Selling the Motherland
Posted on November 10th, 2019

By Garvin Karunaratne

Selling the Motherland crept into our leaders only after the General Election of 1977.  In my working life from 1955 to 1973 in Sri Lanka 

 I have kept close association with ,many of our leaders- Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, , Ministers P.C.Imbulana, Vimala Kannangara,  Dr N.M. Perera, P.G.B Kalugalle,  T.B. Subasinghe, NH Karunaratne , Dr Colvin R de Silva. I am certain that none of them had the idea of  Selling the Motherland even in their remotest dreams It is sad to note that the deeds of the leaders of the United National Party from 1977 onwards have proved beyond all doubt   that they all belong to the group that would Sell the Motherland.  In 1978, President Jayawardena caved  in to the IMF which insisted that if he needed Financial Aid, he had to invariably follow the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programme. (SAP) The main condition was  that the Government could not handle any commercial undertaking. Everything that the earlier Governments had done in the name of commercial undertakings, to create employment and bring about development had to be totally abolished.  The industries and farms established under the Divisional Development Councils Programme (DDCP) 1970-1977)were totally abolished and the youths-   32,000 were inevitably consigned to the scrap heap of unemployment and poverty.   . In detail, . The Boatyard at Matara where youths built 30 ft long inboard motor boats- some 40 every year and earned good incomes was scrapped and the valuable machinery was neglected, sold and also left in a scrap heap. Coop Crayon, established by me and Member of Parliament Sumanapala Dahanayake,  which had islandwide sales  was stopped. All other industries and agricultural farms were stopped and a few hundred youths lost their jobs. This is what happened in the Matara District  In an earlier paper of mine in Lanka Web:(Sri Lanka: Development  and Pitfalls:Agricultural marketing) (

