By Garvin Karunaratne
I write in support of the suggestions made by the former Minister
Milinda Moragoda. We have to be thankful to Mr Moragoda for his patriotism.
Patriotism is what we need today to save our Motherland. It is sad
to say that Sri Lanka is today disintegrating fast. Our economy is in tatters
with an international debt that cannot be sustained. We are now in a situation
where we have to borrow to repay our debts and in that process we become
further indebted. That was the path laid for us by the IMF from
1978. Our debt of some $ 60 billion was created through imports for our rich,
to finance foreign education for the rich, to import limousines for the rich.
Foreign investors also take away their profits in dollars increasing our debt.
Today our country does not have a single development programme to
enable our people to become productive and emerge out of their poverty. All
what we see today in the name of development are
election gimmicks to bribe voters at forthcoming elections.
We have seen the disintegration of a few countries in the past few
decades. In the Fifties, Somalia was a country with a vibrant economy with
people in production. Siad Barre the ruler, was first wooed by Russia because
Russia wanted control over the strategic Red Sea route. Russia then poured in
Aid. Then the United States of America offered more Aid and
Siad Barre turned to the USA. The local industries, agriculture and animal
husbandry were disbanded and neglected because it was easier to live on borrowed funds.
When Russia disintegrated it was no longer necessary for the USA to provide
funds to Somalia. Then the USA reduced Aid. The fallen
local economy could not be revived. Poverty and unemployment
reigned supreme. Warlords started carving out the land..
The rich migrated to London . In the early Nineties my Somali students at
Westminister Institute spoke about the lost
economy- once they were thriving in agriculture and dairy farming. The only
employment available today to Somalians is to pirate on the high seas.
My students were the rich in Somalia who could afford to migrate.
Later the rabble scrambled everywhere. There are Somali ghettoes in London,
where the whites scramble away from them.
What is happening to Sri Lanka is fairly similar. The economy is
in tatters. Everything is imported. There is Salmon to serve the palates of the
rich. There is vinegar from the USA, fruit juice from California and Australia.
Plush Limousines adorn our roads., Everyone that can find money is off
abroad, for study hoping to live abroad. The masses live in poverty. The rich
live in the lap of luxury, their travel and foreign education for their
children taking away foreign exchange that has been borrowed at high interest.
It is a fait accompli for sheer disaster. Corruption is rampant.
In the meantime the USA is forcing security
agreements to send their forces in , because the present leaders
have sold the Hambantota Port to a Chinese Company.
Elections are around the corner and it is up to the people to
decide to find a leadership that will restore order and build up the lost
A paradise it can be. I am certain of that.
The writer once worked in the Administrative Service and worked in
poverty alleviation programmes that have now been abolished
by the dictates of the IMF. Agriculture that involve over a
million is starved of officers. President Premadasa in about 1996 promoted some
2400 overseers as Grama Niladharis and since then the village level does not
have a single officer with agricultural training. The Seed Farms that
found high yielding seeds are either privatized or underfunded.
The Ministry of Agriculture is unaware that its extension service at the field
level is as good as dead. Small industries that once made Sri Lanka self
sufficient in textile manufacture is now dead.
We have a ‘sovereign’ country and a Parliament, but it is the IMF
that rules and decides what we can do. The IMF tells us to find foreign
investors who come in, invest a pittance, trade in local currency and transfer
the profits untaxed in our borrowed foreign currency. The Central Bank does not
have the knack to handle the foreign exchange that comes in. Its sleuths even
fail to find that Tourism is no longer a foreign exchange earner. With hotel
bookings mainly done by the internet, the rent being paid in local rupees but
the booking agents fee, some fifteen percent being paid out in foreign
currency we are the net loser!
Corruption is rampant. However I can assure that in the Seventies
the politicians were not corrupt.
It is in these sad circumstances that the words of patriot Milinda
Moragoda comes of great importance.
The 19 th Amendment should be abolished. There is absolutely no
point in having a ceremonial president who can only look on while the country
is being sold and is being run as a fiefdom of foreign powers. It is the
Ambassadors that reign supreme and call the shots today.
Once we had parliamentarians who were responsible to the electors.
That was because each parliamentarian was
elected from an electorate. The introduction of Proportional Representation
made the parliamentarians corrupt as they had to find finances to do
politicking in an entire district to collect a second vote to win. The
parliamentarians also lost touch with the people.
The Thirteenth Amendment is of Indian origin. It was forced on us
by Rajiv Gandhi who thought that he could satisfy the LTTE. President
Jayawardena submitted like a lame duck and we
are saddled with Nine Provincial Councils, with Ministers and councilors
who are a drain on our budget and act the goat. Key ministries and
departments are devolved at the provincial level and the Ministers have to be
cajoled and pleaded of to get development work done.
When Mr PC Imbulana, the Governor of the Central Province approved
my programme to alleviate poverty in the
Central Province and convened all provincial ministers and officials
for a conference, none of the ministers attended.
Sri Lanka is a small country and
when nine provincial ministers and officials have to be wooed to
get any programme of development done, it is impossible for any development
programme to be implemented. Earlier all Government Agents
were summoned to a conference and were given order to proceed. They had full
powers and need not go behind councilors to agree. When I as Senior Assistant
Commissioner of Agrarian Services sent out a circular on fertlizer use to all
my staff- the Assistant Commissioners of the districts, the divisional officers
and the overseers at thefield level the circular had immediate effect.
