Ideas to resuscitate the Sri Lankan Economy
Posted on July 5th, 2017

By Garvin Karunratne, Ph.D. Michigan State University

The Sri Lankan economy is truly in the doldrums. The BBC has recently in a spate of news broadcasts, derogatorily questioned: Is Sri Lanka Up for Sale.”(28/5/2017). This was preceded on 26 th June 2017, by another news item, A Country Trapped in Debt”. Their  Is Sri Lanka Up for sale” quotes the Chinese taking over key assets and the foray of Chinese banks to finance the Hambantota Port ( $ 1.3 billion), Norochicolai Power Plant ( $1.35 billion) and the Mattala Airport($ 200 million).

It is true that in recent years Sri Lanka has had to depend on Chinese and Indian loans for development tasks. That really happened when other sources dried up.

The BBC news item quotes Forbes: Sri Lanka has a debt problem. After a decade of taking out  huge loans to build large scale infrastructure projects the country is now struggling to make payments. Sri Lanka owes $ 58.3 billion to foreign lenders and 94% of its revenue go to debt servicing.”

Getting into debt to finance infrastructure, if the infrastructure can be classified as developmental,  can be justified. Forbes should also know that from the outset in 1977 when Sri Lanka was weaned into the Washington Consensus-i.e. the Structural Adjustment Programme of the IMF ,  the debts were incurred not to build up the infrastructure or for any development purpose. Instead, the loans were used to enable the rich to enjoy life- go on foreign travel, send off their children for studies abroad, import anything and live a life of luxury all at the cost of the country getting into debt.

Another important factor is that the loaned funds came into our country, got into our books as a debt and also left our country back to the donor country with profits in payment for the luxury imports, for luxury cars and for funding their universities, for airlines, multinationals- creating profits for shareholders. The economists at Forbes should also read John Perkins’ book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman ,  where Perkins, working for an IMF affiliated multinational, drafted projects  with fabricated statistics where the loans that came in, found their way back to the donors in the form of payments for consultations, reports, conferences etc. leaving the country indebted. The projects were also prone to failure.  Good economic structuring to lend and get back the funds,  while simultaneously saddling the countries with a foreign debt.

Forbes is right about the current debt. However Forbes should also know how a country that had no foreign debt in 1977 , was advised and told by the IMF to open up its economy, remove control over its foreign exchange earnings, relax the use of foreign exchange  and when there was a shortage of  foreign exchange, directed to get loans to finance this luxury of living beyond one’s means. This was the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programme which did not help the countries but actually restructured the economies of the countries to become colonial vassals of the Superpowers once again. This time the ‘conquest’ was not with cannon but through financial missiles. The IMF had sinister motives: At first the IMF  gave loans at low interest with long grace periods- at times 10 years, to lure the countries into their ploy. The long grace periods meant  that the leaders who took the loans were mostly out of office when the time came to pay up the loans.  Gradually the IMF backed out and the governments were forced to get loans  at  high interest from commercial sources.”(From: How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development (Kindle)by Garvin Karunaratne)

As a consequence of this misadventure in following the IMF, Sri Lanka is today an indebted country where we have to raise further loans to service the debt. One of our  foremost economists, Nimal Sanderatne has said, We have mismanaged our foreign borrowing by using a large amount of borrowed funds on unproductive infrastructure projects and living beyond our means… the country is in a foreign debt trap as the Government must  borrow  to meet annual debt repayments and interest obligations.”(SundayTimes:23/4/2017)

Sri Lanka is not a lone victim. Speaking of African countries, no less a personage than Professor Jeffery Sachs who was once on the IMF associated payroll as an expert to several countries says that By the start of the Twenty First  Century, Africa was poorer than in the late 1960s when the IMF and the World Bank had first arrived on the scene.”(The End of Poverty) In my words, The IMF has actually bled the Third World countries to death. The IMF has virtually destroyed the economies of countries that did not have a foreign debt and did have self reliant economies to become indebted so that the countries came within the dictates of the Superpowers and their financial institution- the IMF.”  Ghana an African country that had a viable economy in the Seventies is in terrible straits today. Its currency the Cedi  that had a value of Cedi 5.7 to the GBP in 1983 has  by 2017 dropped to 5.62 New Cedi to the Pound which is equal to 56,200 Old Cedi. This marks a devaluation of 986,000%. Ghana in February 2014 even had to restrict withdrawals of foreign exchange to $ 10,000 and that only for foreign travel.

On the whole the IMF has succeeded in restructuring the economies of countries like Sri Lanka for the country to be unable to bring about any development.  The restructuring took the form of taking the control of the foreign exchange of the country out of the hands of the Government, liberalizing the use of foreign exchange, abolition of the development infrastructure so that there will be no development whatsoever, a high interest policy to bring about the closure of local manufactures, accepting the private sector as the sole method for development and the abolition of  national planning.

