Proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement [ETCA] With India – Views from a public, through an economic patriotic vision.
Posted on May 9th, 2016

Kanthar Balanathan, Australia

In collating and prescribing views from a human angle on ETCA, reference is made to the article by the National Joint Committee, of SriLanka (SL), and various references, particularly, the best ever speech made by the president Obama of the USA.

Citizens, politicians, and leaders have two kinds of affections towards their country. (i) Patriotism, (ii) economic patriotism.

The standard dictionary definition for patriotism, reads love of one’s country”. It reads as follows: Ref: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/patriotism/#WhaPat

  1. Special affection for one’s own country
  2. A sense of personal identification with the country
  3. Special concern for the well-being of the country
  4. Willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good

Named as a central tenet of economic nationalism,” the Wiki entry defines economic patriotism as: The coordinated and promoted behaviour of consumers or companies (both private and public) that consists of favouring the goods or services produced in their country or in their group of countries. Economic patriotism can be practiced either through demand stimulation (encouraging consumers to purchase the goods and services of their own country) or through supply protection, the shielding of the domestic market from foreign competition through tariffs or quotas (protectionism). Ref: http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2012/09/27/what-the-heck-is-economic-patriotism/

During his 2008 campaign, then-Sen. Obama labelled President George W. Bush as unpatriotic” for adding $4 trillion to the national debt: Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kuTG19Cu_Q

‘Economic patriotism” is more of oratorical device than an economic theory.

Economic patriotism would be that instead of protecting businesses that are exporting jobs overseas, let’s reward SriLankan workers and businesses that hire them.  Let the group people work rebuilding SriLanka. Investment in manufacturing, will place manufacturing jobs are right here, made in SriLanka.

Reference from White House: (Ref: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/01/remarks-president-economy): Economic patriotism says that instead of stacking the deck in the favour of folks just at the top, let’s harness the talents and ingenuity of every American and give every child access to quality education, and make sure that if your job was stamped obsolete or shipped overseas, you’re going to get retrained for an even better job.  Economic patriotism says that instead of making it tougher for middle-class families to get ahead, let’s reward hard work for every American.  Let’s make sure women earn pay that’s equal to their efforts.  Let’s make sure families can make ends meet if their child gets sick and they need to take a day off.  Let’s make sure no American who works full-time ever has to live in poverty.

SriLanka is a small island with limited natural resources, however, the country has high proportion of human resource, in the trade, intellectual and professional sector. The political, economic and technological agenda of the country’s leaders, has been driven to such a panic-stricken program, that most of the human resources intent is to get out of the country, and in most case, been driven to unpatriotic behaviour. From the time, the so called theoretical good governance assumed power, the intellectuals, literates and the balances can only observe, punitive and retributive acts along with acts of mortgaging the country for their own benefits. There may be hidden agenda of the RW’s regime. Although we have an executive president, people see him as a dummy piece, since all decisions are made by the non-executive Prime Minister.

On the other hand, Tamils of the island are not at all patriotic, but engaged on activities to drive the country to a grinding halt, which does not benefit anyone at all.

Addressing the issues in SL, there are conflicts within the governing group. I.e. Presidents group, PMs Group and the minority opposition (Sambanthar & Co), who are waiting for an opportunity to crush SL, and the odds like Champica etc. SL’s political culture has been observed to be dishonest, unpatriotic, and positioned with selfishness and self-centred egoism. India is considered worst compared with SriLanka.

Everyone knows that Indian politicians stockpiled their black money in foreign countries, which amount to several trillions of dollars. Any citizens in India who attempts to unravel this or talk about it are punished on flimsy charges.

There are two groups of people in the world. Ruling class and the non-ruling class. Ruling class members of the political sphere are looked after by each of the ruling class in every country. It is like a mafia fraud club. The non-ruling class and the proletariat are kept in dark, and not allowed to talk about it by constitutional changes, or media bans, or if published, may face punitive action.  Finally the fraud club members help each other, leaving the proletariat and the mass in wilderness.

It is an irrational credence that SriLanka is attempting to sign this ETCA with deep hidden motive to please India, which India may or may not even know. SL may be preparing to give Trincomalee as a base to US, which India may not welcome. By signing ETCA treaty, SL may try to throw some light to India that India could economically and technically benefit with US in SL. It is circulated through SL Media that SL has commenced to develop Trincomalee as a model town, which is a need for the US naval soldiers anyway.