)  I have detailed what happened when  the Paddy Purchasing Scheme, Rice Milling, The Vegetable & Fruit Marketing Scheme, The Cannery  and the Fair Price Shops of the Marketing Department were also axed by the UNP government of President Jayawardena. Easily tens of thousands of farmers were destined to get lower incomes as the Marketing Department Scheme of purchasing vegetables and paddy was scrapped overnight.  It is important to note that by following the advice of the IMF  to liberalize spending foreign exchange  and agreeing to meet the shortfall with loans the Government was creating a situation where Sri lanka will be building up a colossal foreign debt- which is today around $ 56 to $ 60 billion. Before 1977 Sri Lanka had  liitle or no foreign debt.  Today the Presidential Election  of 16/11 is to be held in a few days and the stalvarts of the UNP have declared that if victorious at the presidential election they will ink the Millennium Challenge Corporation(MCC )Compact agreement.  The MCC Project brings in a  grant of $ 480 million to attend to some minor transport fixtures– busstands, zebra crossings, traffic lights,  advanced trafic management systems”.  and also there is a Land Component to address “the lack of access to State lands and private lands for investment Purposes”. The cat is out of the bag when the document states: Lack of access to State lands  and private Lands for investment purposes is a significant deterrent to both foreign and  domestic investment” The idea is to create a dynamic market for land.”. It is said to involve  28% of the land mass of our island. The idea is to “convert permits and grants  in State lands  to absolute land grants”.  It would be of interest to note that the UNP of today is going against the development infrastructure of peasant colonization that was laid down by no less a person than Prime Minister DS Senanayake. I quote from one of my earlier writings:(Betraying our Visionary Leader DS Senanayake-(LankaWeb:16/07/2019) The vast colonization schemes of the Dry Zone, the peasantry, in thousands  that enjoyed the land,  earning bountiful crops were all due to the great achievement of our Leader, DS Senanayake, all achieved during his days as the Minister for Agriculture and Lands. It was his dream to uplift the life of the rural masses and for that purpose  he initiated a policy of granting land to the landless poor, making them partners in production and national development. His avowed aim was not only to see that they are free from hunger and starvation but to see that they are established on land and  become self reliant and selfdependent” (Hansard: 26/2/1932:State Council of Ceylon)His plan was not the haphazard alienation of Crown land.  He went to the extent of appointing a Select Committee of the State Council, to make any recommendations which they consider expedient and practical  for the establishment of a Scheme whereby land may be settled  on villagers and small holders and Crown land alienation or leased to villagers or small holders can be prevented  from passing into the hands of persons  other than villagers or small holders”(Hansard: 14/03/1933:Land Development Ordinance).  A Committee was duly appointed . The Committee had sittings for two years  and made submissions to the Council which were accepted. Referring to the Land Development Ordinance provisions  he said that  in this Ordinance we have made provision for  the protection of holdings  that is we have considered it necessary.. that when   land is alienated to a class of people to see that the land is possessed and it is very necessary that  protection should be continued for all time. It was necessary to see  that not only in the first instance  the person who got  the land  belonged to the class  to which we want the lands to go , but that the successors too belonged to that class. We felt that if we gave out right transfers  it will not be possible to protect such lands.”(Hansard: 14/3/1933” State Council of Ceylon)He said that it was necessary to avoid what happened when freehold land was given out under British rule:”But what happened to the jungle land up country  under the British Government  with its unfortunate laws and practices. Today  owing to the freehold given by the Government … all that land has  passed out of the possession of the people of this country.”(Statement in the State Council of Ceylon:(19/10/1933: Hansard)Today we are seeing in progress the death knell of the colonization schemes and the bold peasantry that was built up by our leader DS Senanayake.Reading through the MCCCompact agreement I find the present document states in no uncertain terms that the intention is to create a dynamic market for land” by converting permits and grants in State lands to absolute land grants.”. This aim of the MCC Compact is totally opposed to Prime Minister DS Senanayake’s intention of creating a bold peasantry.It is clearly evident that the intention is to create  a situation where State lands will be saleable to multinationals. This will create poverty as the peasantry will spend what they get out of the sale and will eventually get into the homeless and poverty fold. It is a well known practice in developed countries for multinationals to retain firms that pressurize people to sell their land. It is also important to note that our founding father DS Senanayake was also the person who created the Department for Development of Agricultural Marketing with its Guaranteed Price for Paddy, its Rice Mills, its Vegetable & Fruit Marketing Scheme and Cannery which enabled the march of farmers to productivity and out of poverty. This agricultural marketing infrastructure was totally abolished by President JR Jayawardena. The CWE was also established by Prime Minister DS Senanayake. Thus it is found that President JR Jayawardena as well as the present leaders including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe  are not concerned with helping the people of Sri lanka. Their aim to to follow what the IMF and other foreign powers like the USA, in its MCCCompact tells them to do. They do not care about the poverty that will be created by the implementation of the MCCCompact provisions.   The aims of the MCCCompact is totally impractical . It talks of fixing a few zebra crossings, making a few changes to transport networks and projects that it will benefit 7million people and similarly it projects that the land Project will benefit as much as  5 million people. Having played a major role in the development field in Sri Lanka for 18 years as a senior administrator and having served as an International Consultant in Bangladesh and the Bahamas for four years and having bagged the Ph.D. in Ag Econ and Non Formal Education from Michigan State University, my knowledge and expertise tells me that the MCCCompact project will if implemented create an insignificant progress to public transport  while definitely consigning  millions of prosperous peasants on colonization schemes and state land  projects to become landless, destitute  and to utter poverty. The MCCCompact Agreement currently in circulation, perhaps the version submitted for signature now,  does not refer to the 200 mile corridor from Colombo to Trincomalee, with an electric train, to be installed under the Transport Section and an electrified fence dividing the North and South of Sri lanka that was submitted, drawn on a map of Sri Lanka to bank managers and the Bar Chief URL de Silva at a meeting at Temple Trees on 25/11/2018 by MCC Team Leader  Steve Dobrilovic , referred to in Sarojini Dutt’s article in the Lanka Web of 6/11/2019.(Sri Lanka Cabinet Surrenders the country to the Americans).  It is sad that our present UNP leaders are  selling the Motherland to foreigners. They do not care for the welfare of our people.The damage that the rule of President jayawardena  did to Sri lanka is irrepairable. Sri Lanka has lost its development inrastructure that enabled the people and the country to march from colonial rule to prosperity. It was with this development infrastructure that we became self sufficient in paddy, the staple crop under the reign of Premier Dudley Senanayake.The present leaders have forsaken the great achievements of leaders like DS Senanayake and Dudley Senanayake. I have happened to work closely with Premier Dudley when I was Additional GA at Kegalla in 1978 and 1979 and can vouch for the sincerity of purpose he had in alleviating poverty which he did achieve. I am sad that the present leaders of the UNP are moving in the opposite direction to sacrifice the peasantry and the people of Sri lanka. I am certain   that the combination of leaders- former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya and former Premier Mahinda  can effectively strategize a programme to end poverty and unemployment in Sri lanka. The experience that all other presidential aspirants hold  is  insignificant and not of the caliber of achieving development.  The voters have a clear choice before them- whether our Motherland  is for sale to foreigners. Leaders Gotabhaya and Mahinda with their achievement of freeing the country once from the LTTE terrorism that ruled us for three decades tells me that they will be the only hope for our Motherland.These words come to you from a Sri Lankan  administrator who once in 1982 and 1983 was working as the Commonwealth Fund Advisoir to the Ministrry of Labour and Manpower in Bangladesh, when I was able  to obtain approval to establish a Youth Self Employment Programme, a task that the ILO had miserably failed in the earlier three years and who within two years did create the Programme and trained Bangadeshi staff to continue it- a programme that has guided  two million youths upto 2011 into self employment, an achievement beyond par in the annals of development history. This is today the premier employment creation programme the world has known that has withstood the sands of time. 

Garvin Karunaratne, Ph D. Michigan State UniversityAuthor of:How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka and Alternative Programmes of Success(Godages) 2006)How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development (Kindle/Godages:2017)09/11/2019

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