GOTA PHOBIA – Part IXB (Shun mud-slinging and face a clean election)
Posted on November 11th, 2019


 We are in the last week of a very crucial and important presidential election campaign after the 1988 presidential election in which the results were manipulated and distorted by the JVP hooligans to carry out a contract from R.Pewmadasa to prevent village voters in the Sinhala areas from casting their ballots and assistance provided by disgraceful Chandrika by fielding a candidate against her own mother from her outrageous party the Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya.

As anticipated by many the treacherous reactionary foreign and terrorist servile gang, the anti-Sri Lankan groups including the NGO vultures sustained by the so-called self-proclaimed international community and the terrorist diaspora convinced of their defeat in the election have launched their mud-slinging and smear campaign to mislead and misguide the voters. 

A new trend hitherto unseen in the Sri Lanka is the arrival of many foreign residents Sri Lankans both male and female in Australia, U.A.E and other Middle East countries, Italy and several European countries to vote in the election and airline sources indicate that there are heavy bookings for seats in the incoming flights to Sri Lanka until 15th November.  These flood-gates were opened yesterday and many passengers who arrived yesterday have told the media that they were amazed to see developments taking place in the countries they reside utilising the modern technology such  as Nano-technology, aeronautics, robot-technology, digital technology, etc., and they are quite convinced that Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, being an experienced person in modern and digital technology is the only person capable of developing Sri Lanka within a short period and accord Sri Lanka its due place in the fast-emerging Asian economy male passenger . A female passenger said that she is very keen to vote in this election got Gota since she wants to have an undivided nation in which she will not need to visit her home in Vavuniya on a pre-arranged or border point visa.  

Today (11th Nov, ) also a large crowd arrived and many of them expressed their utter dismay over the stalemate suffered by Sri Lanka during the last 4 ½ years due to abandoning of all ongoing development work and concentrating only on punishing the leaders and bureaucrats of the previous government who rendered a dedicated service to make this country a Wonder Nation of Asia. 

Given below are experts from an interview given by the former Governor of the Central Bank Mr Ajith Nivad Cabral who was responsible for many development activities during the Mahinda Rajapaksa era.

We were prepared for the challenge of taking the economy forward. We didn’t come during early 2006 and say we must find what to do. We were ready with the plans and focused areas we were going to work on and started on each of those areas together. Sometimes we cannot wade through one to the other but have to do several things together. That was our key thrust. Then we started on the development, dealing with the war and that helped us to give confidence to the rest of the country and stakeholders and there were results.

Each year there was an incremental way in which it was going forward and it gave more confidence to the people. 

What happened was at the beginning of 2018 the rupee was at 150 and then just a year later it was 183. If the rupee could have depreciated in one year we thought why can’t the opposite happen? Why are we thinking that we cannot do it? I was sure that with the right conditions put in place, we need is to have confidence restored back into the economy. Once that happens and investments come back and other macro-fundamentals start moving in the right direction. 

We were in touch with all important industrialists and many of them told us that they have been taxed unfairly and which included the banking sector, hotels, small and medium enterprise sector, professionals and various traders. Hoteliers had a very good reason to be agitated because they have been made to pay any taxes. I believed that we need to rationalise all these quickly and suggested to cut taxes at least by 20%. Some of the obnoxious taxes such as those on apartment sales and remittances need to be scrapped because they are inhibiting growth.

Tourism is a sector that we wanted to support, as it will touch people and filter down fast. I was convinced that it is much better to forego some taxes and ensure that the people have jobs and their energy to do additional activities and that’s the philosophy that will drive the economic policy in future.  If they are energized they will take Sri Lanka to a five million tourism product. Even a three-wheel taxi driver will have more hires. 

When I left Central Bank, the portfolio of the Employers Provident Fund (EPF) had had an unrealised gain of Rs. 20 billion. That wouldn’t have been the case had there been pumping and dumping. The Greek bond case was a situation where it was challenged in the Supreme Court by Sujeewa Senasinghe, who wrote a book on the alleged Bond Scam. Details of the case are on the website of the Supreme Court. They specifically say ‘considering the totality of the circumstances, it is neither possible nor desirable to hold that the members of the monetary board in taking a decision to invest in Greek bonds have acted arbitrarily, unreasonably and in a fraudulent manner. In view of the conclusion reached, the Court is not inclined to express any opinion on the objections raised’. 

