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Is Dr.N.M.Perera’s Solution of the 1970-75 Economic Crisis the Answer To Today’s Crisis ?

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Commemoration of Dr.N.M.Perera’s 42nd Death Anniversary.

Sri Lanka’s economy is facing a deep economic crisis. But it is not alone in this situation. The whole world is in crisis. It is a systemic crisis that affects every country periodically, to a greater or lesser extent, at intervals of eight to ten years. These have led to much suffering to the people and the process of emerging from them has been very slow and painful. This is an inherent feature of the capitalist economic system.

Capitalism developed in the womb of feudalism in Europe leading to revolutionary upheavals like those of the French Revolution and the Cromwellian Revolution in England. But in the countries of the Third World like Sri Lanka or India capitalism did not arise from within, but were introduced from capitalist countries like Britain to exploit our human and material resources and markets, using the local (comprador) capitalist class, led by parties like the UNP in Sri Lanka.

Dr. N M Perera and emerging young intellectuals like Colvin R de Silva, Leslie Goonewardena, Philip Gunawardene and Dr. S A Wickremasinghe, when they were abroad recognized that this colonial subjugation would lead to perpetual poverty for the vast majority of the Sri Lankan people. A true understanding of the nature of capitalism and imperialism was achieved through a study of Marxism. They became Marxist revolutionaries committed to the defeat of capitalism and its replacement by socialism globally and thereby in Sri Lanka.

Dr N.M. Perera obtained a BSc, PhD and DSc from the prestigious London School of Economics of the London University. He was a favourite pupil of the legendary Prof. Harold J. Laski, who was also an advisor to the Labour Party, who said that NM had all the qualities needed to be an English Chancellor of the Exchequer (a Finance Minister). Following NMs return to Sri Lanka and his performance here, Sir Ivor Jennings who was then the Vice Chancellor of the only University of Ceylon, said that he had all the qualities required of a Labour Prime Minister in Britain. Instead of rising to great heights serving the British Empire that ruled the world, NM chose to serve the people of Sri Lanka by fighting to win independence from the British.

When NM and these Left leaders returned to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) they helped form the Suriyamal Movement to save the people whom the British rulers allowed to suffer from malaria without medicine and food. Dr. N.M. was referred to as “parippu mahattaya”, as he supplied these needs climbing steep hills by foot despite the presence of leeches and snakes, as there were few roads. In 1935 they (NM, Colvin, Philip, SA and Leslie) formed the Lanka Sama Samaja Party( LSSP). They devoted all their energy and income, day and night, to fight for the rights of our people against the British rulers and their local agents. Their main objective was winning complete independence (unlike the Dominion status that was given by the British to D.S. Senanayake and the UNP in 1948 to continue their exploitation here). Complete independence was finally achieved in 1972, overcoming UNP resistance, through the Republican Constitution drafted by Colvin as Minister of Constitutional Affairs in the Coalition Government led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike. This was 22 years after India as UNP and TNA resistance had to be overcome.

The second objective was to overcome poverty and injustice and narrow the rich minority /poor majority gap, by establishing a society with social equity , a “sama samajaya”. In Sri Lanka, like in the whole world , the rich poor gap is widening and society is becoming more unstable. With the global capitalist crisis, and the fall of the US and western economies and the rise of China purely by trade (without any imperialist conquests) the USA is now gearing for war to lift its economy which depends on arms sales, as it produces 60% of global supply. The aim is also to achieve regime change in China.

The LSSP also fought for 22 other demands and won many of them – free education, free health, the eight hour working day, overtime payment, pension, EPF and other rights. While doing all this, NM found time to attain many achievements; MP for Ruwanwella and Yatiyantota, Leader of the Opposition, Minister of Finance, a co-convenor of the global Group of 77 Ministers of Economics, the Mayor of Colombo and Leader of the LSSP from its inception upto his death. As an economist and political scientist he wrote copiously and was a popular speaker, in Parliament, and at public meetings; he went to all parts of the country and the world. He was a good sportsman and captained Ananda College at cricket.

But among his many achievements perhaps the most valuable is his overcoming the 1970/75 economic crisis in Sri Lanka. The crisis was a result of the adverse trade balance due to the policies of the 1965/70 UNP Government that wasted our limited forex on import of luxury goods as well as local products , hitting our farmers and SMEs. On top of this he was faced with the global capitalist downturn, the rise in the price of fossil fuels by seven times due to action by OPEC. Fertilizer prices rose by 422% in 1974. The world faced the worst drought for about 30 years during this period and food prices soared, with thousands dying in various parts of the world from starvation but no one died in Sri Lanka. The price of rice rose by 60% ( from 35 to 56 pounds per ton), flour by 65%, sugar by 323%.

The prices of food items have not gone up internationally on a similar scale today. It is far lower. The local market price has gone up due to massive profiteering by middlemen in Sri Lanka, specially millers and traders. Further the farmers are in the grip of money lenders as they are in a state of chronic debt. NM took measures to relieve rural debt. All essentials were supplied through a ration card at low prices through the Cooperative system that was functioning well. Producer and Consumer Cooperatives dealt with each other, getting rid of profiteering by middlemen (traders, millers etc.) in the process. We can gain by following NMs policies to tide over the present crisis.

( Prof. Tissa Vitarana)



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Explanation sought over Monetary Board Secy.’s sudden transfer

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Rohini calls for social media campaign against govt. move

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has sought an explanation from the government over the sudden removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, K.M.A.N. Daulagala on16 Sept.

