â€œMahinda Chintana” should not be handed over to foreign vampires
Posted on October 3rd, 2010
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Recently in Colombo, this writer had the opportunity to gain a glimpse of a 249 page document put together by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Finance and Planning and Department of National Planning, titled ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œMahinda ChintanaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢: Vision for a new Sri Lanka – A ten year horizon, Development Framework 2006-2116. The document provided details of a sectorally based ten year economic development plan to underpin the government economic policy.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â To give credit where it is due, the document had correctly observed that the past economic ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œgrowthÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ (averaging five percent over the ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œwarÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ decades), had failed to deliver benefits to many segments of the population, or to stimulate domestic entrepreneurship; the new strategy is aimed at achieving ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œequitableÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ development, building on the positive aspects of the past policies, within the broad policy framework of ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œMahinda ChintanaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Astonishingly though, the main aim of the strategy is to achieve a higher growth rate of eight per cent, notwithstanding the failure of ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œgrowthÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ to ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œtrickle downÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ previously. In addition, the document details that the ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œstrategyÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ is to be achieved through reliance on the same old, deceptive western capitalist traps (the so-called economic fundamentals) such as ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œup-scalingÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ investments and productivity, increasing international competitiveness of industry and export earnings, expanding tourism, and alarmingly, full global integration!
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â In short, the strategy document looked (and read) like it had been written by some American ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œadviserÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ or a team from the World Bank, IMF, the ADB and other appendages of the American and western economic hegemony.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Latest news following President RajapakseÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s successful visit to New York, emanating from his close advisers, seem to indicate that such uncritical reliance on the failed western development model (designed to exploit developing country populations and natural resources is deep-rooted within administrative circles.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â For example, Sri LankaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s ambassador in the US Jaliya Wickremasuriya organised a luncheon meeting for US business leaders (from Coca Cola, Boeing, Google, Hilton Hotels etc) at the Helmsley Hotel. The manufacturer of Viagra, Pfizer has expressed interest in investing in Sri Lanka!
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Then, the Senior Presidential Advisor and Deputy Finance Minister, the Honorable (in the true sense of the word) Dr. Sarath Amunugama has declared that the release of another, US$ 213 million, tranche of the IMF loan facility is a clean bill of health issued by ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œthe international communityÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ following a comprehensive evaluation of the governmentÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s economic policies; he has quoted the upgrading of Sri Lanka by the global ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œratingÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ organisations Standard and Poor and Fitch Ratings (to B plus!), sending a strong signal to those who are interested in investing in Sri Lanka.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Probably the fact that Standard and Poor (S&P) is the very same ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œraterÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ that gave all toxic debt products sold by the American rogue bank Lehman, causing the Global Financial Crisis an AAA rating escaped the good doctorÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s attention!
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Apart from his faith in S&P, Dr AmunugamaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s remarks are half right: it is certainly true that the function of the ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œratingÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ agencies is to send signals to billionaires of the emerging new ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œopportunitiesÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ to make their money ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œgrowÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ without significant risks of loosing the capital; in a shrinking world of cooperative and secure investment locations, some multinationals and filthy billionaires might turn up to open a few more garment factories at Katunayake, or to dig up a mine if they here of any mineral deposits. After all, Sri Lanka has experiences it through J.R. JayawardenaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Darmista SocietyÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ that was based on the same model.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The purpose of this dispatch is to express the view that placing Sri LankaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s economic future and President RajapakseÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s good intentions on such a failed, dubious model poses risks of limiting Mahinda Chintana to a meaningless, wordy document only, putting future political aspirations of President Rajapakse (which he has revealed through section 18 amendments) in serious jeopardy.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â This view is backed by the experience of a number of developing country economies, and more particularly the demise of some of the strong, independent minded developing country leaders over the last thirty years who were brought down by feeding a diet of faulty economic theory as the principal means of destabilisation.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Judging the credentials of the western formula of economic development, and those who are advocating it, needs to be done against the background of past experience: how can one forget the numerous monetary ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œcrisesÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢, starting from the Great Depression to the more recent the Argentinean, Mexican, Russian, East Asian crises and the recent Global Financial Crisis (GFC) itself to name a few: not a single western economist or a ratings agency predicted those crises and each crisis was made worse by the corrective measures (IMF shock treatment !) they recommended. The corrections inevitably came through the public purse, worsening the plight of the poor in each of the countries affected.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Basically, the predictions based on the so-called neoclassical economic theory designed by the Chicago based Jewish economists has been proven disastrously wrong, time and time again. There is a significantly large school of thought among developing country economists in the international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF that they were deliberately designed to not to work!