Hedging is not fraudulent activity. It is an activity that people use in order to deal with some risk. It’s like insurance and was proposed by the Central Bank. But something went wrong with that as a result of certain factors. But no one alleged. That was not done by the Central Bank, but by the Petroleum Corporation. It was only an idea that was generated by the Central Bank’s economic research team. It was never alleged that there was anything fraudulent in that. There was a loss that occurred, but that was certainly less than what this Government paid as compensation for the Port City stoppage of work as well as the cancellation of the SriLankan Airbus. Coming back to the Greek bonds, although they say that there was a loss of USD 6.6 million what they said is that during the particular year, the Central Bank made its highest ever profit which was USD 430 million against a USD 50 million profit made last year and a USD 100 million the previous year. You can see that despite taking this loss into consideration, the Central Bank made its highest ever profit and it was a landmark year; although this loss was suffered. 

The bond scam was twofold; it happened in February 2015 and again in March 2016.
The main way in which this bond scam took place was that the system of issuing bonds didn’t allow any bonds to be issued in a fraudulent manner.

I’m not afraid and I don’t think anyone in Central Bank is afraid to face any inquiry. We know that it wasn’t possible to initiate any bond scam with that system in place. But on February 27, 2015, that system was changed arbitrarily on the insistence of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. They changed the system which allowed this kind of thing to take place. If the system wasn’t changed, even Mahendran couldn’t have done that. Now we need to get to the bottom of that. During the past five years, there has been one cover-up after another. I’m writing a book on the cover-ups because people should know the extent of them. Those people have to account for their actions and the loss that we have suffered, not only the direct loss we suffered on the day of the scam. 

There were losses that were suffered for thirty years as a result of what is being issued at higher rates of interests. Because of bad publicity, the confidence in the economy was lost and interest rates have still not come down. The Average Weighted Prime Lending Rate (AWPLR) was only 6.2% at the time I left the Central Bank. Today it is nearly 12%. This means that every single person who is paying interest has to account for an additional 6% premium that has been added to all transactions. The Commission that was appointed didn’t do its job properly. 

As regard his sister having being employed on Perpetual Board he said that his sister was there for one year. She hadn’t attended a single meeting and she had never had any dealings with Perpetual Treasuries. People pretend as if they don’t know this. Even the Commission didn’t write about any involvement regarding her during that period. During the time I was Governor, Perpetual Treasuries had bid for about Rs. 2.7 billion worth of bonds at the auctions. They had only received Rs. 26 million. Billions bid but Rs. 26 million received. That was all they had got which was at normal rates. That was what all others had got. It was only after he left that the entire incident had taken place. My sister and he had never run away.

There is one area which may need a little clarification. Those days the prices you would have paid for telecom would have been much cheaper. Of course, the service is terrible. 

That is what we need to accept as the difference. When you have a private entity they will charge the right price or a higher price to make a profit and ensure that the customer gets a proper deal. Take the Petroleum Corporation – tomorrow the CPC can increase the price and make a profit because it’s a monopoly. If it is handed over to the private sector, the first thing they would do is to bring in a price that would make money. But what does it do to the customer? Are we prepared to do that? If yes, that’s perfectly fine. At the time that the oil price went to USD 145 per barrel, we still gave petrol at a much lower rate. 

That loss was accepted by the Government. The Government subsidised that. During that period of time, although it was a tough call, the Government took a political as well as economic decision that we want to ensure that the country’s economic activities don’t get stalled by this high price that it had to pay. So we took an economic and a political call and that was a deliberate action by the Government. 

It had nothing to do with the efficiency of the Petroleum Corporation. Even if the CPC becomes inefficient the bulk of its expenditure is not on salaries or any other factor, but on the fuel price. 

If the fuel price is high the price will have to be high. Here what has happened is that there are certain times you have to offer support to the consumers in order to bring that economic activity up to a certain level of robustness. 

