Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Killing beggars and disabled; Sri Lanka's new found solution for poverty

(June 30, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka's ruling family boasts they would make this country 'the wonder of Asia.' It is already true in some aspects.

Sri Lanka is a poor country where the new found solution for poverty is 'killing beggars.'

An organized group that is ubiquitous and elusive to police in Colombo and suburbs is in a killing spree of beggars whilst no one raises voice regarding the misery of this human waste. The method the killers use for execution is is extremely notorious. They smash heads of the beggars as they are asleep on pavement. The tactic seems achieved its objective of terrifying beggars. Most of them now fear to sleep in isolated places as they did earlier.

In the latest incident, this gang killed a self-employed 38 year-old differently-abled man on a tricycle at Mount Lavinia on June 28. The man identified as Mahesh Perera of Sri Jana Mawatha, Aththidiya was under the front canopy of Union Assurance office whose slogan is 'Trust in your tomorrow, today' in the dark due to rain as he was on his way home bringing a parcel of rice for him bought from the money he earned by selling lottery tickets. The killer smashed his head with a heavy stone covering to the sound of rain.

Another man on a wheel chair was killed around a month ago close to famous Gangaramaya Buddhist temple.

This killing spree goes on scot-free and almost no one in this country that boasts for a two and half millennium long Buddhist heritage bother about these helpless men. 

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What play does Sri Lanka have in between Russia and Ukraine?

(June 29, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to leave for an official tour in Ukraine today. The official visit is scheduled from June 29 to July 2, 2010,

This is the first time a Sri Lankan President and a state head of the South Asian region pays an official visit to Ukraine, local media reported.

The Sri Lanka President is to hold bilateral talks with the Ukraine President, Prime Minister and senior state officials.

Director of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's information policy department Oleh Voloshyn said to Ukraine's leading English-language newspaper Kyiv Post that it would help promote a bilateral political dialogue at the summit level, further developing cooperation between the two countries in the fuel and energy, military and technical, education, and culture and humanitarian spheres.

Voloshyn also added that the two countries expect to expand their international treaty framework and strengthen the two countries' cooperation via international organizations.

A range of bilateral agreements, in particular, on cooperation in the tourism and military and technical spheres, are to be signed during the visit, said Kyiv Post.

Ukraine assisted Sri Lanka immensely in the latter’s war against terrorism. However, Ukraine has disputes with Russia, another ally of Sri Lanka. Russia recently raised voice against the panel appointed by the UN General Secretary to advise him on human rights issues related to Sri Lanka.

Russia opposes Ukraine's move to join NATO. Sri Lanka is also in a tug-of-war with EU over the GSP Plus tariff concessions granted by the latter to poor countries. Sri Lanka is unwilling to bow to EU pressure on ratifying UN conventions regarding human rights.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

An Indian who was to be disappeared in Sri Lanka found killed

(June 28, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityAn Inspector of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was arrested by police as he, in connivance with a Colombo businessman dumped a body of a slain Indian national in Munadalama in Puttlam district in Northwestern Province of Sri Lanka.

The suspected CID officer, reported Chandana Silva and Colombo 06, Big Banana restaurant owner Mariyanayagam Lesley Rajakumar have allegedly killed an Indian national aged 24 and named Thennarasu Selvakumar who worked under latter as a cook in a house in Wellawaththa. Later, the duo have brought the dead body to Mundalama in a double cab vehicle and dumped it into the sea.

Residents that saw these suspicious men throwing a suspicious parcel into sea, informed Puttlam police and the police without knowledge that a CID officer is involved in the crime blocked roads and arrested the suspects.

Meanwhile, the wife of one of the suspected murderers, Ms. Rajakumar lodged a complaint in police that their cook was missing.

A young man that was originally ill-fated to be one disappeared in Sri Lanka was 'lucky' to be found dead and to be ruled murdered at the post-mortem.

Why did these killers choose Palliwasapaduwa beach of Mukkuthuduwawa in Mundalama for dumping the dead body? How many times has this police officer done this kind of acts, previously? Are their more officials that do such things?

The answers my friend, is blowing in the wind.

Or else, let us talk about the Sinhala-Tamil unity at least in crime. Can the dead man be an early victim of CEPA?

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Sri Lanka government takes control of the construction of shrines with purposes of domination

A Buddhist temple in Kilinochchi
(June 25, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka government has decided to ban construction of religious places of worship around the country without permission. The reason cited by the government is that these shrines cause religious conflicts.

According to new regulations, if anyone needs to build a religious places of worship in certain place, the person has to submit an application recommended by the Divisional Secretary of the relevant area to the Secretary of the Ministry of Buddhist and Religious Affairs. The Secretary has powers to appoint a committee to study the application.

Building religious places of worship was not always an innocent task everywhere on this earth throughout the world history. Everywhere, religious devotion was mingled with the ethno-religious hegemonic needs and political dominance.

