On ‘wowing’ the AAAAAI-EM-EF
It is reported that when the US economy was hit by the financial
crisis, 54 banks in that country had closed down. Contrast this with Sri
Lanka. This is a country whose economy was said to be in a constant
state of imminent collapse ever since Mahinda Rajapaksa became
President. It was called a ‘failed state’ by a lot of people and
especially those heavily invested in the LTTE project and were major
shareholders of the multi-national enterprise to destabilize the
country. Sri Lanka is not a rich, industrialised nation. It was also
harangued for decades by a ruthless terrorist organisation.
‘Imminent collapse’ is a prediction and sadly says more of the
predictors than the Government. It has amounted to nothing more than
fear mongering, clearly the last resort of the desperate.
I was wondering what these predictors would have done if they were in
power when the financial crisis hit the global economy. The answer came
in a strange manner. It arrived in the form of a statement made by the
Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe at a media conference a
few days ago.
The IMF has been subject to a range of criticisms in many
According to Wickremesinghe, IMF Managing Director Dominique
Strauss-Kahn, in a recent letter to Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive
Director Brad Adams, has said that Sri Lanka’s economy had collapsed and
that the country was facing an economic crisis. I am not sure if this is
the official position of the IMF. I wonder, however, what kind of
political agenda this Dominique person has and of course worry about the
kind of friendship he has with Adams to warrant such reporting. I do
know that HRW has a sad track record of taking any old story from any
old source, treating it as fact, making all kinds of dire predictions
and calling for all manner of punitive measures to be imposed. I do know
also that the IMF, despite strong lobbying by anti-Government elements
(including people with a long history of whitewashing the LTTE of crimes
against humanity) and elements in the international community partial to
the LTTE, approved a massive loan to Sri Lanka.
I find it hard to believe that the economists at the IMF would be so
stupid as to recommend such a facility (the amount actually being
greater than that requested) to a nation which a few weeks later would
collapse. I mean, if they couldn’t predict that much, they are plainly
incompetent, one would think.
What is more interesting is what Wickremesinghe reveals about himself
in his comment. He said, “If the IMF had stated that our economy had
collapsed then we can’t think twice about it.”
‘IF the IMF says’ - that’s the key qualifier here. IF the
AAAAAI-EM-EF says, Wickremesinghe will not think twice about it. IF the
AAAAAI-EM-EF says ‘go jump in the well’, would Wickremesinghe oblige? I
have no doubt that he will. If it had been his prerogative, I have no
doubt that when the global financial crisis hit the US, Wickremesinghe
would have jumped for joy and sold the Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank
and whatever else state-owned enterprises left.
I am not a fan of the IMF. Nor do I salute the current paradigm of
development. I am not an approver of how this Government or its
predecessors handled the economy. The point is, Wickremesinghe doesn’t
have a criticizing leg to stand on. Ranil Wickremesinghe, when became
Prime Minister in 2001, begged for massive loans from the AAAAAI-EM-EF.
The AAAAAI-EM-EF obliged but imposed rigid conditions which included the
privatization of state ventures, freezing recruitment to the public
sector and a general scaling down of the state sector in the economy.
Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation was sold and if Wickremesinghe was not
ousted, the state banks would have gone the same way. The ‘conditions’
were never made public, but they became apparent quite quickly.
Forget the AAAAAI-EM-EF. It’s all about Wickremesinghe’s mind-set. He
feels he doesn’t have to think twice if the AAAAAI-EM-EF says something.
This is a statement of a man who is ever ready to be servile. This is
not the kind of man who deserves to lead a party, let alone a country.
It reminded me of an observation by someone when Wickremesinghe and his
various supporters masquerading as independent analysts and rights
activists were heavily lobbying the international community against the
Government’s moves to rid the country of terrorism: ‘Ranil wants to hit
Mahinda, but his punches are hitting only the people of this country’.
Politicians in this country care very little about the nation or the
people; they subscribe to the by-any-means-necessary brand of politics.
There’s a word for this: ‘Cheap’. There’s a conclusion too: ‘unworthy to
lead’. Yes, not even worthy of leading the United National Party. No
wonder it is floundering without even being able to offer a candidate
for the presidential election. Maybe Wickremesinghe is waiting for the
AAAAAI-EM-EF to give direction, recommend a name and design a campaign
for the UNP. I wouldn’t be surprised though.