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The Backlash Blues – Toppling Independent Governments
e-Con e-News 03-09 May 2020
“The best form of foreign aid the US can give to countries is to abstain from interfering in their affairs.” – PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike, 1962, after the US Ambassador threatened to cut ‘aid’ due to the creation of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation
We keep asking where have all the profits gone? The total asset base of Sri Lanka’s banking sector was LKR11.8 trillion by end 2018! Where are those trillions now? (see ee Quotes) Shouldn’t they be asked, gently at first, to invest these trillions in modern machine production? (see ee Focus, Awake My Land)
• What happened to attempting nationalization of fuel in 1961? – still our biggest import bill. This ee presents ‘The Backlash Blues’, little-known Sri Lankan history – of the coups, bribery, capital flight, of how ‘debt’ exploded after 1965 – that followed attempts at economic independence. ee highlights how the 1970-77 government was sabotaged – from insurgency to the food game that made us dependent on wheat imports.
• Media economists are gnashing their teeth about a “return” to the early 1970s. US-bankrolled Advocata, backed by local merchants, is making hysterical videos: The Wijeya Media monopoly’s favorite number-muncher WA Wijewardene worries about using ye olde hiramanay if we can’t import electric scrapers! Colombo professor Reductio Ad Abeyratnum also bewails a return to the 1970s, to bullock carts & pushbikes, if cars cannot be imported! They refuse to even dare think of making them! While imperialism’s industrialists are retrofitting factories to make everything and anything! Are all “our” supine economists paid by the importers?
While they lament the line ups of the ’70-’77 period they forget what came after: Brain drain, destruction of local industry, massive unemployment, mass firings, July 1980, July 1983, July 1987, terrorism and war, huge line ups at visa and passport offices to flee the country for work, line ups begging ministers for job chits, workers arbitrarily divided into tall (security guards) and short (manual workers), line ups to get into public hospitals, paying bribes for public services, bribes to get children into public schools, line ups of belching private vans surrounding schools, line ups of luxury cars outside international schools, clogged roads with one person per air-conditioned car, clogged drains, polluted rivers, kidney disease, Central Bank robbery, April 2019…
• Beware of corporations bearing gifts & donations of PPE, luxury hotel rooms, etc. They then whine for bailouts & PPP (private partnerships!)! They usually begin by praising frontline healthworkers (calling them ‘essential’ – tho they’re more like sacrificial workers), and end up demanding removal of labor laws, to make workers even more vulnerable (see ee Focus, Disaster Capitalism). Unionists note labor laws are never applied to the majority of workers (see ee Workers).
• The Colombot Orchestra! – The fake free-media never talk of how the ‘mass’ media is also indirectly controlled thru advertising, etc, by multinationals like Unilever, Ceylon Tobacco & Nestles, etc. Now these free-media folk, along with OGONGOs (Other Governments’ Ordered NGOS) & the (dis)loyal opposition, have gone to court to avoid elections in the country, all in the name of democracy!
In moves reminiscent of the October 2018 foofaraw, their court appeals are accompanied by a telephone call from a US National Security Advisor to the President, and the US ambassador paying a visit to see the PM! The US then finally announces GR’s renunciation of citizenship! Plus a fresh set of ‘medical’ aid from India and the US, tho both are not exactly known for prioritizing public health! Meanwhile, their corporate sponsors demand the weakening of labor laws to further undermine public support to the government. Then familiar strains arise from the usual wind instruments about anti-Muslim sentiment etc. Ah! The Colombot Orchestra!
They do not realize, or perhaps they do, that by denying the people their democratic rights, they are driving the country towards chaos. Then again, this is perhaps their game! Their monkeying around – all in the name of high-flown ideals – with the constitution (which now prevents the functioning of provincial councils, at one time high-flown vehicles of devolution!) is simply to prevent the majority of the people from finally having their say. Their false concern for ‘minorities’ is in fact a sham method of using ‘minorities’ as a battering ram. They shall surely harvest a whirlwind!
Most governments (except, perhaps, in socialist countries, which is why they’re demonized) do not have control over their economies. Colonized governments usually do not have control over ‘capitalists’ and ‘capital’ that goes in and out as it pleases, hence we lack sovereignty.
Where even our own government is weak (due to various machinations, not just cos an ‘independence’ that was framed to allow English banks and companies to continue to muck around, and how the last regime rigged the constitution) actual rule is extremely difficult, and merchants can dance the merry devil…Unless….
Despite the gnashing and wailing about dictatorship, the truth is, the ruling class will not learn, they must be taught: if there’s no local modern production, if they do not stop overconsuming, military rule is inevitable! (see ee Reader Comments)
• “Independent of Truth: A ‘Status Statement’ widely circulated on social media by a shadowy group known as ‘The Alliance of Independent Professionals’ (purportedly led by the Election Commissioner’s NGOid brother Sunanda Deshapriya, which he denies) constitutes a vicious attack on government efforts to combat the Covid19 pandemic. At the very opening of ‘Status Statement IV: 28 April 2020’, the Alliance includes a graph of “detected Covid-19 cases”, showing an alarmingly steep rise in numbers. However, the graph is dishonest. By including the solitary case of the 1st Chinese patient (who, it should be noted, did not initiate its spread in SL), they begin the graph on 27 January, 1.5 months before the pandemic began truly to spread here. By thus lengthening the horizontal axis, they make the rise in the case numbers appear very much steeper than they are. To cap it off, these “independent professionals”, cap the line with an almost-upward-pointing arrowhead.
A truer graph (see below), starting with the initiation of the pandemic by European tourists & returning expats from Europe, would show, until the 41st day, the rise was steady but slow, at an average of about 6.4 cases per day (average over the first 25 days, continued til April 20). The daily number of cases as well as the 3-day-average trend shows, while a steep rise was indicated on days 42-50, this began to taper off thereafter, thus belying the almost-upward-pointing arrowhead (depicted in blue) in the The Alliance of Independent Professionals’ graph”
A1. Reader Comments –
Health, White Vans & IMF-ed • Ceylon Tobacco & Curfew Gangs • Chickens & Monkeys
A2. Quotes of the Week
Destroying Colombo • That Clandestine Agency for International Trade That Signed FTAs without Parliament • FTZ Lessons • Bank Profits
A3. Random Notes –
Bank Trillions Where? • Backlash Blues • Wijeya’s Archchigay Hiramanay • Reductio Abeyratnum’s bollocks • Corporations bearing Gifts • EFC wants to Screw Labor Law • Anti-election Democrats • Colombots Orchestrating Chaos! • Alliance of US-Dependent Professionals • How the US Undermined the 1960-64 Government • How Ceylon Petroleum was Undermined • The Birth of High Debt & the Aid Ceylon Club • Indonesia Slaughter • By Food & by Crook: How the US Toppled the 1970-77 UF Government • US PL480 War on Food • How Land Reform was Undone • SLFP Shifted from Import-substitution to Export-oriented Industrialization • Hitting from the ‘Left’ & the ‘Right’
B. ee Focus
B1. Coronavirus Pandemic & Looming Threat of Disaster Capitalism – Ramindu Perera
B2. Wake up My Land to the Kingdom of Technological Heaven – Vinod Moonesinghe
B3. Lesson from Corona – Gunadasa Amarasekera
C. News Index
A1. Reader Comments
• ee thanks Readers who send articles of interest. Please excerpt or summarize what is important about any article sent, or your comments, and place the e-link at the end. It’s better if you send them as email.
• IMF-ed! “At Karapitiya hospital, the lineup for surgery was 100 people. In 2015, the new ruling Yahapalana coalition imposed ‘austerity’ as demanded by the IMF, and the hospital lineups increased to 450. Many many more people died waiting for surgery. These stats are not included in the financial ratings that congratulated that new government’s economic policies, nor did they figure in the praise for the ‘democracy’ supposedly ushered in, yet in a way they too were ‘pajero-ed’, ‘white vanned’ or more aptly, IMF-ed!… but they are from villages and do not count – but for how much longer?”
• “Philip Morris International & British American Tobacco (Ceylon Tobacco Co) are on an offensive to claim tobacco products have no negative effect on respiratory disease! The CTC also continues to distribute their tobacco products during curfews? Are they deemed ‘essential’? How does their collusion with official & unofficial ‘channels’ work? Their involvement in smuggling cigarettes to avoid taxes, etc, offers a key to the so-called gangs? Should the CEO of CTC be called ‘Geneva Koest’, to mimic the way the media tags local gangsters by the village they hail from?” (see ee Security)
• “The domination of Sri Lanka’s economy by private merchants & moneylenders is fostered by multinational corporations. These MNCs not just control the legal arms of nation-states, they also interlink with large international gangs involved in toxic chemicals, drugs, weapons and human trafficking, and they cannot be overcome by democratic means, by courts and lawyers.
We have to shoot a few chickens to scare these monkeys. Capital punishment must be reserved for capitalists who not just indulge in such crimes, but also commit acts of economic sabotage, and refuse to reinvest in modern production. We must replace this dictatorship of merchants by a dictatorship of the proletariat, which will use such methods to eliminate capitalist control of the economy. The ‘proletariat’ refers to the most advanced sections of the working class who know through everyday experience how the economy and the country is really run.
With the experience of the 20th century, it became clear that dictatorship of the proletariat means dictatorship of the Communist Party, a cadre-based party. If we are to learn anything from China, it is how they have organized their Party and the society.”
A2. Quotes of the Week_
• “I have for many a long year had a longing to destroy the city of Colombo and raze it to the ground, as it is the origin & mother of all the evil that has come upon this land.” – Rajasinghe II, to the Dutch
• ‘A clandestine outfit called the Agency for International Trade chaired by the Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies… reigned supreme over decision making on Free Trade Agreements, even without legislative authority of the Parliament’ (see ee Economists, To Be or Not To Be)
• “Lesson to learn – If employees of FTZs (Free Trade Zones) & other large industrial/manufacturing companies had been provided with proper & hygienic residential facilities with food, they could have worked without a break during this period. The income those companies lose due to long-duration closure may be much higher than the cost they could have incurred in providing such facilities. Such an arrangement would also have lead to a contented & dignified workforce at present living under pathetic & insecure conditions.”
• Profits are Private, Debt is National – “The banking sector consisted of 25 Licensed Commercial Banks, and 7 Licensed Specialized Banks as of 31 Dec 2018… The total asset base of the banking sector increased by 14.6% over the past year from LKR10.3trillion in 2017 to LKR11.8trn by end 2018. Domestic Systemically Important Banks held 62% of total sector assets as at end 2018… Total deposits of the banking sector increased by 14.8% in 2018 to LKR8.5trn. (Sri Lanka Banking Report – 2nd Half 2018: KPMG)”
A3. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_
How the US Undermined the 1960-64 Government
• Fuel still remains our most massive import expense – over US$4 billion in 2018!
In January 1961, Ceylon’s parliament created a state petroleum corporation, attempting to challenge the US & English monopolies – Shell (Anglo-Dutch), Esso & Caltex (US) – which controlled the supply & distribution of petroleum products.
The new Ceylon Petroleum Corporation expropriated, first some and then all of these foreign oil operations. The government soon found itself under siege from the multinational oil companies, various international financial institutions – mainly the World Bank – plus the English & US governments.
Minister of Trade TB Illangaratne had “dismissed fears of frightening away foreign capital… declaring that private foreign capital had shown no interest in Ceylon since she had become independent.” The government also argued less expensive oil was available elsewhere. All this was true, but did they underestimate the power of imperialism & their local agents?
In January 1962, corporate leaders, army & police officers attempted a coup d’etat and failed. Nevertheless, in April, the government forged ahead and took over 20% of the gas & oil outlets, and announced an oil deal with the USSR, Romania & the United Arab Republic.
Meanwhile, aiming at Cuba, the US passed the Hickenlooper Amendment, to suspend foreign aid to any country expropriating US property without compensation. Yet it was Sri Lanka that then became the first country against which the Hickenlooper Amendment was applied, though the US worried that this may push SL to ally with the USSR & China.
Nevertheless, US Ambassador Frances Willis told Finance Minister Felix Dias Bandaranaike in July they would cut off aid. The PM replied Willis directly: “The best form of foreign aid the US can give to small countries is to abstain from interfering in their affairs.”
