs around 650,000… Our informal sector estimated as 48% of employment in 2018 & contributes to about 40% of the GDP (Dept of Census & Statistics). The sector includes daily artisans (labourers, carpenters, bricklayers), small barber shops, beauty salons, ‘phone kades,’ village ‘petti kades,’ sweep ticket sellers, small local restaurants/hotels/tea shops, street vendors selling vadai, thambili, etc. These will be the worst hit & least protected by the Govt… definitely fair to impose a 15% salary cut on the public sector for 6 months to support the informal sector’
• National Carrier brings down medical aid from SL community in China
• Plantation firms step up to provide immediate relief to workers and families
• The fine balance
‘There had been carping in some segments like the railway where ticket-less travel was made possible with employees hitting out at top management for the non-provision of protective gear and refusing to man ticket counters and do ticket checking on trains.’
‘According to the International Labour Organisation, daily wage workers are the worst affected. The ILO estimates that as many as 25 million people globally could become unemployed, with a loss of workers’ income of as much as US$3.4 trillion and that these numbers may be an underestimation of the magnitude of the labour crisis.’
• Viruses and Care
‘It is not surprising that the first recorded deaths from COVID-19 were in nursing homes. But the contributing factors cannot be attributed solely to age. Long-term residential care shares with other healthcare organizations the negative impacts of neoliberal policies, namely cutbacks in government funding and a failure to keep up with demand for public services, managerial practices that create part-time jobs, contract work that eliminates benefits and irregular hours of work, the downloading of labour to those with the fewest formal credentials, the reduction of staff to a minimum, tight control over workers, and the privatization of ownership as well as the contracting out of work in non-profit and municipal homes. All of these policies and practices have an impact on the conditions of work that are the conditions of care.’
• Global Health Crisis: They Are at War… Against Us!
‘Governments and bosses claim to be at war with coronavirus. In reality, it is a war against our social class that they are waging. A war against us for their profits!’
• ‘The Strike Wave Is in Full Swing’: Amazon, Whole Foods Workers Walk Off Job to Protest Unjust & Unsafe Labor Practices
• Much stronger conditions needed on US federal wage subsidy program
“In effect the federal government is offering to become paymaster for a large segment of the private sector for three months. This would amount to socializing workers pay, but not production or profits.”
• Everything You Need to Know About General Strikes
C6. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)
ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.
• Need for self-sufficiency in food
‘In the 1970s I was part of the higher administration that bolstered self-sufficiency in subsidiary food crops, as they were known then – these included chillies, onions, potatoes etc. The food drive then resulted in substantial production of these items, resulting in increased income to local farmers and an improved standard of living. In fact the import of these items were more than halved then!’
• Virus and food
‘The problem with lessons learnt from crises is that they are soon forgotten, as we have argued in a previous column. A world grain shortage, in the early 1970s, jolted SL into increasing its local food production to face the resultant food crisis. The then SLFP-led United Front govt swung into action with revolutionary zeal. The people were encouraged to grow their own food as far as possible, and home gardening became the order of the day. However, the govt unnecessarily resorted to extreme action, which hurt the public, who grew resentful… In the early noughties, some political pundits advocated that paddy fields, in the Western Province, be filled up and factories built thereon because it was cheaper to import rice than to produce it here. They were also responsible for bankrupting Sathosa in a bid to privatise it and pocket kickbacks. It may be possible to make use of the current situation to promote home gardening while action is taken to meet the immediate needs of the people.’
• Small is useful
‘What would have been the situation if Sathosa had been privatised and the co-operative outlets closed down? The state would have had no way of controlling the distribution and sale of essential commodities…Let all political parties make a written pledge, in their election manifestos, to develop Sathosa and the network of cooperative outlets and ensure the protection of retailers.’
• If we did not have our rice stocks…. – Editorial
‘Till 2 weeks ago, for nearly four decades or so, political leaders happily imported rice citing the high cost of production here. Farmers were neglected and hundreds of thousands of paddy lands were abandoned due to poor patronage by consecutive regimes. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) continued to harp on the need for food security for governments here. But nothing worked. Despite this pathetic state of affairs, some hundreds of thousands of determined farmers toiled on.’
• Covid crisis: Once this is settled, it is going to be a new world, a new economy and people have to think fresh – Kishu Gomes
‘We import salt. We import dry fish. So these are fundamental mistakes we have done in the past…”
• Spice industry growth talks on hold due to Covid outbreak
‘he key reason for the negative growth was increased global production, Perera said, which had resulted in price reductions of a number of spices. Currently, several countries in Europe, including Germany, have cancelled orders for spices, resulting in a drop of sales.’