The same attribute was prevalent when the colonial rulers assisted building of Christian churches and in the post colonial Sri Lanka that government assisted setting up of Buddhist temples.

The process of setting up of religious places of worship was highly invasive in the post-war period. For instance, the way the victorious Army hurriedly set up Buddhist temples and erected unaesthetic statues of Lord Buddha at every nook and corner was an insult to the preacher of one of the world's most non-violent religions.

Similar dominating acts are wide spread in areas minority religious devotees dwell predominantly too.

Vicious non-religious aims of rousing anger of the ‘opponent’ religions are behind all these acts.

Some politicians expect a free and easy ride to power on the back of the blind devotees mobilized either for or against these acts of religious dominancy.

Certain scrupulous elements make use of these things for other personal gains. For example, a famous gossip regarding a major Buddha statue in Panadura town is that a businessman put up this statue to prevent his business places that were behind it being demolished in road construction.

Some more unscrupulous individuals use this madness to squat in prime lands in major cities and towns. That is why the government had to take the control of putting up religious places of worship.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No elections close by in Sri Lanka; regime imposes heavy taxes on food commodities to prevent bankruptcy

(June 23, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Sri Lanka government today increased the price of wheat flour in local market by imposing a new tax of Rs. 10 per kilo.

Wheat flour is considered an essential commodity and the price is controlled.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka’s major flour retailer Prima increased price of a kilo of flour by Rs. 10.50. The price of a kilo of flour sold by Prima will be raised from Rs. 63 to Rs. 73.50. The price increase is valid since midnight today.

The other flour retailer Serendib will also increase price soon, sources say.

The price of the bakery products is also to go up since today.

The government also imposed a new tax of Rs. 5 per kilo of sugar as well.

Meanwhile, the major opposition United National Party (UNP) criticized government’s moves to increase prices of essential commodities citing the escalation of prices in world market as reason, but not giving the advantage of the price de-escalations in world market to the consumers.

The UNP spokesman MP Lakshman Kiriella said that the price of sugar went down in world market. But the government imposed a tax of Rs. 5 per kilo of sugar preventing the decrease of sugar price in local market.
Sri Lanka government recently increased the price of milk powder. Before that the LP gas price was also increased. Now the government repeatedly highlights that the fuel prices will not be raised. This is a tactic to avoid the rightful bringing down of prices to match the world market prices. The government is silently imposing taxes to keep the dropping prices up.

Mahinda Rajapaksa regime is afraid of nothing. No elections close by.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GSP Plus extension conditional, says EU; Sri Lanka to lose the free ride

(June 22, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityPress Office of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives issuing a press release said today that the reports on the GSP Plus concessions to Sri Lanka stating that the benefit would be offered to Sri Lanka unconditionally was not true.

The European Union says that the date of 15 August on which Sri Lanka would cease to benefit from GSP+ will not be extended unconditionally.

The European Union says that it has informed the Government of Sri Lanka of its readiness to propose to the Council of the European Union to maintain GSP plus preferences for Sri Lanka for a limited additional period, subject to a clear and written commitment by the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake a well defined number of human rights related actions, within a 6 months time frame beginning in July of this year, and to provide reassurances as to the sustainability of progress registered under the GSP plus dialogue.

The European Union says, “Only if a written commitment to this effect has been made by the Government of Sri Lanka, by 1 July 2010, would the European Commission put such a proposal to the Council of the European Union, without prejudice to the final decision.”

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Setting fire to Tamil silver screen in Sri Lanka

(June 20, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityA fresh terrorist organization calling themselves ‘Democratic Tamil People’ sent warning letters to the cinemas in Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka banning screening Indian Tamil movies in the cinemas anywhere in the two Tamil speaking Provinces.

Meanwhile, an unknown group believed to belong to the same ‘Democratic Tamil People’ set fire to a screen of a cinema in Eastern town Kaththankudi. The cinema was showing an Indian Tamil movie. Kaththnkudi police is investigating the incident. Noone has been arrested yet and no one would be as normally happens in these areas.

The action of the ‘Democratic Tamil People’ is believed a tit for tat for the boycott of IIFA award ceremony held in Sri Lanka by Indian Tamil cinema artists and technical staff. Some media said that the hitherto unknown ‘Democratic Tamil People’ had told in its notice that they do not want the Indian Tamil cinema artists that boycotted the Colombo IIFA. (Apawa Epa nam Apatath Epa)

Ordinary Sri Lankans, either Tamil or Sinhala speaking were not interested in IIFA and most of the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces were not at least aware of an IIFA. The war-victimized Tamils of the Northern and Eastern Provinces have enough woes than IIFA to worry.

The terrorists that banned screening Tamil movies in Northern and Eastern Provinces are appeasing no Tamils but the government that incurred a massive loss both financially as well as in propaganda through IIFA.