At the same time, we need to ensure that these are companies which are not in any way a burden on the government taxpayer as well as the people of the country. So it’s a balance. Economics is always about a balance. Sometimes the most optimum solution is not found in that particular organization alone. It can be found elsewhere. 

SriLankan Airlines is going to be restructured, but we should view tourism as a product. Who would support tourism during a downturn? We mustn’t get completely carried away by this privatisation thought and think that everything would be perfect with privatisation. Right now we are at USD 4000 per capita income and our economy isn’t robust enough to charge interests of that nature. Sometimes we need to hold the hand of certain state institutions to ensure that those also grow. I think we must do what is right for the country at the stage that it is in. Don’t embrace certain theories and principles, merely because they have been applied in other countries. So let’s give it some time and I would support the companies to make them better-managed companies. 

We need to ensure that people have things they want at the right time. If we were to bring in so many other oil companies to Sri Lanka I don’t think we would be doing justice to consumers. We may only have a steep increase in the pricing alone. There’s a lot more focus on electricity as well, but what has happened? During the past five years, not a single unit has been added to the National Grid. So how do we tackle that? The Government is contemplating adding 500 MW of emergency power. The worse thing that you can do is have emergency power. The answer to that is not that you do a tender for emergency power, but have a long term power generation plan. This way you would ensure that each year there would be new amounts of units added to the national grid. Then we would be in a position to have better pricing and better relief to the consumers. In 2014 the electricity prices actually reduced after the 300 MW Norochcholai Power plant was commissioned. That was a promise that was given in the manifesto of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and it was followed because we were in a position to do that.

Last year the Central Bank report showed that due to the depreciation of the currency, Sri Lanka’s debt burden grows by Rs. 1063 billion. The Colombo-Katunayake expressway cost us only Rs. 37 billion. We could have done about 35 such expressways through the amount the rupee depreciation added on to our debt. That is the critical part of public sector management. All debts put together of SriLankan Airlines etc., won’t come anywhere close to it. So we need to manage our economy properly. If we don’t manage it we get into serious trouble. So we need to get our interest rates, rupee and the SOEs right.  Why we are here in this situation, where people are wondering whether we could survive is because we have actually got into trouble in the mega areas of our economic management. We have done badly in terms of interest rates, rupee, fiscal deficit and foreign direct investments coming in and those need to be fixed very quickly. 

Referring to SLPP, Mr Cabral said that it is a young party and it has been in existence only for about three years and there’s a lot more time for leadership changes. If you take the SLFP, it had the leadership of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike and then from him to Sirimavo and Chandrika, but then it changed. If you take the UNP from D.S Senanayake it went to Dudley Senanayake and then it changed. So there were times where you would have seen certain initial stages of the Party being dominated by a certain group or a certain family. But over a period of time as other leaders emerged and they come forward there will be changes taking place. He said that he is confident that even here there would be a certain transition and people accept the undisputed leadership of Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa and there has been a consensus that the person who should contest the Presidency is Gotabaya Rajapaksa. 

Speaking in a ‘ViyathMaga’ seminar Mr Cabral accused the government of blindly taking foreign loans for day to day consumption purposes and explained at the time of handing over of the Rajapaksa government the parity rate for the U.S.$ was Rs. 131 and it has reached nearly Rs, 200 due to bad fiscal management of this government. 

Mr Cabral said that in the year 2018 the amount paid by the government as loan interest amounted to Rs.850 billion and Rs. 400 billion has been paid as additional loan interests.  He said that for the construction of the Colombo-Kayunayake Expressway the Rajapaksa government spent only Rs. 37 billion and compared to that from additional loan interest paid by this government in 2018 alone 11 Expressways could have been built.

Meanwhile, Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa addressing a meeting held at Colombo Exhibition Centre on 39th September said that Sri Lanka has become the country with the lowest economic development in Asia. He said that as per the latest report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Sri Lanka’s economic development rate has collapsed to 3e.6%, to lower than Afghanistan which has a rate of 2.7%.

Speaking further Mr Rajapaksa emphasized that we should safeguard our sovereignty and since we are a small country we should not get involved in the power struggles of big nations. He reminded that we had been a countr5y not aligned to any power bloc and strictly following a Non-Aligned foreign policy and this non-aligned policy is getting severely weakened due to our unnecessary involvement with certain countries.