Matale District lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne yesterday (19) questioned the rationale behind Assistant Governor Daulagala’s removal. The former UNP MP emphasised that Daulagala had played a critically important role in the Central Bank’s response in the wake of Treasury bond scams perpetrated in 2015 and 2016. Therefore, her removal was quite suspicious and might facilitate efforts to suppress those scams as well as future frauds as well.

MP Kaviratne represented the UNP during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime Minister (2015-2019).

Declaring that Daulagaha had been at the forefront of the efforts to create a clean administration, Kaviratne stressed that she was second only to Rohini Nanayakkara of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) and earned the respect of all for courageously taking a stand against fraudulent practices.

The SJB spokesperson said that Daulagala, in her capacity as the head of the non-banking sector financial institutions, handled the ETI investigation at the onset (2010-2012) of the probe. In the wake of her recommendations pertaining to the ETI being rejected by the Central Bank, she received a transfer to another section, MP Kaviratne said.

The Monetary Board is responsible for making all policy decisions related to the management, operation and administration of the Central Bank. It comprises Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Sanjeeva Jayawardena, PC, Dr (Mrs) Ranee Jaymaha and Samantha Kumarasinghe.

Cabraal, who served as the Governor (2006-2014) recently replaced W.D. Lakshman on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request.

Kaviratne asked who had benefited from the removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board?

MP Kaviratne said that Daulagala had been involved in the internal process following the first Treasury bond scam and the subsequent developments, including the coordination between the Central Bank and the Attorney General’s Department pertaining to the Treasury bond scams. Urging women’s organsations, civil society and law abiding citizens to take up Daulagala’s removal through social media, lawmaker Kaviratne said that the issue at hand should receive attention of the parliament.

“The Parliament is responsible for public finance. The Parliament cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on in the Central Bank. The national economy is in such a perilous state every effort should be made to investigate past frauds and thwart future adventures,” the MP said.

MP Kaviratne also recalled the role played by Deepa Seneviratne, Superintendent of Public Debt at the time of the first Treasury bond scam in exposing the then Governor’s culpability. “Unfortunately, we seem to be unable to change the direction regardless of exposure of past misdeeds,” she said.

Declaring that she had no intention of protecting any wrongdoer under any circumstances, MP Kaviratne said that the incumbent government should ensure transparency and accountability in public finance.

Examination of COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), COPA (Committee on Public Accounts) and COPF (Committee on Public Finance) proceedings revealed a frightening picture, lawmaker Kaviratne said. Shocking revelations made by the watchdog committee should be examined against the backdrop of overall deterioration of the national economy over the past several years, the MP said.

She said that it would be a grave mistake on the government’s part to blame the current crisis on the raging Covid-19 epidemic. Acknowledging the difficulties caused by the economic downturn, MP Kaviratne said that the country was paying a huge price for unbridled waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence.

The MP asserted that the citizenry could play a bigger role in a political campaign on social media. The vast majority of those who use social media strengthened democratic opposition, she said. Removal of Daulagala could be a rallying point, she said, urging public onslaught on the SLPP government.

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Those responsible for Easter carnage will be haunted eternally – Bishop Galle

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Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Chief Celebrant of the 114th annual feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara, Bishop of the Diocese of Galle, Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickremasinghe told a virtual congregation that the conscience of those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage would never be at peace and it would haunt them eternally.

 The celebrations of the 114th annual Feast of the National shrine of Our Lady of Matara commenced on 05 September with the raising of the flagstaff and ended on Sunday 12 September. This year’s feast was held in keeping with strict health guidelines sans public participation.

 Rev Dr. Wickremasinghe reiterated that it was the wish of the general public, especially all Christians that those who carried out and those masterminded and those who knew but did not prevent the Easter Sunday carnage would be exposed and Justice served. “It is our prayer that the divine father guides the authorities in their endeavours” the Bishop added

 Rev. Wickremesinghe also called upon every person including decision-makers to heed the advice of the experts and act intelligently to overcome the pandemic.

 The Marian procession carrying the miraculous statue of our lady of Matara. accompanied by clergy and security personnel paraded the town, concluding this year’s festivities.

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Wild jumbos destroy houses in search of newly harvested paddy

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BY CYRIL WIMALASURENDRE

KANDY— Herds of wild elephants raid Ududumbara and Minipe area sdestroying houses in search of newly harvested paddy.

Farmers of Minipe, Hasalaka and Udadumbara keep paddy in their houses as they are without proper storage facilities.

Kandy District Secretary Chandana Tennakoon visited the house of a farmer destroyed by elepheants in Kongahaela, Hasalaka.

The victim informed the District Secretary Tennakoon that a herd of elephants including young ones were roaming had attacked his house.

Similar complaints were made to the District Secretary by farmers at Minipe, Hasalaka, Welgala, Ulpathagama and Udunuwara.

The farmers said at least they should be provided with an adequate number of elephant crackers to scare the elephants away. The farmers had to travel about 30 km to the Randenigala Wildlife Office office to receive one cracker each, they said, adding that they needed many more.

District secretary Tennakoon told the farmers that steps would be taken to resolve the issue this year by putting up an elephant  fence around the affected villages of Ududumbara, Medsadumbara, Minipe and Hasalaka sector.

The project would cost about Rs. 100 million. The length of the fence would be about 43 km, he said.

Divisional Secretary of Minipe Nuwan Hemachandra and Deputy Director of Plan Implementation Palitha Rajapakse were present.

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