Meanwhile, several managers of cinema halls in Colombo and other areas out of the Northern and Eastern Provinces said that they have not received any warning notices. Major market for Tamil movies in Sri Lanka is still in Colombo. The managers however, were shocked with the news and expected the authorities would provide protection to them.

A major Tamil cinema complex in Colombo is belonged to the family of a Sinhala cinema director whose footage hard copy of a movie glorifying war was recently stolen by unknown persons at a Colombo studio.

Sri Lankan cinema was highly contributed by South Indian cinema before 1983. Tamil artists directed Sinhala films and many Sinhala cinema songs that are still popular were created with immense contribution of Tamil artists and technicians.

In 1983, state-sponsored Sinhala racists set fire to many cinemas and a few studios that belonged to Tamils. Thirty-year war spared few cinemas in Northern and Eastern Provinces for the Democratic Tamil People’ terrorists to ban screening films. Sri Lankan cinema industry is almost collapsed.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sri Lankan workers to have one more holiday; the Victory Day

(June 19, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka is to have war victory celebrations every year on May 18 and the government will have to become the day another holiday.

Sri Lanka already has 25 public holidays and the number will increase to 26, if the victory celebration day is added to the list.

The victory celebrations in massive scale cannot be conducted without proclaiming the day a holiday at least to the city where the celebrations are held. Om the other hand, the celebrations will become a propaganda loss comparing to the massive expense for the programme if people will not watch it in television. Therefore, it will become another unavoidable holiday.

Too many holidays is considered a factor discouraging the foreign direct investment to the country.

In public sector, the employees enjoy nearly one third of the years either holidays or leaves. Meanwhile many public sector employees in already overstaffed institutes idle without specific duty

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Friday, June 18, 2010

What victory are we celebrating in Sri Lanka?

(June 18, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka celebrates the war victory marked by killing of Tamil rebel leader Velupillai Prabakaran on May 18, 2009 a year and a month later. The victory celebrations were postponed a month ago since the floods displaced around half a million people, a large number from Colombo itself.

Yesterday an ethnic Sinhala man was arrested by police for enlarging a photo of Velupillai Prabakaran. Police intelligence officials are now interrogating him to identify may be his mindset. It seems having a photo of Prabakaran in possession a sin if not an offence in post-war Sri Lanka.

It is not a bad idea giving another holiday to Sri Lankan workers. But, the government need to tackle the issue of a large number of employees especially in the public sector idling on working days as well.  

Even an year after the war, the only change perceivable in Sri Lanka is the relative peace of being free from frequent bomb explosions. Ethnic polities are still as much divided as they were in the war time.

No person with a sense can say that the country is in the path of development about which the government boasts. No serious rapid growth of investments and growth of tourists that will be effective to achieve the goal of being Asia's Wonder.

One thing happening in Sri Lanka is the development of infrastructure with the funds raised from the open financial market at relatively higher interest rates. Massive rackets of commissions and other malpractices haunt this 'development.'

The nation is entangling in a crisis of debt day by day.

The most crucial issue of Sri Lanka at the moment is the number of terms the President can hold the post and the successor of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, either his son or one of his powerful brothers.

We, the Sri Lankans, have got up late on Wednesday and in front of the television watching the victory parade lazily sipping tea.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sri Lanka further into the debt crisis

(June 16, 2010, Colombo - Lanka Polity'Sri Lanka government has plans to sell $275 million of dollar-denominated bonds locally this month to pay for maturing debt.

Three months ago, Sri Lanka failed to raise a targeted $100 million through a debt auction.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka will issue $175 million of two-year debt and $100 million of three-year paper, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said on its website.

Subscriptions for the so- called development bonds close on June 18.

The nation raised $92 million by selling development bonds through competitive bidding in March, and the central bank subsequently raised $8 million through placements that month.

Sri Lanka's public debt repayments and interest is amounting to 767 billion rupees this year. It is 44 percent of the overall budget expenditure of 1,780 billion rupees.

Last year government debt hit 4.1 trillion rupees. Of it, 1.8 trillion rupees was foreign debt, a 22 percent rise, according to Central Bank annual report: “The ratio of debt service to government revenue increased further to 117.5 percent from 90.5 percent.,” the report said. Total debt servicing rose by 39 percent to 825.7 billion rupees in 2009, including a huge interest payout of 309.7 billion rupees that comprised 26 percent of total expenditure.

World Bank Director for South Asia Ernesto May launching the World Bank’s South Asia Economic Update 2010 in Colombo last week noted: “South Asia has very high levels of public debt—over 60 percent of GDP for the region. As seen in Europe with markets focusing on highly indebted countries, markets will start penalising those with high debt.” He pointed out that Sri Lanka’s debt was the second highest in the region after the Maldives—increasing from 81 percent of GDP in 2008 to 86 percent in 2009.

Out of this massive debt services burden, 36.5 percent is for foreign debt. Sri Lanka should target investment led growth and minimize borrowings which could lead to a future debt crisis, former Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed said. "Don't depend too much on loans, the better thing of course is to invite foreign investors to come in and create jobs and bring in capital into the country," Mohamed told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo.