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â This was certainly the case with the 1997 crisis in the Indonesian economy that was directly responsible for bringing down the regime of President Suharto, a leader with a remarkably similar background to President Rajapakse in terms solving the Marxist insurgency that was the root cause of their economic woes. Between 1965 and 1997 when the economic crisis precipitated, he made Indonesia remarkably strong, while the Americans (led by Paul Wolfowitz) were throwing the usual accusations of human rights violations, corruption and lack of transparency. Somehow they failed to ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œget himÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ through these means.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â But in early October 1997, he was forced to call in the IMF for ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œprogram supportÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢, for the first time since 1973. That was when the conspiracy against him finally bore fruit, through usual IMF ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œadviceÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ for the tightening of fiscal and monetary policy as a means of resolving weaknesses in the banking system. The World Bank ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œsupportedÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ the government by helping formulate a draft budget (in January 1998), that was proven to be a ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œdead ropeÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The then IMF President Michael Camdessus (of France) virtually ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œstood overÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ Suharto when he signed a loan agreementÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â that demandedÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â abolishing cooking oil and fuel subsidies, a crucial issue with the poor. President Suharto announced a fuel price increase of 70 per cent and a bus fare increase of 67 per cent, triggering widespread protests across the country, especially in Jakarta. In an unprecedented move, the parliament called for SoehartoÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s resignation, and he stepped down: what had started as a ‘financial’ crisis turned into a social and political crisis, leading to the fall of the leader, taking Indonesia in to chaos.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â There are important lessons here for Sri Lanka and for President Rajapakse in particular: the forces the Sri Lankan policy makers seem to be placing their faith on are the same people and companies that were determined to undermine Suharto; in that particular case, they found the possibility of Indonesia, with a population of 200 million at the time, making it the largest Muslim country in the world, becoming economically powerful totally ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œunacceptableÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢. The economic ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œadviceÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ provided the means of bringing Indonesia down, where the usual rights, corruption and transparency means had failed.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Those close to President Rajapakse should not believe, based on the smiles and hand shakes he received during the US visit, that these forces have now forgotten the past. That will never happen; an important part of maintaining the hegemony is to ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œteach a lesson or twoÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ to other leaders who have ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œslightedÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ them (in their eyes), by refusing to carry out their orders, such as ending the war prematurely, granting their ulterior wishes.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The totally unjust and corrupt treatment of the now deceased former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, including the poisoning of him while in custody was another example of the evil thinking that pervades the Zionist circles who determine American foreign policy. (It is significant that the Asia Society headed by Richard Holbrooke, the architect of the illegal Balkans bombing campaign and the murder of Milosevic invited G. L. Peiris to deliver a lecture!).
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â It needs to be understood (by the policy makers) that economic development depends on a complex mix of factors than the level of capital. More capital is obviously helpful, but, remarkably, experience the world over has shown that transfer of funds through trade, aid and investments has not had a large effect on economic growth. If not, why are more than two third of the former colonies are still in abject poverty after half a century of capital transfer? Nor does the total withdrawal of government activity, handing over control to (foreign) companies produce economic development.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â It needs to be understood that industrial countries where such advice comes from, and developing countries, are on different production functions and are organised in fundamentally different ways. Development is not primarily a process of capital accumulation but rather a process of improving the functioning of such unique social and organisational structures. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â President Rajapakse and Mahinda Chintana seems to recognise this fact. It seems however, the policy formula does not!
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The sooner the bureaucracy andÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â politicians recognise the dangers of placing the countryÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s economic future at the mercy of foreign forces (offering bags of money) would be the better for the countless poor as well as the medium to long term future of the government.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Strength of feeling on the issue prompts the writer to humbly issue an unprecedentedÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â warning: Mark my words!