“NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL TAKES OVER MANAGEMENT OF ECONOMY IN SRI LANKA”
Posted on February 27th, 2018

Sarath Wijesinghe – former Ambassador to UAE and Israel

National Economic council and the Mandate

NEC headed by President Sirisena” has taken a drastic and decisive move by appointing high powered committee including Prime Minister Wickramasinghe” to manage Economy” will meet bi-annually to implement urgent fast tract policies in/for the next two years towards victory in the areas of economy, governance and winning provincial, general and presidential elections due before 2020. The other carefully chosen members in the powerful committee, includes the Secretary of the President and Prime Minister, Governor Central Bank, Minister Mangala Samaraweera” and his secretary, Secretary Ministry of National Policy, and Economic Affairs, with Professor Samaratunga,- all of whom will be in the Apex body of policy formulation and implementing of all aspects of economy and governance with carefully considered strategies and a vision based on President Sirisena’s programme due to the strong warning by way of the electoral defeat recently. They are not fulltime members- yet it will be the supreme body on Economic reforms and strategies even above the sub cabinet subcommittee headed by Prime Minister as he is active in SEC. It is not clear which policy will supersede between free liberal market economy of the UNP or the middle path on closed pro Sri Lankan Economy by SLFP, with the assistance of JVP and TNA supported by (some) civil society, movements and NGO’s. It could be a new programme deviating from the 100 day and two year programme considered to be unsuccessful and rejected by the masses with a clear message of discontent. Now that the President has taken charge of the formulation and implementation of the economy with the Prime Minister and the powerful Ministers with new vigour and plan of action, the government machinery of the good governance administration will be in operation continuously on fast track to achieve results before the incoming three elections due.

National Development Plan

Immediate steps have been taken for an accelerated national development plan with the participation of the powerful line ministers in the cabinet managed by the Secretary General of NEC, Dr Lalith Samarakoon – carefully chosen as the CEO of the nationwide operation of coordinating the Ministers in their respective areas. Dr Sarath Amunigama is entrusted in planning out the Textile, Garments and the industrial sectors while Minister Nimal Siripala

commences modernizing Bandaraneika Airport to avoid congestion or to construct a new wing, Megapolice Minister to modernize the infrastructure developments to cater the FDI investors due in due course with IT developments by the Minister of IT and Telecommunications. Processing economic issues will be personally handled by the President with special emphasis on bringing down the cost of living with the Consumer Affairs Authority headed by the controversial Trade Minister, and reintroduce once rejected fertilizer scheme to the farmers with special emphasis on organic fertilizer managed by the ministry of agriculture. Mini reshuffle anticipating a full scale reshuffle is a part of the strategy to expedite the process of changing UNP portfolios hoping to change the SLFP portfolios on Presidents return.

State of Economy

Economy of the country is not in a good shape due to debts, and unresolved manmade and natural disasters such as drought, bomb blast, after effects of floods, lack of unity, vision or strategy play a significant role in the development process and the governance of country. No major development project/s have launched during the last three years instead of the continuation of the initiations by the previous regime and it is time to initiate new projects and development schemas to showcase the future voter awaiting for the future elections. Vigorous Champaign on corruption and good governance by President Sirisena” was overshadowed by the impact of the unimpressive election results of the council elections with worst defeats ever, and rise of cost of living index, with shortages of food and consumer items , threat of the prices of gas and oil are unpleasant news for the common man sandwiched between the trader manufacturer and the industrialist making the task of NEC still difficult and challenging to achieve in two years and 48 meeting. Ranil Wickramasinge” accused of masterminding the Bond Scam has now become a champion against Bribery and Corruption! Overshadowing the vigorous campaign of President Sirisena declined after the provincial council disaster!