Speaking about the economy, he said that they have a clear economic policy and a programme to revive the collapsed economy. He said that this economic programme has been formulated in a form of uplifting the downtrodden masses.

Mr Gotabhaya explained that Sri Lanka is situated in the centre of the fast economic development region of Asia and we should take the maximum benefit from this propitious situation. He said that we lost 30 years because of the heinous terrorism. We should not miss the opportunity of this auspicious market opportunity.  

Unfortunately during the last 4 ½ years, the present government did not have a concrete plan to overcome from the economic downfall. 

The biggest challenge this country had been facing was the terrorist aggression and we eliminated it in 2 ½ years and ensured the safety and security in the country. We were also successful in making the country attractive to foreign investors and generate employment for the people of this country.

Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa made the above comments delivering the keynote address at the special session of the Lanka Samasamaja Party.

He said that Lanka Samasamaja Party is a party that has rendered a tremendous service to this country and at the same time it has introduced a plethora of political giants such as Dr N.M.Perera, Dr Colvin R. de Silva, Robert Gunawardeme, Mrs, Vivienne Gunawardene, Bernard Soysa etc.

If there is no stability and security in a country it will not be possible for the people to live harmoniously in that country.  We ended terrorism that scorched the country for almost thirty years.  13,000 hard-core terrorists surrendered to the army and we rehabilitated and socialized them.  There were only 277 more terrorists to be rehabilitated.  Those who were rehabilitated and socialized never returned to terrorism.  We provided them employment and we even allowed them to join the army or other security forces.  Unfortunately, this government did not provide them with any employment.

90% of the lands that were under the LTTE and the security forces were returned to their original owners.   The owners of lands were also allowed to engage in the cultivation of their around the Palaly High-Security Zone.  We were planning to establish a new city in that area in consultation with Mr Douglas Devananda and settle more people there.  But we couldn’t accomplish it as the government changed.

Also, all the programmes we implemented were brought forward after ending the war. However, programmes related to those activities were not carried forward by this government. The Southern Expressway was not completed by this government.

This century in future will be called as a knowledge-based century. We should bein readiness for this situation. We have prepared a short term and long term plans to face these situations.  There is a possibility of providing opportunities based on technology for those who have given up education abruptly, who have ailed advanced level education and become stranded, unemployed graduates. If 500,000students sit for the Advanced Level examination only 200,000 passes the examination. Out of them only 35,000 gains entry to Universities.  Others get stranded. All the students should be provided with the opportunity for higher education.  We are planning to invest a huge amount for this purpose. 

It is not essential to become graduates in the computer sector.  There is a possibility to engage our youth in the computer sector. We must secure these employment opportunities.  A short term programme to train these youth for computer-based economically profitable employments. We have plans formulated for this. 

During President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time, we showed that we can do things. Then er worked as a team. We did not blame Ministers or officials, It was because that politicians and officials worked together we achieved results.  We should activate and vitalize the public service. We should have a vision and leadership to identify the talents and utilize such people.

We did not bring foreigners to finish the war to develop our infrastructure.  It was our talented personnel who finished the war.  It was our talented people who beautified our cities and towns. Having plans are not sufficient.  We should have the capability to implement the plans, 

Please provide your assistance to take this country forward towards prosperity.

Speaking at a meeting of the upcountry youth forum held at Waters Edge in Battaramulla, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa said his economic plans were people-centric and aimed at uplifting everyone’s living standards.

He said that as a whole, his economic and development plans are not limited to one region but people-centric. Any development plan should be inclusive to increase the income of all citizens instead of making a selected group of people rich. Although the per capita income is high in the country, some people still live below the poverty line. There is no point if our development projects don’t benefit all citizens and if one faction is always poor. There should be a system to uplift the livelihood of people who are below the poverty line,” he said.

On a different note, he said the estate sector was the highest foreign exchange earner of the country and that it was time for export diversification.

He said that it e said that HmmmmmmmmmmmHHhh is unfair if we stick only to tea when speaking of the estate sector. The livelihood of the people in the region should be uplifted. The youth have to tap the tourism sector in order to do this. The children in the region should be given equal educational opportunities.

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