Is Gota the best presidential candidate for the economy? | Daily News


Is Gota the best presidential candidate for the economy?

In national dailies, a debate goes on whether Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the best out of all candidates for the economy of our country. In support of the argument, the Gota supporters say that perfect evidence of his skill in economics is projected in his stellar record of Colombo city development as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development.

The irony lies in the fact that to portray Gota as the great economist who could rebuild Sri Lanka’s dwindling economy, they quote the Colombo city development as the only proof, but, sadly, nothing else. Even to make Colombo beautiful, how Gota enforced his authoritarian rule to batches and batches of Army units, whom the country hailed as Ranaviruwo, to clean wayside ditches, gutters and culverts, besides constructing roads and pavements, the jobs done by daily paid labourers, is no secret.

To show that Rajapaksas are brilliant economists, some people argue that Yahapalanaya government’s economic performance is not a patch on that of its predecessors, meaning the Rajapaksa regime. The most reflective and the most recent example of how Rajapaksas and their kith and kin handled the economy is evident from the story of President Sirisena’s exhaustive effort to get the Cabinet approval for Rs. 4.4 billion to settle unpaid bills of Mahinda & Co., who were the predecessors. Settle how and from where? From public purse in the Treasury? This is one among hundreds of other examples to show how they have managed the economy of our country during their rule.

Another good example is the squandering of many more billions in the context of the national carrier, the Sri Lankan Airlines and the white elephant Mihin Lanka, for which nobody seems to be accountable, as per the findings of the Presidential Commission and the COPE.

Wrongful investments

With Mahinda as the Finance Minister, another great economist of Gota’s days was Nivard Cabral, then Governor of Central Bank, who initiated the wrongful investment in infamous Greek Junk Bonds which incurred a loss of Rs. 4.3 billion, and nobody knows whatever happened to it thereafter. That was not all.

What about the loss of Rs. 6 billion due to Ceylon Electricity Board purchasing Treasury Bonds through a primary dealer of Rajapaksa clan’s choice. Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s internationally disgraced hedging entered into by its inexperienced and non-economist boss cost the country over Rs. 10 billion. There are many more such cases indicating economic bungling during Mahinda’s time with Gota by his side, and they are all a part of Gota’s so-called ‘stellar record’.

The case of ship-less Hambantota Mahinda Rajapaksa Port and the underutilised Mattala Airport are two perfect examples to pinpoint the ridiculous economic vision of the Rajapaksa’s. The Port cost Rs. 195 billion, towards which Chinese provided almost 85%. Both these projects were implemented without proper environmental assessments and turning a deaf ear to the projections of the international experts on maritime affairs and aviation. Mattala Airport built with a Chinese loan of Rs. 27.1 billion, has forever been operating with colossal losses sometimes amounting to Rs. 2,750 million per year. Public knowledge is that there were billions of unaccounted money.

Let us go a little further to analyse how Gota partnered government gave land areas to Chinese to compensate for the costs of unnecessary delays in the implementation of projects related to Port City and the most redundant Lotus Tower, the latter incurring a loss of Rs. 5.4 billion due to delay only.

Mahinda-Gota combination

Dr. Harsha de Silva revealed that Mahinda-Gota combination had invited Rs. 182 billion investment for the Port City from China Communications Construction Company, a blacklisted organisation by World Bank due to financial misappropriation. Incidentally, penalties running to billions of rupees have been imposed by Chinese Companies on Mahinda cum Gota’s government for absolute absence of punctuality, efficiency and owing to the failure to honour the undertakings involving several projects jointly implemented with Chinese organisations. These are all related to the economy of the country, for which Gota holds equal responsibility as much as his siblings are.

Let us now look at a few of the corruptions, frauds, misappropriations and abductions etc., directly involving the Secretary of Defence - Gotabaya Rajapaksa per se. Although investigations of all these cases started several years ago, they have been postponed, postponed and postponed due to some strange mishaps among the prosecutors.

Gota is under investigation for being responsible for causing losses to the government led by Rajapaksa siblings including himself, to the tune of Rs. 11.4 billion by permitting, promoting and operating the Avante Garde Floating Armoury. Then, he is indicted for misappropriating state-owned funds well over and above Rs. 33.9 million, with the connivance of his family members for the construction of a museum for his deceased father. He had helped LTTE Commander Karunadaran, aka Karuna, providing him with a forged Diplomatic Passport to enable him to flee to the UK in September 2007. How honourable are all these for the best person for our economy?

Gota had well taken care of especially all media personnel, who had fallen foul of almost all Rajapaksas, including himself and others such as Mahinda, Basil, Chamal, Namal and even others like Shiranthi and Pushpa. Investigations gathered but left only to be proved in a court of law, indicate that Gota had directed on the ultimate fate of those media men and others, and had dealt with them with no mercy.

The broad daylight murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga, Wasim Thajudeen and Raviraj, abduction, disappearance and torture of Ekneligoda, Keith Noyahr, Upali Tennekoon, Namal Perera etc., etc., to name a few victims, apart from dozens of those subjected to white van culture established by Gota.

The Economist which is a globally reputed magazine defines ‘Economy’ as ‘the wealth and resources of a community or a country and their proper administration and careful management’. In that sense, one can assess from the aforesaid episodes, how Gota, the so-called best presidential candidate to manage the economy of our country, had ‘administered and managed’ the wealth and resources of our country. It is a joke Gota’s followers believe that all the above listed and many more of such violations of law and order as well as human rights, also engaging in self–centred dictatorial and arrogant actions by Gota are ‘large economic development projects’.

The question remains whether the people of this country wish to go back to those old days and ways of authoritarian rule by Gota and Rajapaksas. Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka declares that with Mahinda as President, there were 296 relatives and his bosom friends occupying very high positions in his government enjoying all the luxury, by the time he was defeated in 2015.

Imagine how our country and the economy would be with Gota as President and Mahinda as Prime Minister and all other Rajapaksas on unimaginable heights in their government. Let all these proven facts be eye-openers to a large number of voters who will go to polls on the 16th instant.

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