The US then threatened the government 35 times! On January 11, 1963, the US State Department said it would cut off all aid on February 1, if the oil companies were not compensated. The oil companies Esso & Caltex also warned US President Kennedy (10 months before his assassination) they were unhappy, and wanted to “see an example made of Ceylon”.
On February 7, the US terminated its USAID mission, but continued its ‘Food for Peace’ program. In December 1963, the US & Anglo-Dutch oil companies halted oil shipments to Sri Lanka. On January 1, 1964, the SL government took over all remaining foreign-owned petroleum outlets. But the multinational oil companies also controlled shipping, and blocked oil tankers coming to Sri Lanka.
England’s structuring of the economy at independence to prevent industry, and depend on exports of agricultural commodities, had also made sure the country was now even more reliant on foreign caprice.
The US now applied economic pressure via “capital flight”. The World Bank (WB, controlled by the US & England) in 1961 had decided Sri Lanka was “no longer creditworthy” and stopped funding for the next 7 years, signaling other banks not to lend. The US & England also began to cut off “aid”.
Sri Lanka’s official reserves fell 12% in 1963, and 31% in 1964, only enough to cover 45 days of imports. At a 1964 Tokyo news conference, the US WB president, threatened that governments who “belabour foreign countries” would get no WB loans, clearly aimed at SL. SL’s Finance Minister NM Perera “was there in person to get the message loud & clear,” noted London’s Economist magazine.
The opposition UNP promised that if elected it would settle the dispute with the foreign oil companies “within 24 hours”. Massive bribes soon lubricated SLFP crossovers to the UNP. Within 5 days of the UNP taking power in 1965, preliminary compensation was paid: Anglo-Dutch Shell received $7 million, Esso & Caltex received $2.3 million each. The UNP government also abolished the profit remittance law, a major bone of contention, which the imperialist governments demanded. England’s Privy Council, which still overruled Sri Lanka’s judiciary, also released the 1962 coup plotters from jail. The government then told 3 socialist embassies in Colombo to reduce their staff to the barest minimum, refusing visas, and confiscating socialist literature.
The Aid Ceylon Club
• In February 1966, the US gave Sri Lanka a $7.5 million loan to help finance the import of “essential commodities for industrial and agricultural development”. A further US Public Law 480 Food for Peace agreement signed in March 1966, had the US providing 50,000 metric tons of wheat flour and 5000 MT of corn grain sorghum (worth $4. million), escalating wheat dependency, with payment in Ceylon rupees, and 70% of counterpart funds available as “long-term loans for development projects”.
Imperialist nations (US, England, West Germany, Canada, Japan, etc.) now formed the “Aid Ceylon Club” – a consortium of banks and governments, coordinated by the World Bank – to fund the UNP government. The WB demanded that SL must work out a “stabilization agreement” with the IMF. In return for IMF loans, the UNP government secretly promised to curtail social services. Sri Lanka also then had to reduce the rice ration subsidy in December 1966, increase dramatically the price of rice & bus fares and (in 1967) devalue the rupee by 20%. In 1968, a foreign exchange entitlement scheme depreciated the exchange rate further, rocketing consumer prices.
Sri Lanka’s debt now zoomed! Between 1965-70, the IMF gave short-term credit of Rs723.4 million, with Rs301.7 million paid back. US & Euro banks lent Rs350 million. SL’s total short-term debt by 1970 was Rs772 million.
The Aid Ceylon Club promised Rs1.01 billion to tide of “balance-of-payment difficulties.” By mid-1968, Rs485 million was provided to import industrial raw material, machinery &fertilizers. Of the $200 million granted as US aid, 1950-70, 50% was received by Sri Lanka during the 5-year period, 1965-70.
In 1965, foreign debt had been only 25% of yearly earnings. By 1971 it was 92% of earnings, with the government forced to borrow more funds just to cover interest!
The Indonesian Lesson
• In 1963, the Sukarno government in Indonesia had also demanded renegotiation of oil concessions owned by the US (Caltex, Texaco, SoCal, Jersey Standard, Mobil) & Anglo-Dutch Shell. In 1964, the Indonesian government began to nationalize its economy. When threatened by the US, Indonesia’s Industry Minister responded, “Indonesia is prepared to face it.”
The imperialist states now decided to teach rising Asian, African & American countries who defied them, a bitter lesson! In September 1965, the US CIA wrote a “National Intelligence Estimate” entitled, “Prospects for & Strategic Implications of a Communist Takeover in Indonesia,” because Indonesia’s PKI, was one of the largest communist parties in the world. In October 1965, the US, England & Holland organized the toppling of the Sukarno government, and massacre of over 1 million Indonesians.
8 years later, a repeat performance: the US and telecom behemoth ITT couped the socialist government in Chile and began the slaughter of its supporters in September, 1973. The capitalist mass media would then declare for the next 50 years that socialism simply does not work!
By Food & By Crook: How the US Toppled the 1970-77 UF Government
• The Dudley Senanayake government had fallen midst rising unemployment & cost-of-living in 1970. 700,000 people had become unemployed, with 13,000 jobless grads from the 4 universities. 1965-70, the Cost-of-Living-Index had risen from 112 to 137.
The new United Front government inherited a bankrupt treasury. It was soon rocked by an insurgency in 1971 that killed thousands. Multinational corporations with budgets larger than mosy countries’ economies were now dominating the movement of goods. In 1973, the US couped the government in Chile. By 1974, adding to Sri Lanka’s economic woes due to dependence on food imports, there were massive worldwide harvest failures, famines, rocketing food & oil prices, drought from poor monsoon rains for the 3 years before, falling prices for exports, and imported inflation.
In 1975, the United Front government was split. An intriguing source of conflict behind this split in the Coalition government of Sirimavo Bandaranake, was said to have been LSSP Finance Minister NM Perera’s May Day speech, which referred to payments of ‘PL480 rupee funds’ by the US Embassy in SL, being (mis)used for political interference. The US embassy had made unusually large withdrawals of US PL480 funds in the early part of 1975. NM later mentioned a Rs15 million US loan given to prop up the previous Dudley Senanayake UNP government in February 1969 – a transaction not shown in government accounts.
The US Embassy officially denied “all charges… the US government-owned rupees on deposits in Ceylonese banks had been used to interfere in the internal affairs of SL” (CDN, May 9, 1975).
On September 5, 1975, NM (by then no longer Finance Minister) was reported as stating the breakup of the Coalition had nothing to do with his August Hartal speech on land reform (see below), but was “a premeditated & well-calculated plot by the mudalalis (local capitalists) and the imperialist supporters [the PM] has recently gathered around her.”
PM Sirimavo officially replied that there was no evidence of any irregularities by the US embassy (CDN, September 20, 1975). The new Finance Minister Felix Dias Bandaranaike then agreed to appoint a Select Committee of the National State Assembly to probe the Rs15 million US loan to the previous UNP government.
Yet right after the removal of NM as Finance Minister, the US had provided increased stocks of imported flour “as gifts & additional purchases, mainly under the PL480”, improving the distribution of essential food items through the government rationing scheme. The imported wheat flour eased the situation, but adversely undermined local food production efforts devoted to domestic substitutes.
War on Food: PL480
• Many industrialized countries destroy vast amounts of commodities, especially food, being burned or thrown into the sea, etc. – despite hunger inside the USA as well – to preserve high domestic prices (aka ‘price support’).
Known as “commodity set-asides”, these goods are prevented from entering their own domestic markets. Such goods also came to be used as sweeteners to promote arms sales and further US military policy to destabilize governments.
It was this militarized food program that was used to undermine the 1970-77 Sirimavo Bandaranaike government during the massive worldwide food & oil crisis. Industrial policies aimed at making Sri Lanka self-sufficient, after 1970, and not dependent on imports, added to making it a target of the imperialist countries.(see ee Focus, B2)
Tied to US military, industrial & diplomatic needs, the US Public Law 480 aka Agricultural Trade Development & Assistance Act, had simultaneously created the Office of Food for Peace in 1954. “Friendly” “food-deficient countries” were “allowed” to buy ‘surplus’ US agricultural commodities in their own currencies instead of in US$. “Food aid” was thus promoted as “a far better weapon than a bomber in our competition with the Communists for influence in the developing world.”
Buying US weapons also qualified countries to gain their ‘food support’…. of course, such support does not involve figuring out why our countries’ agricultural policies are not linked to self-sufficiency.
Imperialist countries are more interested in us providing plantation crops for industrialized countries to process and sell back to our countries. Or providing ‘cheapened’ labor to assemble exported parts they manufacture by capital-intensive methods..
Using food as a weapon escalated after 1969, as “food aid programs were conspicuously recast to serve US military & security objectives, first in Southeast Asia and then in West Asia.” US-dollar devaluations in 1971 and 1973 made US agricultural prices more competitive. Yet in 1973, world grain prices skyrocketed, decreasing US wheat stocks. US President Nixon had even got ready to announce domestic price controls to halt food price escalation in US supermarkets. The oil crisis led to the 3-day week in England, with TV broadcasts shut off after 10.30 pm to conserve electricity. (Japan, however, got industry to innovate the fuel-efficient small car, which soon dominated auto markets!)
By 1973, almost half of US food ‘aid’ was going to back up the US war on Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia. After the US defeat in Indochina, food shipments were rerouted to West Asia, and Egypt emerged as the largest recipient of PL480 allocations, receiving 5 times more than any other country. May 31, 1974, US President Nixon remarked to his staff: “We must maintain the balance. Weapons for Israel & PL480 for Egypt.” PL480 would also be used to undermine the United Front government in 1975.
Land Reform Undone
The split in the 1970 government was also ostensibly sparked by the PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike taking exception to the 1953 Hartal Commemoration speech in August 1975 by Finance Minister NM Perera. This led to the reconstitution of the cabinet with the removal of the LSSP’s NM, and the installing of the SLFP’s Felix Dias Bandaranaike as Finance Minister on September 3.
In his Hartal speech, NM was reported to have threatened to leave the government if the nationalization of the estates was not carried out “satisfactorily”. The LSSP had hoped the nationalization would have taken place under the LSSP Minister for Plantation Industries, but the PM then assigned it to the SLFP Minister of Agriculture & Lands, Hector Kobbekaduwa
The LSSP then signed a no-confidence motion against the PM (for the first time in SL) over her personal land transactions prior to and on the eve of the 1972 Land Reform Act, which had imposed a ceiling on private ownership of land.
The nationalization of all public company estates had promised to rectify the “historical injustices” done to the peasantry, through English evictions with their plantations causing landlessness and other adverse effects. The Land Reform had also promised to integrate the estate and village economy.
Effected on October 17, 1975, the Land Reform (Amendment) Law closed off more than a century of direct foreign ownership in the plantation sector. Of the 396 estates affected, 376 were managed by Agency Houses. The 1975 law however allowed these agency houses to continue as “statutory trustees” for 2 more years. And beyond that. For the agency houses have continued to dominate the tea sector especially, and still do today.
• SLFP Shifts from Import-Substitution to Export-Oriented Industrialization
The 1976 budget, presented by an SLFP Minister for the first time since 1970 and coming soon after the removal of the LSSP Finance Minister, abolished ceiling on incomes, abolished compulsory savings; limited the maximum marginal rate of personal income taxation to 50%; abolished the proposed high wealth tax rate schedule; retained exemption on dividends (up to 10%) of tax holiday companies; retained ‘development’ rebates and lump-sum depreciation allowances.
Another main feature was the explicit mention of the need for “the infusion of new external capital from private sources to be used in the establishment of new enterprises”, especially in export-oriented activity. The Minister wanted aid from foreign commercial banks in the country, since their banking business would soon diminish when the banking operations of the nationalized estate sector was supposed to be transferred to state-owned banking institutions. The budget proposals also gave effect to the Foreign Investment Guarantee Law designed to attract foreign capital for export-oriented industries. This law also planned a Foreign Investment Authority to evaluate and report on applications for foreign investment in the country. Thus ended Sri Lanka’s limited attempt at import substitution, while multinational suppliers continued to provide the inputs that dominate the local export-manufacturing sector.
(Info from – N Balakrishnan: Sri Lanka in 1974, Battle for Economic Survival, Asian Survey, 1975, Sri Lanka in 1975, Political Crisis & Split in the Coalition, Asian Survey, 1976)
• Hitting from Right & Left – Destabilizing the 1970 government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, involved isolating and eliminating the Left parties as a force in Sri Lanka’s politics. This involved a strategy of hitting from the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’.
The ‘Leftish’ strategy involved what is known as “Left-wing communism,” aka “an infantile disorder” – a romantic dilettantish anarchism, as exhibited in the JVP uprising of 1971, which considerably weakened the UF government, where many idealistic youth lost their lives, while at the same time strengthening those rightist forces involved in the assassination of SWRD and the coup against Sirimavo in 1962, allowing them to inveigle themselves into her inner circles.
The 1977 UNP government would go on to dismantle and undermine industries set up after 1956.
B. Special Focus____________________________________________
B1. Coronavirus pandemic and the looming threat of disaster capitalism – Ramindu Perera
The Government is yet to declare its plan for economic revival. So far, the Government’s response has been limited to making rhetorical references to notions like national economy and so forth
While the public was occupied with news on the latest developments of the coronavirus pandemic last week – of increasing numbers of patients, of infected naval officers and the Government’s relaxation of curfew measures – an interesting article authored by Franklyn Amerasinghe was published in the Daily FT (17 April) titled ‘Employers and their ability to pay post COVID-19’. Amerasinghe is a former Head of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon.
The article argued that large businesses are facing difficulties due to the pandemic and this difficult situation demands a substantive relaxation of labour laws and standards. Further, it claimed that ‘social justice’ should be interpreted subjected to the right of conducting business; and labour law enforcement in Free Trade Zones should be suspended for three months. The writer further suggested that the Termination of Employment of Workmen’s Act, which imposes restrictions on firing workers, should be amended accordingly.
Meanwhile, on 6 April, in a letter addressing the Minister of Labour, the Head of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Kanishka Weerasinghe also forwarded a number of demands. This included demands such as subsidising the private sector to pay wages of workers, enabling employers to renegotiate terms of employment including wages and holidays, allowing employers to employ workers beyond statutory working day limits and also without extra pay for overtime work.
Consequences, if these demands are enforced, are self-evident: a large number of workers would lose their jobs, there would be significant cuts in wages, and workers will be compelled to work under extremely precarious conditions without any sense of employment security. These harsh demands reflect a looming crisis; a healthcare crisis transforming itself into a full-scale socio-economic crisis. Structural adjustment reforms – It is of no surprise if one might think that the proposals of the Employers’ Federation, the representative body of the most prominent businessmen in the country, are just and logical due to the magnitude of the crisis at hand. This is no surprise because throughout the past few decades we have been accustomed to looking at economic matters through a particular lens: thinking the private sector as the engine of the economy.
According to this view, businesses should thrive if the economy is to prosper. If businesses, especially if big businesses are in a large-scale crisis, they should be rescued – bailed out – at any cost. All other considerations: labour rights, wellbeing of workers and labour regulations are of secondary importance.
This free market fundamentalist conception that assumes markets are virtuous and could recover on their own if they are given the required freedom is the underlying logic of one of the perspectives that has been advanced as a response to the looming socio-economic crisis. Within this paradigm, reviving the economy is mainly the responsibility of the private sector and the state should facilitate them by removing unnecessary obstacles such as restrictive labour laws.
This perspective is not something exclusive to the Employers’ Federation in Sri Lanka. On 23 March, David Malpass, the President of the World Bank Group, issued a statement outlining the measures they intend to employ to combat the economic repercussions of the pandemic. The press release states:
‘…Countries will need to implement structural reforms to help shorten the time to recovery and create confidence that the recovery can be strong. For those countries that have excessive regulations, subsidies, licensing regimes, trade protection or litigiousness as obstacles, we will work with them to foster markets, choice and faster growth prospects during the recovery.’
This extract is a textbook example for the free market fundamentalist approach. The crux of the argument is that the state should facilitate markets to bloom through imposing structural adjustment policies.
Structural adjustment policies refer to a number of economic liberalisation measures prescribed by international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank starting from the 1980s. These were especially imposed on Third-World countries as debt conditionalities with the view of integrating these economies to the international economy. These packages included measures such as privatisation of public assets, slashing subsidies targeting the poor, commodification of public services and lifting import restrictions that aimed to protect small scale producers from international competition.
Effects of structural adjustments were largely devastating for the poor in third world countries; particularly for small scale farmers and petty producers. As Mike Davis vividly explains in his celebrated work Planet of Slums (2005), one of the main reasons behind the large growth of slum population in Asian and African cities following the 1980s was the harsh impact structural adjustment policies had on rural economies.
Thousands were compelled to migrate into cities looking for livelihood and settle in informal settlements. Though detrimental for the poor, these policies were beneficial for certain sections; especially for parasitic local economic elites enriching themselves through securing access to the liberalised import markets or grabbing a portion of privatised state assets.
Disaster capitalism – How would the post-coronavirus socio-economic crisis be handled globally? One of the most likely scenarios is global capital’s use of the crisis as an ‘opportunity’ to reinforce its authority and consolidate hegemony. The crisis would be handled in a manner that benefits the rich while shifting the economic burden on poorer sections. Worse, there are signs indicating that the crisis would offer a fresh opportunity for the economic elite to remove barriers and obstacles that were hitherto restricting its further expansion and entrenchment.
Canadian scholar Naomi Klein introduced the notion ‘Disaster Capitalism’ in her book The Shock Doctrine (2007) to explain how private capital manipulates natural or man-made disasters in order to expand its reach.
For instance, in a hypothetical situation where a construction company secures a contract to rebuild infrastructure affected by a storm – the response to the disaster is ‘privatised’ and it enables private profiteering. ‘Shock therapy’ refers to deliberate political interventions in times of crisis that aim to restructure socio-economic processes for the benefit of businesses and corporations.
For example, at the moment, certain states in the United States have moved to enact laws facilitating fossil-fuel companies to proceed with their projects that were previously opposed by environmental activists. Due to the emergency and the pandemic, the resistance has been weakened; and the crisis is used as an opportunity to advance the agenda of companies. The full-scale economic liberalisation imposed on Chile following the coup d’état in 1973 is one of the classic examples of how crisis offers openings for further capital accumulation.
Sri Lanka is not immune to this global phenomenon. It is in this context that the recommendations of the World Bank on structural reforms and local employers’ demands on drastic measures against labour should be taken into consideration. The Government is yet to declare its plan for economic revival. So far, the Government’s response has been limited to making rhetorical references to notions like national economy and so forth. The stimulus package targeting poor sections of the society is a welcoming move; but it has been criticised from a comparative perspective in terms of adequacy.
For instance, according to economic analyst Ahilan Kadiragamar, the total budget for the relief package in Sri Lanka amounts to a mere 0.13% of the GDP; whereas neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh (2.5%) and Pakistan (2%) and also states like Kerala in India (2% of the state GDP) have performed better.
However, the crucial test will be the response of the Government in relation to international financial institutions and the organised local economic elite. How would the Government respond to the recommendations of global financial institutions pressing for structural reforms; or the local business class demanding a frontal attack on labour laws?
Keeping this question in mind, it is interesting to look at the composition of the Task Force appointed by the President a few days ago for the purpose of economic revival and poverty alleviation. In addition to a number of public officials, the Task Force comprises the following individuals: Owner – Nature’s Secrets, Chairman – MAS Holdings, CEO – The Kingdom of Raigam, Executive Officers of E.B. Creasy and Co. and the Sanmik Group.
What role do these individual barons, or their representatives have in a public task force? If it is a matter of involving all stakeholders, what about millions of working masses who are expected to encounter the harshest blow? Why are trade unions or labour organisations representing these masses not on board?
Thus, it would be interesting to see the nature of the ‘revival’ plan the Government intends to present. In a context in which the organised business class has demanded a reduction of labour laws – and also, larger concessions for themselves – it is not difficult to anticipate where the class allegiances of the Task Force lie. Though it might be too early to state anything definite, one thing could be stated for sure: disaster capitalism is out there – right at our doorstep.
B2. Wake up My Land to the Kingdom of Technological Heaven – Vinod Moonesinghe
Out of the gloom of the Covid epidemic, this is an era when practical issues of global conceptions are emerging. This is a moment to relate to the value of self-sufficiency while enjoying the day-to-day dependence on others. This is a time when the attitudes that need to be rationalised are being socialised. This is a time where the need for a technology that we are making is very high. If we, as a country, earnestly endeavour to do so, this is the moment in which the rest of the world should study the journey with that objective.
Sri Lanka has been at the forefront of innovation since the beginning of human civilisation. According to conventional wisdom, globally, agriculture began around 12,000 years ago in the fertile crescent of the Middle East. The oldest cultivated paddy was found in Dambadiva (North India) about 8,000 years ago. Evidence exists that paddy cultivation spread here about 6,000 years ago, very rapidly in terms of the rate of spread of innovation at the time. Iron was first made in Turkey about 4,000 years ago. In the meantime, the remnants of the iron ore stoves used up to 3000 years ago are still in existence in the isle of Lanka. From about 2300 years ago, Sri Lankan metallurgists were able to produce high-quality steel with wind-powered blast furnaces.
The technology we use today is imported from abroad. There are only a handful of local innovations. How did such a change occur? In 1948, Ceylon received from Britain not absolute independence but the status of a Dominion. Politically, we had partial freedom and remained, mentally, the slaves of the White Man.
After the 1956 revolution, this mindset began to change gradually. Culturally, the self-confidence that emerged from local influences manifested itself, not only in Khemadasa’s musical compositions, and Lester James Peiris’ films, but also in women’s fashions. And a renaissance began, both in science and technology. This was a boon for industry in Sri Lanka. The manufacturing sector increased from 4.7% to 23.3% of gross national income during the 1953-77 period.
At that time, entrepreneurs such as Cyril Zoysa, AYS Gnanam, Upali Wijewardena and others started manufacturing a wide range of products, from wire nails to lead-acid batteries. An electronics industry emerged, based on radios manufactured under the “Vahini”, “Unic” and “Siedles” brands. A number of new products were also made by the State Corporations. This resulted in a technological foundation for innovation.
The plantation sector, which was the main economic division of the country at that time, also saw its share of innovation. Engineering companies such as Browns, Walkers and CCC, manufactured plant and machinery for factories associated with plantations, Using this technology base, several innovations were introduced by government research institutions; For example, a fluidised-bed tea drier (in which an air blast causes the tea to behave as a liquid), was first invented in Sri Lanka; They also invented the “Cisirill Manakoka” still for the extraction of cinnamon oil.
Even in this era, not all were successful. For example, the solar-powered absorption refrigerator, designed by JCV Chinnappa, was manufactured overseas, although there were industries in the country that produced kerosene-powered adsorption refrigerators. However, in spite of such occasional failures, in a largely self-reliant age, innovation has been successful.
After 1977, with the unrestricted opening of the economy, the foreign trade and service surplus of Rs. 654 million became a Rs. 21.6 billion deficit. Foreign imported goods were paid for by foreign loans. Many high-tech industries, including electronic and plantation-related machinery sectors, were shut down. Instead, despite the growth of labour-intensive industries such as apparel, the manufacturing sector, which was 23% of GDP in 1977, declined to 14% by 1983. The foundation on which technology can be developed has been weakened.
Moreover, our people, especially scientific and technical workers lost confidence in Sri Lanka, and the pre-1956 slave mentality revived. Since foreign technology was easy to obtain, it was futile to develop local technologies suited to Sri Lanka. Scientists and technologists incessantly departed overseas.
Science and technology lost their value in Sri Lanka today. In the 1970s, the country spent 0.4% of its GDP spent on research and development, but now only 0.16% (2/5 of the previous percentage). South Korea spends 4.3%, while Japan, Taiwan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Austria all spend more than 3%. India, which is much poorer than us, also spends 0.85% (five times more than us).
Technology does not grow in a vacuum. Its progress depends on the level of improvement of the productive forces of society, on the educational, management and social factors that influence innovation. The critical industrial and agricultural sectors need to be developed to provide the basis for the technologies needed to develop these hubs. India has successfully followed this path. It is firmly rooted in the productive sectors of the economy. India, not Sri Lanka, is not the most modernised country in South Asia. Sri Lanka has not become an industrial society but a post-industrial society.
South Korea, the most innovative country in the world, can set an example for developing Sri Lanka’s technology by observing how it has come to be.
It is based on two factors, namely the advancement of innovation, the promotion of the process of acquiring foreign technologies, and the enhancement of local absorption capacity, for the digestion, assimilation and enhancement of the technology obtained.
Due to concerns over multinational corporations, South Korea, unlike most other developing countries, decided to forego foreign direct investment (FDI); instead, the government borrowed money overseas and, with a series of five-year plans, invested in a few selected industries. Moreover, it controlled production targets and, similarly, controlled research and development goals.
Instead of adopting new technology through foreign direct investment, South Korea used arms-length methods (where the parties are on an independent basis), such as reverse engineering, original equipment manufacturing (OEM), and production licenses. The government worked in partnership with the private sector to create a technological foundation for industrial development, including establishing industrial research institutions. The use of these technology-transfer strategies enabled Korea to acquire new technologies at cheaper rates, and to create a better-skilled workforce.
In 1982, the Government of Korea initiated the National Research and Development Programme, after establishing an industrial-technology foundation. R&D expenditure increased from 0.81% of GDP, to 2.6% between 1981 and 1996. In 1992, the government inaugurated the “HAN Project”, to develop the basic technology required for the 21st century. Within 10 years, South Korea became among the most innovative countries in the entire cycle of planning processes, including technical foresight, consultation between various ministries, and co-ordination between the government and the private sector.
There are three basic things that can be deduced from the experience of South Korea. That is, the need for high-level government involvement and planning, the importance of technical self-reliance and the creation of a skilled workforce.
These three are also seen in the development of bio-technology in Cuba. The government developed a free health service in the country, which previously had very poor health. Although it is a centralised service, it is a system of decentralised community clinics and hospitals that can cater to the needs of the local population.
Some of the best graduates in several subjects, thrown up by the free education system in Cuba, are recruited to several biotechnological research institutes and manufacturing companies. Their intelligence, the cumulative knowledge of the institutes and factories, and the feedback they receive from the health care system, have enabled them to synthesise and produce many new drugs. Among these are a number of remedies for dengue fever, medications for diabetic foot diseases, periodontitis (swollen-brain disease) and yellow fever.
Today, Bio Cuba Farma Corporation, Cuba’s premier biotechnology company, consists of 33 conglomerates and 21,600 employees, producing and distributing over 1,000 varieties of pharmaceuticals and chemicals. It exports to 50 countries. It also owns 2,640 valid patents in Cuba and other countries.
Cuba came to this position despite the US sanctions, because the Cuban government in the 1980s and 90s, invested $ 1 billion investment, which proved sufficient because of several other factors. That is, having a well-educated, skilled workforce, direct intervention of the government, and especially, a self-reliant process.
As we study how these two, very different countries have developed their innovation capabilities, it becomes clear to us that in order for Sri Lanka to do so, we need to have a free, self-reliant mindset, not a slave to foreign aid. In addition, there must be an advanced, science-based education system, planning and research, and public investment and goal-setting, and an understanding of how to make the most of our natural and human resources.
If so, we can transform into a country of high quality innovation. If not, our future will continue to depend on those who serve in West Asia, forever.
B2. Lesson from Corona – Gunadasa Amarasekera
I have realised for quite some time that the Sinhalaya is not one to learn a lesson easily. Will Corona at least teach him that lesson? Of course, we will learn the lesson, this time, if we remain alive.
When we look back at the path we have taken after getting Independenceand especially ater’77, it is clear that we would have faced this situation before long, with or without Corona.
It is fifty years ago that we should have realized we may have to face a situation such as this. The first indications were there in the 1st JVP insurrection of ’71,and their 2nd insurrection of ’87. What were the reasons behind both those insurrections? It was the economic policy followed after Independence, and the open economy followed after ’77. Those youth were forced into ‘a bloody revolution’ by the unemployment, the poverty, the frustration and the difference between the haves and the have-nots. These are the same factors that pushed the youth in the North to terrorism. In addition they were provided with an elixir by the power hungry racist Tamil leaders, making the youth in the North believe that it is the ‘Sinhala government in the South ‘ which is responsible for the plight they were facing.
Mrs. Bandaranaike’s government learnt some lessons from the 1st JVP insurrection, but those lessons were not effective. I think it was because of the effort made to implement the Marxist theories into practice. Mrs. Bandaranaike did want to move towards a national economy, the Marxists wanted it on their own agenda. We have a local pithy saying that (even if the patient dies, the purging has been successful), best illustrates the theory. The result was the introduction of rice queues, chilli queues and the like oppressing the common man, and paving the way for the opportunity for the neoliberalism of JR Jayawardene, spelling disaster to country and nation.
Ten years later the effects of that poison were obvious. In 1987 I brought out a publication Jathika Chinthanaya saha Jathika Arthikaya. I wrote it as a response to Ranasinha Premadasa’a challenge; his patchwork remedial welfare measures were not effective in curing the ills .
All governments that have followed since have carried forward this neoliberal economy of J. R. Jayewardene. That economic theory was put so well into practice that paddy fields were being filled to grow gherkin, and betel leaves and arecanuts were being imported.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to destroy terrorism in the North that had arisen as a result of this neoliberal economy. I was hoping that he would follow his victory with the statement; ‘Now we have put an end to the terrorism that had been there for thirty years. The cause for this terrorism in the North as well as in the South, is the same; it is this vicious economy. Now let us all get together, and get rid of this vicious economy, go through hardships in doing so, in order to build our country’. I expected him to give voice to something like that. We also presented A National Resurgence Commission Report carrying our views on the matter.
But that is not what happened. The Economic Advisors decreed that the neoliberal Economics must be followed more vigorously as much as possible. The final result is that we are now in debt to the whole world in order to continue with this neoliberal economy. By now the debt has gone into billions. Will we ever be able to free ourselves from this debt? The thought cannot even be entertained. We have now to sell even our very land to settle our debts.
Besides having to give up the land of our birth, the Corona epidemic seems to see to it that we have to give up our lives due to lack of food. Corona might have thought that its threat might open our eyes.
If we had learnt the lessons we should have, we would not have had to face this calamity. We would have been able to save our land and our people.
In the face of the very effective anti-Corona action that the government is taking, the virus is bound to leave us soon. When the numbers recovering are taken into consideration, it can no longer be taken as a deadly disease. We will face decimation not because of the Corona, but because of the massive economic depression.
The World Bank has declared that the world has not had to face an economic depression such as this since the 1930s
What is our situation in the face of this? In addition to the loans we have got, the foreign exchange required for this so-called development had been from our tea, the garment industry and the export of our village women as domestics. The last was actually the main source of exchange brought to the country.
What will be their fate in the face of this world depression? Will they be able to get employment in these countries any further? Will they be our suppliers of foreign exchange any further?
Will those countries have the economic stability to continue with these any further? West Asia is facing a huge economic crisis at present. The Burmese workers who had gone to Thailand had to come back as the factories were being closed. Will not ours have to face the same predicament? (I understand that already 27,000 are seeking to come back.) The USA and England had adopted precautionary measures even before the Corona. The USA had started building a wall to prevent the Mexican labourers coming over. Prime Minister Johnston’s response to Brexit was a similar measure . This tendency will increase a thousand fold with the Corona epidemic. Already 2 billion employees have lost their jobs in the USA. The situation must be similar in Italy and South Korea. When that is the situation of the employees in one’s own land, what employment opportunities would be there for employment seekers of other lands?
What would be the fate of the garment industry which is our second source of foreign exchange income? 60% of our garments are exported to the USA and Europe. We have already been informed that the orders be postponed by one year. That one year may go into many. The raw materials for this garment Industry are not found in our country. The cost of those raw materials too must be found out of the industry itself. Will other countries have the capacity to provide the raw materials or to purchase the finished products? I heard some businessman say that it is only China that has the capacity to do this.
In the past, our leaders were waiting for foreign businessmen to invest in our country for us to be ‘developed’ through the FDI – Foreign Development Investment. They were waiting for those businessmen who do not have the capacity to provide employment to their own employees, to come over, and provide employment to ours. They may not have the capacity to invest in their own country or in ours.
The other strategy that was to bring us foreign exchange was tourism. We were waiting for foreigners to come over and give us dollars. Will they now have enough dollars for them to come over here and hand them over to us?
Thus, it is clear that all our sources of foreign exchange have dried up now. We can no longer depend on them. What we have to face today is not how to continue with development but how to prevent people from dying of starvation.
I listened to what the Prime Minister Rajapaksa had to say about this. He said that there should be a huge change in the economic policy that had been followed so far; we should stall the export-based economy, and go for a self-sufficient economy ensuring security in food. He emphasised the need for a village-based economy. I saw that it was reiterated by many ministers and others.
Even though the Prime Minster said so, it was also seen that some others were giving advice on following neoliberal policies in addition to this self-sufficient policy. We are not surprised to hear this advice being given by these counselors. They were the ones who were extolling the virtues of the neoliberal approach.
I am reminded at this moment of a publication on Economics I had read nearly fifty years ago (1973). It was written by GVS de Silva the economist who drafted the Paddy Lands Act of Philip Gunawardane. It must have been the contemporary situation in the country that would have prompted GVS de Silva to come out with his publication; there was little or no foreign exchange in the country, and the agri products had fallen through.
The USA and the Western Powers were interested in defeating Mrs. Bandaranaike’s government. They were much in disfavour of her policy of nationalization, especially of the US Fuel Companies. They looked at the Mrs. Bandaranaike regime as inimical to them. The World Bank, the International Monitory Fund gave little or no aid to that government.
The situation that prevailed in the country then, though similar to that in the present, was not as frightening and devastating as what obtains today.
GVS de Silva called his publication Some Heretical Thoughts on Economic Development. He has presented three main arguments:
1. We have so far gone in for an urban based development programme. In this process the village has been brought under the domination of the city. The city is a parasite feeding on the village. Colombo is not the capital of this country, but a satellite of London.
2. This situation prevalent today must be changed. The course of development followed so far must be reversed totally. It must be village based and not urban based. All modes of production must be village based.
3. Simultaneous development of both rural and urban productive forces is not feasible and should be ruled out. The attempt to do so will end in a mere frittering away of energy.
I see this publication of his as prophetic, more pertinent to present times.
I wish the advisors who want to save the country, tethering the village along to the neoliberalism, they are unable to get out of, would understand and realize these facts.
If we want to prevent the people of this country dying of famine, what we need to do. as soon as possible. is to go for a village-based economy. We need to dedicate the whole of this year for that; all production should be village based. The villagers must be given the knowledge to improve cultivation. Any industries facilitating agriculture should be commenced in the village itself. All technological knowledge we get must reach the villager.
Through this system the country will be self sufficient by the end of next year. We must be transformed from the consummation of wheat flour to the consummation of rice. The villager should be transformed from a sop holding out his hands for the ‘trickles of development’, but a stakeholder in welfarist socialist economy, he has contributed to.
Imports should be minimized, limited foreign exchange used for the import of medicines, and equipment necessary for entrepreneurs to run their industries. Attention must be drawn to industries that can be run on the raw materials available in the country. Industries that depend totally on exports should be totally discouraged. The need for high ways can be reconsidered. The time has come to give serious consideration to the suggestion of taking ‘our capital’ to Anuradhapura as proposed by Bandaranaike and many others. It would solve many of the problems we are facing today.
By instituting these proposed changes we would be moving towards the civilization state we had, which of course needs to be reconstituted to suit the present times.
Is Corona not a blessing in disguise? Is it not the lesson we ought to learn?
C. News Index______________________________________________
• ee News Index provides headlines and links to gain a sense of the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’.
(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.
• Will President Gazette a Fresh Date For Convening a ‘New’ Parliament If Elections Are Postponed Again?
‘Will the President be more flexible and relent or remain rigidly intransigent? ‘Responsible Cooperation’ pledge was to ensure the governance of the country properly. SL would be without a legislature for more than three months at a stretch’
• Constitutional governance: Clarity required
‘Fears that the country is being run for too long without a Parliament and Courts — i.e. the Legislature and the Judiciary — and only by the Executive under an undeclared state of emergency with the military, are not unfounded. There is a certain shadow over the democratic process and these are not matters that can be adjudicated over TV talk shows or via media statements’
• US National Security Advisor telephones Gotabaya
‘US National Security Advisor Robert Charles O’Brien contacted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday and offered US support to SL…The strong bilateral relationship between the U.S. and SL is an important part of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” it added.
• PM and US Ambassador discuss COVID-19, the economy and joint collaborations
• ICG expresses concern about ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’ in SL
‘The International Crisis Group claimed in a highly subjective statement yesterday “there is rising anti-Muslim bigotry which has deep roots in SL”’
• OIC express concerns over targetting Muslims in SL
‘The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation expressed its deep concern…’
• Sunday Times wants thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19 (echoing the Trump playbook)
“And why not?”
• Which is more dangerous, Covid or Covidiot?
‘”Why do only some countries like New Zealand, Israel and South Korea get the glittering international media headlines for managing the COVID-19 challenge, while SL hardly gets a mention, despite its sterling performance”’
• Govt.’s lopsided model, Opposition’s boycott blunder
‘Though the most important first step of a new formation with a youthful leadership has been taken, the Opposition as a whole has yet to escape the force-field of the last quarter-century of Ranilian retrogression. Hooked on ‘virtual’ liberal-constitutionalism, unaccustomed to (JRJ-Premadasa) realist strategic calculus and instinctive grasp of the ratio of forces, unfamiliar with asymmetric unconventional battle, unrehearsed in ‘taking the shot’ when evanescent political opportunity arises, and unprepared for mobile, multi-vector manoeuvre on the rugged, uneven terrain of political actuality, the Opposition lapses into “frontal attack in a period in which it only leads to defeats” (Gramsci). The Opposition must mass-produce the only successful ‘vaccine’ against the regime’s guiding/cementing ideology of xenophobic ultra-nationalism. The doctrine’s Godfather, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara, revealed the identity of the real antipode of ultra-nationalism, constituting that potential ‘antibody’, in an origin story featured this Monday in an English-language daily (translated from the Sinhala):
“In 1987 I brought out a publication Jathika Chinthanaya saha Jathika Arthikaya. I wrote it as a response to Ranasinghe Premadasa’s challenge; his patchwork remedial welfare measures were not effective in curing the ills …” (‘Lesson from Corona’, 4 May) In that opening ideological and ‘culture war’ (1987-1993) until Premadasa’s assassination, Jathika Chinthanaya was massively defeated by the Premadasa paradigm. With the Ranilist retrenchment from Premadasism to neoliberalism, ‘Jathika Chinthana’ ultra-nationalism attained ascendancy, and now, in its weaponised ‘Military First’ model, is the ruling doctrine. Can the Opposition reload the Premadasa paradigm while privileging key players who were violently, destructively, anti-Premadasa/Premadasism? The progressive New Opposition that emerges from beneath the “lawnmower” of an election, led by a youthful, moderate, patriotic social democrat, will hopefully make up in quality what voters would have culled in terms of quantity.
• The Belt and Road in Sri Lanka: Beyond the Debt Trap Discussion
‘China’s investment in SL is often portrayed as “debt trap diplomacy.” While it’s true that China invested almost $12 billion between 2006 to 2019, a recent Chatham House report paints a more complex and nuanced picture… Sri Lanka is not in a Chinese debt trap – SL’s debt to China amounts to only 6 percent of GDP. Rather, SL has a general debt problem, owing about 27% of GDP to international financial markets and multilateral lenders like the World Bank. This false debt trap narrative has dominated discussion of the Belt and Road Initiative in SL, at the expense of important questions about the wider impact of Chinese investment. In particular, SL should consider the environmental and labor impacts to ensure they get the most out of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For instance, Colombo Port City, which is still being constructed, has roughly 1,637 workers, of which about 22% are Chinese. On the other hand, the now completed and operational Hambantota Port employs about 900 workers, of which less than 4% are Chinese…
• Why the Capitalist Media Promoted the Fake ‘Kim is Dead’ Hype
• Rereading the concept of Revolution today
‘The post-pandemic scenario implies a challenge for “all the anti-capitalist forces on the planet” and “an opportunity that would be unforgivable to miss”’
• The Labour Party Machine versus Corbyn
‘It is not surprising that after 13 years of New Labour most of the party’s senior officials were now Blairites. What is striking about their behaviour..is not just their passionate hostility to Jeremy Corbyn’s politics, but even more, how entitled they felt to try to replace them, against the clearly expressed wishes of a dramatically expanded membership.’
(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 turlu independent nation.
• What’s sauce for the goose …
‘Most government owned CWE Shops carry a board, in front, “CLOSED,” but through the backdoor, they sell items to the people who give a list of items, and goods could be collected the next day. If a government shop is officially open, through the backdoor (to help poor people), and people are allowed to visit the CWE twice for the list, during curfew, we can presume this is the government policy – allow visits for essential items. ‘
• Erroneous COVID-19 test results from J’pura Uni. lab disrupting quarantine process
‘College of Medical Laboratory Science President writes to Sec. MoH asking for immediate investigation into erroneous test results…The College accused certain officials of taking wrong management decisions to send specimens to external laboratories, bypassing the COVID-19 testing laboratories under the MOH…’
• RT-PCR tests for sex workers, too
‘The National STD/AIDS Control Programme plans to launch a special project soon to subject sex workers, including beach boys, to RT-PCR tests, as part of the government strategy to curb the highly contagious coronavirus.’
• National Heart attack in the making
‘Thousands of patients report to Colombo National Hospital Cardiology Unit for clinics and the number of clinic attendees was 1,188,540 in 2019.’
• SL’s Easter Sunday Masterminds: Difficulties in unveiling high-profile elites camouflaging Ideological extremism
‘The community-clan protective shield was adopted every time their motives and actions were brought to light by flagging global slogans ‘hate speech, racism, minority discrimination’ to prevent action being taken against them while at the business and political levels the threats were ‘you will lose our vote’ ‘don’t expect political funding from us’. So the country was sitting on a volcano as a result of these actions & inactions.’
• Organiser of Zahran’s lectures arrested
‘The lectures were held at an Arabic school, at Madurankuliya, Mundalama.’
• Training centre operator who promoted extremism with Zahran arrested from Kalpitiya
• Another location used by Zahran for extremist activities uncovered
‘A hotel in Palamunai in Kattankudy, which had been used by the Easter Sunday attacks ringleader Zahran Hashim to recruit Islamic women to his extremist cause, has been raided on Friday (08).’
• Necessity: Doctrine that destroyed Pakistani democracy
‘The doctrine of necessity was first expounded in the 13th century by English jurist Bracton, who stated ‘that which is otherwise not lawful is made lawful by necessity’. Glanville Williams described the defence of necessity as involving ‘a choice of the lesser evil.’’
• The deadly epidemic of 1587 which changed the history of Sri Lanka
• A tale of two epidemics: Malaria (1930-1960) and COVID-19 (2016 – 20??) – Philips
‘The first two decades (1930-1950) were the worst, when nearly 150,000 people died over the 20-year period. The number of reported cases were generally over two million every year during the two decades, when the country’s population was only 5.6 million.’
• WHO tells Governments not to work with Tobacco Industry
‘Around the world tobacco corporations, in particular PMI and BAT, have been donating ventilators (Greece), PPE and hand sanitisers (Bangladesh, USA & Canada, Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, Georgia) and money for pandemic relief (Brazil, Romania, Bulgaria, South Africa, India, Lebanon, Uganda). Development of vaccines, both BAT (through its subsidiary Kentucky Bio Processing) and PMI (40% share in Medicago) are involved in COVID-19 vaccine development, using tobacco plants as viral particle ‘factories’, etc.’
• UN chief says coronavirus has sparked ‘tsunami of hate and xenophobia’
• How the English Government subjected thousands of people to chemical and biological warfare trials during the Cold War
‘In more than 750 secret operations, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons were subjected to ‘mock’ biological and chemical warfare attacks launched from aircraft, ships and road vehicles.’
(Study the Economists before you study the Economics)
ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefinitions, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.
• After the lockdown: The looming threat of disaster capitalism
• Post Covid-19 – “The New Normal” – Episode 2 -Executive Summary – Chandra Jayaratne
‘The government’s immediate attention is required to modernize and overhaul archaic labour laws and practices, including allowing involuntary pay cuts and temporary layoffs in special circumstances, especially to prevent redundancies and winding up of business.’
• A child’s guide to CB Annual Report: Key message is not to kill markets but to use them efficiently – Wijewardena
‘But throughout its history, there hasn’t been a single instance of a Parliamentary debate on the Monetary Board’s report….In the COVID-19 pandemic there’s a growing number of people who argue that we should go back to Grandma’s old coconut scraper.
• To Be or Not to Be”: A Public Servant’s Prerogative
‘A clandestine outfit called the Agency for International Trade chaired by the Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies and handpicked private sector and retired officials in the paybooks of the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade completed the ensemble responsible for agreeing and complying with all arbitrary decisions of the former Prime Minister, and his notorious Committee on Economic Management. It is a fact that this Agency for International Trade Designate functioned and reigned supreme over decision making on Free Trade Agreements, even without legislative authority of the Parliament’
• Dilemmas of development post COVID-19
‘This article does not focus on suggesting solutions but instead raising questions.…Dr. Wasanthi Wickremasinghe of the Gamini Corea Foundation has estimated that the total employed population is around eight million, and around three million could be self-employed. A further 4.7 million are employed in agriculture, industry or service sectors. From this number, there could be a further one million that could lose their livelihood or at least a part of their income. Garments and tourism workers will be challenged in the short and medium term.’
• Typewriters and computers – Reductio Ad Abeyratnum
‘When the new production lines emerge and dominate the economy, old production lines wither away. Some of them move into poor or developing countries – outsourcing.’
• Sri Lanka needs 332 individuals for successful post-COVID-19 economic recovery
‘There are more than 14,000 villages in SL. Most of those villages have Village Development Councils (or Grama Sanwardena Samitiyas). At the same time, every village has four to five Government officials. SL has many sub-national governments which include 23 Municipal Councils, 42 Urban Councils, 271 Pradeshiya Sabas, and 332 Divisional Secretariats.’
• “No questions asked” – COVID-19 money laundering risks emerge: TISL
‘Transparency International Sri Lanka is concerned by steps taken by the government to enact a “no questions asked” policy on deposits of foreign currency,’
• Public discipline is urged for proper disposal of face masks and gloves
‘Conservationists fear the threat to marine life by their indiscriminate disposal’
• No need to develop the developed
‘Capital development, at the expense of labour and environment, has reached its zenith in the developed countries….In the face of the Corona onslaught, in just 12 days 226 billionaires lost their billionaire status.’
• Towards A New World Order? The Global Debt Crisis and the Privatization of the State
‘Has the Pandemic Been Used to Precipitate the World into a Spiral of Mass Unemployment, Bankruptcy and Despair?… What is the underlying objective of this restructuring of the global economy?..A massive concentration of wealth and corporate capital, the destabilization of small and middle sized enterprises in all major areas of economic activity including the services economy, agriculture and manufacturing, facilitates the subsequent corporate acquisition of bankrupt enterprises, It derogates the rights of workers. It destabilizes labor markets, It creates mass unemployment, It compresses wages (and labor costs) in the so-called high income “developed countries” as well as in the impoverished developing countries, It leads to an escalation of the external debt, It facilitates subsequent privatization…’
• After the lockdown
‘One of the most decisive fights we will face in the months ahead will be against the capitalists, political leaders and their orchestrated right-wing cheering section, as they push for a lethal profit-driven ‘re-opening of the economy.’
• Prepare before time runs out for the 2020 global economic crisis (2018)
‘Ever since the US Federal Reserve started printing money in the name of “quantitative easing” to pull us out of the last financial crisis, money has been cheap, and seemingly any American with a purse and a credit line has been able to fake “rich” by binging on all sorts of indulgences. The whole system is now running in reverse. The Fed has been hiking rates and spooking markets in order to stave off inflation and other potential ills.’
• Billionaires Make Next Crisis Worse
‘An all-out push to salvage & bailout the very industries that helped create, spread, exacerbate, deny & exploit the global pandemic which is killing 100,000s of people. Apparently, the only lessons learned from the current crisis will be how to make the next one even worse…The US billionaire class added $308bn to its wealth in 4 weeks mid-March-April even as a record 26mn people lost their jobs, struggling to get unemployment compensation… Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds warns that workers who don’t return to work over fears of contracting Covid will be deemed to have quit their jobs and lose unemployment insurance…’
(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.
• Sri Lanka task force to devise post-Covid-19 ‘new economic model’
‘A presidential task force has been asked to a come up with a ‘new economic model’ in the post-Coronavirus era, with economic plans for different areas and specified targets, the President’s office said. These included plans to stop the ‘foreign exchange outflow’ from education, the use of indigenous medicine as well as developing tourism and bringing in more foreign investment.’
• COVID-19 affected economy could be re-built: President
‘Basil Rajapaksa warned that no loss of employment should take place both in the state and private sectors while the country is moving forward’
• Sri Lanka state enterprises to get Coronvirus bailouts
‘“It was decided to provide financial facilities to public enterprises such as Sathosa, Janatha Estate Development Board and State Engineering Corporation.” Many private companies have cut salaries of workers. Lanka Sathosa is Sri Lanka’s largest state-owned wholesale and retail chain. It gets into regular financial trouble and get tax-payer funded bailouts regulator [sic!].
• Govt. exceeds borrowing limits by Rs 120 bn
‘The Vote on Account, passed in October last year, allows the government only to borrow up to Rs 720 billion during this period. However, Verite Research said that the government has borrowed up to Rs. 721 billion between January and April this year.’
• Sri Lanka prints Rs 8.7 bn in first week of May ; pumps Rs 232.3 bn this year
‘The government had absorbed 80 million during the first week of May last year, in stark contrast to this week’s situation. The central bank has printed approximately Rs. 229.13 billion since the coronavirus started spreading in the country on March 11. The Central Bank holdings of government securities stand at Rs 307.11 by May 6. A treasury bill auction this week saw the average yield for three and six-month bills being increased slightly, while around Rs 10.3 billion worth of 12-month bills went undersold.’
• Sri Lanka forex reserves drop US$353mn to US$7.2mn in April
‘Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundera has also called on state worker [sic!] to give back a portion of their salaries to curb the deficit. In countries which see external meltdowns, money printed to pay state salaries in usually the main reason for the collapse and hyper-inflation that follows.’
• Unprecedented cash-flow calamity looms amidst COVID-19 crisis
‘An unprecedented financial (cash-flow) calamity arising out of an unfolding revenue shortfall, confronts the Treasury… the rapid exhaustion of the Rs. 715 billion allocated for recurrent expenditure from the revised 3-month Vote on Account (VOA) for the period March to end May. The total provided for in the revised VOA — money which comes from the Consolidated Fund on the direction of the President — is more than Rs. 2000 billion which included Rs. 150 billion for capital expenditure and Rs. 360 billion for loan repayments… the Treasury is under pressure to meet current 2020 state expenditure estimates like Rs. 650 billion for public servants and security forces, Rs. 850 billion to settle state debt, and Rs. 450 billion for concessionary packages including Samurdhi beneficiaries, pensioners and fertiliser subsidies.
• State revenue collection drops by Rs. 120bn in six weeks
‘The CEB’s daily collection which was usually Rs 450 million has dropped to Rs 150 million.’
• Virus likely to continue to dip corporate earnings
‘First Capital expects heavy foreign selling in equity market in the short term’
• NAM endorses President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s initiative
‘The Non-Aligned Movement endorsed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s initiative to make a collective call on affluent nations and international financial institutes to grant debt relief to vulnerable countries
• COVID-19 pandemic a great opportunity to boost SL’s resilience, new strides – Jayasundara
‘We applied brakes on non-essential imports to better manage the external and internal shocks. We can’t finance vehicle imports because we have two-and-a-half-years’ worth of extra vehicles in the country already. So I feel at present, the growth and inflation debate is irrelevant.’
• JVP questions Fin. Min. preparation of March-May VoA while P’ment stands dissolved
• Sri Lanka ranked among economies worst hit by COVID-19 – The Economist
‘The financial paper which ranked 66 countries that are relatively safe and are in distress based on four potential sources of peril including public debt, public and private foreign debt, borrowing cost and reserve cover, ranked SL at 61, with it only being better than Angola, Bahrain, Zambia, Lebanon and Venezuela.’
• Sri Lanka is changing, and will have to change because of COVID-19
‘Delano Dias, Chairman of the Import Section Of Ceylon Chamber Of Commerce, said the ban on certain categories made certain operations and companies go non-operational…President of the Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association Sidath Kodikara said, the ongoing lockdown …has resulted in more than an 85% drop in revenues across all retail establishments and sectors.
• Pandemic risks exacerbating economic and social divisions between countries
‘Coronavirus threatens future of eurozone, Brussels warns’
• Grim economic data reveals virus devastation
‘The USA said another 3.2 million people filed unemployment claims last week, while Germany and France reported major slumps in industrial production and Britain said its economic output would plummet by 14 percent this year. A top Brazilian minister warned that Latin America’s biggest economy — and the region’s virus epicenter — risked “collapse” if stay-at-home measures were not soon lifted….In Britain, studies have shown that ethnic minorities are at much greater risk from the pandemic, with the Office for National Statistics saying black men and women were more than four times more likely to die with coronavirus than white people in England and Wales. In Brazil, a similar pattern has emerged, with blacks dying at a higher rate, statistics show.’
(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
• A new deal for working people
‘Employers’ proposals to lay off workers, and their demands for deregulation, further threaten the livelihoods of an estimated 1.1 million workers in the garment, travel and hospitality, and automobile sectors. It is evident that the Sri Lankan economy, in the five decades since economic liberalisation, has failed to generate secure and decent jobs for a majority of our working people.
• More than a million can lose jobs as COVID 19 ravages the economy – experts
‘The last available statistics from 2016 show that the daily wage earners number around 1.7 million people and ex-UNP-MP de Silva places them in the most vulnerable group. The next most vulnerable group of people are the self-employed, ranging from three-wheeler drivers to various handymen such as electricians and plumbers. They number around 2.6 million and if they are unable to get to work, or ply their trades they too will be vulnerable…. military sources told EconomyNext that the estimate that the Intelligence Agencies are working with is that if the economy does not get working soon as many as two million people will lose livelihoods, or not be earning enough for their daily needs….De Silva said he was offended when the Secretary to the President P B Jayasundera called the private sector “regressive….De Silva unhappy that government moving away from free market…The production of vegetable and other seeds required by farmers domestically was also discussed. This upsets economist-politician de Silva. “It appears we are moving back to the 1960s and 1970s, this is very unfortunate,” he said.’
• Workers’ struggle through the eyes of China and Sri Lanka
‘The year 2020 marks the second year in a row where citizens aren’t celebrating May Day with rallies. And the result: it would affect political parties more than workers….While Sri Lankans haven’t valued the role played by its workers, due to the availability of unskilled workers who are willing to work for very low wages, China has managed to keep the moral of their workers high despite workers of this nation also complaining of being paid low wages. The difference is workers in Sri Lanka know that the country is stagnating and in debt while Chinese workers are aware that China’s socialism is supposed to take the country towards its ultimate goal, which is communism.
• Women workers starving themselves to feed their families: Union leader Yogeshwary
‘Unorganised workers are entitled to labour rights under the ‘Shop and Office Employees Act’. But practically speaking, employers are unwilling to implement these rights….less than 20% of the plantation population are registered full-time estate workers….More than half of SL’s population are women. The majority of voters are women. The majority of the labour force are women. The majority of TU subscriptions are from women workers. The main contributors towards national income earnings are women. But in Parliament, women representation is below 5%. And there are no plantation women representatives in Parliament….At the end of just one shift, a woman worker could have between four or five bites.’
• Apparel industry wants to break law protecting workers
‘The apparel industry is looking to the government to consider revising certain labour laws in a bid to overcome the current crisis as they are out of work like in the laying off of workers; suspension of EPF contribution for a period of six months; and allow workers without work to be paid an allowance or government to pay an allowance to workers.“Following the law to the letter is a major hurdle…”’
• Exporters chamber urges state intervention in labour crisis
‘“It was brought to the notice of the Minister that prevailing labour laws in Sri Lanka are heavily in favour of employees and prevents flexibility with regards to employment of labour in crisis situations. During the discussion the need of revising some laws and regulations to overcome the current situation was emphasised,” the National Chamber of Exporters’s Secretary General Shiham Marikar said…’
• Prasanna wants BOI firms, exporters not to slash jobs
‘Of the total 286 factories, 249 have resumed operations in the 11 FTZs, while 50,749 workers have reported to work, which is the recommended 20% employees as per health authorities. Close to 140,000 workers are employed in the FTZs countrywide.’
• 44 Lankan workers fired in Romania after 7 test positive for COVID-19
• Govt. pleads for donations from public servants
• Govt. distances itself from appeal for donations
‘The letter sent by Dr. Jayasundara was a personal request and not an official announcement of the government..’
• Stalin sees ulterior motive in govt. seeking donations from public servants
‘”The government…is trying to show that they are facing a severe economic crisis. I suspect that this is a ploy to prevent people from demanding justice…This is surely putting a lot of pressure on the government servants. I don’t think most people have the ability to say no.”’
• SL’s opposition says asking state employees to donate salaries shows economic mismanagement
• Private sector agrees to recommence work next week
‘Skills Development, Employment, and Labour Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and representatives of the Ceylon Employers’ Federation, trade unions and the members of the special Trilateral Task Force, appointed by the Minister for the protection of the workplaces in the country…said the government’s policy was to ensure the job security of all employees. He said it has been decided not to remove any private sector employee from their jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic.’
• PHI union head urges govt. to show same zeal to fight other communicable diseases
• Economic implications of COVID-19
‘Some persons who deserve help have no access to these income transfers while others with high income get Samurdhi funds….We have seen the results of that experiment in the 1970-1977 period, with income ceilings, near 100% import controls restrictions on the transport of paddy.’
• Patients treated differently at govt. run quarantine facilities? – JVP
• Fix food and nutritional security and go beyond: Restoring ‘Granary of the East’
‘Sri Lanka’s shame: In ‘State of the World’s Children 2019,’ Sri Lanka is in the top 10 countries when considering child malnutrition prevalence in the world. Sri Lanka is placed 9th in the list between Eritrea (8th) and Somalia (10th).. We also incur annually around Rs. 200 billion worth of food imports. The cost of food in terms of foreign exchange thus is quite significant. We only allocate around Rs. 5-7 billion to Science and Technology per year..….Chemical Engineering at University of Moratuwa did, identified…replacement of wheat flour by rice flour, and developed ready-to-eat rice products – rice-based bread, milk rice in pouches, rice cereal snacks –with the direct support of Cargills in the established Cargills Food Process Development Incubator..….Industrial Technology Institute (ITI)’s major product is Deveni Batha from Raigam – a noodle product based on rice.’
• Labour Department keeps tabs on private establishments
‘Several trade union leaders [said] companies cannot retrench the staff even during a recession without valid reasons as Sri Lanka labour laws ensure job security.’
• A ‘nightingale’ in the FTZ women’s labour force
‘Alleged harassment included the notorious ‘Choo Card’ where every worker who uses the toilet had to mark the time they went in and came out, to restrict toilet times for workers.’
• Fathers and sons
‘Meanwhile, one cannot but ask oneself how come the children of politicians and top bureaucrats have all the luck as regards foreign scholarships. That foreign powers sway some public officials and politicians in devious ways is public knowledge. Some Colombo-based foreign envoys overstep their diplomatic limits and meet local panjandrums when sensitive issues crop up, here, to influence the latter. How they behaved during the so-called constitutional coup, in 2018, is a case in point. There are allegations that the children of servile public officials and politicians are looked after by foreign governments in return for services rendered.’