Most people in the 21st century know that, development” means, ministers, PM, and the President & Co, are a target for kickbacks”. The author would like to refer some of the irregularities and illegalities already committed by members of the ruling group.

  1. President appoints his brother as the Chairman of SriLanka Telecom, which is a case of nepotism. There was another story on websites saying that he has illegally granted the tender for insurance to Sri Lanka Insurance. This made a loss of Rs 3 billion to Mobitel.
  2. Ref: http://www.dailymirror.lk/109162/Arjuna-and-Marikkar-in-verbal-battle. The argument flared up when Mr. Marikkar raised an oral question in the House on an alleged fraud at the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and linked it up with the recent elections of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). The alleged fraud was regarding spending a sum of Rs 113.3 million for two opening ceremonies of the Magampura Port.

See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/109162/Arjuna-and-Marikkar-in-verbal-battle#sthash.AYq617q3.4qfi5vxc.dpuf

  1. A Writ Application (SC/Writs/03/2016) case was filed on 29th March 2016 by the Public Interest Litigation Activist Nagananda Kodituwakku against the Corruption Commission for its failure to initiate a credible and independent inquiry. Quote: A charge levelled against Chief Justice SriPavan was that he has condoned the unlawful appointment of rejected candidates as MPs through the National List and the opinion expressed by him that the ‘National List abuse’ is ‘not a matter of National importance’. This stand taken by the CJ has been challenged as a clear abuse of office to confer a benefit to the Executive President Maithripala Sirisena, who has appointed Justice SriPavan to the office of the CJ outside the due process. (Ref: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/chief-justice-dodges-corruption-case-against-him-and-predecessors/)
  2. Courtesy Lankanews.org reports corruption cabinet approval for renting of building for 960 million
  3. A minister, Champika’s accident was hushed up.

The PM organised an economic forum meeting inviting foreign delegates to tell SL how to run their business and economics, which is rather ridiculous and questionable. SL has several Universities and Professors in all the field, however, those intellects have been overlooked and disregarded. This is to please the west, we presume. What was the outcome of this conference?

The PM and his group suddenly dream of a bridge between India and Mannar at a cost of $5 billion.

Now the ETCA dream is born to drive into a reality. As stated by the NJC, India exerts leverage over SL in all directions. E.g. SL has experience of such an act since the 70s. India training SriLankan Tamil youths and converted them to be the deadly terrorists in the world. Well, in simple words; India pose a threat to undermine the national security and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

Would not SL risk facing the same difficulties SL underwent in the past through flow of Indian labour?

Quote: item 5 of NJC’s report. When legal, regulatory and quality assurance mechanisms are not in place, or inadequate, and when necessary measures to safeguard the nation, nationals and their businesses have not been implemented or developed, Sri Lanka going to sign any agreement that facilitates a country with over 1.3 billion people to freely enter Sri Lanka, engage in service provision, set up businesses and other ventures, bring their own labour and staff and reside in Sri Lanka, would be nothing but suicidal.

However, India has stringent regulations not to allow SriLankan workers into India. Further have we got the infrastructure services to cater for people from India, when SL is facing difficulties to service its own citizens?

Bribery and corruption prevails at every level in India, and SriLankans would not entertain such corrupt practice at citizen’s level.

India is the worst HR violator in the world, and SriLanka should not entertain India’s entry into SL.

It is recommended that SL should carry out the following:

  • A risk assessment should be carried out in the domain of politics & political interference, technological advancement & stability, national security, risk to sovereignty, risk to social interaction, and material resources. A panel drawn from local University academics should carry out the risk assessment and place before the Parliament (Confidential).
  • A Valuation Study should be carried out on (i) each and every large scale industry over a horizon of 50 -100 years, (ii) natural resources such as tea, rubber, and minerals etc. Risk on natural resources, raw materials, threat of war, financial and monetary (parity value) stability etc. should be addressed in the study. Again, each ministry should carry out the study, with panel drawn from local academics. Final report should be tabled before the parliament. (Confidential)
  • A study on diversification and growth should be carried out. Such study should address, brain drain & root cause, innovation, and creativity on local manufacture using local raw materials, SriLankan Diaspora Investment, and how government can promote registered microenterprises. Diversification of cattle, poultry and pig farms should be addressed.
  • An attempt should be made to get the existing microenterprises registered with the Tax Department.