The only path now offered by the IMF and the World Bank is for countries to   attract foreign investors(FDI). The countries are advised to open up the country  further for foreign investors, who bring a small amount of foreign exchange initially and set up some business which will bring in profits that can be repatriated. They are offered tax holidays..  McDonalds, KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut are all in this category and milk dry the countries for profits.. They import even paper cups with the foreign exchange of the country. The profits earned in local currency are repatriated in foreign exchange…The earnings of the US Multinationals in 2007 from overseas trade outlets amounted to $ 99.1 billion. From Africa  the amount  netted was  $ 6.1 billion while from Asia it was $ 22.2 billion.”

Another type of investment is for investors to come in and develop Water Projects, say a small hydro electricity plant.  Four miles from Gampola on the Nuwara Eliya Road is a perennial stream flowing from Udagama and an uncle of mine had tapped this stream at the end of his estate for power with which he used to run the tea factory and his bungalow.  I wanted him to develop the hydro project on his own. Instead the Electricity Board lured him to close down the hydro plant and buy power from the national grid. When I met my uncle years later he lamented that the Electricity Board had jacked up their rates and running the factory was uneconomical.  Now my uncle is no more and the factory abandoned and a German national has leased/bought the land and is building up a hydro electric plant. His aim is to supply to the national grid or to people. The profits from the Udagama stream will fatten the pockets of investors in Germany.  It is a good method of converting our water resource to foreign exchange that end in Germany.

This is purposely done to all Third World Countries by the IMF. A well known country is Bolivia where many water projects convert Bolivian water to foreign exchange ending in the Developed Countries. Corporations own or operate water systems across the globe that bring in about $ 200 billion a year.”(As Multinationals Run the taps Anger Rises over water for Profit”(NYTimes:26/8/2002).  Water is now accepted as the oil – the Blue Gold of the 21 st century.

It is important to note  that the development of hydro projects and water purification plants is well known to local investors. However the tax holidays and other incentives are not made available for them.

A further area where FDI come in heavily is as investment in the stock market. Here there is no economic development involved whatsoever with the investor making a fast buck and fast repatriating the funds.

It is important to note that Japan and South Korea, two economic giants  discouraged foreign investment.(Stanley Fischer:2004)

The necessity for FDI appears to rest on the inflow of foreign exchange which enables the import of luxury items.

It is important to understand that foreign investment does not necessarily mean development for a country. In the manner in which foreign investment is currently done in Sri lanka, foreign investment is more an exploitation of local resources where profits pile up in the countries of the Donors.

Will we ever learn the ploys and nuances of the IMF to impoverish our country.

What can be done? Are we to offer Sri Lanka on a platter for Sale. It would be ideal for our President to make a firm statement that Sri Lanka is not for sale. This has to be followed up with action that will bring our country to development- i.e. there has to be a spate of development projects which will develop our resources on the one hand, create employment and incomes for local people and at the same time reduce the burden on foreign exchange by making things that we import today. This Employment Development Programme if  done on a massive scale  will definitely put us on the path to revive our economy.

There are no erudite professors  even from celestial bodies like Columbia  and Harvard who can advise us.  Even Noble laureate, Professor Jeffery Sachs when he worked in Russia, Bolivia and Poland has only provided more loans to help the Governments… His ‘Shock Therapy’ was to provide more loans that managed to halt the staggering inflation and the shortage of imported goods. However the countries became more indebted in the end….Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffery Sachs offer no definite ideas as to how countries can get on their feet. They are good critics who fail to offer an alternative path.”

Back tracking  to the period before the World Bank and the IMF took over our country,  we have a great deal of experience in handling development in a manner that created local employment, bringing incomes to the people, all in the process of making what our own people need.  This is import substitution an area that is not approved by the IMF because it is not in the interests of the Developed Countries as their exports will suffer.

Before 1977 when we started following the IMF we were self sufficient in rice. Today we have had to import rice. This was partly done by the World Bank by restricting our extension service and partly due to mismanagement by us when we did away with the qualified field workers, leaving a vacuum where the farmers do not have any official to approach for advice.  We were self sufficient in fabric manufacture. We had Powerlooms worked on a cooperative basis which made all the fabric we needed. We had 96,000 handloomers who turned out elegant sarees and wearing apparel. Colombo Seven ladies then  wore specially designed bespoke handloom sarees. Already I have seen elegant excellent handloom material at Anuradhapura, which marks a good headway.