• Pandemic: Basil as special envoy heads 40-member taskforce
‘Exacerbating the situation are ghouls who are exploiting this misery. A web-based company charged over Rs5,500 for a kilo of small prawns delivered to the doorstep of a customer. In Dehiwala, on Fri, lorries parked in by-lanes sold coconuts at Rs150 each. A reputed supermarket chain with a handful of outlets took orders on the telephone but told customers delivery would be after April 4. Ironic enough, this outlet had glowing mention in an official government press release, as one among others, which would carry out door to door supplies immediately.’
• Coping with economic consequences of pandemic – Sanderatne
‘The government must ensure that the country’s domestic food production is at a maximum. This is particularly relevant at this time of the Maha crop harvesting. The curfew should not obstruct the availability of labour and machines for harvesting. This is, however, not easy during a period of a country-wide curfew. Availability – Although there is a potential large rice crop adequate for the country’s requirements till the end of 2020 and beyond, there could be a shortfall in harvesting it. It is also important that large stocks of paddy are not hoarded to create a scarcity to increase prices.
At the best of times, it has been difficult to achieve an equitable marketing of paddy. Effective measures are needed to ensure the availability of rice to people at a reasonable price, while at the same time giving farmers a remunerative price.
Food imports – The other dimension in food security is the need to import essential food items that are inadequately produced in the country. These include wheal, sugar, dhal and milk. There could be difficulties in importing these food items as countries producing these are themselves affected…
• Wheat flour supplier Prima’s measures to ensure food security
‘Prima has the ability to ship flour through its road, rail, and sea distribution network. This will ensure the continuous supply of flour for the country to consumers, as well as for bakeries and other flour-based industries. Therefore, no shortage of wheat flour is envisaged during this period in the country, the company said…In addition, the company has sufficient stock to meet three months of national domestic consumption’
• Plans to revive Tea auctions
• Colombo Tea Auction to be conducted on e-platform for first time
• Nestlé donates food/beverage products to frontline Covid workers
C7. Industry (False definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)
ee Industry section notes the ignorance about industrialization, the buying of foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound.
• Peradeniya dons to produce ventilators
‘To fight the corona battle, ventilators are being produced by a multidisciplinary team of specialists from the Peradeniya University’s medical and engineering faculties in collaboration with the National Institute of Fundamental Studies in Kandy.’
• SL’s apparel industry shut owing to the crisis
‘“The loss is colossal for three months,” the SLAEA head said adding that it would cost up to US$5 million to the industry to pay salaries to staff.’
• Apparels will take $2bn hit from supply chain disruption: Bandula
• Biggest apparel exporter Brandix cuts executive pay, costs in response to Covid impact
• Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters to manufacture 2mn face masks
‘This is a donation from SLAEA and about 20 factories have come forward to support the project free of charge. This project is powered by Viyathmaga.The first set of fabric masks was handed over to SPC Chairman Dr. Prasanna Gunasena by SLAEA Chairman Rehan Lakhani. Omegaline Managing Director Felix Fernando and Eskimo Fashions CEO Indika Liyanahewage are also present.’
• Sevenagala factory of the Lanka Sugar company manufactures disinfectant
‘The disinfectant was manufactured for the factory workers’
• Oil prices down to lowest since 2020
• Robot to support combating Coronavirus in SL
‘A fully homegrown Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) robot, which was invented by Atlas Axillia PLC, is currently undergoing live tests at the Homagama Base Hospital.’
• Atlas turns out AGV robot to support SL’s medical personnel combating Covid
‘Viraj Jayasooriya from Atlas said, “Our teams designed and fabricated the entire robot from scratch…’
• Auto industry races to make ventilators
‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists…said in a recent article that car manufacturers are not best placed for assembling medical equipment. “Ventilators might resemble the pumps and air conditioners used in automobiles, but few automakers build their own — they buy them from specialised producers,” the group pointed out. While carmakers have under-utilised production capacity at the moment, they are still dependent on suppliers who are often overseas, at a moment when supply chains have nearly ground to a halt, it said in its report.’
• Cybernetic Revolutionaries: technology & politics in Allende’s Chile
‘Project Cybersyn, using such phrases as “cybernetic policy,” “decentralized computer scheme,” and “telex network operating in real-time,” was linked it to an English cybernetician I had never heard of, Stafford Beer. This system was built in Chile and brought together “in one project, political leaders, trade unionists, and technicians.”