My officers had to act on the instructions immediately. That was
how we implemented the green revolution and now any ministry that wants to
attend to any development task has to resort to wooing provincial
ministers, who have their own agendas. Sri Lanka is too small a
country to have provincial councils.
An important fact is that President Jayawardena had obtained
undated letters of resignation from all Members of Parliament other than Ronnie
de Mel, had incarcerated all of them in a hotel and when he wanted them to vote
in Parliament would escort them to parliament and force them to vote as he decided
on pain of dissolving parliament if they did not carry his orders. That was how
President Jayawardena got the 13 th Amendment passed. The undemocratic
manner in which the Act was passed itself militates the abolition of the
13 th Amendment. I have never heard of a
leader of a country resorting to holding elected representatives of a country
to ransom to force them to vote in the annals of politics. President Jayawardena’s curse on this
country- the Thirteenth Amendment has to be abolished someday.
The Provincial Councils deserve to be abolished for
development to become a reality.
Minister Milinda Moragoda has also suggested a Senate comprising
professionals and patriots as a second house. This is an ideal suggestion if
unwanted and rejected people are not nominated.
It is not necessary to panic.
Our Armed Forces can be trusted. The problem is that the Police
are detailed to look after politicians and not to look after the people. Even
news of the 21/4 attacks were informed to politicians and no action taken to
safeguard the people. Our Cardinal has uttered words of wisdom which are worth
We have a country blessed with ample resources, an intelligent
people and able administrators. Let me tell a few truths to
prove that our economy can be won. Once we had the Marketing Department that
purchased veg and fruit from all producer fairs, at prices higher than what the
traders offered. Tripoli Market in Maradana its headquarters was a hive of
activity every morning with twenty wagon loads and some thirty lorry loads of
produce. All that was checked and sent off to retail units in Colombo to be
sold keeping a margin of fifteen percent to cover handling and wastage. The MD
shops sold at low prices. That is how we provided profits to the farmers and
also controlled inflation in cities. We had a Canning Factory that exported
pineapple. The IMF disbanded that Marketing Department. We have to bring it
back. Once for a full year I was in charge of Tripoli Market. Now we even
import veg and fruits!
In Industries we have the ability to make all what we
Once we had Powerlooms and Handlooms run by Small Industries
Department and the Divisional Secretaries. We
were self sufficient in textiles. The IMF disbanded the Small Industries. I can
assure anyone that we did well. My Powerloom at Hakmana made suiting that was
in high demand even in London. My books: How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka(2006)
and How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development(Kindle/Godages(2017) detail
how our economy was ruined..
Let me tell another detail to prove that we can be a success.. The
Ministry of Plan Implementation did not approve my doing any new
industries when as the GA at Matara I was charged with creating employment in
1971. I wanted to teach the Ministry a lesson. I commandeered the science lab
at Rahula College Matara every evening from six till midnight. My Planning
Officer, a raw chemistry graduate supported by the science teachers did a
myriad experiments to find the art of making crayons. We found the method
and made it to be equal in quality to the Crayola crayons of today,
accomplished in three months. In league with the Morawaka Cooperative Union
under Sumanapala Dahanayake the member of parliament who was its president, we
got down to produce crayons- done in two weeks working day and night. The
Minister of Industries was stunned to see the quality of our crayons and came
to open up sales and with that the Ministry had to eat humble pie. Sumanapala
developed CoopCrayon to have islandwide sales. It was the best industry
that was ever run, proved because President Jayawardena in 1978
sent a special officer, A.T.Ariyaratne a Deputy Director of Cooperative
Development to find some fault with the Crayon factory. That Deputy Director
spent days and reported that it was a well run industry. That saved Sumanapala from
We now import everything we can make. We can make most of our
Paper from waster paper which we throw away now and from straw which farmers
burn to get rid of. It can easily be done within six months. Our economic
pundits will come up with a hundred provisos- economics of scale and lack
of foreign exchange criteria which industrial giants India and China do not
follow. They are all paper qualified who have never established an industry in
their lives. We can provide full employment to our people by banning imports
and making them in our country.
Let me tell how we can build industries by cutting imports.
Our CoopCrayon required a permit to import dyes, the only imported
ingredient in making crayons. The Ministry of Industries refused as ours
was a cooperative venture. The Controller of Imports had separated foreign
exchange to import crayons. I pointed out to Harry Guneratne, the
Controller of Imports that he could save foreign exchange by allowing us
some of that foreign exchange to import dyes. because we will be making the
crayons that he was hoping to import. He was immediately convinced.
Minister Illangaratne who approved it even wanted me to establish a crayon
factory at Kolonnawa, his electorate. A small allocation of foreign exchange to
import dyes enabled the Ministry of Imports to cut the import of crayons. That
is how we have to cut our imports and make things ourselves. A crayon is a
sophisticated product. If we could have made crayons, which we did,, there is
no item that we cannot make.
. ‘We have to get parliamentarians in the caliber of Sumanapala
Dahanayake to our Houses of Parliament today.
While fully supporting Milinda Moragoda I have added proof that we
can win the battle to develop our country and alleviate poverty.
Thanks to patriot Milinda Moragoda for his words of wisdom.
Garvin Karunaratne 28/06/2019
Former Government Agent, Matara District
How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka and Alternative Programmes of success(Godages)
How the IMF Sabotages Third World Development (Kindle/Godages)2017