‘Before you study the economics, study the economists!’
e-Con e-News 25 April – 01 May 2021
Unilever & Cancer – Appearing anxious about charges that England’s Unilever promotes and sells cancer-causing products in Sri Lanka, Unilever SL, which sells 300+ products through over 100,000 retailers here, this week convened a ‘scientific symposium’, to defend itself. Sessions included ‘Ravindra Fernando, Senior Professor – University of Colombo’ on ‘cosmetic ingredient safety’; drawing on – as only mammoth multinational corporations can – ‘scientists’ from England to India to Bulgaria, helpfully informing the public, that soap is ‘a category with a 5,000-year history’. (see ee Agriculture)
Unilever’s chemicals and packaging, produced elsewhere, pollute our drains, streams, rivers and seas. Yet ee’s prime interest is Unilever’s capture of our rural home market. The rural home market is vital to overcoming widespread impoverishment, a legacy of the English, and for developing modern rural industry and skills.
The immense power of these MNCs, and their import-export merchants and economists, is evident in their diversionary media attack on the government’s purported environmental transgressions. Meanwhile, the media is full of ads selling real-estate, which involves clearing arable and forest lands anyway!
Attacks escalated after the ban on palm oil plantations. Palm oil harks back to Unilever’s very origins and chattel slavery imposed in West Africa. Attacks will now escalate further, with the ban on fertilizers.
Unilever’s domination of the media here, via its control of the advertising/PR industry, is very evident. Many people think the media has been infiltrated by the CIA, multinationals etc. Yet ee Focus this week looks at the origins of the US media particularly, in genocide, land theft and chattel slavery. Freedom of the press is for those who own the owners of the media.
• 330 Million Gods & the US Embassy – How did it come to pass that white ambassadors in Sri Lanka ‘hastily arranged’ a meeting with opposition leader Sajith Premadasa of the SJB, just as China’s Defense Minister arrived this week? ee consulted our 330 million deities and divined that the chain of command worked this way: Citibank spoke to the US State Department, the USSD spoke to the US Embassy, the US embassy spoke to their one god, their one god spoke to their Assembly of God led by Jesus of Kansas, JoK then appeared in dream to MP Eran Wickremaratne, and Eran spoke to a recipient of AOG largesse, Royalist Harsha de Silva. And thus it cameth to passeth that the dear leader Sajith was advised to attend.
The US embassy’s wailing on Colombo Port City (CPC) was a signal for all of the imperialist’s local politicians, men, women, neuters, and all the imperialist’s NGOs and economists, to shout about the rise of the aptly acronymed ‘CPC’! One would almost suspect Chairman Mao Zedong was hiding out in an offshore cave next to the President’s office, ready to spark revolution…
ee recommends the Asian Progress Forum’s response to the virulent attacks on China (ee Focus. It also provides constructive criticism of the relevant legislation governing the Port City. ee‘s main interest is how all this money and capital will be invested in developing modern industry (MI). MI would surely pay back all debts and resolve so-called balance-of-payment issues, which the CPC may help ameliorate. All the economists refuse to proclaim MI! MI, we repeat, is not handicraft or assembly or manufacture, but making machines!
• Real development banks have been consistently destroyed in Sri Lanka, and any attempt to resurrect or implement real development banks have been stalled. Instead, white banks and their so-called ‘development banks’ camouflaged as ‘aid’ providers, have captured both banks and financial companies, to sell their industrial products.
This hijacking is evident in the recent takeover of the Sanasa Development Bank by the US government, and of course the longstanding creation of Sarvodaya and its ‘Development Fund’ by Rockefeller, et al. ee Focus reproduces a description of Germany’s powerful ‘Development Bank’ camouflaged in green, as well as the role of such banks in those countries’ advancement.
AT Ariyaratne, the founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, who received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1991, was nominated to the US-installed Yahapalana government’s Constitutional Council as ‘a civil representative’ in 2015. Bajajification indeed! How many machines have SDF & SDB invested in making?
• May Day this year witnessed eloquent silencing again for the third year in a row. And why not: the entire trajectory even before the ‘Great Reset of 2020’ was to bid ‘Farewell to the Working Class!’ – entomb this emancipatory class in a concrete casket of radio silence and throw it into the ocean of amnesia! The media as usual misrepresents the conditions and priorities of the working class, splintering it into its isolating parts. These were then given a life of their own as singularized ‘identities’. Note how photos of ‘workers’ in the media, always show them as isolated folk, showering pity on them!
But the class continues to rise from the dead, despite repeated obituaries, and claims by up-and-coming politicians, that there’s no working class! (see Random Notes)
A1. Reader Comments –
• Anti-China Hysteria & Academics • How India Made Vibishina a God in Sri Lanka • US & BBC Show Trials
A2. Quotes of the Week
• SWRD & How May Day Came to Sri Lanka • India’s Foreign Policy Too Militarized • Strategic Ambiguity • How a Certain Marx Became Trendy in US Media
A3. Random Notes –
• Trade Unions & Military Rule • Marx on Making More than Wage Demands • Meritocracy, Technocrats & the Losses of the Working Class • Only Working Class Can Deliver a Better World • Joan Robinson at the Sri Lanka Central Bank • Cheena Koratuwa in Galle • Those Zhange He Inscriptions in Galle
B. ee Focus
B1. Asia Progress Forum Condemns False Allegations of Chinese ‘Colonialism’ in Port City
B2. Newspapers as Money as Slaves
B3. Why Sri Lanka Needs a Development Bank
C. News Index
A1. Reader Comments
• ee thanks Readers who send articles of interest. Please excerpt or summarize what is important about any news sent, or your comments, and place any e-link at the end. It’s better to email: email@example.com
• ‘This week, another fake academic warned of dire consequences due to the visit of China’s Defense Minister, by harking back to the supposed 15th century kidnapping of a Lankan king by the Chinese General Zhang He (Cheng Ho).
The Island’s ‘Midweek Review’ carried a clearly hastily scribbled essay by one Professor Sasanka Perera on the Alakeshvara episode, and the subsequent installation of Parakramabahu the Great by China, as a warning for the future re: the need for ‘regime change’. The poseur makes no mention the Chinese General was Muslim. Nor of the Chola expansionism, etc., that preceded the European invasion of Sri Lanka. Nor of the Indian Vijayanagar Empire’s installation of satrapies in the north and south of Lanka, and imposition of the Vibishana (vs Ravana) metanarrative as the preferred Indian foreign policy for us. Nor of the battles between the various local satrapies installed by that empire, and control by foreign merchants. Perera as expected is installed in a Delhi University. Perera’s scholarship is pure ordure, coasting on his Uncle Gananath’s laurels, which he likes to proclaim out loud (sorry for the mixed metaphor). Here is his offhand rendition of what caused the incident: ‘Alakeshvara launched what are generally referred to as ‘piracy’ attacks against Zheng He’s fleet in local waters.’ Generally referred to? Good heavens! Our scholars! Pirates indeed!’
• ‘The show trial televised by BBC around the world of US police officer Derek Chauvin was meant to show the world how democratic the USA claims to be. What wasn’t highlighted was the killing both during and after the trial, of more Black women and men. That news is only for local US consumption, to assure the white majority that it is business as usual…’
A2. Quotes of the Week_
• ‘In Sri Lanka, May Day was declared a public, bank and mercantile holiday in 1956 by the then Government of SWRD Bandaranaike and his Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP Coalition) spearheaded by the “Boralugoda” Lion Philip Gunawardena… It was during the Bandaranaike administrations that the public service pension scheme was updated to grant a better deal to the largely underpaid public servants, their widows and orphans. It was the Bandaranaike Government’s labour and social services minister TB Ilangaratne who presented the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Bill in 1958… it was mainly Ilangaratne who [set] up of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, the SL Insurance Corporation, the People’s Bank, the Cooperative Wholesale Establishment and the Multipurpose Cooperative Societies which provided quality, essential food items mainly to the working people at affordable prices. This was done with rations books. Today this role has been taken over by profit-oriented private supermarkets, most of whom justify their role with what they call ‘corporate social responsibility’ which often means little more than those words.’ (see ee Workers, Workers are worthy of their wages)
• ‘India’s foreign policies are far too militarised and “geopolitical”, and do not come to grip with the country’s real needs and requirements. After the Mandal Commission and affirmative action in the 1980s and the ensuing exodus of upper-class children to greener pastures in the US, our elites have come to regard the USA as the home away from home. This elitist mania, paradoxically, has only deepened after the self-styled nationalists and their parivar took the reins of power in Delhi.’ (ee Security, Modi’s Govt)
• ‘Strategic ambiguity has always been part and parcel of the repertoire of far-sighted statesmen.’ – (ee Sovereignty, Putin)
• ‘Around the turn of the century, Marx became topical in a more spectacular fashion. New Yorker named him the most important thinker of the coming century, and in a vote organized by BBC, he came out top among philosophers as the greatest thinker of the last millennium – versobooks.com/blogs/3784-marx-comes-painfully-close-to-describing-our-current-world
A3. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_
• Sri Lanka heading towards military-led governance, some trade unions claim. Yet these very same unions make little mention that, regardless of the government in power, the ruling oligarchy in Sri Lanka wishes to maintain its wild orgy of imported luxury consumption. This can only lead to military rule. Inevitably, this military rule will lead either to scientific socialism or the destruction of the entire society altogether.
As for May Day and the usual silence from the media, which only highlights wage demands and strikes, it’s useful to recall Marx’s analysis of workers under capitalism:
‘A struggle for a rise of wages follows only in the track of previous changes, and is the necessary offspring of previous changes in the amount of production, the productive powers of labor, the value of labor, the value of money, the extent or the intensity of labor extracted, the fluctuations of market prices, dependent upon the fluctuations of demand & supply, and consistent with the different phases of the industrial cycle; in one word, as reactions of labor against the previous action of capital. By treating the struggle for a rise of wages independently of all these circumstances, by looking only upon the change of wages, and overlooking all other changes from which they emanate, you proceed from a false premise in order to arrive at false conclusions.’
• The latest cry by up-and-coming politicians and pretenders to power, is for a ‘meritocratic’, pragmatic economy with human rights and social justice. New technology, they claim, have dissolved classes and class struggle.
Meritocracy, ee recalls, was coined by an English Labour Party official as a joke, to make fun of the English ruling-class penchant for claiming they got the right to rule from their superior brains.
Our pretenders claim the ‘Stock Market and the Desktop Entrepreneur has dissolved the capitalist class’. Maybe not dissolved but absolved – for the time being! ‘Machines and AI have displaced the working poor. In place of the proletariat they have created a ‘technical class’ at once working and entrepreneurial.’ All of these claims will amount to ‘business as usual’ for our multinationals and their merchants and moneylenders, and their ‘house kneegrows’ – politicians and economists.
Our pretenders wish to create a ‘hegemonic bloc’ drawn from all classes in support of the meritocratic technocracy. They claim to differ from the Gotabaya presidency by virtue of ‘meritocracy’ (held as the opposite of nepotism). They figure Mahinda was defeated by nepotism, and Gotabaya was elected at least in part by the appeal of ‘professionals’ (technocrats) rather than corrupt politicians running the country. So pretenders plan to take the technocrats from Gotabaya to their side, by appealing to meritocracy, which appeals to all classes aspiring for upward mobility. Gramsci ascribed this ‘hegemonic bloc’ strategy to the success of fascists in Italy: their ability to appeal to large sections of the subaltern classes.