• Red Helmsman: Cybernetics, Economics & Philosophy in the German Democratic Republic
‘Cybernetics, despite being initially rejected in the Eastern Bloc throughout the 1950s for
ideological reasons, rose to a high level of institutional prominence in the 1960s, profoundly influencing state philosophy and economic planning’
• InterNyet: why the Soviet Union did not build a nationwide computer network
‘This article examines several Soviet initiatives to develop a national computer network as the technological basis for an automated information system for the management of the national economy in the 1960s–1970s. ‘
C8. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)
ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, pointing to the curious role of ratings agencies, again false indices, etc.
• CBSL planning coordinated move with banks to cushion blow from Covid
‘The Central Bank (CBSL) has requested 26 licensed commercial banks, and six specialized banking organizations, to submit detailed reports of their current liquidity positions, and required capital buffers, to see how it can support the banks to resuscitate the economy… a leading business owner, requesting anonymity, told this reporter that he hoped the government would, and could, introduce measures to help companies to survive. “If not there will be massive job losses which may lead to unrest. Let’s pray that this will be over soon”, he said.’
• Eased liquidity standards & capital reprieve for finance firms to support virus-hit sectors
‘A day after the Monetary Board eased capital, regulatory and reporting rules on the banking sector, more or less similar relaxed rules have been offered to finance companies…”
• Banks barred from declaring dividends, bonuses as capital rules eased to fight Covid
‘CB relaxes guidelines on recognising non-performing loans and loss provisions; Banks now can provide additional 60 days for loans falling into past due in March; allows banks to draw down from capital conservation buffers under BASEL III capital rules; Two more years given to banks which are yet to meet minimum regulatory capital’
• Banks can leverage up to Rs400bn to support Covid hit biz: CB
• Fitch revises SL’s banking sector outlook to Negative on coronavirus; rating outlook Negative
‘We believe the pandemic could cause considerable disruptions to key economic sectors such as services, which accounted for 59% of nine-month real GDP at end-September 2019, through its impact on sub-sectors such as trade, transportation, tourism and manufacturing (16% of real GDP), and hamper our previously anticipated pickup in economic activity.’
• No takers for SLDBs: $220mn issue draws only $22mn bids
‘“Investors, both foreign and local, have moved away from taking long-term risks and perhaps for the first time the very poor appetite for SL Development Bonds is unprecedented…”’
C9. Business (Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)
ee Business aka ee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, making money from unproductive land selling, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’
• E-commerce humbugs! – Spotlight on online purchasing platforms
‘Fraudulent transactions, late deliveries and rotten products are giving nightmares to desperate customers during this lockdown’
• 2020 kicks off with wider trade deficit: CB
‘Jan. trade deficit at $ 730 m, up from $ 617 m; Merchandise exports down 3.7% as all sectors see decline, Food and vehicles push imports up by 4.8% to $ 1.7 b
• Australia-SL Trade and Investment Framework key to progress – David Holly
‘More than 170,000 Australians identify as having Sri Lankan ancestry…Australia’s major goods exports to Sri Lanka include automobiles, vegetables, wheat and paper and major goods imports from Sri Lanka include tea, textile clothes, textile accessories and fixed vegetable oils and fats. Trade in services is the major source of trade growth – Australia is a major source of tourism to Sri Lanka and students from Sri Lanka are increasingly coming to Australia for higher education. In relation to education, around 3,000 Sri Lankan students are studying Australian higher education in 22 institutions in Sri Lanka, while another 12,000 do so in Australia.’
• 2016 data on China Exports to Sri Lanka
• ‘181 years of contributing to the development of the nation’
‘Established by a 5-member committee in 1893, the Ceylon Chamber is the oldest collective of trade organisations in the country, and is now the primary voice representing the private sector.’
• Private Hospitals support & collaborate with Govt in battle against Covid
• Govt and Uber Eats partner to deliver essential supplies
• PickMe can do more: Full fleet of 40,000 vehicles underutilised says CEO
• THASL thanks govt for speedy action
‘One in 10 people across the world and one in 5 Sri Lankans are engaged in the tourism industry. We are the second highest net foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka… THASL wants: 1) Continuous recognition of tourism industry; 2) Extension of the period of relief given soon after the Easter Sunday tragedy; 3) Request for a Government-backed wage support scheme; 4) Request for continuation of working capital loans at 4% interest with long-term payback; 5) EPF/ETF contribution penalties to be waived; 6) Waiver of electricity and water bills for a period of six months; 7) Municipality and Local Government taxes to be same as those charged from other industries; 8) Debt restructuring program and post-COVID19 domestic tourism rebound measures; 9) Government-supported discount schemes; and 10) domestic tourism tax relief.