 Conclusion:

  • Corrupt two countries cannot enter into a business treaty as the victims will be the smaller country and the people in the smaller country.
  • Politicians of SriLanka should bring in awareness to themselves that they are public servants to the people of SL and not bosses.
  • Politicians of SriLanka should be free of corrupt practice and become patriots” and economic patriots”.
  • Quote: The morality of a person, politician, and citizen plays the foremost, imperative role in understanding and practising factual democracy”. Ref: SriLanka, Sovereignty, Democracy & Terrorism, by Kanthar Balanathan ISBN 978-0-646-94127-1
  • SriLanka is aware of India’s culture, politics and corrupt practice. Knowing the negating effects of that society, SriLanka should not get buried in that unclear pond of mud.
  • The author of this paper agrees and accepts all eleven items discussed in the NJC’s paper, and strongly stress that section 157 of the 1978 constitution shall be observed.

The president of US, Mr. Barrack Obama is the most honourable, truthful, trustworthy, honest, high integrity, uncorrupted, well-read leader in the world having high quality oratorical leadership. US citizens should be proud of the best leader like Mr Barrack Obama. Secondly we in Australia are proud of a most honourable, truthful, trustworthy, honest, high integrity, uncorrupted, well-read leader having high quality oratorical leadership, which is our former Prime Minister, Mr John Howard. Australia should be proud of her uncorrupted honest high integrity politicians.

7 Responses to “Proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement [ETCA] With India – Views from a public, through an economic patriotic vision.”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    this is a very good article. Sri Lanka should not sign the ETCA under any circumstances whatsoever. We already have a FTA with India. That is more than enough for Sri Lanka’s purposes. As stated India is a country with over 1.3 billion people, many are unemployed and doing much worse than Sri Lankans socio-economically. A large number of people in in India have no clean water, sanitation facilities, housing, education , schools, hospitals etc.

    My serious advice to India is please use this 5.2 billion that India is going to spend on building a bridge and tunnel from India to Sri Lanka on providing your people with clean water, sanitation facilities, housing, education , schools, hospitals etc. I also seriously urge India to first and foremost provide clean water, sanitation facilities, housing, education , schools, hospitals etc. rather than spending vast amounts of money in building space research stations, nuclear weapons etc. India should first and foremost take care of its people’s basic needs. this is a country’s primary responsibility.

    I urge India rather than bring about regime change in Sri Lanka or elsewhere, force Sri Lanka to sign ETCA or build unwanted bridges to Sri Lanka, to please carry out the above suggestions and first and foremost take care of your people’s basic needs. This is a country’s primary responsibility.

    About Barack Obama, I completely disagree. Barak Obama and the US are warmongering imperialists as we all know. Barak Obama is an insult to African Americans or even any decent American. The US is an imperialist country bombing and stealing other countries oil or harassing other countries if they are strategically placed or have vast natural resources. The US is also initially civil wars in countries to weaken those countries so that they can control them.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    We agree that Lanka should NEVER sign the draconian ETCA with INDIA. At the rate INDIA is imposing her will on Lanka, Lanka may as well be called another sub-state of INDIA !

    Plumblossom,

    Agree with all you say except your take on Pres Obama.
    Pres Obama too has to play some tunes according to the powers that be. Among other positive aspects he brought about, he did very well by the American economy which was in shambles earlier, and that he has avoided major conflicts with other power blocs, speaks well for his term as President.

  3. RohanJay Says:

    Barack Obama is a criminal. Just because he was non-white doesn’t mean he was good. Thankfully Obama 8 years of hell will soon come to an end in November. I would look forward to this idiot out of my life. Also not have to put up with people praising Obama at every opportunity. His replacement might not be much better. But then again such is the politics and quality of leaders that deeply corrupt western countries such as United States and Britain inflict on the world every 4 or 5 years. No doubt voted into power by the gullible politically naive populations in both countries. Who keep voting for these terrible western leaders. Republican or Democrat. Labour or Conservative. They are all the same to me. I would add Australian politics is no less corrupt than USA or Britain. However Australia is a very minor player and hasn’t got influence on world affairs compared to the two big hitters in crime. United States and Britain. With Britain though being a tiny country in land mass being the more evil of the two as the last 500 years of world history has shown. United States still has a long way to go to catch up with the crimes of Britain. Barack Obama out of office in November. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

  4. RohanJay Says:

    What I meant to say is Australia is not a big player on the world stage compared to United States and Britain. The United States and Britain have massive influence on the world stage. Therefore anything that United States and Britain does the opposite must be good for the world. Australia is an inconsequential country really in world affairs. Australia generally follows whatever the United States tell them to do.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    RohanJay,

    USA was a British colony. USA went to war with Britain to gain Independence. USA was forced into the WW I after the strange sinking of the British luxury ship “Lusitania” with American millionaires on board. After America’s role in WWI&II, there is no going back for USA. Now the USA is the “guardian of Europe” and some other places with money matters thrown in. This US role in world affairs affects us all.