We produced Paper from straw at Valachenai. The machinery was intended to make Paper from Illuk grass and it was our engineers and scientists that found the art of making paper from straw. The Valachenia Paper factory was ruined by the LTTE. We also had a Paper factory at Embilipitiya which too is closed, entirely due to mismanagement. Under the Divisional Development Councils Programme(DDCP) of 1970-1977 we successfully made paper at Kotmale.  Today one of our biggest industries is the collection of waste paper and cardboard and shipping it to India. Then, we buy paper and cardboard  from India. The process of making paper from waste paper and waste cardboard is well known and we can easily make paper. While our farmers waste and even burn straw, many countries make paper with straw today while we the country that was a pioneer in making paper out of straw has given up and imports all our paper requirements.

Take Rubber our country produces the world’s best rubber but we yet have to import  tyres. Our Tyre Factory, a donation from Russia was privatised. According to Russian trained Chief Chemist Hector Perera, who handled the factory when it was established, the factory could have made all the tyres we needed.  Is it not sad that we export the raw rubber and buy adhesives and rubber products made in Developed Countries.

Making brass products– door hinges and locks was once a vibrant industry at Kelaniya and Kadugannawa. It stopped with imports from China and India. In the Forties we even made good padlocks that can be compared with the best from Western manufacturers.

Perfume Making. When I visited Lucknow in India I went to Sugandhiko, a reputed perfume manufacturer and wanted to see their perfume factory. They told me that they do not have a factory, but have several portable factories which they carry to areas where there are flowers during the flowering season. We can easily have perfume making factories at Kandy to make perfumes out of flowers offered at the Dalada Maligawa. Similarly we can have small scale factories at Kelaniya and Anuradhapura, where the disposal of used flowers is a major problem. I have seen a mini distillery at work at Corris in Wales and we can easily establish a perfume industry. Many countries like France make a fortune on making perfumes. In the Cotswalds in England there is a successful industry making perfumes from lavender. In  Lanzarotte, a perfume industry, with world wide sales  has been successfully established based on Aloe Vera, our Komarika.  We can successfully make perfumes. There is  no question about it. But we have to carefully ensure quality specifications and once that is done ban the import or charge a high duty on imports.

Limitations of Private for Sector Development.  Any nascent industry has to go through a period where production and sales are a success. This is an arduous task and the private sector is not interested in attending to such tasks as sometimes there could be a loss.  At Matara I lost heavily when I tried to establish a brush factory, but I succeeded when I tried a Crayon industry(more of this later). This proves  the futility of depending on the private sector to bring about   development as the engine of growth as dictated by the IMF.  The Private Sector will only have a hand at getting easy things done, things where they can be certain of success like opening a supermarket. A tree takes five years to get to fruit bearing stage  and some eight years to get to full bearing. These are long term plans of which the Private Sector is not interested. National Development  goals can never be achieved with the private sector alone. Professor Jeffery Sachs in his book The Price of Civilization   is very critical of the Free Market and the Private Sector, which he once praised and worked for. He has now realised his folly and states:

Freemarkets by themselves are not able to ensure the efficiency of the economy…. Free markets also needs Governments to help regulate the market… they do not guarantee  sustainability for future generations.”

It is important to note that the infrastructure that our country had built up over decades to enable economic development to become  a reality was abolished at the  behest of the IMF. This was done deliberately to maim our effort at development and to move us to the scrap heap of indebtedness.

.To guide the manufacture of fabrics we had a research institute Velona at Moratuwa, which helped the Powerlooms to make textiles of quality. The Powerloom at Hakmana, operating under my Divisional Secretary Wimalaratna made suiting that was in high demand even in England.  The  Small Industries Department had a separate section under a Deputy Director to import yarn which was sold to handloom entrepreneurs. These institutions  offered expertise to handlooms, powerlooms and to small industries. I speak with sheer experience as I was once a Deputy Director of Small Industries. I had a dozen Inspectors advising small industrialists. This task has to be resumed.

