Whatever rose-coloured statistics on the economy is trotted out or however much it is puffed up by the government all that is overturned due to the creation of the worst economic crisis in the history of Sri Lanka. Despite expecting an economic growth of 8.5% this year, the Governor of the Central Bank now says it would be only 7.2%. There are doubts regarding statistics the Central Bank publishes to the people. However, this suggests how colossal the breakdown of the economy is says JVP Parliamentarian Anura Dissanayake.
Speaking at a press conference held at the JVP head office at Pelawatta yesterday (3rd) Mr. Dissanayake said despite the government bragging regarding a foreign reserve of US$8 billion, at the end of last year it had dried down to US$5.9 billion. The real balance at present is less than US$1 billion. The rest is loans and international bonds. The payment balance last year was nearly US$10 billion and when the export income was US$10 billion the import expenditure was US$20 billion which indicates the payment balance has grown by 100%.
He said, “Despite the government repeatedly stating a national economy would be established no such thing has happened in the country. The tax rate for sugar was increased by the budget in 2008. The President said it was done to increase the local production. However, sugar production has not increased. Local production cannot be increased only by increasing taxes. To increase production a policy for national industries should be implemented. It would not happen by carrying out a tax policy. Large scale propaganda was carried out regarding ‘Api Wawamu – Rata Nagamu’ project. However, 56% of dried chillies, 49% of onions and 80% of milk food needed for consumption is imported. ‘Api Wawamu – Rata Nagamu’ project is a complete failure. Also, this government’s talk of a ‘national economy’ is only a myth. All such projects the government brags about have become white elephants that burden the masses in the country.
It has been proved that the government has no other alternative for its economic policy other than getting ‘aid’ from the IMF. Despite the Governor of the Central Bank, government ministers stating it did not require tranches of the loan promised by the IMF, they did everything to get the tranche from the IMF. The rupee was devalued by 3%, reduced it by 20 cents twice and later it was allowed to float. Fuel prices were increased in a big margin. This is a government that does not see beyond its nose. On the 30th it got 5 financial bills passed and implemented them immediately.
Taxes for vehicles have been immensely increased. The tax for motorcycles used by the ordinary man has been increased from 24 to 51%. The tax for three-wheelers was increased from 8 to 40% which is an increase of 500%. The tax increase of a small car is 200%. The car that costs Rs.600,000 when it arrives at the harbor costs Rs.1.8 million for the buyer. However, taxes for people who use super vehicles have not been increased in such a large margin. The government imposes taxes to burden the ordinary man.
The accepted tax policy of many countries in the world is to tax the rich, let it accumulate in the treasury and allow it to filter down to the masses. However, Mahinda Rajapaksa government mainly targets the masses when imposing taxes. Taxes are imposed on their daily needs such as sugar, potatoes, dhal etc. which are their daily needs. Also, the government expects to earn a tax income of Rs.50,000 million from fuel. This indicates the Rajapaksa regime has ignored the accepted norms of taxing. The tax obtained by burdening the masses is spent for the rollicking lives of ministers and their kin. Most of these ministers tour the world and behave in a manner that humiliates the country. The latest examples for such behavior are the incidents of ministers Thondaman and Rambukwella.
Also, our society is breaking down with the crises that exist in the economy and politics in the country. The involvement of government politicians in the Kahawatta double murder, the murder of the youth at Wallalawita indicates the supremacy of the law has been handed over to villains of the government. ‘White van’ abductions have become a part of the law in the country. The whole country has been turned into a gambling den to maintain a family.’ For this the country has been dragged into an abyss of a debt crisis and an economic debacle. When Namal Rajapaksa flies in a helicopter to Chilaw, his super luxury car is taken in a lorry from Colombo for him to travel the little distance from the helipad to the venue. Madame Shiranthi Rajapaksa flies to Ruwanwella in a helicopter and her car is taken in a lorry to allow her to make her way from the helicopter to the venue. Roads in Colombo are closed at night to hold car races. Are these done on behalf of the poor people in this country or those youth who work in garment factories? We should seriously discuss these things. The royal family in France, Sadam Hussein’s family in Iraq and Gaddafi’s family in Libya lived the same way.
Peaceful social transitions have not taken place anywhere in the world. All societies achieved great victories under very trying conditions. The behavior of France’s royal family paved the way for French Revolution. Similarly, the Tsar’s family was a cause for the Russian Revolution. Social changes take place when there is degeneration and there are serious crises. We ask the people in this country for a thing that is more important than a mere tax policy or a mere struggle for trade union rights or fundamental rights. An action that changes the whole social system is necessary at present. Today, the necessity is for all masses to rally around one center that strives for such a social transition. The JVP is prepared to give correct leadership for such an endeavour.”