Dispelling dissent to achieve a collective goal | Sunday Observer

Dispelling dissent to achieve a collective goal

19 March, 2023

The Sri Lankan rupee has appreciated against the US dollar for consecutive days, and according to experts, the trend will continue. The appreciation in the currency exchange is being attributed to the fresh inflows of a US$ 400 million swap facility from the Washington-based International Finance Corporation (IFC), distributed among three private banks in Sri Lanka for trade financing.

This certainly is reassuring news after a very long time for Sri Lankans. In fact, the Sri Lankan rupee became the world’s best-performing currency this year, according to international financial analysts. Some Sri Lankan economists describe the scenario as the dawn of a new era after a gruesome experience.

It is common knowledge that every time the rupee falls, the country has to pay more Sri Lankan currency to buy dollars to import essential goods. On the other hand, the appreciation of the currency helps with cheaper imports, which leads to enhanced buying capacities and improves individual living standards.

At a recent press briefing, the Central Bank Governor declared that Sri Lanka’s inflation will decrease faster than expected due to the recent appreciation of the currency. The Central Bank previously predicted single-digit inflation by the year’s end.

However, despite all the positive sentiments, hopes, and expectations of the general public, some political vultures keep feeding negative information to both local and international communities to discredit any and all efforts of the Government. They expect opportunistic and cheap political gains. The intentions of these dubious elements are completely based on short-term political advantages.

The most regrettable factor is that they damage the image of the country knowingly and willingly with the intention of grabbing power. They are not only ignoring the bad repercussions but also acting irresponsibly at this crucial juncture.

Sri Lanka is perhaps the only country where the politicians play god even when the country is burning. Most often, they mislead, influence, and instigate their followers to disrupt the systems and create chaos.

The country went through the most gruesome financial crisis last year, and the public was the most affected. Lack of foreign currency for essential imports was one of the key reasons for the crisis. The continuous escalation of the US dollar due to multiple reasons now shows a reverse trend, and the rupee appreciation has made an instant impact on some essential goods.

Ghastly experience

Compared to the ghastly experience of the past year, the current trend is a consolation, and every attempt must be made to maintain it. Therefore, instead of criticising or disrupting the trend, the solemn responsibility of the entire citizenry is to help improve it further, leaving petty divisions aside at this crucial time.

The media reports on reducing prices of essential commodities, increasing share market activities, and successes in discussions on the IMF and other lending institutions seem to upset a faction of politicians.

Through intense propaganda campaigns, they attempt to imply that the positive trends are fake and the Government is making false announcements. However, the statements, announcements, and public discussions of most well-known economists and other intellectuals agree that the general financial situation is genuine and has improved creditably compared to last year.

For example, while a leader of the Jathika Jana Balawegaya, who is a layman, publicly announced that the rupee appreciation is artificially created, another well-known Opposition member of Parliament and economist, Dr. Harsha De Silva, despite being a strong critic of the Government, in a recent statement clearly indicated that the country is becoming somewhat stable and the rupee appreciation is not fake.

This was a creditable and praiseworthy statement by an Opposition politician. If other politicians are equally sincere, this country will come out of the crisis sooner.

A statement recently made by an official of Fitch Solutions went viral in Sri Lanka. It said that the Sri Lankan rupee may resume its decline and lose a fifth of its value against the dollar by the end of 2023. Although the anti-Government elements deceptively highlighted this fact, according to the article, the spokesman made the comment assuming that the authorities may find it challenging to counter possible disruptions and stay on track. If an organisation such as Fitch, which is one of the biggest credit rating agencies in the world, makes such presumptions that the process may be disrupted, is it not the responsibility of the politicians to prove them wrong for the sake of the entire nation?

However, let alone proving them wrong, typically, the Opposition politicians pick up only the negatives of the Fitch statement and make use of them to discredit the ruling party.

Best mileage

They customarily pick up the most negative line as the headline to launch scathing attacks on the Government to achieve the best mileage, regardless of the damage it may do to the country. Aren’t they attempting to cut off the nose to spite the face?

Thus, the Opposition politicians must realise that if they disrupt the economic progress for temporary glory, they not only commit serious wrongs to the nation but also lose their credibility among the public sooner or later.

Disappointingly, Sri Lankans have been a heavily politically divided nation since independence due to the selfish and opportunistic politicians who constantly attempt to gain through such divisions. As such, traditionally, the Opposition politicians despise solutions given by the ruling party to national issues, even when the entire country is in grave danger.

Visibly, there is clear evidence that a section of politicians incite their political followers to vandalise any positive trend economically. Their existence and political survival are solely dependent on the instability of society. If and when the solutions are presented, they attempt to bring in counterarguments to unbalance the common thinking.

These treacherous elements pose never-ending and impractical demands through trade unions that consist of public sector workers of key State institutions such as education, health, petroleum, electricity, and some other key institutions. Whenever the country is making progress, they come up with trade union actions that hamper public life. In addition, they seem to be intentionally breaking laws to create confrontations with law enforcement and develop a bleak picture for the international community.

The absurdity of these trade unionists, who are Government or semi-Government workers, is that they enjoy uninterrupted income even when they go on disruptive actions. The strikes, protest campaigns, and demonstrations are not only a hindrance and nuisance to the average citizen but also a colossal waste of human resources.

The public must realise, if they are not already informed emphatically, that the protesters waste their own money paid through direct and indirect taxes.

Thus far, none of the Opposition political parties that expect to govern in the future have presented any tangible plans for how they will manage the crisis. Leaders of all these parties seem to be playing to the gallery with habitual slogans such as inflation, cost of living, taxes, and other popular topics that attract the attention of the public.

They are unable to provide pragmatic answers on how they will reduce taxes or increase state revenue, how they will find foreign exchange to import essentials, how they will manage State expenses if State revenue decreases, or how they will fund infrastructure development.

All Sri Lankan politicians who are making a loud hue and cry about the country and the citizenry must take a good look at how the Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh duo pulled India out of a major economic crisis in 1991. The duo spearheaded the economic reforms that placed India on an irreversible growth trajectory and made it one of the fastest-developing countries in the world, with the assistance of both people and politicians.

Not only the Government, Opposition, and citizenry came together as one, but also successive governments in India have helped make reforms a continuous success. If India, with its numerous issues and huge population, can weather a crisis by being united, Sri Lanka has a better chance with its more literate society.