The unraveling of the economy at the beginning of 2022 had its immediate impact on the political sphere. Large numbers of people mobilized in protest until it became an ocean that swept through the capital city and entered the seats of power. A year later the economic crisis gives indications of being under control. A bail out agreement with the IMF appears to be only days away and the weak rupee has strengthened against the dollar. The government under President Ranil Wickremesinghe has shown itself to be tenacious. But there are three areas in which it needs to rethink its approach if its success is to be sustainable.
The economy is beginning to give indications of macro stability which President Ranil Wickremesinghe has made his primary objective. The most visible of these is the appreciation of the rupee against the dollar and other international currencies which signals a shift from the previous trend of depreciation. Over the past year the cost of the dollar rose by as much as 80 percent in the official exchange rate and even more on the black market. The current appreciation of the rupee is attributed to the rise in foreign exchange earnings including the upswing in tourism. But it is still contingent upon import controls and also non-repayment of foreign debt due to the declaration of bankruptcy.
Government supporters appear to be satisfied at the masterful manner by which they believe they have had the local government elections postponed. They deny there was to be an election to be postponed at all. They find fault with the Election Commission for not having minutes of the meeting they had to decide on the date, and for not having a quorum among their five members for that meeting—although all five signed a letter declaring March 9 to be the date of the election. There is also the second argument that the country has no money to set aside for elections. The government has set aside other areas as essential services for which scarce government money is available but holding the local government elections is not one of those. The government has been arguing that the country simply cannot afford an election at this time as it is bankrupt.
The local government elections are unlikely to take place as scheduled on March 9. This is on account of the government printer declining to print ballot papers without prior payment by the Election Commission. The Election Commission is on record saying that due to this delay in the printing of ballot papers, and the difficulty of completing the postal voting on time, the elections may need to be postponed. This unexpected turn of events throws the country’s democratic process into jeopardy. It follows a government decision not to permit credit purchases by government departments. A long prevalent practice of the government printer undertaking the printing of ballot papers without payment in advance has been put into abeyance.
There was Solomon-like wisdom in the Supreme Court’s decision with regard to the local government election cases that came before it. The first case it took up was brought before it by opposition parties who are concerned that the government is doing its utmost to prevent those elections. The Election Commission has been under severe pressure from the government to call off or postpone those elections. One of the key opposition leaders Prof G L Peiris has outlined the multiple ways in which the government has made its attempts, including the unacceptable one of claiming not to have enough money to hold elections. But the Election Commission has stood firm and declared March 9 to be the date of the elections and set the election process in motion. In its judgment the Supreme Court stated that the Election Commission had undertaken to conduct those elections, and as they were the proper authority, there was no need for the court to intervene further.
The government celebrated the 75th Anniversary of its independence from colonial rule under tight security. President Ranil Wickremesinghe did not even deliver a speech on the occasion. He had an excellent written speech, but chose not to deliver it for reasons not known. The speech was circulated later. The exclusion of the general public from the parade grounds was another notable feature of the Independence Day event. Under normal circumstances, Galle Face green where the celebration took place, is packed with people who come to enjoy the sea, the fresh air and the vast expanse of greenery. The spectacle of a military parade and an air show provided an occasion that people would not have wished to miss if they had been given the chance to attend it. But the government was clearly insecure and wanted to make sure it controlled the situation, which accounted for large security deployments.
The government’s proposal to set up a truth and reconciliation mechanism to deal with the unresolved human rights issues of the war will get a boost in the aftermath of last week’s unexpected developments that will directly affect three former presidents of Sri Lanka hitherto thought to be untouchable by virtue of their power, prestige and legal immunities. The first was the Canadian government’s notice that former presidents Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be subjected to targeted sanctions for human rights violations committed during their periods of office. Any economic assets they may have in Canada will be liable to be frozen. They will also be subjected to travel bans to Canada. Previously limited travel sanctions had been imposed against military officers accused of human rights violations most notably by the United States.
கலாநிதி ஜெகான் பெரேரா
நீர்ச்சறுக்கல் விளையாட்டில் ஈடுபடுபவர்கள் கடல் அலைகளைக் கையாளும் ஆற்றல் கொண்டவர்களாக இருக்கவேண்டும்.அலை எந்தளவுக்கு பெரியதாக இருக்கிறதோ அந்தளவுக்கு அவர்கள் உயரத்துக்கு செல்வார்கள். அலையில் இருந்து தப்பிக்க முயற்சிப்பவர்கள் அதன் கீழே மூழ்கிவிடுவார்கள். எதிரணி அரசியல் கட்சிகளினால் உருவாக்கப்படுகின்ற உள்ளூராட்சி தேர்தல்களுக்கான கோரிக்கை அலையை ஜனாதிபதி ரணில் விக்கிரமசிங்க கையாளுவார் என்றே தோன்றியது.சட்டப்படி இந்த தேர்தல்கள் எதிர்வரும் மார்ச் மாதமளவில் நடத்தப்படவேண்டியவையாக இருக்கின்றன.
දිය මත ලිස්සා යන්නවුන් ගනුදෙනු කරන්නේ රළ සමගය. තරංගය විශාල වන තරමට ඔවුහු ඉහළට ගමන් කරති. රළ මගහැරීමට උත්සාහ කරන්නෝ රැල්ලට යට වෙති. විපක්ෂයේ දේශපාලන පක්ෂ විසින් නිර්මාණය කරන පළාත් පාලන මැතිවරණය කැඳවන එම රැල්ල මතින් රනිල් වික්රමසිංහ ජනාධිපතිවරයා ලිස්සා යෑමට නියමිත බව පෙනෙන්නට තිබිණි. මේ වසරේ මාර්තු මාසය වන විට නීත්යානුකූලව මැතිවරණය පැවැත්වීමට නියමිතය. ඡන්දදායකයන් ආණ්ඩු පක්ෂය කෙරෙහි දක්වන පහතට වැටුණු ගෞරවය ඉදිරි මැතිවරණවලින් පෙන්නුම් කිරීමට ඉඩ තිබේ. එමගින්, ඔවුන් සමඟ ගනුදෙනු කිරීමේදී ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ හස්තය ශක්තිමත් කළ හැකි අතර, රට නැවත ගොඩනැගීමට අවශ්ය ක්රියාමාර්ගවලට එළඹීමට ඔවුන්ට බල කළ හැකිය. ඇත්ත වශයෙන්ම, ජනාධිපතිවරයා කල්තියා ප්රකාශ කළේ තමා මැතිවරණවලදී තම දේශපාලන පක්ෂය වෙනුවෙන් පවා ප්රචාරක කටයුතුවල නොදෙන බවත්, ජාතික ආර්ථිකයට පණ දීම තමාගේ ජනවරම වූ බැවින් පක්ෂ දේශපාලනික කටයුතුවලින් ඉවත්ව සිටින බවත්ය.
Water skiers ride the waves. The bigger the wave the higher they go. Those who try to duck away go under the wave. It seemed that President Ranil Wickremesinghe would ride that wave that calls for local government elections which is being generated by the opposition political parties. The elections are legally due by March this year. These elections are likely to show the low esteem that the electorate has for the ruling party. This could strengthen the hand of the president in his dealings with them and compel them to support those measures needed to rebuild the country. In fact the president made an early assertion that he would not campaign even for his political party at the elections and would stay away from it, as his mandate was to revive the national economy.