Time and space for NEC

Will the NEC has time and space to deliver goods with the other adverse internal and external factors determining the ailing and debt ridden economy managed by Minister Samaraweera – a novice to the job willing to take challenging unpopular decisions on economy, social welfare, international relations, land policy and drastic policy decisions. Short and long term impacts of his decisions can be asserted only during/after implementation. Mangala Samaraweera” as the Foreign Minister took bold arbitrary decisions on foreign policy on his own accord with no proper consultation/s with the leadership with grave implications under international law and relations with drastic effects today. What would be the connection between the CCEM Cabinet sub Committee headed by the Prime Minister and the NEC is not resolved/clear yet presuming it will either disappear or function under NEC as the President has taken charge of steering the economy by personal involvements on the Cabinet Papers with NEC. What would be the reaction of

the revolting members of the SLFP ginger group demanding changes on the Premiership or attempting to form a SLFP led government are issues brewing in President Sirisena’s camp in addition to the discontent President on UNP on the vigorous anti-corruption campaign targeting the leadership are on-going issues unresolved. Will Prime Minister Wickramasinghe take a backseat in management of economy giving up plans and strategies of his own planning from during 2002 on Pebedamu Lanka” programme policies which are completely contrary to the policies of President Sirisena who is now de – facto leader of the Cabinet taking decision overruling many other cabinet proposals are differences in the unity government of difference and diverse views and policies. There is news in Colombo Telegraph that the Attorney General with the Secretary of the President, USA Ambassador and Indian High Commissioner have intervened to bring about a temporary truce to settle and match making the conflict between President and Prime Minister which is a worrying issue as the AG has no mandate to be political and Ambassadors are prevented from intervening in internal issues under the Vienna Convention” , in dealing with political matchmaking or settlements of two political parties in power.

Good News for the President

Good news for Present Sirisena is that the TNA, JVP, Western Embassies and many western countries, India, fraction of the civil society, are backing him at any cost as against Rajapaksa- the common enemy to all of them yet enormously popular among fair cross section of the country as shown during the elections where bicycle symbol from Maharagama was won purely by Mahinda factor”. Minority attracted towards MS is gradually drifting away and the confrontation with the UNP and the leadership has developed lack of confidence and sense of disability among the community and the foreign factor awaiting investments based on political stability, and other positive factors on investment. Are they satisfied with the National security, political stability, good governance, and economic excellence are matters connected to the border spectrum of the management of economy including investment regime and international confidence on money and stability. With the Bond Scam and large scale bribery which has resulted in world wild publicity on bribery, money laundering, law and order with large scale frequent crimes including drug trade political instability / infighting in the government, are factors discouraging the prospective investors to this gifted and beautiful Island. Will President find time and space with other responsibilities as Head of Cabinet, Head of the Government, President SLFP, Ministers of Environment and Mahavali, and numerous responsibilities as the head with future unexpected eruption of issues to complete the arduous challenging task of reactivating the ailing economy riddled with corruption inefficiency and infighting with lack of vision and strategy.

Will History Repeat after 30 years

Apparently President will be formulating a rapid development strategy with the NEC with two year target with the new dedicated group of political and management experts to bring

about the developments in the country aiming at reducing cost of living and expedite rapid development strategy to win the 2020 elections and Presidential thereafter with Provincial Council Elections in between as plan A and Plan B” to be in power probably by expediting the cases against the previous regime accused of corruption and bribery by appointing more judges, establishing new courts, changing legislation to hear cases faster and giving facilities perks and salary increments to the judges and the officers to put the members of the previous regime behind bars as claimed openly by Ministers Rajitha Senaratna” and others by giving responsibility to the ruthless hard former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka” who is agitating to be active anytime. Accusations on the Prime Minister and the group on involvements in Bond scam which is the biggest robbery ever involving trillions siphoned from EPF, Banks and Public Funds running over 30 years in which a main accused Arjun Mahandran” on the run is shadowing after the Prime Minister and the group which has a great impact on economy and political and economic future of the country. Attorney General probably the next in line to be the next Chief Justice, is given one of the most expensive cars and judge’s salaries have already been disproportionately increased. There is a move to appoint a more proactive Minister of Law and Order to expedite court proceedings on political opponents, probably repeating the dark history on how Madam Bandaraneika’s civic rights were removed by a commission to enable JRJ to win the Presidential Election without the main popular opponent Madam B”. Situation and circumstances have now changed and it is doubtful whether history will be repeated under new circumstances/atmosphere 30 years later.

The writer who will take responsibility on the contents of the article could be contacted on [email protected]

One Response to ““NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL TAKES OVER MANAGEMENT OF ECONOMY IN SRI LANKA””

  1. Christie Says:

    “emphasis on organic fertilizer managed by the ministry of agriculture.”.

    What a good idea.

    All the shit and piss from Parliament and president’s toilets will be syphoned to rice fields in Polonnaruwa.

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