Allocations for health and education were as low as 52 and 46 billion rupees respectively—a total of 10 billion rupees less than for 2009. The budget for 2009 was itself 12 billion rupees lower than the amount for 2008. The combined allocation for health and education this year is less than half of defence expenditure in 2010.

The government promised an IMF team in May that it would considerably reduce recurrent spending. It intends to cut government subsidies to the Ceylon Electricity Board, Petroleum Corporation, Central Transport Board, railways and postal services. Total losses in these sectors amount to 49 billion rupees and can only be reduced by axing jobs, cutting wages and increasing prices.

Meanwhile, the defence budget at 202 billion rupees ($US1.8 billion) or 21 percent of the total expenditure of 974 billion rupees allocated to government ministries. At a convention of public sector trade unions that are under Trade Union Confederation last week, Joseph Stalin Fernando, the national organizer of the trade union coalition argued that the government is increasing defense expenditure to suppress the workers' struggles.

However, the trade unions failed to gather the expected number of participants to the convention and some trade union leaders expressed wonder why the workers were so unresponsive in a time the government is breaking the promise of Rs. 2500 per month salary hike for public servants.

(Sources: World Socialist Website, Lanka Business Online)

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Sri Lanka regime's ugly game in between India and China

(June 14, 2010, Colombo - Lanka Polity'Though the Tiger is no more and Lankan Tamils are cowed, Indian Tamils and Diaspora Tamils together can still pose a formidable challenge to Colombo. And their capacity to do so will remain so long as the problems of the Lankan Tamils are unresolved."
-Thisaranee Gunasekara evaluating the outcome of the IIFA-2010 Bollywood award ceremony held in June in Colombo.

Sri Lanka President visited India following the IIFA debacle and the Hindustan Times had to report "The Pro-Tamil group's protest against visit of Sri Lankan president Mahenda Rajkapsa turned violent on Saturday (June 12) when suspected pro-tamil activists blasted railway tracks, just before a passenger train was to enter Perani railway station in Villupuram district, some 70 km south of Chennai in the wee hours."

This news creates a picture of a Tamil struggle in which the Sri Lankan part appears relatively peaceful amidst miserable conditions of the war-affected community while the Indian section looks getting more militant than before in addition to its successful lobby politics that made the IIFA a great disaster for Sinhala chauvinist Sri Lanka government.

Tamil struggle poses to envisage in a broader spectrum of a struggle of world Tamils for a state. Being the heart of the Tamil polity, the Tamil Nadu with its 70 million Tamils naturally becomes the epicenter of the new struggle.

In a time the capitalist world is facing its worst economic crisis in the history, it is natural that the struggles against the system may restructure aiming outcome amidst a possible world crisis.

India is a nation threatened by a number of nationalist struggles seeking restructuring of geo-politics. Therefore, due to clearly understandable reasons, India cannot give way to the rise of the new wave of Tamil nationalism in Tamil Nadu.

One way of curtailing the trend is to find a sustainable solution for the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka. The island nation is the melting pot of the Tamil nationalism.

Thisaranee Gunasekara says "In a speech to a group of businessmen, on the first anniversary of the defeating of the LTTE, (Sri Lanka Army Commander) Gen. Jayasuriya said that “it is up to the government and the people now to fund the root cause of the problem and give a proper solution… I believe in the end a proper solution is needed” (The Straits Times – 11.6.2010).

"Unfortunately his words are likely to be unheeded, if not scorned. The Rajapakses will not deliver a political solution, because they do not believe in the existence of an ethnic problem, as the President himself had stated, publicly, time and time again. Disbelieving in the existence of an ethnic problem, they, logically, do not see the need for a political solution."

However, The Hindu reported Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Saturday that there are positive signals from Sri Lanka on finding an amicable and acceptable solution to the issue of Tamils, who are fighting for equal rights.

But Thisaranee Gunasekara contradicts this idea. She says "Not only will the Rajapakses not deliver a political solution; even the restoration of normalcy or a real improvement in the living conditions of the North-Eastern Tamils is unlikely to happen, except marginally and minimally. The fact that the 2010 budget sets aside Rs.201 billion for defence but only Rs.2 billon for resettlement demonstrates the very low priority accorded by the government to Tamil wellbeing. It also reveals the regime’s inability/unwillingness to see the nexus between development and security. Given such a militarist mindset, reconciliation is but a mirage, a delusion spun occasionally by the state media, for purposes of propaganda."

Thisaranee points out that Sri Lanka will swing like a pendulum between India and China to manage the situation and eventually the island nation can be the battleground of the cold war between the two super powers. But one point she forgets is that India is more important to China than Sri Lanka and another 1987-like scenario can re-emerge.

