Pro-people struggle - the need of the hour | Sunday Observer

Pro-people struggle - the need of the hour

30 July, 2022
Public sector enterprise reforms have been spoken about for long but with no success. Here a cooking gas queue
Public sector enterprise reforms have been spoken about for long but with no success. Here a cooking gas queue

Political instability is likely to shorten policymakers’ horizons leading to sub- optimal short term macroeconomic policies. However, under the present circumstances the new president and his cabinet should focus on; firstly, to reverse the trend of further deterioration of the economy, propose and implement acute policies to address the most critical foreign currency issue and gradually get out of the currency crunch –local and dollars.

We have a new President who is tasked with a seemingly impossible job of providing the basic needs of people ending several months of agony across all segments of community. The rich had a taste of what the poor people have been going thru in life for a prolong period when they did not get LPG and had to stay in queues for days for fuel.

Economic growth and political stability are deeply interconnected. On the one hand, the uncertainty associated with an unstable political environment reduces investor confidence and the pace of economic development. And consequent poor economic performance may lead to political unrest over and over again with organised groups waiting for such opportunities to keep their agendas alive for their survival.

However, as we have experienced in the recent past, political stability is a double edged sword. While the peaceful environment that political stability may offer is a fundamental need, it could again easily become a breeding ground for cronyism with impunity. Corruption, misuse of power and scares resources and other wrong doings may take wing again. This has been the biggest demand by the general public over the past several months and their continued command with high expectations for a system change. Such is the dilemma that many countries with a fragile political order have to face.

Leadership bolted

For the moment, political leadership has been bolted which every Sri-Lankan should now accept and support. Persistent unreasonable agitations non-compliant with the constitution by organised groups for reasons that are only known to them will further ruin the country’s future.

We have no time to waste. People are going through the worst. Every citizen of the country should respect the constitution and abide by that. Without law and order being reinstated our country cannot achieve stability of any sort. We may not have gotten the ideal solution based upon your own view but that’s not a reason to sabotage someone’s effort to re-start and revive the economy. It’s your country – it’s your future – and you need to create it and no one else can create it for you.

Buckle up now

Workforce and business entities need to now buckle up, leave all differences aside to work for ourselves. One major reason why we are down to such ramshackle level of economy is our deteriorated productivity as a nation over the years. Our sustained long-term economic growth can only come from increase in worker productivity, which essentially means how well our workforce do things.

In other words, how efficient is your nation with its time and workers? Labour productivity is the value that each employed person creates per unit of his or her input. There is a major correlation between labour productivity and economy of a country. We are far behind against our neighbouring countries.

The relationship between labour force productivity and economic growth has been an issue of concern in our country for decades. No political party could address it though all political parties had recognised this as a primary issue as it was politically suicidal to arrive at a solution.

Public sector enterprise reforms have been spoken about for long but with no success despite donor organisations such as World Bank and IMF exerting pressure to build a sustainable economy. Restructuring can make the incumbent government easily lose an election given that there are 1.5 million public servants. The irony is that we need to make the country credit worthy again and until then no foreign country or organisation will help us. Bridge financing will help us in the short term but may dry out soon. Government should continue with austerity measures taken and private organisations and individuals should refrain from use of black money for any purchase; be it essential or otherwise.

Shared responsibility

The solution lies primarily in; tourism industry recovery, expatriate remittances back up again thru official roots, continue to curtail non-essential imports, increase exports (but we need dollars to import raw materials), promote exports, buy locally manufactured products as opposed to buying foreign brands, minimise over consumption, increase food production in the country, and more importantly increase productivity; meaning lets work harder to create more commercial value in the jobs we do at all levels.

Let me reiterate, a country’s economy is built with the power and capacity of the workforce productivity. Countries that have a higher level of productivity will always have competitive advantages over others.

Let’s not get divided by political parties, colours and politicians and fall prey to an economic disaster beyond the breaking point. It’s our future and our children’s future, each day we hold on to divided opinion will mortgage the future of the country. Politicians will come and go.

Let us work harder to produce value for the country. Struggle we should take upon us is “Pro-people struggle”. Let us work for ourselves.