The truth is that technical innovation has never dissolved classes, but changed merely their appearance. The recent technological changes, proclaimed by pretenders, has created a new precarious class worldwide – the so-called precariat – a working class cut off from unions and rights, at the mercy of markets and corporations which have amassed unprecedented wealth. Picketty’s statistics show how much the wealth gap has widened within and between countries in the IT, AI and Stock Market age of the last few decades.
Each technological revolution, including the industrial revolution, has seen the development of technology aimed at bringing down the cost of labor. Under capitalism, technology develops in a way that eliminates higher-paid jobs – which means, essentially, the more-skilled workers. The industrial revolution eliminated skilled spinners and weavers, replacing them with poorly paid machine operators. The last technological revolution eliminated skilled welders, replacing them with robots. McDonald’s replaced skilled cooks with unskilled operators of equipment to heat up and to serve precooked food.
Currently, big data apps are being used to hire poorly paid gig workers. Thus, the introduction of new technology under capitalism exacerbates class divisions.
The precariat also includes not just gig workers, but gig renters, such as house and vehicle owners who rent out via apps such as Airbnb, Uber. Gig workers are equivalent to sharecroppers, covering their own overheads. In this time of takeaway, many don’t realize that (US-based) Uber automatically takes 30% of the order bill from local eateries, while consumers also have to pay delivery charges, again 30% going to Uber from local drivers (more ‘local’ options take a smaller cut). So we should boycott such MNCs & let’s get more exercise by doing pickup ourselves or with local drivers! Uber meanwhile steals public space for their workers to hang out.
The working class of yore – at various levels of organization – seems like a privilege compared to the present situation of the growing mass of precarious workers, with relatively little or no job security, with many indeed underemployed and unemployed.
In the Grundrisse Marx spoke of ‘surplus labor’ or ‘surplus populations’, (non)workers useless to the system. We have to revisit these pages in light of the precariat.
The transition from Fordism (bargains between corporations & unions) to post-Fordism (‘flexible’ labor after the neoliberal decimation of unions) is the political-economic context (relations of production). This was noted by GVS de Silva. It is within this, we find our pretenders’ favorite technologies of IT, AI, Stock Market, etc, come into play. In a perverse sense, they may be correct to say the working class has been dissolved – its organizational forms and welfare gains have indeed been rolled back by the onslaught of neoliberalism. But the workers remain, more and more with less rewards and more precarious work, including many without work.
Class does not dissolve just because you’re sometimes a laborer, sometimes an entrepreneur, while also owning some stock. Just because you’re sometimes a driver, sometimes a cyclist and sometimes pedestrian doesn’t mean the struggle for space on the road between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians is over, or that Caltex, Ford, Tata and Bajaj do not rule national transport policy. Engels wrote about the joint stock company in the 1890s – workers also owning means of production –but all the major revolutions have happened since then!
• It is the working class who can build and deliver a better world. Speak to a worker if you wish to find out what is really happening in the mud of fields, in the grease of factories, in the clutter of warehouses or hum of offices. The roar of the street? Speak to a CMC or Abans road cleaner, or traffic police. In national transport, just speak to a driver or conductor. In a supermarket, speak to a shelf filler or security guard. And if you wish to find out what is happening intimately inside a middle-class home, speak to the ‘servant’! But of course, do not just speak to any worker. One can be a worker and wish to be a private owner. Have not maids married their former hamu’s husbands?!
ee recommends this week’s essay, in the NYT of all places, about economist Joan Robinson, reiterating how the system robs workers even when it claims to be fair. Her work challenges the dominant orthodoxy that trade unions prevent fair competition. Interestingly, the essay is written by a member of the Omidyar Group, so the issues of wages is more complicated.
Robinson was part of a group of European economists who were invited to Sri Lanka during SWRD’s time, to write a paper on the economy. Robinson had an argument with the Central Bank Deputy Governor DW Rajapathirana (formerly Commissioner of Income Tax). DWR told Robinson, the government philosophy was to start industries and then hand them over to private interests. Robinson asked, ‘Why?’
DWR replied, this was the IMF philosophy as well. Robison then quipped, ‘It is not enough to have a philosophy, you have to have the right philosophy.’ Rajapathirana’s son, also an eminent economist (ha-ha) is not as reticent as the father, and is singing the full-blown capitalist anthem! An economic advisor to the previous Yahapalana regime, and linked to the US-funded Advocata thinktank, he wishes to sell everything off to the highest bidder. And you know who that is!
• ‘China Koratuwa (Chinese Quarter) in Galle is more commonly known as China Gardens or Cheena Koratuwa. This is the place where in 1810 the English got down Chinese workers to cultivate their vegetables. The Sinhala word Koratuwa denotes the place where they cultivate vegetables…According to old deeds and plans ‘Kekiribokkawatta’ in China Gardens, where the Mahagala walauwwa is situated, is the place where the Chinese grew the Sinhala vegetable kekiri.’ – archives.dailynews.lk/2012/11/21/fea33.asp
• Ancient Guidebook to International Commerce – More than 6 centuries ago, the visit by a Chinese general of great fame is remembered by a stone inscription reposing in the Colombo Museum… At first sight, it seems like an ordinary stone slab, with ornate carvings. Reminiscent of perhaps the moonstone or even detailed carvings of traditional Sinhala design. But a closer look at the stone that stands around 4feet high, reveals its inscription is more associated with temples and palaces, rather than with ships and seafaring vessels. The head is typically Sri Lankan with its entwined lotuses. Adding to the ambiguity of the inscription, are 2 carved dragons. The distinct lines and sharp flicks of the calligraphy signify its Chinese origins. The Chinese characters take up only one third of the inscription, making space for the familiar Tamil calligraphy, with scatterings of another set of foreign symbols: Persian.
The inscription, known simply as the trilingual stone inscription, is one of major historical significance and is the only trilingual one of its kind in Sri Lanka. Commissioned by General Cheng Ho (now, Zheng He) of the Chinese Navy, the slab was inscribed in China and gifted to Sri Lanka in 1409… ‘It’s not really rules’, etched on the slab… The 3 languages in unison instruct traders on the duties they owe and are mostly requirements. Translations have revealed, the Chinese text calls for oblations in gratitude to the Lord Buddha for safely arriving at the port. Silks, gold and silver, wax candles, jewelled banners in precise quantities have been clearly deciphered from the inscriptions. The list of alms according to the slab was to be presented to the Buddhist temple in ‘the Mountains of Ceylon’. The Persian text too speaks of exact quantities for offerings. Embroidered cloth, incense burners and antique lamp-stands have been called for in honour of a shrine that the slab calls ‘the light of Islam’. The Persian script is not as prominently visible as the other 2 languages. Nevertheless exact measures in ‘Misqal’ and even colour specifications have been spotted by translators.
All the untrained eye can see of the Tamil inscription are a few familiar-looking letters. Experts however gather that this too was as elaborate and meticulous as the other 2 languages. Varying only in that it requires oblation to a certain ‘Lord Tenavarai-nayanar’. Additional to the standard list of Gold and Silver, this list commands Sandalwood and rich anointing oils to be given in worship. While the words on the slab invoke grand visions of the diverse, buzzing port, it isn’t clear how long after its installation the words held fast. Discovered in a culvert close to Cripps Rd in Galle, it was Provincial Engineer HF Tomalin who found it 5 centuries later, in 1911. Who threw it there? Maybe we could ask those who threw away the Xi Jinping plaque at the Lotus Tower, and then begged the Chinese to help them out. – mfa.gov.lk/a-visit-marked-in-stone/
B. Special Focus_
B1. Asia Progress Forum condemns false allegations of ‘Chinese colonialism’ in Port City – Statement on Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill
The Asia Progress Forum (APF) notes the recent gazette of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission (CPCEC) Bill, which seeks to establish a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in 269 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea, which in turn will be governed by a President-appointed Economic Commission and feature a Single Window Investment Facilitator to increase the ease of doing business in the Port City.
The APF unequivocally condemns the virulent Sinophobia and claims of ‘Chinese colonialism’ made by various public figures in the guise of critiquing the CPCEC Bill. Such statements are factually incorrect, grossly misleading to the public, and deeply insulting to one of our oldest and most steadfast allies. APF also observes the striking similarities in the anti-China rhetoric advanced by these political actors and the statement by the US Ambassador to SL that was covered by the press prior to the gazette notice of the CPCEC Bill.
Sri Lanka has maintained friendly relations with China since the visit of Bhikku Faxian in the year 410. The Rubber-Rice Pact of 1952 was arguably the most favorable trade agreement in our country’s history, signed by a right-wing Sri Lankan government that set aside ideological differences with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and collaborated on mutually beneficial economic grounds. Despite mounting pressure from reactionary pro-imperialist forces from both within and outside the country, the forward-thinking decision makers of Sri Lanka at that time established partnership with the PRC. Establishing formal diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1957 was the result of decades of activism by the Left movement. The PRC has since remained a close friend and consistently stood for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, through war, natural disasters and imperialist aggression.
Port City Colombo was initially conceptualized by Sri Lankan policymakers, and the CPCEC Bill is also the product of Sri Lankan policymakers. Land reclamation for the Port City was not debt incurring but instead came through a direct investment of US$1.4billion – the largest in Sri Lanka’s history. The land itself is an inalienable part of Sri Lanka and was officially vested with the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in 2019. The CPCEC Bill stipulates that the SEZ will be under the centralized rule of the democratically elected President of Sri Lanka, and not any foreign country, let alone China. The Bill also stipulates that land in the SEZ cannot be sold on a freehold basis.
APF acknowledges that Port City Colombo is an organic effect in this age of economic globalization and integration. Sri Lanka…is in a deep economic crisis. With limited natural resources, underdeveloped human resources, low purchasing power and high national debt, our country cannot run counter to this unstoppable historical trend and ‘decouple’ from market principles. APF views Port City Colombo as an opportunity to gain much-needed foreign investment, which in turn would stabilize the rapidly depreciating SL Rupee. We envisage that the services-driven SEZ will provide opportunities for young Sri Lankan entrepreneurs, drive innovation and reduce brain drain. In a country with a rapidly growing service sector that rarely follows international standards, the SEZ will introduce important benchmarks for the Sri Lankan service sector. The service establishments within the SEZ will also provide much-needed big data on preferences, which in in turn could be productively used to innovate products and services offered by Sri Lankan companies.
In light of the aforementioned benefits, we emphasize that anti-China rhetoric serves little purpose except to manufacture consent for the misinformation campaign and new Cold War being waged against the PRC and its people by the US and its allies, including India. This rhetoric could be construed as an attempt by the imperialist camp headed by the US, to prevent Sri Lanka from taking its rightful place in the growing Asian economy led by China’s market socialist model. Furthermore, such rhetoric prevents rational, constructive debate on the merits and demerits of the already existing Port City to the national economy. APF is of the view that Port City Colombo is an important development intervention to stabilize the Sri Lankan economy and that further steps could be taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to complement the establishment of Port City Colombo. What follows are the APF’s observations on the weaknesses of the CPCEC and steps required to address them.
APF’s concerns over the CPCEC Bill – The APF notes that Section 7 of the CPCEC Bill states that 5-7 members can be appointed by the President to the Economic Commission that will form the main governing body of the SEZ. While acknowledging the need for foreign expertise to operate the SEZ up to an internationally competitive standard, we feel it is equally import to include Sri Lankan talent. We therefore call on policymakers to include a quota of majority for Sri Lankan citizens in the Economic Commission.
The APF notes that the CPCEC Bill has been designed in such a way as to encourage foreign-currency inflows which will have a positive effect on GDP, BOP and the stability of the SL Rupee’s exchange rate. However, we are concerned that the Bill does not address the risks of high volumes of outflows, which will have the counterintuitive effect of increasing volatility in the economy. We therefore call on policymakers to specify a cap on outflows to protect the national economy and involve the Central Bank in designing a framework for monetary stability in the SEZ.
While all citizens of the country will benefit from high GDP, BOP and currency stability, this alone is not enough to push the domestic economy towards agricultural revitalization and industrialization. The APF emphasizes that the Port City can only be one aspect of Sri Lanka’s economic development. A broader plan and institutional framework is needed to harness the potential short-term macroeconomic benefits of the Port City for the advancement of the real economy. We therefore call on policymakers to formulate and implement a long-term plan that specifies how the capital inflow vis-à-vis Port City Colombo will be reinvested to rejuvenate industrialization and agricultural development in Sri Lanka.
APF recognizes that sweeping tax exemptions in the CPCEC Bill are necessary to incentivize foreign currency inflows. We also recognize that the main source of government revenue in the SEZ will be through leases, sales and license fees. Therefore, it is the APF’s position that the residents of the SEZ, should not be eligible to the same subsidized services as the mainland. We therefore call on policymakers to specify that profitable rates will be charged for state services such as water, electricity, communications and other services in the SEZ, which in turn will have a positive effect on the balance sheets of our SOEs.
The APF appreciates provisions in the CPCEC Bill to prevent investment via Domestic Foreign Currency accounts, thereby incentivizing strictly foreign inflows. While liberal critics of CPCEC bill argue that equal opportunity should be provided for local and foreign investors, we note that local investors may abuse Port City Colombo to evade taxes that they owe to the national economy. The Sri Lankan people have enjoyed a generous welfare state since our country’s independence in 1948. The provision of free healthcare and education is our pride and a national priority. It is imperative that the income tax regime that is applicable to Sri Lankan businesses continue in order to fund the welfare state. We therefore call for stronger auditing mechanisms, including involvement of the Auditor General’s Department, and surveillance on transactions to ensure that local companies do not find loopholes and abuse CPCEC to evade taxes due in the mainland, which in turn would diminish government revenue.
The APF notes that the CPCEC Bill makes local labor laws inapplicable in the SEZ, while workers will receive salaries in foreign currency. While recognizing this as a trade-off, APF calls for minimum standards including a minimum wage and standardized working hours in the SEZ. Moreover, we are concerned about possible loopholes which may allow manpower agencies to collect foreign currency while remunerating contract workers in rupees. Stronger safeguards are required to ensure every worker in the SEZ receives competitive salaries in foreign currency.
The APF notes studies which project that the Port City will generate a significant amount of jobs during the construction and operation phase. However, we are concerned that the CPECEC has no provisions for ensuring that a quota of such jobs is allocated for Sri Lankan workers. Currently, the Sri Lankan labor force is in a crisis characterized by a mismatch of skills, competencies and attitudes required by the private sector and those acquired by workers from educational and/or technical training institutions. We therefore call for a comprehensive plan for human resource development which entails an urgent revision and improvement of current skills development facilities to ensure that Sri Lankan workers are able to compete against international standards by the time the Port City is functional in 20 years. (2021.04.24)
On Behalf of the Asia Progress Forum (APF) : Prof KDN Weerasinghe (Member – Presidium, APF), Dr Vagisha Gunasekara (Academic & Independent Researcher of Political Economy, member – Secretariat, APF), Percy Samarasinghe (Researcher, Member – Secretariat, APF)
B2. Newspapers as Money as Slaves
(from: The US Slave Coast – A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, Ned & Constance Sublette)
‘There is to be sold a very likely Negro Woman aged about 30 years who has lived in this City, from her Childhood, and can wash and iron very well, cook Victuals, sew, spin on the Linen Wheel, milk Cows, and do all Sorts of Housework very well. She has a Boy of about 2 years old, which is to go with her. The Price as reasonable as you can agree. And also another very likely Boy aged about 6 years, who is Son of the above said Woman. He will be sold with his Mother, or by himself, as the Buyer pleases. Inquire of the Printer.’
– Advertisement, Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette, 1733
From the beginning of newspapers in the USA, the forced-servitude business was a steady part of their revenue stream. US newspapers & slavery helped grow each other. The first regularly published US newspaper – Issue No. 1 of the Boston News-Letter in 1704 – contained an ‘advertisement’ that read: This News Letter is to be continued Weekly; and all Persons who have any Houses, Lands, Tenements, Farmes, Ships Vessels, Goods, Wares or Merchadizes, &c to be Sold or Lett; or Servants Run away; or Goods Stoll or Lost, may have the same Inserted at a Reasonable Rate.
The Boston News-Letter was distributed at the Boston Post Office and printed by the colonial postmaster, a linkage that would continue into the age of postmaster-printer Benjamin Franklin. Advertisers were slow in coming to the publication, but the earliest have slave-sale ads…
Tens of thousands more would appear over the next 154 years. Maryland had a newspaper as of 1727, the Maryland Gazette…the printer, William Parks, moved to Williamsburg, the bustling port on the James River, where in 1736 he started the Virginia Gazette…
Then as now, the unique economics of newspapers necessarily relied on income from diverse sources. The popularity of the word Gazette in so many colonial newspapers’ names derived from its then-current connotation of ‘official record’, which allowed the paper to get government business printing public notices.
But newspapers also derived a steady, dependable income from slavery-related advertisements. Newspapers ran 2 main kinds of slavery-related ads: for apprehension of runaways, and for sale or hiring. In the former case, the existence of this new advertising medium strengthened slavery by creating a system of vigilance that made long-term escape less of a possibility. In the latter, newspapers not only ran ads for slave sales but also facilitated them through brokerage, by furnishing venues for a sale to take place, and even by consignment of slaves to the paper’s printer.
In turn, the soul-driving business grew and prospered with the marketing power afforded by this up-to-date medium, as per the advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette of Nov 18, 1731:
To be Sold, A Likely Negro Wench, about 15 years old, has had the Small-pox, been in the Country above a Year, and talks English. Enquire of the Printer hereof.
The ‘Printer’ was 25-year-old Benjamin Franklin, who bought the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1730 after its founder, Samuel Keimer, went to debtor’s prison. Keimer, though English, was a follower of the ‘French prophets’, a millennial sect of Huguenots in London; in an account of his sufferings he referred to himself as a ‘white Negro’, predating Norman Mailer’s use of the term by more than 200 years. He relocated to Barbados, where he began the Barbados Gazette, which ran many slavery-related advertisements.
With Franklin’s newspaper and his retail location in Philadelphia, he brokered slave sales like the one at the beginning of this chapter for a girl at the beginning of her childbearing years. Franklin, the only one of the ‘founding fathers’ to have been an indentured servant, owned slaves for 30 years or so. (Franklin was indentured to his older brother, a newspaper printer in Boston, from whom he ran away to the 41-year-old town of Philadelphia in 1723.)
A concerned student of the problems of creating and retaining wealth, Franklin fused what we now call ‘the media’ with political power in the USA via networking and new technology….
Franklin franchised his newspaper operation, partnering with printers in other towns. We have previously noted his silent partnership in the South Carolina Gazette. When William Parks was preparing to start the Virginia Gazette, Franklin advised him to build his own papermill – the first in the Southern colonies – and sold him the rags needed to make the paper from.
‘By the mid-1740s’, writes David Waldstreicher, whose Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution has informed this narrative: ‘Franklin was the largest paper dealer in the colonies.’ He controlled paper itself and saw its uses as medium and as money.
Franklin’s influence as an economic theorist was all the more significant because his ideas were grounded in real-world practice. He made his Pennsylvania Gazette into a new kind of newspaper. ‘As no one quite had before’, writes Waldstreicher, ‘he learned to make his printed manufactures – the newspaper and the annual almanacs – essential goods in the booming economy.’ As part of that process, Franklin got himself named postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737 – a significant and profitable office for a newspaperman, since newspapers constituted the bulk of what the postal system carried. He subsequently became deputy postmaster general for British North America, and ultimately postmaster of the United States, creating the US Postal System. For much of his adult life he used the post office as a base from which to dispense patronage and build his personal network as the North American economy grew.
Franklin was an anti-monetarist: in an economy where he might have to accept (and store, sell) a quantity of tobacco as payment in lieu of silver, he was a strong proponent of paper currency. From his perspective in the USA, where land was cheap but labor was dear, Franklin saw wealth in terms of labor, not silver.
‘Franklin’s writings of the 1730s-40s pivot repeatedly around… notions of money as akin to people, and people as capital,’ writes Waldstreicher.
Karl Marx, who quoted Franklin approvingly in Das Kapital, described him in 1859 as the man ‘who formulated the basic law of modern political economy’. Marx was referring to Franklin’s anonymously published pamphlet (in 1729, when Franklin was 23), A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper-Currency:
Trade in general being nothing else but the Exchange of Labor for Labor, the Value of all Things is… most justly measured by Labor… By Labor may the Value of Silver be measured as well as other Things… Thus the riches of a country are to be valued by the quantity of labor its inhabitants are able to purchase.
Somewhere between 6-10% of the population of Philadelphia at the time was enslaved and was therefore purchasable labor. The Pennsylvania legislature dropped the duty on slaves from 10 pounds to 20 shillings in the 1720s, and throughout the 1730s an ever-increasing number of kidnapped Africans were arriving. Franklin owned at least 2 slaves, though he found them troublesome; in a 1748 letter to his elderly mother about domestic matters, he wrote of an enslaved couple: ‘we conclude to sell them both the first good opportunity, for we do not like Negro servants.’
Franklin lived to be 84, and in his late years he became a vocal abolitionist. But that was after he made his fortune with newspapers that acted as clearing houses for slave sales and runaway advertisements. Using the unpaid labor of black slaves, indentured servants, and his wife Deborah, Franklin operated a book and stationery shop on the street level of his printing house. In a cash-poor society, Franklin frequently had to take payment in the form of South Carolina rice or West Indian sugar, selling it at his store, and on at least one occasion accepted a slave as partial payment for a debt.
Not for nothing did 1990s rappers speak of $100 bills as ‘the Benjamins’. Franklin saw paper money as a democratization of capital, and thereby as a broader franchise for the wider civic participation he favored – though that did not include the participation of Negroes’, to whom a cash value was assigned. In the wake of the smallpox epidemic of 1731, Franklin published a calculation in his newspaper: ‘The Number of those who died here of that Distemper, is exactly 288… 64 of the Number were Negroes; if these be valued one with another at 30 pounds per Head, the Loss to the City in that Article is near 2000 pounds.’
In a sense, Franklin’s newspaper and his almanac were his money, since they were paper he could exchange for commodities. But Franklin also literally printed money – more than £770,000 worth of notes for Pennsylvania between 1731-64, as well as notes for Delaware and New Jersey. As a newspaper publisher, he had a bird’s-eye view of the variety of contemporary commerce. He routinely had to handle complex transactions entailing a mix of barter, credit, and occasionally cash, with heightened insight into the workings of the colonial credit economy. He understood clearly how ‘money’ could take on various forms.
France had tried a disastrous experiment with paper money in 1717, urged on the Regent Duke of Orleans by John Law, the gambler son of an Edinburgh goldsmith. Law created a paper money for France, backing it with future revenues from the infant colony of Louisiana, which had neither a staple crop nor a labor force. To that end, a cedar swamp was cleared in 1718 and New Orleans was built. As he privatized France’s foreign debt into a single, paper-issuing, monster corporation, there followed a speculative bubble in which Law’s notes traded at 10 times their face value in Paris, with the inevitable crash coming in 1721. After that, France was soured on paper money until the 19th century. The crash was more or less concurrent with the London South Sea bubble, but England bounced back much better.
As Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware bulked up with slaves, South Sea Company ships from Africa pulled up into the ports of the Chesapeake. Discharged from widely disparate West and Central African slaving territories, the cargoes were sometimes very large, as per this advertisement from Williamsburg’s Virginia Gazette on April 8, 1737, the second year of the paper’s existence…
Alexander Hewatt in 1779 described the situation of South Carolina 40 years previously: ‘Adventurous planters in Carolina, eager to obtain a number of negroes, always stretched their credit with the traders to its utmost pitch; for as negroes on good lands cleared themselves in a few years, they by this means made an annual addition to their capital stock. After obtaining this credit, it then became their interest to maintain their superiority in assembly, and discharge their debt to the merchants in the easiest manner they could. The increase of paper-money always proved to them a considerable assistance, as it advanced the price of those commodities they brought to the market, by which they cancelled their debts with the merchants; so that however much this currency might depreciate, the loss occasioned by it from time to time fell not on the adventurous planters, but on the merchants and moneymen who were obliged to take it.’
In other words, slaves were safer money than paper currency. This would continue to be true in the slave territories of the US until the end of slavery.
B3. Why Sri Lanka Needs a Development Bank
(from: Why Germany Leads in Renewables: It Has Its Own Green Bank – Ellen Brown)
The Green New Deal, endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more than 40 other US Representatives, has been criticized as imposing a too-heavy burden on the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the Green New Deal resolution proposes. It says funding will come primarily from certain public agencies, including the Federal Reserve and “a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks.”
Funding through the Federal Reserve may be controversial, but establishing a national public infrastructure and development bank should be a no-brainer. The real question is why we don’t already have one, like China, Germany, and other countries that are running circles around us in infrastructure development. Many European, Asian and Latin American countries have their own national development banks, as well as belonging to bilateral or multinational development institutions that are jointly owned by multiple governments. Unlike the US Federal Reserve, which considers itself ‘independent’ of government, national development banks are wholly owned by their governments and carry out public development policies.
China not only has its own China Infrastructure Bank but has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIDB), which counts many Asian and West Asian countries in its membership, including Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia. Both banks are helping to fund China’s trillion-dollar ‘Belt & Road’ infrastructure Initiative (BRI). China is so far ahead of the US in building infrastructure that Dan Slane, a former advisor on President Trump’s transition team, has warned, “If we don’t get our act together very soon, we should all be brushing up on our Mandarin.”
The leader in renewable energy, however, is Germany, called ‘the world’s first major renewable energy economy’. Germany has a public sector development bank called KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau or Reconstruction Credit Institute), which is even larger than the World Bank. Along with Germany’s non-profit Sparkassen banks, KfW has largely funded the country’s green energy revolution.
Unlike private commercial banks, KfW does not have to focus on maximizing short-term profits for its shareholders while turning a blind eye to external costs, including those imposed on the environment. The bank has been free to support the energy revolution by funding major investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Its fossil fuel investments are close to zero. One of the key features of KFW, as with other development banks, is that much of its lending is driven in a strategic direction determined by the national government. Its key role in the green energy revolution has been played within a public policy framework under Germany’s renewable energy legislation, including policy measures that have made investment in renewables commercially attractive.
KfW is one of the world’s largest development banks, with assets as of Dec 2017 of $566.5billion. Ironically, the initial funding for its capitalization came from the US, through the Marshall Plan in 1948. Why didn’t we fund a similar bank for ourselves? Apparently because powerful Wall Street interests did not want the competition from a government-owned bank that could make below-market loans for infrastructure and development. Major US investors today prefer funding infrastructure through public-private partnerships, in which private partners can reap the profits while losses are imposed on local governments.
KfW & Germany’s Energy Revolution – Renewable energy in Germany is mainly based on wind, solar and biomass. Renewables generated 41% of the country’s electricity in 2017, up from just 6% in 2000; and public banks provided over 72% of the financing for this transition. In 2007-9, KfW funded all of Germany’s investment in Solar Photovoltaic. After that, Solar PV was introduced nationwide on a major scale. This is the sort of catalytic role that development banks can play, kickstarting a major structural transformation by funding and showcasing new technologies and sectors.
KfW is not only one of the biggest but has been ranked one of the 2 safest banks in the world. (The other is also a publicly-owned bank, the Zurich Cantonal Bank in Switzerland.) KfW sports triple-A ratings from all 3 major rating agencies, Fitch, Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s. The bank benefits from these top ratings and from the statutory guarantee of the German government, which allow it to issue bonds on very favorable terms and therefore to lend on favorable terms, backing its loans with the bonds.
KfW does not work through public-private partnerships, and it does not trade in derivatives and other complex financial products. It relies on traditional lending and grants. The borrower is responsible for loan repayment. Private investors can participate, but not as shareholders or public-private partners. Rather, they can invest in ‘Green Bonds,’ which are as safe and liquid as other government bonds and are prized for their green earmarking. The first “Green Bond – Made by KfW” was issued in 2014 with a volume of $1.7 billion and a maturity of 5 years. It was the largest Green Bond ever at the time of issuance and generated so much interest that the order book rapidly grew to $3.02bn, although the bonds paid an annual coupon of only 0.375%. By 2017, the issue volume of KfW Green Bonds was $4.21bn.
Investors benefit from the high credit and sustainability ratings of KfW, the liquidity of its bonds, and the opportunity to support climate and environmental protection. For large institutional investors with funds that exceed the government deposit insurance limit, Green Bonds are the equivalent of savings accounts, a safe place to park their money that provides a modest interest. Green Bonds also appeal to ‘socially responsible’ investors, who have the assurance with these simple and transparent bonds that their money is going where they want it to. The bonds are financed by KfW from the proceeds of its loans, which are also in high demand due to their low interest rates; and the bank can offer these low rates because its triple-A ratings allow it to cheaply mobilize funds from capital markets, and because its public policy-oriented loans qualify it for targeted subsidies.
Roosevelt’s Development Bank: the Reconstruction Finance Corporation – KfW’s role in implementing government policy parallels that of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) in funding the New Deal in the 1930s. At that time US banks were bankrupt and incapable of financing the country’s recovery. Roosevelt attempted to set up a system of 12 public ‘industrial banks’ through the Federal Reserve, but the measure failed; so he made an end run around his opponents by using the RFC that had been set up earlier by President Hoover, expanding it to address the nation’s financing needs.
The RFC Act of 1932 provided the RFC with capital stock of $500million and the authority to extend credit up to $1.5billion (subsequently increased several times). With those resources, 1932-57 the RFC loaned or invested more than $40bn. As with KfW’s loans, its funding source was the sale of bonds, mostly to the Treasury itself. Proceeds from the loans repaid the bonds, leaving the RFC with a net profit. The RFC financed roads, bridges, dams, post offices, universities, electrical power, mortgages, farms, and much more; and it funded all this while generating income for the government.
The RFC was so successful that it became US’s largest corporation and the world’s largest banking organization. Its success may have been its nemesis. Without the emergencies of depression and war, it was a too-powerful competitor of the private banking establishment; and in 1957 it was disbanded under President Eisenhower. The US was left without a development bank, while Germany and other countries were hitting the ground running with theirs.
Today some US states have infrastructure and development banks, including California, but their reach is very small. One way they could be expanded to meet state infrastructure needs would be to turn them into depositories for state and municipal revenues. Rather than lending their capital directly in a revolving fund, this would allow them to leverage their capital into 10 times that sum in loans, as all depository banks are able to do. (see earlier article)
The most profitable & efficient way for national & local governments to finance public infrastructure & development is with their own banks, as the impressive track records of KfW and other national development banks have shown. The RFC showed what could be done even by a country that was technically bankrupt, simply by mobilizing its own resources through a publicly owned financial institution. We need to resurrect that public funding engine today, not only to address the national and global crises we are facing now but for the ongoing development the country needs in order to manifest its true potential.
C. News Index______________________________________________
• ee News Index provides headlines and links to gain a sense of the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’ mainly to expose the backwardness of a multinationally controlled ‘local media’:
(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.
• Chinese Defence Min arrives today; White Diplomats race to meet Opposition Leader
‘Ambassador of the European Union Denis Chaibi led the delegation comprising of: 01. Eric Lavertu, Ambassador of France. 02. Rita Giuliana Mannella, Ambassador of Italy. 03. Holger Seubert, Ambassador of Germany, 04. Dr. Victor Chiujdea, Ambassador of Romania’
• Strategic cooperation comes to the fore in Sino-Lankan relations
• Sri Lanka has prioritised relations with China, Gotabaya tells General Wei – Srinivasan
• Chinese Defense Minister Visit & Military Dimension To Sino-SL Relations – Balachandran
‘China has a long way to go before it can claim to have achieved a credible presence in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Its naval reach is still short of the requirement in the IOR, which is still dominated by the US and India. But at the same time, China has a pressing need to safeguard its ships plying on the East-West route which lies just south of Sri Lanka…. –
• Indian High Commissioner meets PM Rajapaksa for talks
• Maha Sanga tells President country should not stagnate but progress commercially
‘“Expanding the landmass of the country and paving the way to new investment opportunities is a victory for the country; instead of propagating falsehoods and opposing everything, we must unite to stand tall as a nation,” the Theros said.’
• Asia Progress Forum backs Port City project, but points out major shortcomings
‘The CPCEC (Colombo Port City Economic Commission) Bill has been designed to encourage foreign currency inflows which would have a positive effect on GDP, BOP and the stability of the Sri Lankan rupee’s exchange rate…However, the APF was concerned that the Bill did not address the risks of high volumes of outflows, which would have the counterintuitive effect of increasing volatility in the economy. The APF therefore called on policymakers to specify a cap on outflows to protect the national economy and involve the Central Bank in designing a framework for monetary stability in the Special Economic Zone ( SEZ)…’
• Why Oppose the Colombo Port City?
‘Some others may oppose because, arguably, it is against the country’s or people’s sovereignty. This may appear a reasonable assumption at least on the surface. However, the argument mainly comes from those who neglect or go against ‘sovereignty’ usually on behalf of foreign sources or forces.’
• Premier Zhou Enlai’s visit to Ceylon in 1957
• Tamil Memorial Monument in Markham, Ontario, Canada
• With no agrément from Canada, former AF commander heads as Ambassador to Rome
• UK bid to hide Gash reports challenged in House of Lords
• India’s ‘love’
‘Jaishankar has a point because Provincial Councils are part of the Constitution, never mind that they were brought about by Indian skullduggery and the UNP’s signature penchant for genuflection before powerful nations.’
• India’s Foreign Minister interferes with the Sovereignty and Independence of Sri Lanka
• Sri Lanka is the hub of the Indian Ocean – Daily Mirror Editorial
• Request for Maha Sangha to recite the ‘Ratana Sutta’ to protect Moragoda in India
• Why can’t SAARC be like ASEAN?
• USA preferable to China – Jayatilleka
“I prefer liberal-democratic values of freedom and liberty, and salute Churchill’s wry description of democracy as “the worst form of government, except for all the others”.’
• Post-USA Afghanistan through looking glass – Bhadrakumar
‘Pakistan does not control the Taliban and it will suffer negative as well as positive consequences from their improved position… The Afghan Taliban will become more independent.” If so, what is the need of paranoia? The door is opening wide to engage with the Taliban based on mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interests. Give diplomacy a chance.’
• The Butcher of Kabul and I – Bhadrakumar (2017)
• Tread with extreme caution (2020)
‘It is not within India’s capacity to fill in the power vacuum in Afghanistan’
• The Russia-China Alliance: More than a Bulwark Against Imperialism
‘China’s communist party-led government and enormous non-white population strikes fear in the heart of the hegemon in ways that Russia alone simply cannot.’
• Russia variable in India-China equation
‘Moscow and Beijing are drifting closer because of their mutual interests’
• Implications of Asia’s economic resilience for Myanmar
• Putin recites the distribution of power in central Europe
‘Again, a diplomatic row with Moscow that was kickstarted by the US and English intelligence with Czech Republic as their surrogate also fizzled out with Prague washing its hands of it.’
• Biden chips away at ties with Turkey
‘But what distinguishes MBS or Erdogan is that they are vulnerable to blackmail. MBS needs Washington’s neutrality in his succession bid; Erdogan has a highly damaging case pending against him in the US federal court in New York that can potentially destroy his political career and family.’
• NYT Investigates U.S. Jewish Billionaire Funding For Anti-Islamists – Then Distracts With Loads Of Anti-Russian Slander
• Reflections on Cuba’s Black Radical History, Revolutionary Health, and Grassroots Media
• German Ambassador Wants More Nazis? – 112 Ukraine Makes A Curious Little Translation Mistake
• US policing is defended as good despite its unmatched amounts of lethal violence
“Within their cloud of fear, they have come to believe that police violence is caused by a lack of compliance, rather than seeing it as the violent son of US slavery.”
• Black Panther Party Never Been More Popular, But Actual Panthers Have Been Forgotten.
• Mumia Abu-Jamal: State Running Scared, Trying to Make Sure He Dies in Prison
• The Class Collaboration of “Justice”
‘“The Black petty-bourgeoisie have established enclaves around themselves using one another’s platforms to avoid directly addressing the Black masses they have claimed to represent.”’
• CIA Filmed Assange Lawyers & Seized his legal and medical files in the Ecuadorean Embassy
C2. Security (the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of legitimate violence)
ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of legitimate violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance as the basis of a truly independent nation.
• CIA sent officers in 2002 to help SIS officers set up Analytic Unit
• World Bank backs computerization of 14000 Grama Niladhari Divisions, court management system national digital ID
• Citizens Development Business Finance (CDB) MoU with Department for Registration of Persons to enable digital customer verification
• India launches investigations into Rishad Bathiudeen’s Kerala links
• Easter Sunday probe: Bathiudeen brothers face 90-day detention under PTA
• Cardinal’s Candid Comments and the Bathiudeen Brothers Brouhaha
‘This sudden “arrest by night” grandstanding seems unnecessary. It is unclear as to why the arrests were made in this way. Was it a knee jerk reaction to the Cardinal’s assertion that he was not a “Kondhaya Bandhapu Cheenu”?’
• Australian of SL origin named as Easter Sunday carnage suspect appeals to UN
• Indian smugglers go scot free due to fear of India’s raging COVID
• Blast kills youth in Mullaithivu; another injured
• Two Muslim youths making fireworks at Ibbagamuwa – Signs of Terror making a return?
• Sri Lanka ruling party wants action against entire former cabinet
• New BASL Website launched, funded by?
• USAID Moves On The Bar Association
‘Prakalathan Thuraisingham (also known as ‘Prabha’) is the on-the-spot point-man for USAID in BASL offices and activities. Thuraisingham works closely with Nayomi Wickramaratne who was the previous Administrative Secretary (Acting) of BASL.’
• International Commission of Jurists warns SL Parliament
‘reject resolution undermining accountability and judicial independence’
• Govt. usurps judicial power to decide merits and demerits of court cases: Eran
• Cabinet approves ban on burqas, other face-covering veils
• Rear Admiral Prasanna Hewage takes over command of Southern Naval Area
• Mercmarine Training offers SL youth an adventurous career pathway in the merchant navy
‘Established in 1986, Mercmarine is the first private maritime training facility in Sri Lanka.’
• Sri Lanka plans to purchase Mi-171 helicopters amid vaccine shortage: Opposition Leader
• Being blooded into the Ceylon Army in 1971
• Gampaha 1961: Some Very Important People and Events
• ‘No-Nonsense Sydney’ de Zoysa (see ee Politics, 1956)
• GMOA asks govt. not to allow foreigners here for quarantine purposes
• Sri Lanka’s pharma-biz chamber assures continued supply of medicines
‘SLCPI represents over 60 major private importers of pharmaceuticals in the country, accounting for 85% of Sri Lanka’s medicines market. SLCPI’s stakeholders supply the country with 800 molecules from 364 manufacturers from across the world’
• Sri Lanka govt trying to cover up shortcomings by highlighting India’s pandemic woes: NPP
‘“After 73 years of [independent] governance, we have only 700 ICU beds. This should tell us where we are when it comes to health.”’
• Private hospitals renew call to let them import and administer COVID-19 vaccine
‘India allowed pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to sell 50% of their production to states and hospital chains at a pre-fixed price for vaccination of people above 18 outside the central program… Since 29 January, SL’s nation-wide immunisation program has covered 925,242 people. On Friday, the Government claimed that it was on track to immunise 40% of the population by September.’
• How ready is Sri Lanka for India’s catastrophic Covid wildfire jumping across?
• North gets serious about tackling covid threat because of contacts with Indians
‘‘Vendors at the Kilinochchi wholesale market work closely with commercial hubs in Dambulla, Vavuniya, Jaffna and Tambuttegama. Those were areas with high coronavirus prevalence…Our fishermen associate with their Indian counterparts. They also deal with smugglers operating between the two countries. This is a dangerous situation.”’
• If we were in power in Delhi, we’d nationalise the health system: KK Shailaja, Kerala Health Minister
• Modi Govt’s vaccine diplomacy unravels—within India and abroad
‘Paradoxically, the two countries that have come to India’s aid are Russia and China’
• Tradeoff for US vaccine unthinkable
‘India should never contemplate a Faustian deal allowing Pentagon’s basing arrangements on its soil for the upcoming Afghan operations as quid pro quo for raw materials for the Covid-19 vaccine’
• Erroneous calculation pushes Modi from Hero to Zero
‘Many including the right wing political entity Shiv Sena criticized the government for not taking prompt actions against the religious festival but when reading the mindset of Modi, he would not dare banning the event during a time of a crucial election.’
• Madras High Court wants murder charges against Election Commission of India
• Airfares soar and private jets in demand as rich Indians flee Covid-19
‘About 300 commercial flights a week usually operate between the UAE and India, according to local media. The UAE is home to roughly 3.3 million Indians, who make up a third of the population – most of them in Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the federation.’
• ‘One out of every 20 COVID-19 vaccines has transited on an Emirates aircraft’
‘In January 2021, Emirates SkyCargo joined hands with DP World, Dubai Airports and International Humanitarian City to form the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance.’
• Gravitas: Bill Gates says no to sharing vaccine formulas to developing world
• White House to Share Its Emergent BioSolutions, Unusable AstraZeneca Vaccine with Other Nations
‘There is war within Big Pharma. Amply documented: all mRNA covid “vaccines” (including Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneka and J and J) have resulted in deaths and injuries. There are indications that Pfizer wants to edge out both AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson’
• US Agrees To Export COVID Vaccine Raw Materials To India
• U.S. issues Level 4 health alert, asks its citizens to leave India
• England sends ‘oxygen factories’ to India
• India orders 36 French-made Rafale fighter aircraft for 7.87 billion Euros
• Why is the US police force so paranoid when it comes to colour?
• The Pentagon to spend almost $18 billion for new interceptor
“To stop incoming nuclear missiles from North Korea or Iran, the first major defense procurement award of the Biden administration’
• U.S. Four Star Generals Ask Director of National Intelligence To Stop Lying
C3. Economists (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.
• “We need to have an ‘exit time-line’ on import controls – Wijewardena
• World Bank says 44% of SL Households Helpless! – Wijewardena
‘Central Bank Governor, W.D. Lakshman, has charged the critics of the Government as purveyors of doom and gloom without understanding the logic behind this policy stance. I argued that, with all kinds of macroeconomic imbalances present, the economy had in fact been in doom and gloom.’
• SL’s GDP projected to rebound amid vaccination: Asian Development Bank
• How to keep them poor…? – Abeyratne
‘Compared with the harsh beginning of Israel, Sri Lanka received an independent country with a thriving plantation economy, established welfare system, basic infrastructure covering the entire country, a civil administrative system, a judicial system with law and order, a democratic political system, and finally a peaceful transfer of power from Britain to national leaders. What else do you need to start a journey of a nation?’
• Is there an improvement in our external finances and indebtedness? – Sanderatne
‘80% of imports were intermediate and capital goods essential for domestic production. They include fuel, fertiliser, chemicals, raw materials and machinery for manufacture. The curtailment of these imports would endanger production and exports. Therefore, only imports that do not affect production of goods and services should be restricted… The Sri Lankan economy has been, is and will be a trade dependent economy. As an import-export economy, its prosperity and indeed its survival depends on its export competitiveness. Sri Lanka must “export or perish.”’
• ‘Hambantota Port and Port City must be run on P-P-P basis to reap full benefits’ – Abeyratne
“Since the local domestic market is small it is very important to attract foreign direct investments into the country.;
• How China eradicated extreme poverty: Part 1 & 2 – Chinese Ambassador
• The Woman Who Shattered the Myth of the Free Market
‘Robinson argued that workers, as sellers of their own labor, almost always faced monopsonistic exploitation from employers, the buyers of their labor. This technical point had a political edge: According to Robinson, workers were being chronically underpaid, even by the standards of fairness devised by the high priests of the free market.’
• Congress must remove Fed, a captured regulator, from supervising Wall Street banks
‘What caused the Wall Street bank (Citigroup, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs) stocks to tank so much worse than the broader market in March 2020 is the same thing that caused the banks to tank much worse than the broader market in 2008 – interconnectivity via derivatives and leverage.’
C4. Economy (Usually reported in monetary terms)
ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, their constant moaning about debt and balance of payments without stating the need for industrial production to overcome such issues, etc.
• Worst recession since Independence with its economy contracting by 3.6%: CBSL
• CBSL Releases its Annual Report for the Year 2020
‘Govt. has tough task ahead…Policy adjustments needed to address disproportionate pandemic impact on poor…Warns expenditure on imports likely to increase in medium term…Sluggish productivity remains major impediment…Structural, institutional and policy impediments on FDI remain’
• SL outstanding debt hits 109.7% of GDP
‘Expands from 94.3% of GDP in 2019 partly due to pandemic…Central Govt. debt accounted for 92% of total public debt …SLPA and the CEB were biggest holders of debt, accounting for 50.9% and 42.3%, respectively …
• Asian Development Bank’s Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021, forecasts SL rebound
• Soaring essential commodity prices hit consumers amid tax cuts
• CB carrying out flexible inflation targeting
‘A monetary policy to stabilise both inflation around the inflation target and the real economy’
• CB extends suspension on buying ISBs by banks until further notice
‘Five largest private sector banks alone hold nearly Rs.500bn worth of SLISBs’
• Concerns over CB curbs on select forward forex deals
‘Businesses and dealers are concerned over the alleged shortage of US Dollars in the market as the Central Bank stepped up curbs against select forward contracts this week. Sources said that the Central Bank had stopped selling dollars for Sri Lanka Rupees, meaning one could only do Telegraphic Transfer if you have dollar credit. “Some banks don’t have dollars,” they claimed.’
• Sri Lanka firms allowed to borrow forex abroad
‘Units of foreign companies have been allowed to borrow from parents’
• Govt. revenue nosedives 27.7% in 2020
‘Declines to Rs. 1.36 b from Rs. 1.89 b in 2019…Tax earnings drop 29.9% to Rs. 1.2 b from Rs. 1.7 b …Revenue from direct taxes also declined to 22.1%…Revenue from corporate and non-corporate income tax decline by 16.2% to Rs. 228.3 b…Excise duty earnings from cigarettes rise 8% to Rs. 94.3 b, alcohol 4.8% to Rs. 121 b
• Govt. in desperate bid to collect tax arrears running into billions of rupees
‘’ outstanding taxes and penalties in default that are estimated to be as much as Rs. 183 billion.’
• Cabinet nod for fresh small businesses loan guarantee scheme
‘The Central Bank has repeatedly called on banks to lend more to small businesses and has said it would introduce lending targets for specific sectors.’
• March exports rise to 6-month high of $ 1 b
‘Apparel, tea, rubber-based products, coconut-based products, spices, electrical and electronic components do well in Q1…US remains single largest export destination with $ 715.4 m exports in Q1 and in March…Exports to China and Netherlands increase significantly in March’
• Sri Lanka rupee closes wide at 200/205 to one month dollar amid moral suasion
‘Bank Treasurers had been repeatedly summoned by authorities in a bid to keep the rupee down amid unprecedented money printing market participants said with net open positions slashed and many banks going negative to give dollars for import letters of credit.’
• $750 m Sri Lanka Development Bonds issue goes undersubscribed; CB accepts $ 652 m of bids
• Sri Lanka successfully rolls over US$693 SLDB tranche
• Sri Lanka GDP to grow 4.1-pct in 2021: Asian Development Bank
‘Growth will benefit in the near term from increased private consumption as pent-up demand is released, and consumption and investment will benefit from low interest rates and ample liquidity’
• Current World Bank portfolio in Sri Lanka
‘19 ongoing WB projects, with a total commitment value of US$2.33 billion in a variety of sectors including transport, urban, agriculture, water, education and health
• World Bank provides $80.5 million for Sri Lanka to buy their vaccines
• Involve all MPs in public finance control through watchdog committees
• Amend Port City bill: Sri Lanka govt MP Gevindu Kumaratunga
• JVP: Corruption, not lack of relief, driving investors away
• Port City could become money-laundering hub unless …– UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
• Colombo Port City is a potential source and driver of Sri Lanka’s economic growth
• Colombo Port City, a Special Economic Zone
• Hans nominated as Chairman of Port City Economic Commission?
‘On 2016, Wijesuriya was called to Axiata Group, the mother company of Dialog, and appointed as the chief executive officer in charge of the South Asian region.’
C5. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)
ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power
• May Day call for May Day
‘Political parties and trade unions in Sri Lanka have been compelled for the third consecutive year to cancel or postpone their May Day events or conduct them on a low note. In 2019, the Easter Sunday suicide bombings forced them to cancel the events…’
• Workers attracted to patronage-based politics and populist agendas of the main political parties.
‘Some political leaders fought for the rights of workers, but they are the exception that proves the rule; almost all of them represent leftist parties, which are no longer remembered by the working class for their service.’
• May Day: Workers are worthy of their wages
• There’s more than meets the eye in the Rs. 1000 daily plantation wage issue
‘All allied benefits relevant to the wage, for example, extra earnings deriving from what are called ‘over kilos’, would not be applicable now…the earning capacity of women, mainly, would be gravely affected… limits placed on the take home wage would exacerbate an already acute man power crisis and provoke an accelerating exodus of young people from the plantations for jobs in cities…as much as 100-200 hectares have been reportedly abandoned in each plantation…The tea smallholders were distributed fertilizer at heavily subsidized rates prompting over fertilizing. The consequences were soil degradation resulting in negative production results. The tea factory owners, already threatened with reduced production, are unable to cope with their loan payments. Some said they would have to close their factories.’
• SL trade unions conduct online May Day events
• Sri Lanka heading towards military-led governance, trade unions claim
• JVP too drops its May Day parade, rally after earlier insisting on going ahead with them
• Tense situation reported at State Engineering Corporation office
“Our salaries were late and we are yet to be paid this month’s salary.’
• State Engineering Corporation (SEC) unlawfully terminated 132 National Equipment and Machinery Organisation (NEMO) workers
• Sri Lanka’s unemployment rate down to 5.2-pct 4Q-2020
• Factories within and outside Free Trade Zone demand workers make up for loss of hours
• Occupational hazards, disability levels and other accidents do not get reported.
‘Absence of compensation becomes a double whammy. Unlike in the case of large industries, OSH in the SMEs is hardly spoken of and that is the very reason for ILO to steer this project’
• No labour laws on remote work
• More than half of university Arts graduates are unemployed – COPA
• Education policy driven by inadequate research, misplaced priorities, and flawed analyses
• Students in South Asia most impacted from pandemic: Asian Development Bank
• Culture shock at the Ceylon Hotel School
• Virtusa introduces salesforce module to local universities
• Over 30,000 Lankans acquire digital skills during COVID-19: Microsoft
• The History of May Day – Hobsbawm
• Risen from the Ruins: The Economic History of Socialism in the German Democratic Republic
C6. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)
ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.
• e-Land registration in Sri Lanka: A pathway for the mother of all scams?
• Will our large dams last forever?
‘The majority of these reservoirs are serving agricultural land by providing water for irrigation while some are multipurpose contributing to hydropower generation. The installed hydropower generation capacity of these dams is about 33% of the total power generation capacity of the country while the actual generation remains around 23%.’
• Mafias in rice, oil, sugar, etc., operate with impunity
• HNB partners DIMO to offer special leasing facilities for agricultural machinery
‘to offer an exclusive range of leasing packages for tractors from Mahindra and Swaraj, as well as harvesters from CLASS and Lovol brands…exclusive discounts on automobile products, servicing, spare parts, tyres and batteries across HNB’s merchant partner network’
• Govt. to promote organic fertilizer production at district level
• President says steps taken to end chemical fertilisers will not be reversed
‘Sri Lanka has spent 221 million US dollars on fertilizer imports in 2019. With the rise in oil prices the cost of imported fertilizer could rise to 300 to 400 million US dollars’
• Agri biz wants scientific approach to proposed chemical fertiliser ban: SL Agripreneurs’ Forum Chairman Rizvi Zaheed & Planters’ association’s Bulumulla
• Banning fertilizer imports
‘According to the National Fertilizer Secretariat, in 2020, we imported around 580,000 MT of inorganic fertilizers costing Rs. 36 billion…50% is used for paddy and the balance for planation crops and field crops. In 2019 around Rs 300 billion worth of food has been imported. Among the imported food are green gram, red onions, big onions, maize, etc., which can be locally produced…’
• Farmchemie wins CNCI Achiever Award for second consecutive year
‘the market leader in animal health products’
• SLSI suppressed the identities of those selling contaminated food items
‘COPA Chairman Prof. Tissa Vitharana as having emphasized the urgent need to enhance testing facilities. Former COPA Chairman Lasantha Alagiyawanna, MP asserted that the situation deteriorated due to the absence of proper coordination among various facilities tasked with testing food items.’
• Government bans palm oil industry – But for what reason?
• Bold Changes Needed to Salvage the Nation’s Tea Plantation Industry
‘The labour component of the total cost of production of tea is about 65%. The reality is that Sri Lanka is no more a country with cheap labour.’
• Crucial meeting to resolve palm oil crisis
‘Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers Association (LCMA) and All Ceylon Bakery Owners Association (ACBOA) welcomed the Government decision to issue a special license to import RPD palm olein… the bakery industry is heavily dependent on the edible oils, specialty fats and margarine importers and refiners – Pyramid Wilmar Ltd., NMK Holdings Ltd. and Sena Mills Refineries Ltd….Around 1.5 million people are engaged in the bakery industry, where 500,000 are directly employed and another one million engaged indirectly… a mechanism is still not found to cater to the SME sector which values around Rs. 10-15 billion per annum….The monthly requirement of RPD palm olein for the confectionery industry is around 30,000 metric tons (MTs) of, while the bakery industry requires around 2,500 MTs subject to demand.’
• CAA removes N-Joy coconut oil from market
‘The Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) was compelled to test the oil again after which it was confirmed that oil imported by Ali Brothers, Edirisinghe Edible Oils and Katana Refineries contain high aflatoxin levels. N-Joy is produced and marketed by Adamjee Lukmanjee and Sons Ltd.’
• Learning the bitter truth about Aflatoxins
‘Although we do have sound standards on aflatoxin levels, the flaw of the current system lays at the implementation level.’
• Sri Lanka raises tax on imported potatoes to Rs50
‘Many potato farmers rent farmland from landowners who earn the classic protectionist ‘rent’ from the tax protection. Sri Lanka began growing large onions and potatoes as an ‘import substitution’ crop during the 1980s when money printing led to steady depreciation and high inflation, undermining a so-called ‘open economy.’
• Jaffna cultivators’ welcome duty hike on imported potatoes
• GRI unveils latest rubber collection centre in Sri Lanka
• Inivos Consulting and IFS ink new deal with Global Sea Foods
‘Located in Badalgama, Sri Lanka, GSF caters to the sea food needs in a 50,000 sq.ft processing area with a capacity of over 100,000 tons of fish per week.’
• Powering sustainable food systems
‘the world’s 500 million smallholder households are among the most vulnerable to climate change.’
• Toll from human-elephant conflict continues to mount on both sides
‘116 elephants have been killed so far this year, whereas human deaths due to elephant attacks number 35, the Wildlife Conservation’s Department latest update reveals.’
• “UNESCO says no to reservoir inside Sinharaja’’ – Dr. Punchinilame Meegaswatte
‘Q. But there are reports about damage being done to the reserves of the Sinharaja forest. Did you examine them? There was one girl raising her concerns about it. That is a private property.’
• Unilever SL First Virtual Symposium Updates Professionals on Cosmetic Ingredient Safety
• The south Indian farmers turning from palm to coconut oil
• How Junk Food & Alcohol Brands Turned Covid into World’s Largest Marketing Campaign
‘companies across the world employed various marketing stunts to champion unhealthy products as part of the solution to the ongoing public health emergency, despite their known role in exacerbating poor health outcomes’
C7. Industry (False definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)
ee Industry notes the ignorance about industrialization (versus handicraft and manufacture), the dependence on importing foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound, and the need for a holistic political, economic and military strategy to overcome the domination by merchants and moneylenders.
• UN International Labour Organisation ready to work with CBSL via MSE power
‘The ILO has conceptualised and introduced a viable Value Chain Financing (VCF) model for the coconut and coir industry…a similar working capital model can be applied to any micro and small enterprise (MSE) sector where buyers have a strong dependencye on producers for supplies.’
• GSMB cancels exploration licences of Australian mineral exploration company
‘“We are only exporting raw materials. There has to be a mechanism to process Raw Earth Matter. From Pulmudai to Komari, Kirinda and Mannar we can find precious minerals along the coastal stretches. But these extracted and exported in a raw form. It is appalling to note that a tonne of graphite is sold at USD 250 where as SLINTECH sells one kilo of graphene which is a purified form of graphite between USD 5000-9000. This shows how much we have been losing as a country….thousands of litres of ground water is being extracted during the extraction of graphite’
• SL Graphite – The Best….Battery Graphite Stocks Forecasting Substantial Growth
‘Ceylon is sitting on a land package constituting of one-hundred and twenty-one kilometer square grids (121 km²) of historic vein graphite deposits, entirely made up of known graphite resource jurisdictions in Sri Lanka. This naturally occurring vein graphite has in-situ grades of over 90% carbon content in contrast with less than 10% for almost any other graphite site in the world”… already sufficient to develop a mine…with a JORC Resource of 17.2Mt with an average grade of 17.6% total heavy minerals, making it one of the highest-grade deposits in the global peer group. Current estimate based on shallow drilling, deep drilling suggests up to 27% total heavy minerals.
• “Limestone quarries have no effect on tremors in Sri Lanka” -Senior Geologist
• CEB calls for bids on gas turbines
• Litro assures availability of 12.5 Kg has cylinder
‘SL’s largest LP gas importer and supplier, Litro Gas Lanka announced no shortage…A complaint was filed by the Association of Self-Employed Individuals with the Criminal Investigations Department stating Rs. 406 is defrauded via the hybrid cylinder.’
• 600 million paracetamol tablets imported for govt. hospitals alone
‘80 new cancer patients were reported here every day. There were a large number of people who did not go to hospital…. about 1,000 million paracetamol tablets were sold in the country per year, and in other words, all the people in our country have become ill’
• West Container Terminal to be fast-tracked
• Shippers face very high service charges from middlemen: freight forwarders, consolidators
• Historic agreement signed to implement Sri Lanka Transit Card
‘The 4-party agreement for the implementation of SLTC was signed amongst Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB), National Transport Commission (NTC), People’s Bank and LankaClear (Pvt) Ltd. at the Ministry of Transport on 22nd April 2021 under the distinguished patronage of Hon. Gamini Lokuge, Minister of Transport; Dilum Amunugama, State Minister – Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments and Motor Car Industry, Secretaries and officials of both ministries. Chairman SLTB Kingsly Ranawaka, Chairman NTC, Sashi Welgama, GM/CEO LankaClear Channa de Silva and Senior DGM, People’s Bank, Mr. K. B. Rajapakse signed the historic agreement representing their respective organizations.’
• Navy fixes a defunct ferry connecting Punguduthivu and Nainativu
• Govt. firms up new Civil Aviation Policy
‘all parts imported for aircraft maintenance, repair or overhaul will be freed from duty’
• BOAC 911 crash on 5 March 1966 and lessons learnt
• Sri Lankan tyre market in crisis
‘Import ban has resulted in flood of dangerous ‘refurbished’ and expired tyres, serious road safety hazard’
• Vehicle assembly with imported used spare parts under scrutiny
‘In 2019, approximately $100 million worth of spare parts were imported.’
• David Pieris Motor Co. launches Bajaj ‘genuine parts cash back’ scheme
• Customs seize Rs.21mn worth illegal imports of English cosmetics and Dubai footwear
• Speaker confronted visiting proposed industrial complex in Charlie Mount Estate, Weligama
• Govt. decides to proceed with 25 mega projects in major cities
‘the initiatives are the Central Expressway, the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project and the railway track from Kurunegala to Habarana through Dambulla…and the Strategic Cities Development programmes: Kandy and Galle, under World Bank funds; Anuradhapura under French Agency for Development funds; and Trincomalee, Dambulla, Kurunegala and Ratnapura under Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds. The others are 12 grid substations and transmissions lines (ADB-financed) around the country, the Ruwanpura Expressway and the Port City Elevated Expressway Extension Project.’
• E-commerce adoption is a key tool for SME development in Sri Lanka
‘SMEs with fixed assets of Rs. 16 million or less represented 90% of all enterprises, 70% of total employment and 55% of gross value added to the private sector…Internet banking facilities and credit card facilities are mostly provided in urban areas not in rural areas [yet] most SMEs are in rural areas’
• Apparel sectors in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh affected by pandemic
‘MAS is a design, delivery and solution provider for the apparel manufacturing industry and the core business of MAS is manufacturing apparels. The head office of MAS is in Sri Lanka and there are 15 manufacturing centres in 17 countries employing 99,000 people globally, manufacturing garments for global brands.
• Sri Lanka’s Ocean Lanka develops new fabric dying technology
• Samson Compounds record annual turnover of Rs. 3 billion
‘The company’s director board consists of Kasun Rajapaksa, Chandula Rajapaksa, Dilshan Rajapaksa, W.A. Cyril and Bhathiya Amarakoon. The organisation with a direct employee workforce of 450, exports its products to Australia, Fiji Islands, England, Canada, Italy, Germany, Pakistan & Singapore.’
• BPPL Group’s Eco Spindles, recycles 360,000 plastic bottles a day into polyester yarn & monofilaments
• John Desmond Bernal, Marxism, and the Scientific Revolution
‘He argued that the frustration of science was an inescapable feature of the capitalist mode of production… science could only achieve its full potential under a new, socialist order.’
C8. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)
ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, the curious role of ratings agencies, false indices, etc., and the rule of moneylenders.
• Micro finance companies defend against accusations of alleged malpractices
‘The loan write-off programme implemented in 2018 by the government ended up with high NPL ratios of MFIs due to willful default of loans by large number of borrowers who were not eligible for the loan write-off.’
• Sanasa Development Bank 2020 Profit Rs. 835 million, 229% increase from 2019
‘The bank’s strong relationships with international finance partners such as the International Finance Corporation, Dutch development bank FMO, and Japan-based finance services institution SBI Holdings, have afforded assistance…’
• CSE sees keen interest for National Development Bank Rights Issue
‘NDB is also offering 37.67 million new shares (9.9% stake) by way of a private placement at Rs. 85 per share to Norwegian development finance entity Norfund… it will be also the first investment in Asia in 2021. It is also NDB’s first foreign equity placement agreement…NDB has 11,359 public shareholders with a float of 81%. Major shareholders include Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation funds (11.7%), EPF (10%), BOC (8.3%), Dr. Sena Yaddehige (4.3%), Softlogic Insurance (4%) and ETF (3.8%).’
• Softlogic Finance Successfully Completes One Billion Rupee Lease Receivables Securitisation
‘First Capital…acted as the structuring and placement agent to the issue with Hatton National Bank acting as the Trustee…Softlogic Finance PLC is mainly held by Softlogic Capital PLC which is the financial services holding company of the Softlogic Group…with a portfolio comprising of Softlogic Life Insurance PLC, Softlogic Finance PLC, Softlogic Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd, and Softlogic Asset Management (Pvt) Ltd. Softlogic Holdings also has interests in healthcare, retail, ICT, leisure, automobiles and restaurants. Softlogic Finance is registered under the Finance Business Act No. 42 of 2011 as well as a Specialised Leasing Company licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka under the Finance Leasing Act No. 56 of 2000.’
• ComBank’s ATM network sets new records for cash dispensed in a festive season
‘Commercial Bank of Ceylon ATMs dispensed a record Rs. 8.818 billion on April 9 and 10…a 24-hour period….Rs. 41.748 billion via its ATM network from April 1 to 15 at an average of Rs. 2.783 billion per day. On seven of these 15 day…more than Rs. 2 billion a day, and on five days disbursements exceeded Rs. 3 billion a day…Comprising 890 ATMs, the network processed 2.434 million transactions over the 15 days at an average of 168,988 transactions a day, while on April 9, 233,990 at an average of 9,749 transactions per hour or 162 transactions per minute.’
• Seylan Bank partners with Indra Traders to offer auto leasing solutions
• Seylan Bank records Rs. 1Bn PAT in 2021 Q1 despite Covid challenges
‘The growth in credit was driven primarily by Term Loans, and retail products such as Leasing, Pawning etc.’
• Pan Asia bank new chairman Jayantha Rangamuwa, Aravinda Perera deputy chairman
‘Rangamuwa has been the Managing Director of Vallibel Finance and Vallibel Properties (Pvt) Ltd. He is a former Director of Mercantile Investments PLC with stints at Central Finance and Ernst & Young. Perera was Managing Director of Sampath Bank PLC, and is Managing Director of Royal Ceramics Lanka PLC and chairman of Singer Finance (Lanka) PLC. He is a director of Hayleys PLC, Hayleys Aventura (Private) Ltd., Fentons Ltd. and Hayleys Advantis Ltd. He is also a former Governing Board Member of the Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka and Past President of Association of Professional Bankers, Sri Lanka.
• People’s Bank Annual Report 2020 presented
• Bank of Ceylon records Rs.119,405 million worth ATM/CDM transactions
‘with over 1361 machines covering strategic points across the entire country’
• M Power Capital mobilises Rs. 30 b in 30 months for wealth management sector
• SEC taps SL missions to attract Diaspora, foreign investors
‘Viraj Dayaratne PC, Chairman SEC; Chinthaka Mendis, Director General SEC; Rajeeva Bandaranaike, CEO CSE; Nalika Kodikara, Counsellor (Commercial), Sri Lanka High Commission – UK; Tushara Jayaratne, Director External Relations and Capital Market Education SEC; Prabash Wanigatunge, Director Surveillance SEC and Niroshan Wijesundere, Head of Marketing CSE as participants.’
• Securities and Exchange Commission promotes new investment options
‘SPACs and over-the-counter trading of paper gold products among fresh initiatives in the offing’
• Union Bank’s overall revenue for the quarter was Rs.1.52 Billion
• Why Germany Leads in Renewables: It Has Its Own Green Bank
‘The leader in renewable energy, however, is Germany, called “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.” Germany has a public sector development bank called KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau or “Reconstruction Credit Institute”), which is even larger than the World Bank. Along with Germany’s non-profit Sparkassen banks, KfW has largely funded the country’s green energy revolution…KfW is one of the world’s largest development banks, with assets as of December 2017 of $566.5 billion.’
• Mega Wall Street Banks Held $3 Billion in Fake Chinese tutor Archegos-Related GSX Techedu,
• Alex Oh: The Strange Case of the SEC Enforcement Chief Who Beat a Hasty Exit After Six Days on the Job
• SEC’s Gary Gensler Picks a 20-Year Wall Street Bank Defender for His Crime Chief
‘The only thing worse than SEC Chairman Gary Gensler’s pick for Director of Enforcement at Wall Street’s so-called watchdog is the way corporate media is attempting to spin it.’
• Archegos Unpacked: Equity Derivative Contracts Held by Federally-Insured Banks Have Exploded from $737 Billion to $4.197 Trillion Since the Crash of 2008
C9. Business (Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)
ee Business aka ee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, the domination by a merchant mafia, making money from unproductive land sales, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’
• Unilever Sri Lanka has 100,000 retailer reach for its 300+ products
• Credit cards base tops 1.9 m mark
• Sri Lanka at GSP Engagement Week Virtual Conference: An overview
‘GSP Hub, a European Union (EU) funded project launched in 2020 hosted an important virtual engagement relating to the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)… SL was the first country to liberalise its economy in South Asia, to foreign trade and investment in 1977. As early as 1978 SL strengthened the investment laws to make it more export–oriented FDIs and established an Economic Commission which is the current Board of Investment (BOI) to facilitate FDIs, oversee export processing zones and function as the One-Stop-Shop for Investments in SL. SL also established the Export Development Board (EDB) in 1978. With these arrangements, SL was emulating the industrial success of East Asian nations. SL’s transformation from an agriculture-based society to a more industrial and services-based economy started with product diversification in the industrial sector with garments being the pioneer.…30% of all SL’s GSP+ exports are destined to England….they consist of apparel, textile and footwear; rubber and plastic articles; machinery; and coffee, tea and spices.’
• Deshal de Mel, a director at Janashakthi Insurance
‘He is a Research Director at Verité Research Pvt. Ltd, an independent research institute. He is a Non-Executive Independent Director of Sampath Bank PLC and Capital Alliance Investments…He previously served as an Economic Advisor to the Finance Ministry. He was a Commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission of SL from 2018 to 2019. He has also been a member of the National Trade Negotiation Committee during the period of 2017 to 2019, and is a member of the SL Economic Association. With the appointment of Deshal de Mel, the Board of Directors of Janashakthi Insurance PLC comprises of Prakash Schaffter – chairman, Ravi Liyanage, Ramesh Schaffter, Manjula Mathews, Eardley Perera, Nathan Sivagananathan, Avindra Rodrigo and Deshal de Mel.
• England division of Chartered Governance Institute announces new name for SL branch
‘Sri Lanka branch of the institute started life as the Association of Chartered Secretaries in Ceylon in 1953, although institute exams have been conducted for students since the late 1940s… members: Chair Bentley Barsenbach FCG, Vice-Chair Pramith Rajapaksha ACG, Secretary Rajanie Balakrishnan FCG, Treasurer Maya Ediriwickrema ACG, Dayani De Silva FCG; Kalani Abhayapala Silva ACG; Sakunika Wickremesinghe GradCG; Shahila Shibly GradCG and Jansi Kuganesan ACG.
• Hayleys’ investments spree under Dhammika tops Rs. 45 b in decade
‘Hayleys has manufacturing facilities in Indonesia, India and Thailand; marketing operations in Australia, India, Bangladesh, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, England and USA; and offering transportation and logistics solutions in the Maldives, Myanmar, India, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Engaged in 12 industry sectors, value chains and communities, the Group accounts for approximately 3.2% of Sri Lanka’s export income, and 3.6% of tea and 3.9% of rubber production. Hayleys Group directly employs 31,000 and a further 20,000 indirectly…fulfils 5% of global demand for household and industrial gloves and is the world’s largest producer of coconut shell-based activated carbon. It is also Sri Lanka’s largest exporter of processed agricultural food and largest manufacturer and supplier of consumer durables apart from being a leader in Sri Lanka’s transportation and logistics.
It acquired control of Sri Lanka Shipping Ltd. for Rs. 5.3 billion, after buying Singer Sri Lanka for Rs. 16 billion in FY 2018, including Rs. 868 million for American President Lines (APL). Hayleys Fabric last week paid Rs. 4 billion to buy a 99% stake in South Asia Textiles Ltd. (SAT) from Ambeon Holdings Plc, producing for Victoria Secret, Next, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Calvin Klein, Decathlon and Adidas.
• Colombo Port City Bill hopes buoy bourse
• Land of Colpetty Super Market vested with UDA
• Chrissworld IPO opens today; Chairman keen on challenge, upbeat on prospects
‘a strong customer base spread across 500,000 sq ft of warehousing in 13 locations…. the newly-listed SMEs are given a 50% tax benefit only in the 1st year and the current applicable tax rate of 14% is reverted to thereafter, whereas larger categories are to enjoy a tax rate of 14% for a full 3-year period…we were approached by Atarah Capital Partners, an approved ‘sponsor’ firm of the Colombo Stock Exchange. They are the Managers to the IPO of the upcoming listing.’
• Two ex-JKH men appointed to Royal Ceramics Board of Directors
• Akbar Brothers extends partnership with Colombo University
• National Chamber to host B2B online meetings with Turkey
‘Turkey was the 10th export market for Sri Lanka with a share of 2.11% in 2020. The main items exported from Sri Lanka to Turkey in 2020 were, tea, vegetable textile fibres, apparel, used pneumatic tyres, manmade staple fibres, activated carbon, new pneumatic tyres, apparel accessories, lead oxides, miscellaneous articles of base metal, miscellaneous edible preparations and desiccated coconut. Turkey was the 28th import partner of Sri Lanka with a share of 0.59% in 2020. The main items imported from Turkey to Sri Lanka in 2020 were onions, nuclear reactors, knitted or crocheted fabrics, electrical transformers, manmade staple fibres, iron and steel, other imports, cotton, plastics, refrigerators, wheat and miscellaneous edible preparations’
• Colombo Port City – newest commercial landscape in Asia, says Veemansa Initiative
• International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka says Port City will be significant for Sri Lanka
‘ICC represents over 6 mln member companies and over 43 million members in over 130 countries’
• dnata partners over 300 airline customers
‘dnata provides quality and safe ground handling, cargo, catering and travel services in 35 countries’
C10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)
ee Politics points to the constant media diversions and the mercantile and financial forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.
• The General Election of 1956 Part 11, 12 & 13
‘If the 1962 coup had succeeded, there would have been civil war, with the 3rd field regiment of the Ceylon Artillery taking on the Ceylon Light Infantry possibly at the Kirulapona Bridge as the regiment came in from Panagoda. The government later disbanded the 3rd regiment and raised another infantry regiment, the Gemunu Watch.’
• Islamic peacemakers and queasy monk invitees: A retrospective look at the ‘National Conference on Peace, Harmony and Coexistence’ from a citizen’s perspective
• TISL invites MPs to signal a culture of accountability by disclosing assets
• Rejoinder to Krishantha Cooray: SJB’s strategic edge – Jayatilleka
‘Sajith and the SJB must also reintroduce and strengthen the separation of powers, but that must be along the lines of the American and French presidencies.’
• Open economy, open violence, and India’s peace keeping by force
• Senathirajah throws his hat into ring to be next chief ministerial candidate
• Sirisena Cooray at 90: Still Premadasa’s Man – Tisranee Gunasekera
• JVP owes country an apology for 1971 and 1989
• China’s Linearized Polity – David
‘source of ultimate power is a caucus of several thousand communists in central and regional leaderships of the CCP (I am not able to estimate, maybe ten thousand).’
• A critique of Jathika Chintanaya (Part II)
• Birth Pangs of the Rajapaksa Satrapy
• The Double-Edged Sword that is Colombo Port City – USAID’s NPC
• Eugenics, Philip & English
C11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)
ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.
• ‘Media Urged to Mobilize Masses to Support Covid Preventive Mechanism’:
• Sri Lanka’s ‘Creative’ sector
‘Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) commissioned by the British Council, Sri Lanka identified 16 subsectors as creative industries: SL creative industry grew 95% 2010-14, rising from USD 433.6 million to USD 845.4 million. GDP share of creative goods and services exports in 2014 was nearly 1.1%…only 4.6% of respondents were export-oriented and the balance produced for local consumption. Employees in sector make-up 3% of the country’s total labour force. Approximately 36% of creative workers are female and 67% of workers in the sector are between the ages of 24 and 55 years, while 71% of workers are in the private sector and the rest is in government and semi-government sectors. 40% of the workforce identifying themselves as ‘self-employed’, mostly of SMEs and sole traders with only a few large businesses.
• Kingsly Rathnayaka appointed President’s Spokesman
• Sri Lanka Press Institute, Hilton – Colombo partner to launch ‘Press Club’
‘constituent partners are the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka (NSSL), The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka (TEGOSL), the Free Media Movement (FMM), the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) with its affiliated partners Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (MMF), Tamil Media Alliance (TMA) and South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA)’
• Bid to stop SM posts from Parliament
• Sri Lanka website Colombo Gazette crashes after alleged Chinese bot attack
• Government urged to rescue film industry from the grip of National Film Corporation
• The World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka
• Lankan kids set world record during first wave of pandemic by writing 43,000 books
• Marshall Sahlins (1930–2021)
‘His defense of cultural relativism was critiqued by some, most notably the Sri Lankan anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere, as a kind of exoticism that placed non-Western people outside of history in an Orientalist manner. At times, most notably in his landmark book Culture and Practical Reason, he was keen to argue that forms of radical political economy, such as Marxism, were in their own way based on a Western assumption of a kind of economic rationality, not so dissimilar as that posed by neoclassical economics.’
• English colonial rule affected practically every sphere of life in Sri Lanka
‘It is difficult to imagine what kind of culture would have evolved in this island if Dutch colonial rule had not been superseded by British colonial rule; in other words, no English, no cricket, no rugby, no Ceylon tea, no Victorian architecture, and no Westminster-style democracy!’
• ‘New Year’: Facts and myths
• Lester James Peries the Emancipator of Sinhala Cinema
• Vira Alakeshvara’s Plight Signals from the Past – Perera
• Notes From the Underground
‘In the sort of coincidence that makes a columnist’s work much easier, the Library of America published Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lived Underground: A Novel on April 20 — the same day that a jury in Minneapolis convicted a police officer of murdering George Floyd last year.’
• The CIA Used To Infiltrate The Media. Now The CIA Is The Media
• Investigation Launched Into Premature Release Of Turtle Through Windscreen Story
‘The report was, as usual, scheduled to run during May…’
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