In 1987, J.R. Jayawardane, who was playing in between India and Western super powers keeping all its eggs in the West's basket was eventually betrayed to India by the West that he venerated and kept his all trusts. China never bothers about the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka. She will not wage war against India once India attempts to use its powers to solve the problem. The possibility of China advising Sri Lanka one day to give way to India is very high. In such context, it will be the end of the road for the game of the Rajapaksas.

Wihat is this game? It is none other than playing in others' soft corners permanently hoodwinking the world and sustaining the misery of the minorities of the island. Rajapaksas should be defeated in this game if Sri Lanka as well as the world polity needs to progress.

What Dr. Dayan Jayathilaka has to say is different. "When we antagonized India we could not win the war, but when we correctly managed relations with India, we won the war. If India had opposed us or not supported us, we may not have been able to win or withstand the Western moves to stop the war. There is a saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Every relationship is reciprocal. Sri Lanka has to reciprocate for India’s support," he says.

"We must bear in mind that we still need that support because, though the hot war has been won by us, a cold war continues against us in the global arena.

"We need India’s support to balance off those who are hostile to us or are influenced by the pro-Eelam trend in the Tamil Diaspora. India is our buffer with the USA. Delhi is under pressure to take a stand hostile to us, or to stop supporting us. That pressure comes from Tamil Nadu but not only from Tamil Nadu...from India’s civil society as well as some of India’s Western friends. If India stops supporting us, not even the Non Aligned Movement will defend us fully, because they take their cue from respected Third World states such as India." Dr. Dayan Jayathilaka adds.

In this context, the progressive elements of Sri Lanka must try their best to manage the conflicts as subtly as they can to achieve better results for the polity.

It should be understood that the attempts of a section of Sri Lankan business community and the left forces to mobilize people against India citing 'aggressive' nature of proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) etc. are indirectly promoted by the ruling elite to maintain their chauvinist base of the politics. Progressive forces of the Lankan polity should work to broaden the purview of the polity to enhance their ability to grasp the better and sustainable outcome instead of narrow, quick popularity.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Basilian neo-liberalism, Mahindian nationalism and high level Sovereign Rating Committee of Sri Lanka

(June 12, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityCentral Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has initiated a programme to take the necessary steps to upgrade the country’s sovereign rating.

The significance of this move is that the government has moved further in the Basilian doctrine of neo-liberalism and it has appointed top officials of Indian company and and a local agent of a multi national consortium into this committee. This is a move against Mahindian nationalist and national economic policies that frequently denied Indian and Western multi national penetration of local economy.

Reportedly, this has annoyed local business leaders. After all, the two companies Nestle and IOC does nor or negligible very little to change Sri Lanka's performances according to these ratings, they point out.

“As announced in the Central Bank Road Map 2010 and beyond, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) will take the necessary steps to upgrade the country’s sovereign rating from the current B+ (stable)/B(positive) to an investment grade of BBB- or higher over the next four year period,” says the Central Bank.

Central Bank says that towards this end, a carefully designed, forward looking and effective strategy will be implemened with the participation and co-operation of the all stakeholders, country authorities, private sector business leaders, chambers and rating advisors.

Central Bank announces that it has now appointed the following high level Sovereign Rating Committee, which will make regular reviews on the developments of the economy and convey these improvements to the rating agencies through rating advisors to upgrade the country’s rating level.

Mr K G D D Dheerasinghe, Deputy Governor, CBSL (Chairman)

Mrs J Mampitiya, Assistant Governor, CBSL (Deputy Chairman)

Mr K D Ranasinghe, Chief Economist & Director of Economic Research, CBSL

Mr C J P Siriwardena, Superintendent of Public Debt, CBSL

Mr. U.R. Seneviratne, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury

Mr C N Wijayasekera, Additional Superintendent of Public Debt

Mr. Ashroff Omar, Chief Executive Officer, Brandix Lanka Ltd

Mr. David Saudan, Managing Director, Nestle Lanka PLC

Dr. Anura Ekanyake, Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Upali de Silva, Secretary General, Sri Lanka Banks’ Association

Mr. Dilith Jayaweera, Managing Director, Triad Advertising

Mr. K.R. Suresh Kumar, Managing Director, Lanka IOC Ltd

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Will state capitalism be a solution to global crisis of the capitalism?

(June 10, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityWe reproduce this column written by Dr. Wickramabahu Karunarathna to LakbimaNews since it is one of the very rare occasions the leftist activists of Sri Lanka attempt to address the core political issues rather than the day to day economic struggles.

As far as we have understood, Dr. Wickramabahu seems to say that state regulation of the capitalist system will be inadequate to overcome the global economic crisis. He does not provide a clear answer regarding solution though he implies socialism will be inevitable. After all, socialism is yet to be defined in the modern context, as we perceive, the veteran Marxist can clear the issue if we are wrong.

On the other hand, is state control of the capitalist economy so new? Capitalism thrived through national states and even in the age of global capitalism, the state control is still predominant even in the developed countries although it is theoretically expected the market will regulate the system itself.