    What do we (trying to be Non-Aligned countries) do to safeguard all other countries, all people on Earth, without taking sides in a ‘winner takes all’ attitude, without unfair deals ?

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    RohanJay touched upon this: The next US President Billary Clinton or Donald Trump will be FAR WORSE than Obama for both the United States and the world. We are heading for a very bad time.

    Out of the two, Billary Clinton, who launched the Arab Spring and the strategy of using human rights and democracy to engineer regime change and sow death and destruction in a large part of the developing world, is the WORST possible person to be US President from the point of view of Sri Lanka. In my opinion, this is the worst future event that Patriotic Sri Lankans must anticipate and strategies on how to cope with. With her as US President, Sri Lanka will continue to suffer political, security and economic CHAOS. She will be a DISASTER for the United States also. I was a supporter of Billary before she became Secy of State, but her performance and her Machiavellian doings while in office have disillusioned me.

    Although Donald Trump seems to be a bull in a China shop, actually he is likely to be better for both the United States and Sri Lanka than
    Billary. This year’s Republican candidates were a sorry lot, and Trump might well be the only one who can get anything done to deal with the problems the US is facing today. I think ordinary Republicans are sensing this too; they are going to hold their noses to shut out the bad smell, and their ears plugged to shut out the bad words and will vote for Trump to get what they want!

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Why India’s Big Push for Economic Cooperation in Lanka May Backfire

    Wed, May 11, 2016, 09:53 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    May 11 (Wire) New Delhi’s policy of hustling its smaller neighbour comes at a time when the Wickremesinghe government’s mismanagement of the economy is apparent and will end up helping the xenophobic political forces in the country.

    New Delhi’s relations with Colombo may appear to be at a high point but ironically, anti-India sentiments are on the rise in Sri Lanka. This divergence in sentiments between the Sri Lankan government and its population is largely a consequence of moves to liberalise trade in services and investment between the two countries.

    It is no secret that there was a major sigh of relief in India and the United States following the regime change in Colombo in January 2015. China’s inroads into the country with the Rajapaksa regime had polarised the region and raised the geopolitical stakes. However, Sri Lanka’s relationship China was built on an economic foundation of large investments in infrastructure. It also has a historical basis from the rubber rice deal during the Korean War to the massive Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, gifted by the Chinese in the early 1970s. Nevertheless, in India’s efforts to ensure its regional dominance and counter China’s influence, there has been a singular focus on trying to lock Sri Lanka into the Indian economic orbit.

    Expanding trade and financial agreements

    The India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement of 1998 was followed by efforts towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to liberalise trade in services and investment starting in the mid-2000s.

    However, the CEPA negotiations dragged on for nearly a decade in the face of increasing opposition within Sri Lanka, particularly by the business community and certain interest groups such as the medical lobby. With the new momentum in closer bilateral ties last year, India is pushing for a new trade pact called the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA). The pro-liberalisation government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been actively championing the proposed trade pact.

    Meanwhile, the deterioration of the Sri Lankan economy in recent months – including a major balance of payments problem – has forced Colombo to seek support from external actors. India has boosted Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves by US$ 1.1 billion with a Reserve Bank of India credit swap for six months drawn last September, followed by a further emergency credit swap in March to wade over the tough financial tide.

    The credit swap is a temporary measure to increase Sri Lanka’s forex reserves, until the country receives an IMF loan. The IMF’s extended fund facility of US$ 1.5 billion coupled with US$ 650 million in multilateral and bilateral loans are to take effect in June this year. The government believes these loans will create momentum for further global financial flows into the country.

