By Shantha Jayarathne
(Lanka-e-News - 08.Nov.2023, 8.10PM) Sri Lanka currently grapples with an unparalleled economic crisis. The ominous specters of escalating food prices and a disturbing protein deficit now menace the physical and intellectual development of our nation's future generations. The Department of Census and Statistics corroborates a somber reality - over the past two years, our collective income has been eroded by the merciless winds of hyperinflation, inflicting severe losses upon our households. Amid this tumultuous landscape, the top 20 percent may thrive, but the remaining 80 percent confront the relentless tides of inflation and the looming specter of economic instability.
The poorest 20 percent of households in Sri Lanka are battling relentlessly to make ends meet, mustering a meager Rs. 17,572 per month. The somewhat more fortunate middle 60 percent grapple with an average monthly income of Rs. 56,079 to sustain a family of 3.7. As inflation levies its silent tax upon the masses, the majority of Sri Lankan families teeter perilously on the precipice of economic ruin.
The starkest inequity manifests in the gaping chasm of wealth distribution. The top 20 percent of households luxuriate in an average monthly income of Rs. 196,289, while our national cricket team's players and coaching staff bask in the opulence of exorbitant salaries. Meanwhile, the toiling laborers on our tea estates, instrumental in the country's record earnings in 2022, subsist on a meager Rs. 46,865 each month. This glaring disparity mirrors the relentless scourge of unjust income distribution in our homeland.
The ongoing crisis lays bare the limitations of our current leadership. Despite being subjected to multiple tests, the President's repeated inability to unearth viable solutions to our multifaceted problems starkly underscores his role in the predicament. It is undeniably time for the populace to cast their gaze toward an alternative, a non-corrupt system of governance, and reject a cycle that perpetuates crisis.
This crisis has starkly exposed the limitations of our current leadership. The President has been tested repeatedly and has consistently demonstrated an inability to proffer viable solutions. In fact, he is not merely a bystander but an integral part of the problem. The time has come for the people to seek an alternative, a government free from corruption and vested interests that can extricate us from this crisis.
The dire necessity of transformative change in our approach to economic recovery is undeniable. The IMF's policies, rather than offering a panacea, only exacerbate the woes faced by the people of Sri Lanka. The heart of the issue lies in the government's steadfast promotion of neoliberal policies. Mere loans and debt restructuring are inadequate; they only serve to compound our debt burdens.
China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides an alluring alternative for Sri Lanka. By connecting markets from China to Europe, the BRI presents an opportunity for nations like ours to emancipate themselves from the shackles of indebtedness and bankruptcy. Rather than summarily dismissing the BRI as a debt trap, the IMF should explore practical solutions that enable indebted countries to break free and prosper.
In conclusion, Sri Lanka stands at a decisive crossroads. To address the mounting food crisis and the broader economic challenges, immediate action is imperative. The IMF's policies, instead of being part of the solution, are undeniably part of the problem. The road to recovery necessitates a change in leadership and a resolute rejection of neoliberal policies that have driven our nation to the brink. Sri Lankans must unite, usher in an alternative government, and hold those responsible for our dire predicament accountable. Only through these concerted efforts can we pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future for our nation.
Former Senior Consultant
Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA)
by (2023-11-08 14:48:10)
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