Does our Central Bank live in cloud cuckoo land? Emperor Nero fiddles while Rome burns: Rome will burn beware!
Posted on February 19th, 2024

By Garvin Karunaratne, former GA Matara

My warnings about an unbridled Central Bank have come true with the Central Bank mandarins deciding a salary increase of as much as seventy percent, while over half our population lives in sheer poverty having to forgo at least a meal everyday. My Warnings appeared in Lanka Web of 20 th March 2023: An Independent Central Bank: Does it not clash with the sovereignty of the Central Bank.

I would appeal to our Central Bank to think again about this massive increase. Any salary increases have to be made to the entire work force. My mind goes back to my days in the Administrative Service when increases in salaries were given only to the middle and lower levels of our work force. I being a high ranker in the Administrative Service did not get an increase.

If our Central Bank mandarins do not immediately rescind this massive increase, I am certain that there will be massive agitation among other workers for commensurate increases and to my mind they are doing what is right.

It is upto our Central Bank and to our Parliament to immediately rescind the legislation granting independence to the Central Bank. It is absurd to have an independent Central Bank. The Central Bank of any country is an integral part of the country and cannot be independent of the country. My experience is not only in Sri Lanka. I was the Commonwealth Fund Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower in Bangladesh for two years and had dealings with the Bangladesh Central Bank, an integral part of the Government of Bangladesh. I speak from sheer experience, having authored the largest employment creation programme the world has known- the Youth Self Employment Programme, initiated by me in 1982 which is yet going strong having created over three million youth entrepreneurs. I may mention that the Fifth Five Year Plan of the Bangladesh Central Bank devotes as much as eight pages to document the progress of the Youth Self Employment Programme which I initiated in 1982.

My I request our Central Bank to immediately consider a programme of employment creation, where our people will be making everything that is being imported, other, than wheat and wheat four. It is task that can be done- once Premier Sirimavo tried to do it- she created a special Ministry- the Ministry of Plan Implementation, placed it directly under her and head hunted the coveted economist of the day- Professor HAdeS Gunasekera as its Permanent Secretary. I too played a major role as the Government Agent of the Matara District, creating employment and also the production that the country required. If at all our Central Bank can kindly consider this major development task it will stand to the Credit of the Central Bank. Mind you, this task does not incurr any foreign exchange and can be started off immediately.

Garvin Karunaratne

former GA Matara


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