More or less, the extreme control of the market by state through price control, prohibitive tariffs, tax reliefs and state enterprises has become Sri Lanka's present day practice. The government is trying on one hand to liberalize market more through Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India while it is trying to accumulate a bigger share of capital through measures like acquiring the stake of Emirates of Sri Lankan airline on the other hand. It can be an innovative move of the economic pundits of the unconventional Rajapaksa regime. Who knows what miracle they will perform? They are the people who crushed the elusive Tamil Tigers in a war that no one expected would be able to be so blatant and disregarding of human rights.

The global crisis, which we are experiencing right now is the deepest and the most widespread crisis, since the 1930s by any reckoning. It has changed the attitude of pundits of global capital. The glory days of free market are gone with the crisis. Then, we were told by writers, artists and academics that “Greed or desire is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” In fact the founder of modern psychology, Freud saw all human behaviour as motivated by drives or instincts, which in turn are the neurological representations of physical needs. On the one hand these instincts perpetuate the life of the individual, and on the other the life of the species. Thus he became a guru for those who wanted the free market economy to rule the human life. Many have accepted the idea that humans are just naked apes and the man is just a hunter. Market is the modern hunting ground. However, all these optimistic Neanderthal thinking has been slowly abandoned for more realistic ways for capitalism. It is the path of compromise and social peace.

Desire dominated
New thinkers promoted by the International Monetary Fund, now argue that it is wrong to forget the institutional foundations of markets and to equate the free market with unregulated markets. Furthermore, they argue that whatever market monitoring that was there, was insufficient to guard against opportunistic behaviour, of unregulated, profit-seeking individuals taking risks by which they stand to benefit and others to lose. In other words man has to come out of desire dominated thinking, to care for others. Big banks and multinational companies too should remould their ethical frameworks. All this time the global capital arranged its affairs with least regard for ethical structures put forward by Mohamed, Jesus or Buddha. Of course the system preached that it is involved in a messianic mission to save religion from blood thirsty terrorists. But within the market mechanism there was scant regard for ethical thinking. Now the global capital is searching for truth and benevolence.

In an earlier analysis of the global crisis Daron Acemoglu, one of the new IMF thinkers, states: “A deep and important contribution of the discipline of economics is the insight that greed is neither good nor bad in the abstract. When channelled into profit-maximizing, competitive, and innovative behaviour under the auspices of sound laws and regulations, greed can act as the engine of innovation and economic growth. But when unchecked by the appropriate institutions and regulations, it will degenerate into rent-seeking, corruption, and crime.” I am glad to hear that the beast has to be controlled! However, the position today is that the desire is natural and it is the duty of the society to control. I thought Buddha said more or less the same thing. According to him the desire makes the human, an alienated person. The determination of desire by care will remove this alienation. The path for that nirvana is the collective, democratic praxis; the path of sanga. No, I am wrong; capitalism even with state control cannot get that far.

State capitalism
So we are in the middle of state capitalism as a temporary way out of this debacle of cyclic crisis. In spite of new terminology and man made confusion, the global system has entered the stage of state capitalism. I have nothing more to add than to quote from one of my teachers Fredric Engels. “In any case, with trusts or without, the official representative of capitalist society - the state - will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production. But, the transformation - either into joint-stock companies and trusts, or into State-ownership - does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. ... It is, rather, brought to a head. But, brought to a head, it topples over. State-ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution.”

Monday, June 07, 2010

Is China behind CEPA protests in Sri Lanka?

(June 07, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to visit India since tomorrow and the bilateral talks are expected to focus Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (CEPA) that was supposed to be signed two years ago but stalled.

Two weeks back, several hundreds of protesters took to the streets against CEPA claiming it would hugely benefit the neighboring country by forcing the domestic industry into appalling risks. A high profile lobbying is underway against the trade pact which is yet to be made public.

Many highly educated, including doctors and engineers who were part of the recent protest along with businessmen expressed their fears that the island could be dominated by cheaper and skilled Indian services at the expense of the domestic industry.

However, Jose Roy writing to says "this argument is unfounded as India’s educated unemployed were largely jobless because their reluctance to work for less or in remote places. Moreover, Sri Lanka being a country less than half the currency value of India would not have to panic about the products or services from India going cheap rather can ensure superior quality which could help the country build its economy on a firmer footing."

The Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) signed in 1998 and which is effective since March 1, 2000 has been able to boost trade between both nations significantly with near equal opportunity for the Sri Lankans. The ISFTA that is confined to the trading of only goods pushed country’s exports by manifold from $55.7mn in 2000 to $516.4mn in 2007. Interestingly, the part of the business community lobbying against the CEPA hail the ISFTA.

On the contrary, in 2002, the traded volume between China and Sri Lanka totalled about $350mn, of which China's exports accounted for $340mn providing room for Sri Lankan exports at about a meagre $10mn. Although Sino-Lankan trade witnessed tremendous growth over the years with bilateral trade crossing $2bn in 2009, imports from China remained predominately greater than the efflux. However, an anti-Chinese lobby is almost invisible possible because China is not involved in internal politics of Sri Lanka.