The Marketing Department implemented a Guaranteed Price Scheme for paddy and cereals. The aim was to offer a premium price well over the world market price, to serve as an incentive for producers.  The Department had a guaranteed price for eggs till we became self sufficient. There was also a  Vegetable and Fruit Marketing Scheme. Its aim was to ensure that producers would obtain a reasonable price for their produce  and simultaneously to ensure that city dwellers could buy vegetables etc. at cheap rates. The  Marketing Department too purchased vegetables and fruits at the producer fairs and paid better prices than the traders. The vegetables were brought overnight to the cities and offered for sale keeping a low margin of fifteen percent to cover up transport costs and wastage, while the Private Sector kept a margin of a hundred percent.  This helped the city dwellers to obtain goods at a cheap rate. In this manner the Government controlled inflation. These were the main functions of the Department for Development of Agricultural Marketing, commonly known as the Marketing Department. I was once the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the vegetable and fruit purchasing scheme. The Department also had a Canning Factory which made jam, jelley and juice out of Red Pumpkin, Ash Pumpkin, Pineapple, Tomatoes and Orange which enabled Sri lanka to become self sufficient.”. At the behest of the IMF the Marketing Department with all its incentive schemes was abolished. The Canning Factory was privatised and now the Cannery is run for profit making. Earlier the Canning Factory enabled Sri lanka to be self sufficient in  jam, juice and food preparations like Tomatoe sauce.  It enabled the Marketing Department to offer floor prices for many produce that was required for canning and producers made good incomes. When I was working in Nuwara Eliya I purchased a car load of tomatoes at Hanguranketa, our tomatoe area and made tomatoes sauce for our six months requirements. This is an easy task.  Instead today we import  incurring our foreign exchange.

I am certain that we can produce all the jam and fruit preparations etc within two years. This will involve establishing around ten small scale Canning Factories in various producer areas. The school curriculum should also include food preparation in areas where produce is readily available.

Our school curriculum is totally out of date. The school curriculum in all Third World countries was an extension of the school system in the Developed Countries. This system is geared to enable high achievers to enter the portals of higher education. The non high achievers too continue in school and get promoted from form to form annually, irrespective of their academic achievement(automatic promotion) and at the end of mandatory schooling they end up without any real achievement to secure a job. Unesco, the world authority for education insists on increasing the age for mandatory schooling and is less concerned about changing the school curriculum to suit a situation where the total school going age gets to school. Sri Lanka alone has to bear the ill effects of this policy because it is only Sri Lanka  that has established schools everywhere. India, Thailand, Bangladesh do not have full coverage of schools at the secondary level and also fees are charged with the result that parents keep back the children who are not high achievers. These children  then get involved with family  business like household chores, cattle rearing and agriculture and eventually find an earning place in society. In Sri Lanka, on the other hand, keeping non high achievers in school  and promoting them on an automatic basis year to year, on a free education system ends up with the school leavers not having any achievement to secure a job and in the meantime they have got weaned away from their traditional family vocations.

We have the ability to make most of the small industry goods and we can thereby find employment avenues and incomes for the people. Today our Supermarkets are full of knives etc from countries as far as Brazil and Mexico. Once we had good smithys and there is a demand for knives from Kotmale Smithy today.  .

Under the Divisional Development Councils Programme(DDCP) too many items were manufactured locally. This was done under this DDCP where  industrial units were established to make items like Fishing Boats where youths were trained and became  boatmakers while the boats were sold to Fishery Cooperatives to be used for ocean fishing. This offered employment to  boatmakers and also increased our fish supply. Today we even import fish. Under the DDCP, Grants were given to cooperatives for the purchase of the machinery and stipends were given to the trainee youths till the cooperatives were a success. However we did not have a Cannery to produce food preparations. Ginger was one of our main products.  If only we had a Cannery we could have produced ginger preserve.

The lack of food manufacturing units is a drawback. We are great producers of cinnamon. Mexico buys cinnamon from us and has a roaring trade in cinnamon preparations.

We have to take action to build up the lost infrastructure or establish  similar infrastructure to help the build up of industries and agriculture.               .

Based on the above experience We can within a few months start making many small industrial goods. It is sad that we are a country that does not even make a bicycle today. Cycles and such small industrial goods have to be made locally. This is a task that can easily be done. Today the Industrial Development Board, the University of Moratuwa and other Universities successfully find the art of making new products. Some are taken up by the Private Sector but most new ideas and machinery are lost due to the lack of a State mechanism to get into production like the Coop Crayon Factory I set up at Morawaka.(More later)

In this task we have to find expertise and we do have yet living with us officers who were in charge of  making various products. Their services for a short period could easily be sought till we get over the initial formative stages. The Divisional Secretary  Ariyadasa who supervised the Matara Boatyard, who later served as a Government Agent  and the Development Assistant Kumarasiri, who later in life became a Secretary of a Ministry are yet among us. They hold the ability to establish  a hundred boatyards in coastal areas and this is a task that will help making fishing boats that can increase our fishing fleet.  The Matara Boatyard was established by me in three months. We can find work for hundreds of youths in making boats and in fishing and we can easily become self sufficient in fish within a year or two. I am certain that colleagues of mine in the Administrative Service will be able to suggest officers of high expertise.