• Most jobs in a company cannot be performed from home
‘Industries mostly hit by the pandemic are manufacturing, construction, tourism and hospitality sectors which contributes 45 per cent to the country’s GDP while 50 per cent of the labour force are mainly from these sectors.’
• What is Styrene, the poisonous gas that killed eight in Visakhapatnam?
• Indian Navy ship arrives in Maldives to evacuate 2,000 stranded citizens
‘…most of them blue collar workers—from the Maldives, according to Indian envoy to Maldives Sunjay Sudhir.’
• COVID-19: Black Britons face twice the risk of death!
• ‘In What World?’ PPE, Healthcare Workers and the Ontario State
‘In what world is a court order needed to require employers to provide front-line healthcare workers with the personal protective equipment (PPE) that they, in their professional judgment, relying on best practices and government directives, determine is needed to perform their jobs safely? Welcome to Ontario…Why did unionized nurses at four long-term care facilities require such an order?’
• ILO on holding on to jobs, New Normal, Better Normal and economy
‘52 years ago, Martin Luther King, in a speech to striking sanitation workers, on the eve of his assassination, reminded the world that there is dignity in all labour. Today, the virus has similarly highlighted the always essential and sometimes heroic role of the working heroes of this pandemic.’
• Craig Hodges: ‘Jordan didn’t speak out because he didn’t know what to say’
‘Hodges told basketball’s two leading players that the Bulls and Lakers should sit out the opening game, so “we would stand in solidarity with the black community while calling out racism and economic inequality in the NBA, where there were no black owners and almost no black coaches despite the fact that 75% of the players in the league were African American”. Michael Jordan told Hodges he was “crazy” while Magic Johnson said: “That’s too extreme, man.” “What’s happening to our people in this country is extreme,” Hodges replied.
• Conversion as Strategy: From GM to Workplace Plans
‘The creation of a National Conversion Agency (NCA) – The NCA would monitor economic change to oversee the conversion of idle or threatened productive capacity to the production of what we need but may not be profitable in narrow terms.’
(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.
• Govt. extends special commodity levy on six items for three months
‘Among these products are sprats, dried fish, green gram, mangosteen, kiwifruit, and several other edible fruits and nuts… In April, Sri Lanka had slapped a temporary ban on importing at least 156 products, as the Sri Lankan rupee hit record lows against the US dollar.
• After COVID-19: The need to boost food production
‘A critical question that we must ask ourselves is why Sri Lanka, a country with 3 million hectares of arable land and favourable climatic conditions has failed to produce food sufficient for its population. According to agriculturalists in the Rice Research Institute in Bathalegoda, Sri Lanka has over 2,000 different endemic rice varieties (Thilakasiri 2019). Evidently, all these rice varieties were grown under natural conditions without the application of agrochemicals and inorganic fertilizer. However, Sri Lanka annually imports 100 metric tonnes of rice from Pakistan, Myanmar and India. We purchase 1.9 metric tonnes of wheat from the United States and Canada every year, spending approximately USD 28 million (Export.Gov USA 2020). Once the wheat reaches our shores, a Singaporean company processes and sells wheat flour to Sri Lankan retailers, hotels, bakeries and other establishments. “parippu” (red dhal) is primarily imported from India and it amounts to nearly USD 79 million worth of imports every year. In future, the United States may begin exporting parippu to Sri Lanka as well. Sri Lanka annually spends a quarter of a million dollars in corn exports from United States. Similarly, other grains and vegetables are also mostly imported. Some examples are soya (U.S.A), red chillies (India), onions (India and Pakistan), potatoes (China and Pakistan), cow pea & mung beans (Australia, Thailand, Argentina and Kenya). SL is a net importer of dairy products as well, and every year our government spends USD 349 million on milk imports (ibid.). Not only do we import food for humans, but also for animals. We spend roughly USD 176 million on animal feed imports to Sri Lanka.’
• Price controls on canned fish and dhal removed
• Containing the coronavirus and reviving the economy
‘All nine Deans of Agriculture of Sri Lankan universities presented a memorandum to His Excellency the President outlining the policies…but implementing them and ensuring an effective institutional capacity has been the weakness in agricultural policies since independence.’
• Time to reflect: We need a radically different socio economic strategy
‘We are a rural country. Its heartland is the rural economy. We can only improve the wellbeing of our people by developing the rural economy where over 70% of our people live and struggle to improve their wellbeing. We have been muddling along for many years… unable to create a society where Samurdhi relief is not required, and the rural community does not have to depend on remittances from abroad.’
• Farmers resist call to wean off fertilisers and return to nature
‘Some fertiliser merchants and companies of mixing and rebranding fertiliser varieties to make a profit…. 90 per cent of herbicides were imported…. shortages and closure of shops due to low stocks and curfew had caused a black market in pesticides.’
• More fresh water for Colombo as water shortage nears
‘about 288,000 cubic meters of fresh water is daily supplied to Colombo…there are about 600,000 people living in Colombo city and another 400,000 people travelling daily to Colombo for various purposes. Nearly 140,000 houses have pipe-borne water…The current requirement of fresh water in Colombo will increase in the near future due to the rising number of hotels and apartments in the city and the increasing warm weather’
• Underworld figures linked to politician plunder Yala forest land during curfew
‘About 100 acres of forest cover in a reservation bordering the Yala sanctuary have been illegally cleared during the curfew by people suspected to be underworld figures also involved in the heroin trade and with links to a powerful local politician in Kataragama…more than 25 families are engaged in clearing the reservation belonging to the Wildlife Conservation Department bordering the Yala National Park in the Kandasurindugama in the Kataragama Divisional Secretariat…Some plots are being sold to buyers from Colombo.’
• Mt. Lavinia & other Southwestern beach ‘nourishment’ projects under fire
‘There are 3 ‘beach nourishment’ projects earmarked along the western coast in Kalutara Kalido beach, Angulana and Mt. Lavinia. The idea under the 3rd project is to extend the Marine Drive with a tunnel under the beach area on Galle Face Green to connect to Chaithya Road and then link up with the elevated road coming from new Kelani Bridge across Colombo harbour. This project is also at the EIA stage… Artificial sand barriers will be built to prevent erosion along the 4-kilometre coastline between Angulana and Mount Lavinia, and the 2-kilometre Kalido Beach in Kalutara under the project..’
• Sri Lanka’s oil palm growers say ready for more ‘import substitution’ if allowed
• Local oil palm industry ready to support govt. domestic agriculture drive – POIA
‘Sri Lanka already has 9,000 hectares of oil palm, cultivated under highly-regulated conditions, to ensure the industry is environmentally non-invasive; and plantation companies have been mandated to increase the country’s total area under oil palm to 20,000 hectares under strictly-enforced guidelines, the Association pointed out. However, the baseless vilification of the local palm oil industry by elements with vested interests had seriously delayed the government-approved expansion of cultivation, leading to the country producing just 23,000 tonnes of palm oil per annum and the import of a staggering 240,000 tonnes of crude palm oil into the country each year, the POIA said….The palm oil industry currently employs about 13,000 people in cultivation, refining and production.’
• Confectionery industry up in arms over Govt. hike in palm oil taxes
‘The confectionery industry…has retained 100% Sri Lankan ownership and has provided local consumers with products even better than imports or those available in foreign countries. The industry consists of companies producing Biscuits, Cookies, Cakes, Wafers, Toffees, Chocolates, Desserts, Snacks, Ice Cream etc. This industry which was built on over many decades of hard work and contributes around over 85,000 tons per annum to the national food supply chain…The contribution to annual taxes are immense and these confectionery companies have been exporting to over 40 countries with an annual export income of $ 100 million. The industry employs over 50,000 people directly and over 500,000 people indirectly through national supply chain network involving over 150,000 retailers across the country.
• Caribbean nations are importing foods that kill their citizens
‘“We are an import-dependent region, importing about US$6 billion in food. Between 60-80% of the food that we consume is imported…About 90% of that food import comes from the USA…We are importing..processed food: foods high in sugar, fat and salt….The private sector has been dictating the food policy of the region because they are the ones importing the food that is killing us.”’
(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.
• Covid-19 pandemic has spurred interest to manufacture medical devices in SL
‘It is the task of the Bio Medical Engineering Services (BES) of the Ministry of Health to ensure that the critical medical infrastructure is in place in hospitals…With a staff of around 250, the BES looks after medical and laboratory equipment worth over Rs. 150 billion installed and commissioned in hospitals in Sri Lanka… The BES, which functions under the Department of Health and the Director-General of Health, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, provides and oversees strategic direction of the division by imparting the necessary guidance.’
• Defence Ministry research unit innovates in fight against COVID-19
The Centre for Research and Development (CRD) showcased …n interactive remotely operated robotic platform (Dr. Robot) to assess patient status, a disinfection corridor, and two mobile disinfection platforms…’
• Import controls are blessings in disguise
‘During my time in Russia, I was being industrial trained during the first year in a factory in Moscow called Borets where large compressors were built with local materials. Body and parts were cast-machined and assembled in the same factory there were other productions of items such as carburetor for an indigenous Russian car, electric kettle, etc for local consumption. This is how Russians managed the economy at that time.’
• Queries over Health Ministry purchase of 300 air-purification systems
‘Said to cost over Rs. 300 million are part of a list of items due to be bought through World Bank funding and procured by UNICEF for the Health Ministry,’
• Private sector supports establishment of Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at IDH
‘… made possible…from private sector donors Melstacorp PLC, John Keells Holdings PLC, Deutsche Bank and South Asia Gateway Terminals (Pvt) Ltd as well as the Welfare Society of the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation and Shammi Silva…’
• Cabinet nod for Rs. 15 b loan from China
‘China Development Bank to lend funds to develop 105 km of road…. the Akuressa-Kamburupitiya road, Beliatta-Kirinde stretch of road, Tangalle-Weeraketiya road, Wallasmulla-Weeraketiya road, Kotuwana-Uru Bokka road, and Parandeniya-Hakmana road were among those selected.’
• New China imported power sets subjected to trial run
• Last hydro power plant to go into operation in December
‘The 35 MW plant, over the Kelani River, at Kitulgala, is being constructed by the Chinese government-owned China National Electric Equipment Corporation, while its consultancy and monitoring are conducted by the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau of Sri Lanka. The total estimated cost of the project is USD 82 million and was partially financed by a USD 69.7 million loan from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The balance is financed by the Hatton National Bank of Sri Lanka.’
• Drop in oil prices influences natural rubber price fall but there is a silver lining
‘Demand for surgical gloves and other rubber based deterrents world wide to combat spread of the virus has now resulted in sharp rise in the demand curve for natural rubber’
• Rubber, Plastics, Apparels manufacturing activity puts a dent in industrial production
Gross official reserves at US$ 7,180 mn in April 2020
‘Manufacturing activity in Rubber and Plastics and Wearing Apparels in February 2020 has led to a decrease in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) by 0.3 per cent to 103.9 compared to February 2019, Economic Indicators Report of the Department of Census and Statistics said…. “During the year up to 06th May 2020 the Sri Lankan rupee depreciated against the US dollar 3.9 percent”. “Given the cross currency exchange rate movements, the Sri Lankan rupee appreciated against the pound sterling (1.5 per cent) and the Indian rupee (2.1 per cent) while depreciating against the euro (0.6 per cent) and the Japanese yen (6.0 per cent) during this period”. The gross official reserves were estimated at US dollars 7,179.9 mn as at 30th April 2020.’
• Govt. guzzles more revenue from fuel
‘Taking advantage of lower global prices, the Government has imposed a fresh round of import duties and surcharges on fuel, essentially doubling taxes, aimed at shoring up flagging public revenue.’
• Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port LPG tanks leased to Litro Gas in use
‘Litro Gas is the third energy firm to use Hambantota after Sri Lanka’s Laugfs Gas which built its own facility and Sinopec, which is partnering the port to supply bunkers to ships.’