• Standard Chartered commits US$1bn globally to finance companies helping to tackle Covid
• Hayleys Group subsidiaries donate Rs10.6mn in medical equipment to IDH
• Akbar Brothers pledges Rs100mn in SL’s fight against Covid
• Why have more than 1,300 CEOs left their post in the past year?
‘“Boards have been too compliant and they’re finally recognizing it’s their job to be vigilant about chief executive misbehavior,” said one advocate for corporate governance.’
• Partly false claim: The CEOs of these 19 companies stepped down during the outbreak
• Sale of condoms & sex toys hits the roof in India during lockdown!
• The US Just Signed a $450mn Vaccine Contract with Johnson & Johnson
C10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)
ee Politics points to the constant media diversions and the mercantile and financial forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.
• Covid brings UNP & Govt together!
‘Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Wimal Weerawansa, Bandula Gunawardane, Johnston Fernando and Dullas Alahapperuma represented the Government. The UNP was represented by MPs Ravi Karunanayake, Arjuna Ranatunga, Ruwan Wijewardene, Daya Gamage, Palitha Range Bandara, Navin Dissanayake and Lakshman Wijemanna. Secretary to the President, Dr. P. B. Jayasundara, Governor of the Central Bank, Prof. W.D. Lakshman, and Deputy Governor, S. R .Attygalle, were also present.
• UNP dismisses talk of national govt as “fake news”
• Political monks are against Buddha’s teachings
‘Ven Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Mahanayaka Thera of the Asgiri Chapter calls for amending election laws to prevent Buddhist monks contesting elections’
C11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)
ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.
• Let the English medium come: Revisiting the demand for English-medium education today
Rice Trade: Burma, Lanka & India
The traditional village was disrupted by the export sector, as self-governing institutions were swept away. Self-governing villages which flourished in Lanka and Burma were eliminated. The basis of the village was the gansabha, which enabled the needed solidarity of the village, especially to maintain the irrigation system.
The export sector was detrimental to peasant agriculture. Upkeep of irrigation facilities for paddy economy was neglected, damaging the local rice culture in Lanka. The provincial administration was kept busy with revenue collection and court work. “In the vicinity of the plantations there were no cart roads to provide an outlet for any surplus of locally grown paddy.” But the plantations did not “destroy the equilibrium of the peasant economy,” and did not supply landless wage labor. “It just disorganized its corporate life and impoverished the cultivator.” (SBD de Silva)
• Bengal was a major exporter of rice, particularly to Lanka until the 1860s, but then Burma emerged as the leading exporter (due to tax exemptions, improved transport and irrigation, non-enforcement of sumptuary laws). “The import of rice from Burma to Lanka and transportation to plantation districts was an elaborate enterprise involving European millers, shipping agencies & insurance firms, and the railway.
• Rice trade or ‘Devil’s Business’ or ‘The Grand National of Commerce.’ English rule of South Asia, Singapore & HK in 19thC provided the market base for an enormous expansion in the rice trade.
Indians soon became the visible symbol of the whole system of foreign control and domination in Burma. As moneylenders (Chettiars borrowed from large English banks like Chartered Bank & re-lent to the cultivators, soon controlling much Burmese land) and small traders, Indians lubricated the colonial economy; they became the agents for the financing and collection of the rice crop as well as the landlords both in the city and countryside, given responsibility for bringing almost all rice crop (the sole agro-export commodity) to hands of European rice millers and exporters. Burma was hauled into world economy by peasant crop, resulting in landlessness and depressed wages. Indigenous tenant farmer were evicted by Indians, and landlessness also increased due to loss of traditional salt boiling. Steam ships and steam-driven mills also displaced labor from boating and hand-pounding of paddy. Public service, soldiers and military police were Indian, and Burmese were excluded from armed forces until 1940s.
Major English companies operating in Burma were Bulloch Bros, Steel Bros, Mohr Bros, and Joseph Heap & Co (Liverpool). Burma rice supplied the growing Indian sugar and rubber plantation labor in Malaya & Lanka. Rangoon rice was shipped to Penang and Singapore, and then to the plantations. In Singapore, rice came westward from Siam and French Indo-China, brought to supply Chinese workers in tin mines and plantations in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. Singapore became key re-distribution center in the world rice trade, handling rice coming east from Burma and West from Siam and Indo-China. Bangkok and Saigon supplied Philippines and Hong Kong, which sent rice to Southern China, Japan, Hawaii, and California. Burma’s rice also went to England and to Europe. England consumed about 50% and re-exported rest to America, Mediterranean, and Europe (where rice was used for making alcohol, starch, animal feed).
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