I was instrumental in establishing the Crayon Factory at Morawaka. I wanted to establish an import substitution industry entirely on my own because the Ministry of Planning  did not approve any of my plans to establish any import substitution type of industry. Their idea was that I should make tiles and bricks and concentrate on traditional industries. I wanted to prove that import substitution would be a success. It was a challenge to open the eyes of the Ministry.  I had seen similar projects in the private sector (when I worked as a Deputy Director of Small Industries) and fed details known to me to my Planning Officer, Vetus Fernando,  a raw, inexperienced, chemistry graduate.. Experiments were commenced  at my residence and when it came to a situation where special equipment was essential, we took   over the Science laboratory at Rahula College after school hours. The Planning Officer and Science Teachers at Rahula  pooled their knowledge and conducted experiments. It took around three months of daily experiments from evening six to midnight, and  my Planning Officer  finalised the art of making crayons of high quality. I decided that the Crayon Factory should be a cooperative project and I selected a Cooperative Union for establishing this industry. Youths were recruited and trained on the project. The Member of Parliament for Deniyaya,  Sumanapala Dahanayake was the President of the Morawaka Cooperative Union and he took over the responsibility for production and sales. The factory was established within a few weeks working day and night and islandwide sales done.” This Crayon factory produced crayons equal in quality to the famous crayola crayons and was closed down by the new Government of President Jayawardena purely because this industry was the flagship industry of the DDCP of the outgoing Sirimavo Government. Today, a full five decades later my blood boils when I see Crayola Crayons on sale in Sri lanka.

A highly successful industry is coffee in Vietnam. Vietnam can grow coffee as much as in Sri Lanka.  Though we have the area where coffee can be ideally grown we neglected it. Kitulgala is our Coffee belt. Vietnam today produces  quality  coffee and exports competing with brands like Nescafe.  This itself illustrates what can be done by Sri Lanka. While the ideal land  lies idle and the men remain unemployed, without incomes, we import coffee. It is a ridiculous situation that can be easily corrected.

The above details indicating how we can build up our economy to make what we need, and to avoid imports  and to offer employment to our people and create incomes for them illustrates what can be done if only our leaders decide. We have a trained public service that has in the past tackled many economic development tasks. The Divisional Secretaries were in charge of running the  Cooperative  Powerlooms. The Assistant Directors of Small Industries handled Carpentry Training Schools and Furniture Factories as well as Ceramic Centers.

My  Planning Officer, a chemistry graduate of the University of Colombo was the kingpin that found the art of making crayons and directed the implementation at the inception.. He did not have a day’s experience but applied himself carefully and intensively every evening from six to midnight for three months, till he found the art of making superb crayons.  He trained the youths to make the crayons and also guided the industry till it got on its feet.  Today the equal of him are in the ranks of the unemployed fighting and leading demonstrations to become employed. This in itself shows what can be done. It is upto the Government to give our youth the opportunity  that my Planning Officer had and the country can easily come out of the economic woods.

Vocational Training should be geared to create self employment. In every country there are vocational training courses and training schools in various disciplines like agriculture, fisheries, poultry, small industry like carpentry and furniture making. We today train tens of thousands of youths in vocational training, graduate them with pomp and pageantry and left to themselves they  remain unemployed.    The youths who score well at the academic examinations enter the portals of Universities.  The rest feed into some sort of employment or enter vocational training and the least qualified  drop out, lost souls who eventually become cannon fodder. We have  forgotten the youth riots in 1971 and 1987-88 when our armed forces were compelled to rain bullets on thousands of our youths.

What can be done of these drop outs of the education system is easily illustrated by the work I did accomplish as the Commonwealth Fund Advisor on Youth to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower in Bangladesh.   I was confronted impromptu by the Military Government immediately after they took ovcr Bangladesh as to what contribution I can make to the economy of Bangladesh. . At that time the Ministry provided skills training to 40,000 youths a year and as usual  skills development programmes kept off the task  of guiding the youths that passed out. The vast majority of the trained continued to be unemployed. I suggested that as much as we provided skills we should also commence guiding youths who wished to be self employed  to establish their own projects. Serious objections  were raised by the Secretary to the Treasury because the ILO had tried such an experiment in the earlier three years at Tangail, and had miserably failed after a massive expenditure. My suggestion  was approved after two hours of heated arguments . I with Bangladeshi administrators took over the task of training  the staff in economics and motivating the youths who were being trained to establish small projects in their home areas. The training staff provided guidance in how  the projects were to be established and guided the youths in all aspects of production and sales. This was a novel idea of guiding youths enabling them to develop their abilities and capacities in establishing their commercial projects.. The training institutes that had hitherto only trained them in skills  were also charged with the   onerous task of guiding the youths when they got into production. The youths were guided in how to establish and develop their projects to create incomes. Training institutes were kept open till ten at night to enable trainee students to use the machinery.  My task was to establish the project, train the staff to continue after my two years’ consultancy ended.. Today the program guides 250,000 youths a year to establish enterprises.  Over two million enterprises have been established by Feb 2011 and the Program has expanded apace”. Today this is the premier program of employment creation the world has known and illustrates how employment creation can be successfully done. After I initially established the programme it was further developed by Bangladeshi  Administrators   Auybur Rahaman,, Asafuddowlah , Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Youth.  This programme becoming the premier employment creation initiative the world has known speaks out as to what can be done in development.