• Hambantota Port’s Tank Farm fully operational
• Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm
‘Trincomalee harbour is the second deepest natural harbour in the world (the first being Sydney). The English who were in control decided to make this their primary logistics station in the east after World War I. They started the oil storage project in 1924 and completed in late 1930’s. The dates engraved in some metal piping indicate go as far back as 1937. The farm had 101 storage tanks built with 1-inch thick steel sheets and the tanks near the harbour are enclosed by 1-foot thick concrete rings’
• India uses low crude prices to stockpile 32 million tonnes of oil
‘Using low global oil prices to its advantage, India has stored as much as 32 million tonnes (mt) of oil in underground storages, tanks, pipelines, and on ships to create a stockpile…’
• India looks to lure more than 1,000 American companies out of China
‘Secretary of State Michael Pompeo last month said the U.S. was working with India, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam on how to “restructure these supply chains to prevent something like this from ever happening again.” The administration was “turbocharging” an initiative to remove global supply chains from China, Reuters reported this week, with one official saying it’s pushing for an “Economic Prosperity Network” of trusted partners.’
• Crisis looms for motor finance industry as coronavirus threatens lease payments
‘Lending for car purchases in the U.K. alone rose to £48 billion (2019) from £24 billion in 2012… low-cost personal contract purchase, or PCP, agreements, financed more than 75% of new cars bought by private customers in the UK in 2019… In 2016, the Bank of England warned that “the industry’s growing reliance on PCP has made it more vulnerable to macroeconomic downturns.”… The role of car manufacturers in financing new private car sales is considerable. Many of the world’s largest car manufacturers, such as Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp., and Ford Motor Co., have large finance houses, known as “captive finance companies,” to fund the purchase of their new vehicles… Many traditional financial institutions, who are already exposed to motor finance through standard car loans, are also operating in the PCP space. Barclays Partner Finance, part of Barclays PLC, and Santander Consumer (UK) PLC, part of Spain’s Banco Santander SA group, are among such lenders operating in the U.K.’
(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.
• Pan Asia Bank records best ever Q1 results – Profit before tax up by 53% to Rs. 652 Mn
‘Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC concluded 2020 Q1 with the best ever financial results in a first quarter of an year in its 25 year history’
• Focus on attracting investments instead of loans, President tells Min. Secretaries
‘.. during a meeting with members of the newly-appointed Task Force held today (06) to discuss modalities relating to resumption of civilian life and work from May 11th…. A large amount of money is being spent to import medicines annually when most of these medicines can be manufactured locally, said the President. The Task Force was requested to prepare the necessary background to develop pharmaceutical production in the country. The production of vegetable and other seeds required by farmers domestically was also discussed at the meeting.’
• SL economy to contract 1.0-pct in 2020, banks to under pressure from Coronavirus: Fitch
‘“We believe the banks’ funding and liquidity profiles could come under pressure if access to foreign-currency funding becomes more challenging given the deterioration in the sovereign credit profile, or if there is a flight to quality, which could affect banks with weaker domestic franchises.”’
• Banking sector sees deposit build up contrary to expectations
‘Banks do not have the assurance of the comfort of these moneys staying with them long, as the current deposit build up is into savings accounts, whereas with regard to the New Year season term deposits, the banks lock in such deposits from three to 12-month periods.’
• Union Bank undertakes to infuse fresh capital if UB Finance fails to court outside investor
‘Company slapped with deposit and lending caps as capital remains well under regulatory minimum …UB Finance Limited (UBF) has yet again failed to meet the extended timeline given by the Central Bank, which lapsed on March 31, 2020…’
• Central Bank cuts policy rates further to support economy
‘The CB noted that market lending rates have not declined in line with the series of measures taken to ease monetary policy and monetary conditions thus far during the year. “Therefore, financial institutions are urged to reduce lending rates without further delay, failing which, the CB will be compelled to take appropriate regulatory action to bring down market lending rates,” the CB warned.’
• SL banks not properly guided on CB concessions
‘Recently an agricultural entrepreneur who asked his bank (a state organisation) for a working capital loan, was told that the facility was not available to the agriculture sector.’
• Fitch downgrades 3 Sri Lankan banks
‘The affected banks are – Bank of Ceylon (B-/Negative), National Savings Bank (NSB, B-/Negative) and DFCC Bank PLC (B-/Negative).’
• Fitch downgrades DFCC
‘DFCC has one of the weakest earnings and profitability profiles among Fitch-rated large private banks in Sri Lanka and its earnings were under stress in 2019 due to slower loan growth, heavy trading losses on its equity stake in Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC’
• Fitch Affirms Citibank N.A. – Colombo Branch at ‘AAA(lka)’; Outlook Stable
• Fitch downgrades Sri Lanka Insurance’s IFS to ‘B’; outlook negative
• Why Franklin closed 6 funds
‘Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund has decided to wind up six debt funds with combined assets under management of almost ₹26,000 crore…. Investors will not be able to redeem their investments for the time being as the fund house has barred both purchases and redemptions…. The Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), the industry body of fund houses, has said that credit risk funds — the worst affected of the lot — constituted a mere 5% of the overall debt schemes.’
• Why has the Reserve Bank of India opened a liquidity window for mutual funds?
‘The regulators are aware of the potential risk and are monitoring the situation closely. Market participants have already written to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to take action against Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund including appointing a high-powered committee to take over the management of the fund house while examining its investment decisions. The Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI), representing about 900 brokers, has written to the Ministry of Finance and SEBI that as much as 64.73% of the total AUM of Franklin India Low Duration Fund was in securities rated A or below, while in Franklin India Short Term Income Plan, such securities accounted for almost 59% of total assets. The brokers’ association says Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund invested in long duration securities even though SEBI norms state that ultra short duration funds can only have bonds with a tenure between three and six months.’
• Sudden Chinese decision shakes the entire world
‘China surprised the world today (May 1) and decided to cancel the dollar peg in the stock exchange transactions and decided to deal officially and the official link to the Chinese yuan instead of the dollar, and this is a bold and important step in China’s economic history. This means that the dollar has become non-existent in Chinese trading and the US dollar will fall strongly against the Chinese yuan and may affect it in global markets. And all the global markets were stunned by the decision….It is an economic war that could lead the world to a devastating war that cannot be neglected if the USA acts foolishly in the face of this decision’
(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’
• GSK sells $3.4 billion Hindustan Unilever stake in largest India block trade
‘GlaxoSmithKline has sold its stake in Unilever’s Indian business…The drugmaker is cashing in a 5.7% stake it took in Hindustan Unilever, which produces everything from deodorant to soup, as payment for the sale of its malted drink brand Horlicks and other nutrition brands to Unilever in 2018…More than 100 institutional investors – 80% foreign investors and 20% domestic Indian funds – participated in the deal…HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were the bookrunners on the deal.
• Former CBSL Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy re-joins Tokyo Cement Board
• Patients left in the lurch as pharmacies shun credit card payments
‘The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) can ask pharmacies to accept credit cards, but cannot enforce it”, says Prof. Asita de Silva, Chairman of the apex regulatory body.
• Pharma industry requests price revamp
‘Pharmaceutical Chamber demands revision of costs of price-controlled drugs due to rupee depreciation…Over 70 types of price-controlled drugs account for 65% of market share’
• Pharma chamber applauds efforts of the pharma industry to help Sri Lankans
‘The Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI)…has publicly thanked the local pharmaceutical industry that includes importers, distributors, and pharmacies, along with the regulators…’
• Sri Lanka retailers appeal for 50-pct rent cut as most shops closed
‘Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA) which represents clothing, consumer durables, footwear, fashion and jewellery as well as fast moving consumer goods, have appealed from landlords to cut their rents in half…as there has been more than an 85% drop in revenues across all retail establishments and sectors.’
• Business opportunities in Sri Lanka for Indian companies come into focus
‘At a video conference hosted by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry…
Head of Economic & Commercial Wing, High Commission of India, Ms. Suja K. Menon, gave an overview of India-Sri Lanka economic partnership.’
• Business Confidence Nosedives – Sentiment plummets as the coronavirus outbreak exerts a heavy toll on corporates
‘Fitch Ratings states that “corporates in consumer goods retail, construction and hotels will be among the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic in SL … Demand for nonessential goods and services will be severely hit in the second quarter of 2020 given the impact of strict social distancing requirements.”’
(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.
• LSSP wants General Election held soon to elect a govt. of people’s choice and preserve democracy
‘To meet the crisis, the Sri Lankan government had to print more currency, leading to inflation. The drop in the value of the SL Rupee has further increased the cost of living. The loss of income through closures and job losses hits the workforce badly as 60% are in the worst affected informal sector. Thus, the class of workers (both brain & manual) has to struggle to defend its own interests, while fighting against Covid-19….All rice, pulses, vegetables and fruits produced by farmers should be purchased by the state through the Paddy Marketing Board, the Marketing Department, Sathosa and cooperative societies. These should be bought from the farmers at a reasonable guaranteed price and transported to distribution centers at central, provincial, district and divisional levels. From the latter, they should be conveyed by lorry and directly sold to the consumers. Retail outlets – state, cooperative and outsourced selected private shops should be developed. The sale price to consumers should be reasonable (not exceed 10% more than the cost price). A dole (paid weekly) should be provided to all who have no source of income. A Party Leaders Committee headed by the Prime Minister, which includes trade union leaders, should decide when the dole can be safely ended… Initially all services (health, education, transport, commerce and trade) should be fully restored. The government should implement development policies and reduced the level of debt. The import of luxury and non-essential goods be stopped. (or effectively curtailed by increasing the tariff and taxes on them). The direct taxation upper limit should be raised to 45% for individuals and 50% for corporations thus passing the burden from the poor to the rich. Action must be taken to bring down the cost of living. Set up Workers Advisory Councils with adequate powers in all workplaces. Introduce the Solidarity Concept (in which the institution is run on cooperative lines being owned by all the employees who get one share in the company in addition to their salary) into all government institutions that are running at a loss. This has succeeded abroad e.g. tea plantations in Kerala in India, Scandinavian countries. In the long-term, promote policies to achieve national self-sufficiency in food and other items. Progressively stop import of all goods that can be produced here. Make Sri Lanka a developed industrial country, building on what was started by SLINTEC, COSTI, SLAB, Vidatha, BiotechCentre & HRD.
• Holding elections after June 2 prima facie unconstitutional: expert (Just one?)
• Can GR be impeached?
• Our Dysfunctional Parliament
‘On 2 or 3 occasions in the recent past due to the lack of a quorum (minimum of 20 MP’s), the Speaker had to adjourn Parliament! On one occasion there were only three Yahapalana MP’s out of 106 in attendance whilst they were in power!. These are the same people who are now demanding that Parliament be reconvened.’
• Constitutional crisis or bureaucratic bungling?
‘The Chairman of the Election Commission [has] stated: “If we are to hold an election on June 20, we need to start at least by May 15. That means the country should return to normal by that time…” It is not clear whether “the country should return to normal, by May 15, or June 20. However, a question arises as to who…determines that the country has returned to “normal.”’
• EU has shown the way
“The European Parliament has allowed one of its buildings, in Brussels, to be used to shelter about 100 homeless women, many of whom are said to be victims of domestic violence, during lockdowns….There are nine Provincial Council complexes, which have remained closed for a long time. Thanks to the yahapalana government’s legislative skullduggery, which facilitated the smuggling of several sections into the Provincial Councils (Amendment) Bill, sans judicial sanction, at the committee stage, in 2017, the PC polls are not likely to be held in the foreseeable future. The PC buildings, constructed at a huge cost, can also be used as quarantine centres, or temporary military camps. The EU has shown the way.’
• A straw in the wind
‘A national government, or “multi-party cabinet group” as he has it, of the parties represented in the last parliament to see us through the covid-19 pandemic…’
(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.
• Prof with an eye for temple art that captures the essence of Vesak
‘“Sri Lanka has a long tradition of temple paintings spanning about 2,200 years starting from the 3rd century BC. Outside India, these are the oldest Buddhist visual drawings in South Asia’
• Buddhist Nikayas In Sri Lanka Parts 1, 2 & 3
‘The Mahavihara owned extensive lands, both near and far away. These monasteries were closely monitored by the Mahavihara. They were subject to a weekly, monthly, annual financial audit which, RALH Gunawardene said, would have done credit to any modern accounting firm.’
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