The conservatism of a part of Sri Lankan business community regarding CEPA is highly controversial. But the worst is Sri Lanka's leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP) and some other elements disgruntled due to the rise of Mahinda Rajapaksa through Sinhala nationalism in which they had kept all their eggs might try to rouse anti-Indian sentiments among the masses investing in CEPA protests.

These elements may use the opportunity for raising funds and mustering broad-based support for an anti-Indian campaign that may ultimately lead to a racist movement against any attempt to bring a solution for the ethnic problem through negotiations.

Frustration led them in previous occasions as well to similar disastrous racist tactics to grab power that caused havoc to entire nation. The JVP uprising between 1987-89 and the toppling of the democratically elected United National Party government through a premature election called manipulating draconian powers of the executive presidency they themselves despised in 2004 are examples. The damages incurred to the Sri Lankan polity in these vicious circles are immeasurable.

The business community members that protest the CEPA must be considerate of this kind of adverse effects of their protests that might ultimately lead to disastrous effects on the nation.

We, as leftists, do not believe in the conservatism in the name of safeguarding national states economies. It is the task of the capitalists to move in the path of market liberalization. Socialists must fight against the capitalist system for the rights of the down trodden masses. However, we believe that the forward march of the human socio-economic systems must not stop at nation state. Therefore, safeguarding national economies and state apparatuses should not be in the agendas of the leftists. Socialism, though not clearly defined, is an advanced social system, one beyond the fullest potentials of the capitalist system, that has nothing to share with the backward nation states.

CEPA is not leftists' subject. However, leftists must evaluate the situation vis-a-vis their aim of socialism. Socialism will be a reality only in a context labor has achieved the freedom of mobility that capitalism has already achieved.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Lankan war was corporate one, says Arundhati Roy

(June 05, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityThe war in Sri Lanka was not just a war of the Sri Lankans against the Tamil people, according to writer-activist Arundhati Roy. "That was a corporate war. All the large Indian companies are now heading to Sri Lanka to make more money," Roy said on Friday. "The political parties of Tamil Nadu were the only ones who could have stopped the genocide in Sri Lanka, but they chose to stand by silently. A similar thing is happening in central India where tribals are resisting the takeover of natural resources by corporates."

Roy was speaking at a Convention on Operation Green Hunt and Genocidal attack on tribals by Indian State' organised in the city on Friday by the Federation Against Internal Repression. She said the resistance in central India was a fight against injustice and not a rebellion against the state as the government says it is. "The government is on the side of the corporates who want to take over the lands, forests, rivers, the traditional homes of the tribals. Operation Green Hunt follows the Bush doctrine of you are with us, or against us," she said. "Anyone who resists this corporate takeover, whether Gandhian, tribal or Maoist, is branded a terrorist," she said.

Turning her attention to the environmental impact of development, she said there was no ecological way to mine bauxite. "You can never mine bauxite and then turn it into aluminium without destroying the ecological balance of the mountains. The tribals have lived in harmony with the forests and nature for centuries," she said.

For over five years, some of the poorest, most marginalised people in the country have held off some of the world's largest multi-national corporations, she said, referring to tribals and adivasis across the country. "Every institution in this country has been corrupted but the spirit of our people remains strong," she said.

The people's struggles were not against democracy but the ways in which the mechanisms of democracy function. "You're a Gandhian if you protest on the road, and a Maoist if you resist in the forest. How can someone without food go on a hunger strike? To do Gandhian resistance, you need an audience, and there is no audience in the forest," she said.

-Times of India

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Whose success is IIFA? Sri Lanka government or Tamil nationalist lobby?

They will miss photo opportunity
with many Bollywood stars
(June 03, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityEleventh ceremony of Indian International Film Academy Award (ITFA), the Indian equivalent of the Oscars, is to be held in Sri Lanka since today.

However, the event in Colombo is similar to a wedding without bride and bridegroom, when paraphrased according to Sinhala folklore.

Many of the Bollywood super stars have boycotted the awards ceremony although they have used other words to describe their absence.  With this, inevitably marred by politics, the 11th IIFA has become the most controversial awards ceremony of entire world in the recent history.

Selecting Colombo as the venue for IIFA was initially a success to the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka had hoped to repair its battered international image and revive its tourist industry by hosting the IIFA. Indian government assisted Sri Lankan authorities to sort out the matter as a goodwill gesture to help the nation trying to mark its presence emerging from the debris of three decade war.

But since the venue was announced in April, the Tamil nationalist lobby in South India made the event a success for them using it to raise voice against Sri Lanka government over the woes of the Tamils battered by war in the northern and eastern parts of the island reinforcing the war crime charges haunting intermittently against Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in international politics.