Can we Find the Funds?

When I won the day in Bangladesh and the Hon. Minister for Labour and Manpower approved my establishing a self employment programme, the Secretary to the Treasury said that he cannot provide any funds. The ILO failed and I too will fail, he said adamantly. I readily replied that I needed no new funds other than what was allocated to the Ministry, but I added that the Secretary of the Ministry should  have the authority to retrain the staff and re deploy the funding where necessary. This was approved by the Hon Minister. The entire self employment programme, which has today become the premier employment creation programme the world has known was established without a budget, entirely out of savings from already approved training budgets.

In the implementation of the Divisional Development Councils Programme in Sri Lanka, the bulk of the administration expertise  came free as the task was shouldered by the Government Agents, the Divisional Secretaries and other  katcheri staff.

Over to our leaders.  May these ideas based on my sheer experience,  convince our Leaders that we do have the ability and the expertise  to attend to develop our economy in a manner that will create employment and provide incomes  for our people while also reducing our import  burden. We need not sell our family silver to survive. This is something we successfully did in the past.   In today’s context import substitution and the development of local resources is the key to development- to create employment and incomes for our people. There is absolutely no other way ahead.

This is a task that we once did and therefore can easily do again.

Let me hope to see the day when our leaders will have the ability and the nerve to approve an Employment Creation  Programme. I can guarantee that it will be a great success and being the author who successfully designed and implemented the Youth Self Employment Programme of Bangladesh, the premier employment creation programme the world has known, my words deserve credence.

Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D. Michigan State University

Former Government Agent, Matara 1971-1973

6 th July2017


All quotes where the source is not indicated are from my book, How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development (Kindle)(

Dr Stanley A Fischer: Development Strategy for East Asian Countries: A Korean Perspective: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank, Cheju, Korea, 15May 2004)

8 Responses to “Ideas to resuscitate the Sri Lankan Economy”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Bravo !
    Dr Garvin Karunaratne never gives up on writing to uplift the Economy and Morale of the People of Lanka, for which our grateful thanks.

    We need a PATRIOTIC and able, time tested leadership to put these ideas into action.
    GREEN ENERGY a must too.
    These ideas and more ideas must be implemented in Sri Lanka.

    Ranil’s Export Economy will not work – it will basically Crash the Economy further, thwart local talent & entrepreneurship, and weaken the Nation’s morale.
    Lanka up for Sale – it’s possible with Ranil’s Plan ?
    A Nation grovelling in the pits will result from such a scheme.
    There is too much at stake here to ignore Dr Karunaratne’s warnings.

    Wake up Lankans !

  2. Dilrook Says:

    [Quote] Sri Lanka owes $ 58.3 billion to foreign lenders and 94% of its revenue go to debt servicing. [Unquote]

    This is true and relates to 2015 figures. Sadly, our Central Bank reports show only the debt payable by the Central Bank directly which is a lower figure.

    Our foreign debt was only $18 billion when the war ended. Since then until 2015, it increased by $40 billion to $58 billion! Not many useful things were done and over 90% of it was wasted in the north and east.

    Although IMF has played the role of an economic hitman, IMF role post-war has not been so dangerous. Our IMF loans are only a fraction and they are the best managed of all loans.

    Sri Lankan leaders know nothing of economics and they don’t take the advice of economists either. The post-war economic disaster must be reversed.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    To my understanding, loans from lending institutions such as the IMF are given for specific purposes. Don’t they specify that loans be used for a certain purpose only ?
    Then any govts anywhere in the world that take these loans are stuck with “useless specified projects” ?
    Of course, as per the GDP method of measurement (as opposed to the PQLI method), of a countries Wealth, there is progress made, even with ‘useless projects’ !

    Who is to be blamed here for faulty interntaional Economic approaches and ‘laws’ ?

    In such an event, the best is to stick with Self Sufficieny as the MAIN way to go in Economic Development ?
    Such a move requires a high degree of PATRIOTISM by the leaders.

    Has the UNP led Yahap got such qualities required ?

    Comments welcome.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Correction : pls read as ” …. a countrys Wealth …”.

  5. Christie Says:

    Thanks Gavin.

    Have you ever thought of who runs the economy of the island nation. You were reformist under Bandas. Did Bandas or JRJ did anything to transfer the control of the economy from these powerful Indian Colonial Parasitic Cabal to the Majority of the island nation.

