Turn around before it's too late
Daily Mirror Editorial
Apr 17, 2012

In the afterglow of the National New Year, the government needs to act fast and effectively on a series of crises confronting it. They range from the International fallout from the diplomatic debacle in Geneva on alleged war crimes and human rights issues to national reconciliation, democracy and media freedom, accountability and transparency, the breakdown of the rule of law and worst of all the possible breakdown of the economy with more price hikes likely soon.

According to latest reports, import costs last year soared to a record level of more than 20 billion US Dollars – almost double the export earnings, which amounted to about 10 billion dollars. For the past few years the Government has been filling this gap with remittances from Sri Lankan housemaids and others who are working like slaves abroad, but that also dropped by more than 30 per cent last year. In a bid to overcome the crisis in foreign reserves, the Government has ordered commercial banks to impose a credit squeeze and the worst affected are expected to be small businesses.

Despite these realities, the Government’s main economic policy makers the Central Bank Governor and the Treasury Secretary are continuing to proclaim an economic boom though doom seems to be more appropriate. The Central Bank’s annual report for last year reveals that growth and inflation rates are now being calculated on a dubious if not deceptive basis.

With the United States especially and Western Europe continuing to exert pressure on accountability and reconciliation issues, the Government needs to reduce this pressure by acting courageously and in a clear-cut manner to implement the main recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Unfortunately the Government’s policy on this issue instead of being clear-cut is like a cacophony of conflicting views and contradictions.

Extremist allies including the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the National Freedom Front (NFF) are strongly opposing the recommendations of the LLRC, which was appointed by the President. Leader of the House and Senior Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva also says the Government is not obliged to implement all the recommendations made by the LLRC while other ministers are making conflicting claims in a crisis of confusion within confusion. The allpowerful President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself is saying little, and this is not helping much to restore Sri Lanka’s image and credibility.

For several months the government has told the international community it should not interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and the government would formulate its own home-grown solution through the LLRC. But now with the LLRC report being thrown about here and there, it has become a ridiculous joke and Sri Lanka may end up in deep trouble if the President does not isolate or sideline the extremists and go ahead in implementing the LLRC recommendations.

As far as the rule of law is concerned the situation appears to be getting worse and the country is on the verge of lawlessness. The recent abductions,of two Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) dissidants the spate of political and other killings are dangerous signs of the damage caused to the rule of law and democracy. The Government needs to turn around on these issues too and take steps such as implementing the Freedom of Information Bill to restore the people’s faith in democracy while tough action is taken against rampant corruption, fraud, bribery and the colossal waste of public funds.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka