A gradual shift | Daily News


A gradual shift

With the Coronavirus pandemic bringing the world to its knees and the economies of the superpowers too in a tailspin, the picture indeed looks extremely bleak for the poor countries depending on the largesse of the major economic powers and indeed the aid agencies for survival. The pandemic has also sent unemployment everywhere to the stratosphere, with, in the US alone, 20 million filing for unemployment benefits.

In such a scenario it is only natural that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has laid emphasis on economic revival. The President in an official statement on Monday emphasized the need for maintaining the economy in an active form even while the restrictions are being gradually dismantled. Addressing a Presidential Task Force on Monday, President Rajapaksa stressed that no room should be left for the emergence of a famine under any circumstances.

It will need a herculean effort on the part if all concerned to rebuild and revive the battered economy while also at the same time taking steps to ease the living conditions of the public. Drug importers are already pressing the Government for a price increase citing the steep depreciation of the rupee against the dollar. This is in addition to the blatant exploitation by unscrupulous elements taking advantage of the restrictions imposed due to the Coronavirus to jack up prices of essential commodities. Now with the virus threat brought to manageable proportions (though still hanging like the Sword of Damocles going by the opinion of health experts) like the President noted, it is time to redirect the focus on the economy and stabilize the fiscal situation.

But from the look of things it is going to be a monumental task albeit not confined to this country alone with most stable economies caught up in the coronavirus too recording minus growth rates. According to the opinion of most financial experts we may even have to start from scratch. This is because all those sectors which contributed to the stability of the economy are today down on their knees. It is difficult to comprehend the tourism sector which was among the first to take a beating, rising from the ashes anytime soon with the stringent travel restrictions already in place.

Gone along with that are the expatriate earnings which formed the major source of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. The export sector is virtually paralysed with the plantation sector, another source of our Forex revenue being almost non-functional. In addition the people have less money to spend with less money circulation in the economy.

Among this lot is the school van and office staff transport services which are going to be hard pressed to make ends meet with the social distancing restrictions currently in effect. The television news on a daily basis focuses on the travails of the labourer and the self-employed. Putting right this bleak picture, no doubt, will be an unenviable task of the Government which today is hampered on many fronts in its bid to protect the lives of the people which no doubt is its foremost responsibility. Hence, it is duty of the all citizens taking this fact into consideration to bear with the present hardships that are forced upon the Government which is going out of its way, even taking unpopular decisions in its mission to open the country for normal life and restore the economy to bring about all round stability. A degree of sacrifice by all concerned therefore will not be asking for too much until we turn the corner.

Restoring Galle Face

Environmentalists, nature lovers and those who enjoy outdoor life, no doubt, would go into raptures at the sight of the ‘new’ Galle Face Green (see our picture on page 2) that had taken on its past pristine verdant quality, decidedly, by the enforced ‘stay at home orders’ to the public, occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic. The global health emergency, no doubt, has brought in its wake sweeping changes in community lifestyles, and, importantly, positive shifts in the environmental balance impacting on the lives of people with a popular school of thought holding that the coronavirus pandemic has allowed Mother Nature to make a comeback while others say that the pandemic has saved more lives than it has killed viz a drastic reduction in air pollution.

The ‘restoration’ of the Galle Face Green, which is an essential ingredient in the ‘Garden City of Asia’ moniker borne by the Colombo City in the days gone by, therefore could not have come at better time when the authorities are laying the accent on a clean, unspoilt environment in the wake of the havoc caused by the Coronavirus. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who took great pains when he was the Defence Secretary to convert Colombo to a “Green City”, it is hoped would take measures to ensure the verdant landscape of the Galle Face Green would remain intact making it a strictly a recreational and leisure park for the ordinary folk.

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