    Your band aid economics are just Socialist brainwashing of the majority. These Socialists have been funded by this Indian mob then and now.

    I am sure you know this very well.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    We will have to ask just why an earlier friendly nation to Lanka during the long years of Colonial occupation and even afterwards, INDIA, suddenly took to the training of the LTTE during the pro-West JRJ govt times in Lanka.

    This proves that Lanka is caught in some type of permanent bind : Colonisation & INDIA.

    Best go our own way with Self Sufficiency, as much as possible ?

    What have the younger voters of Lanka below 45 yrs of age, to say about the double blockage (i.e. neo-Colonists & INDIA), from abroad ?

  7. Cerberus Says:

    Dear Mr. Karuanaratne, Thank you very much for a fantastic article which shows what we can do when given a chance. Right now, unfortunately, the Western powers have decided that Sri Lanka is strategically important and must be taken over. They kept the LTTE alive and well for 30 years when there were many opportunities to eliminate them. Each time using their proxies such as the Rogue Queen and Ponil Wikunansinghe prevented the elimination of the LTTE.

    On 8th Dec 2009, the US State Dept. approached Sri Lanka regarding getting our War Heroes to participate in fighting in the Afghan war. Robert O’Blake came and met with Gota regarding this possibility. Thankfully Gota refused the US request and that was another thing that went against the Mahinda Rajapaksa Govt with the USA. Please see the details below:

    If it was Ranil W, CBK, and MY3 tagging along, they may have gladly sent the War Heroes to their death in Afghanistan or Syria or some other hell hole where the USA does not wish to send many of their own troops. It would have been suicide for our heroes. It shows that the USA holds our troops in high esteem and wants them to join up.

    I think this whole exercise of toppling MR Govt was done by these powerful countries to get among other things manpower for fighting meaningless wars all over the world for them. These powerful countries see millions of poverty ridden people in India who could be inducted into their armies to fight the wars raging all over the world. I think bringing Sri Lanka under their control was the first step to getting the millions of Dalits to Sri Lanka and then induct them in their fighting forces since India will not allow foreign forces on their soil.

    Powerful countries have found it is cheaper to buy a few puppets in the countries they wish to invade and just empower those puppets to come to power and then take over countries that way. In Sri Lanka, we have two classic puppets in the President and Prime Minister who was so obsequious to Ban Ki-Moon when he was insulting Sri Lanka and our war heroes. Dr. D. Chandraratna has put the situation Sri Lanka very well in his article. See:

    Asoka Weerasinghe, a true patriot has also written an excellent letter to the President and Prime Minister drawing their attention to the shameful behavior of the GoSL. See:

    When the SLFP came into power and CBK became President with Ranil W as Prime Minister, they bungled the entire military operations against the LTTE. She appointed her uncle Anuruddha Ratwatte as Secretary for Defence and her nephew Rohan Daluwatte as the Military Commander. Rohan had no military experience and would run off to see Sai Baba in South India whenever there was trouble. She kept the war with LTTE dragging on and thousands of our Sinhala soldiers were brutally killed by LTTE. See article

    CBK used to run in the night to Mother Superior at St. Bridget’s when she had problems. Her nephew Rohan Daluwatte used to run to India to see Sai Baba when he had problems.
    When over 1000 soldiers were cut off without water at Elephant Pass by LTTE, CBK, and her nephew Daluwatte could do nothing to help those men who died of dehydration. She could have done so many things to help these men. Instead as Commander in Chief, she did nothing !! This is unforgivable and an act of treason. This is just one of her treasonable actions.
    She stopped the teaching of Sri Lanka history in schools when she was President and now she has proposed the stopping the teaching of Buddhism too. Instead, she wants to teach a Hodgepodge mix of religions which will leave students completely confused.

    CBK also had a preset idea, same as Ranil W., that it was not possible to beat the LTTE, There was a Commission appointed to look into bribery by her uncle Ratwatte. When they started hearings, he had a heart attack and died so the case was canceled. I think she did a deal with Ranil to shelve the Batalanda Commission report in turn for shelving the case for Gen. Ratwatte.

    Ranil W kept trying to hand over the North and East to appease Prabhakaran. He even stopped a crucial military operation in 2001 where the army knew the exact location of Prabhakaran and was ready to take him out. See

    When the Batalanda Commission had recommended his civic rights be removed how is he now the Prime Minister? It is only because he is a puppet of powerful countries and is supported by them. He lost elections 29 times, then tried to come to power behind Sarath Fonseka and finally managed to come through My3 who appointed him illegally has the Prime Minister in Jan 8’15.