Top Bollywood stars that have pulled out from the IIFA 2010 are too shiny to be absent and the ceremony sans them will definitely be less glamorous posing a threat to the organizers that the event can be an economical loss.

Most damaging of all is the apparent withdrawal of Amitabh Bachchan, the IIFA’s brand ambassador and patriarch of Bollywood’s first family, who met Sri Lanka’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in Colombo in April to help promote the event.

Although the “Big B” has yet to officially announce his absence, industry sources say he will not attend the ceremony for the first time in several years following protests from Tamil groups outside his residence in Mumbai.

His latest postings on his blog and on Twitter say that he is busy shooting an advertisement to promote tourism in the Indian state of Gujarat.

His son, Abhishek Bachchan, and daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai, will also be absent officially because they are tied up with promoting their forthcoming film Raavan, according to Indian media reports.

Mani Ratnam, the director refused to show the film in Colombo parallel to the ceremony citing its production work is not yet finished. But, it is well known that Mani, a Tamil, is willingly or unwillingly giving in to the Tamil nationalist lobby.

Eventually, Raavan, the pre-historic king of Lanka who abducted Sita will surrender and play in Rama's side.

Shah Rukh Khan who had been due to captain a team in a celebrity cricket match in Colombo announced his absence in a recent posting on Twitter, saying: “…dont think i will be able to come for iifa..too much work here, will miss Colombo.”

Two people were killed when a Khan concert in Colombo was bombed in 2004, and he vowed at the time that he would not visit Sri Lanka again.

Others likely to be absent include Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Aamir Khan, according to Indian media reports. Last minute attempts could be observed to prevent Salman Khan playing cricket in Sri Lanka in the cricket match of the cricketers and the film stars scheduled to play tomorrow at Sinhala Sports Club grounds.

Tamil film stars such as Rajnikanth, Kamal Haasan, Mani Ratnam, Vijay, Ajit and Surya are also thought to be staying away.

Namitha, a star of Tamil cinema, issued a statement saying she had turned down an invitation to perform at the ceremony. “How can I attend even after knowing the existing problem? It is the Tamil people who made me what I am today,” she said.

Some second tier stars, including Vivek Oberoi, have already arrived in Colombo for the event, including many of those nominated for awards. “Come to Colombo,” Mr Oberoi told reporters in Colombo today. “I don’t believe in boycotting the awards. Bollywood films are about building bridges, not putting up walls against people.”

Applying more pressure, the South Indian film industry bodies met hours ahead to reiterate their threat to prevent the release of films featuring actors and technicians who attend the awards ceremony in Colombo. “We expect the Bollywood film industry to respect the sentiments of Tamils and refrain from participating in the event,” said L. Suresh, secretary of the South India Film Chamber of Commerce.

The SIFCC is backed by the Film Employees Federation of South India, the Tamil Nadu Theatre-Owners Association and Tamil Nadu Producers’ Council.

South India is a big market for Bollywood after all than Sri Lanka where authorities have restricted the countrymen's access to Indian audio visual art.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Law makers worried as ordinary citizens hopeful with Sri Lanka's reduction of import duty on motor vehicles

(June 01, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityThe reduction of duties on motor vehicle imports has pushed the law makers of Sri Lanka to exhaustion, sources say. The axe came as most of them were preparing to import cars for reduced taxes. Earlier the MPs could import a car once in five years totally duty free but now the government has planned to impose a tax of around 15%.

it is open secret that most of the MPs either ruling party or opposition sell their vehicle permits to a handsome easy income that ran into several millions of rupees. With the reduction of taxes bt 50%, the MPs also lose half of their quick bucks from vehicle permits.

The government reduced the excise duty on imported vehicles by 50% and removed a 15 percent surcharge on all imports while reducing duty on electrical appliances since June 01.

With effect from yesterday, a car such as an Indian-made Maruti, which had attracted excise duties of up to 183% of its value, would now be charged a duty of 90%, Director General of Fiscal Policy S. R. Attygala said.

Cars attracted over 300% in excise duties, import duties, value added taxes, port and airport development levies and national security levies.

The government hopes the tax cuts will pick up the imports and help revive revenues which had suffered due to high taxes last year. The trend was out in the open in Colombo Bourse in which the share prices of companies importing motor vehicles were upbeat.

The finance ministry in a report issued under country's fiscal responsibility law in February said excise taxes on motor vehicles alone which had been 18 percent of the total in 2007 had fallen to 3 percent by 2009.

In 2007, the government had raised 17.4 billion rupees in motor vehicle excise duties. In 2008 car excise had fallen to 11.06 billion rupees and in 2009 to 3.25 billion rupees.

In November 2007 Sri Lanka had registered 26,100 new vehicles including 2,300 motor cars. In November 2008 only 20,500 vehicles were registered and car registrations had fallen to 965.

In November 2009 vehicle registrations had stabilized at 19,300 but cars had plummeted further to 329.

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...