    The ETCA, widely perceived by the Sri Lankan public to be advantageous to India, is likely to become a trade-off for economic and political support from India to the Wickremesinghe government. However, Wickremesinghe’s visit to Beijing last month has strengthened relations with China – a shift from the soured relations which followed the defeat of the Rajapaksa regime last year. The possibility of equity swaps, where Sri Lankan debt to China is traded for financial stakes in Sri Lankan enterprises, is now being considered. Sri Lanka has also initiated negotiations with China and the US on new free trade agreements. Seizing this opportunity, the IMF and the World Bank are also pushing to liberalise trade as part of a larger strategy of liberalising the Sri Lankan economy – from encouraging the privatisation of state owned enterprises to labour reforms.

    Reactions to ETCA

    Many of the Colombo-based neoliberal think tanks see the Wickremesinghe government in power and the crisis facing the economy as an opportunity to accelerate liberalisation, including in trade. However, the ETCA is coming under considerable fire from a range of interest groups and political parties – from the chauvinistic remnants of the Rajapaksa regime to the ‘left’ opposition Janatha Vimukthi Perumana.

    So what fuels this tremendous reaction to the ETCA? After all, the agreement is only one part of this liberalisation push. To start with, the trade picture is not pretty. According to the Central Bank, Indian exports to Sri Lanka were US$ 4,268 million while Lankan exports to India stood at just US$ 643 million in 2015 – reflecting a massive trade deficit between the countries.

    There have been various explanations put forward by Indian officials and pro-liberalisation advocates in Colombo on what has been gained with the previous free trade agreement, including claims that the high Indian exports to Sri Lanka are mostly independent of the free trade agreement. However, India’s eagerness for the trade pact and the stark trade deficit is difficult to miss.

    In this context, the current economic crisis and the neoliberal economic policy trajectory have become the political ground for the mobilisation of forces opposed to the government. And this campaign has zeroes in on the ETCA as the catch-all word to describe any and all impending economic woes. Political forces and middle class interest groups such as doctors and IT professionals are opposing the agreement and mobilising broader sections of society. Furthermore, these forces have assumed a xenophobic character, propagating anti-Indian sentiments.

    Recent economic crisis

    Much of the current economic woes in Sri Lanka have been inherited from the Rajapaksa government’s economic development policies of construction-led growth on high interest debt. In addition, the deterioration in global economic conditions over the past year have created difficult financial conditions for Sri Lanka to roll over such debt. However, the Wickremesinghe government needs to take part of the blame for mismanagement and certainly for its flawed economic vision.

    Having come to power over a year ago, and having crossed the milestone of the parliamentary election in August 2015, it nevertheless chose to continue on the path of further exposing the economy to international debt in its November 2015 budget. It ignored the warning bells about the increasing import bill and falling revenues, which have made the country far more susceptible to the current crisis conditions of capital flight from the emerging markets and increasing cost of capital in the global financial markets.

    At the core of the Wickremesinghe government’s economic programme is the liberalisation of trade and capital flows; the trade agreements and the IMF facility reflect this economic vision. In other words, it is counting on enticing inward capital flows despite the winds of global capital blowing in the opposite direction. Worryingly, even trade agreements in services and investment are known to lead to further speculative investment flows into finance, insurance and real estate, rather than traditional forms of foreign direct investment leading to the building of factories for production and exports. However, the Sri Lankan establishment has been satisfied with such fickle policies that also lead to considerable rent-seeking by the financial elite.

    Opposing xenophobia and liberalisation

    Trade liberalisation is always contentious for its impact on society, but it is all the more so now in the context of the global downturn and a national economic crisis. It is likely to aggravate the rising inequalities and jobless growth in Sri Lanka – by pushing for lower wages to compete in international markets – and the inflow of cheaper commodities, wiping out local production.

    With the ETCA debate polarised between the free trade elite and the anti-Indian forces, there has been little informed debate including critical analysis of trade liberalisation, broader neoliberal reforms and the deteriorating global economic situation. For those bothered by xenophobia and economic marginalisation, the challenge is to oppose both the reflexive anti-Indian campaign of the nationalists and the neoliberal policies of the liberalisers.

    In this context, New Delhi’s policy of hustling its smaller neighbour cannot be more ill-timed and is likely to generate a political backlash. The hubris of the Indian and Sri Lankan establishments in pushing through this trade pact may well result in losing the great opportunity that emerged last year of rebuilding Indo-Lanka relations on a broader footing.

    Ahilan Kadirgamar is a political economist and a member of the Collective for Economic Democratisation in Sri Lanka

    Read More:: Wire (Source)

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