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa was trying to go on the path of Self-Sufficiency as you suggest. He had to spend money on the infrastructure since it had been destroyed and neglected for 30 years by the old hag CBK and Ponil. As soon as MR came into power he started projects to develop the infrastructure. In 2009 when he eliminated LTTE and their leader the West was livid. They send the French Foreign Minister Boucher and David Miliband Leader of the opposition in U.K. Parliament to beg for Prabhakaran’s life from MR. President Mahinda Rajapaksa stood firm and as a result, they started their plans to eliminate him. Funds were given to the opposition to mount a campaign to besmirch MR’s character and drag him to the ground. In spite of it MR would have won i there was no large-scale cheating by the opposition.

    During the last two years from Jan 2015, the මූසල ආණ්ඩුව has taken more loans than MR did in his time from 2005 to 2009. But what do they have to show for it? They go around opening buildings and hospitals etc that MR had built and they put their own name plate on the buildings after removing MR’s name. The only thing they have done with the money is to import luxury BMWS, Mercedes Bezes and Range Rovers for the corrupt parliamentarians. The bond scam engineered by Ponil and Arjun Mahendran is one of the biggest insider trading jobs in the world.

    Self Sufficiency would have given our people Dignity, Peace, and Prosperity. The farmers would have been self-employed and would have supplied the rice we needed. We could have had small-scale private operations to produce various other goods as you suggest. The Yahapalanaya killed the fertilizer subsidy to destroy the farmers. Now that Wikunanasinghe wants to convert us into an export economy as per the instructions from the IMF. They feel the time is right for the takeover of Sri Lanka by Multinational Corporations and the wealthy Tamil Diaspora. They will come and buy everything from the Trincomalee harbor, Hambantota harbors our best lands and convert the people to serfs who will have to work under these Corporations. Instead of being a dignified race of people who are self-sufficient, we will end up as serfs working for a pittance for these corporations. Wikunanasinghe and his cohorts will be very well looked after. Sri Lanka labor costs are much higher than that in India, Bangladesh etc. So these corporations will import labor who will never go back and what happened in 1815 will be repeated. The ethnic balance will be changed furthermore forever. Both CBK and Ponil will have their ultimate revenge. Ponil is a twit who mind is still in the 1950’s mindset. He thinks Capitalism works. It does not as has been shown by one of the world’s foremost Economists Dr. Richard Wolf and many others.

    There are many top economists who have written on the topic. One of the most outspoken has been Dr. Richard Wolf. His famous talk Capitalism hits the fan is given below. His solution for capitalism is to have democracy in the workplace. The Mondragon Corporation in Spain is actually a large number of Co-operatives under the umbrella of Mondragon. This was set up with the blessings of the Catholic Church. In the USA there are many companies which are run as co-operatives where the employees participate in the decision making of the company affairs by being on the board. In Germany which has been very successful any company with over 2000 employees have to have at least 50% of employees on the board. This is why unlike USA Germany is very successful. In 2008 when the recession hit many companies in the USA laid off people in millions. In Germany, the Govt informed the companies not to lay off anyone. They suggested that they can reduce the number of hours of employees but keep all employed. In return, the German Govt paid the wages of the companies who had reduced the number of hours of employees so that no one lost any money. The net result was that the people had money in the pocket and were spending it thereby keeping the economy rolling. They hardly felt the recession, unlike the stupid USA.

    Please watch ( Capitalism Hits the Fan – Richard Wolff) ( Austerity and Neoliberalism in Greece with Richard Wolff and Barry Herman | The New School)

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    Cerberus has covered a number of hard and true facts here re the Socio-Economic factors, for which we gratefully thank him.


    We cannot emphasise enough the importance of the PQLI (PHYSICAL QUALITY OF LIFE INDEX) as a measurement for the wellbeing of any Nation.
    As stated earlier, the GDP does not give a true picture of a Nation’s wellbeing, as GDP measures the Goods & Services only for a given period.
    In contrast, the PQLI offers a true picture of the wellbeing of a Nation.

    Relationship between PQLI & use of Glyphosate as a weedkiller and in other substances :

    In relation to wellbeing of a Nation, if the people of any country keeps using Glyphosate, the People of that country will suffer ill health.
    Ill health is caused by the Glyphosate in the food attacking the human digestive system gut BACTERIA (through the Shikimate Pathway, as done to the weeds, alge, and other plant forms), & ENZYMES as well. Problems of digestion due to removal of gut Bacteria & Enzymes by ingestion of Glyphosate via food, will result leading to slow moving and painful complications and an early death of the human body.

    We can conclude that Glyphosate is inimical to the Wellbeing of a Nation, and therefore prohibit the use of Glyphosate as a weedkiller or in other substances.

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