Face the Nation TV1; Challenges and the way forward 30.08.2021

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAzY3BF6X2A"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][Music] [Music] our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake to adjust to new ideas to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change good evening and welcome this is face the nation a topic of discussion today revolves around many key areas socio-political and economic challenges and the way forward for our resplendent nation sri lanka joining us this evening on the show are professor pratibha maharaja professor rohan as well as dr priyanka duna singha let's start off tonight's show with dr priyanka missingham dr duna singer where are we standing right now in terms of the economic challenges faced by the people of sri lanka i'm not talking about the government or the politicians let's talk about the people what are the economic challenges faced by them because as of now 2021 the highest inflation pressure rate was recorded in the month of july as well your time starts now yeah thank you for inviting for the program i think as of now it is very clear that people uh suffer from a number of fronts one is of course due to the pandemic some have lost jobs in particular some of the sectors which are very vulnerable to the pandemic context for example tourism sector and also some have lost income maybe in particular in the private sector there are some companies which pay which basically implemented some pay cuts and also when it comes to self-employed persons and small businesses they have experience loss of income top of that i think from one side you lost income and income sources and on the other side the expenditure in particular with the inflation their purchasing power has declined in a significant manner we are in particular the low income people in uh belong to the low income category as well as lower middle income categories i think they are in a very difficult moment or time at the moment in basically how to manage their income in the context where the cost of living keep increasing so basically those are the you know as a consumer that what the general public pays in addition there are problems at the moment as small producers in particular in the area of for those who engage in farming activities those who engage in you know business and small businesses they also face difficulties in terms of selling their product as well as maybe producing engaging in producing activities for example as we all know that with the fertilizer issue that people in particular the farmers now pay severe difficulties in terms of getting the required fertilizer for their farming activities and also the selling of their goods is another area where they face so they asked general public uh so as from one side as consumers from the other side as producers they are facing number of challenges at the moment dr duna singer if you look at the past in 1994 when president chandra kumar tunga was elected as the president of the democratic socialist republic of sri lanka the price of bread was reduced from 9 rupees to 2 rupees and 50 cents respective governments have won elections by making sure that the cost of living comes down and respective governments have lost elections as well let's take a look at silva bandar nayaka's era where she had a very resounding defeat at the general election that was held subsequently in the 1977 period however now if you look at the numbers in play 2020 green gram was 348 rupees right now it's 900 plus sugar 130 rupees now it's 220 rupees bread a pound of bread a loaf of bread was at 60 rupees an hour 65 rupees this is concerning has the government got its priorities right i think as you correctly pointed out the at the moment we know that in sri lanka we broadly discuss implication we can we categorize into two uh component or the two uh basically uh two both categories one is called the food inflation and the other one is called the non-food inflation food demolition is around more than somewhere around 10 percent during last one and one one and a half years time and as a result those prices have increased and in particular what we could see i think the number of times we have mentioned this thing that at the we all agree about the the present pandemic situation not just the the consumers in in sri lanka but in other countries also face the similar problem but i think there should be a mechanism through which the affected people are supported in a number of ways the other countries engage there are you know public work programs to support those who lost income those who lost jobs but here what has happened unfortunately government has not prioritized its expenditure expenditure items that is i think we highlighted even when we uh you know review the the previous budget as well i mean in a pandemic situation i think the priority should be given to address the issues arising from the pandemic in terms of creating employment opportunities and like that if you look at the government's activities right now um dr musinger we saw the man in which in 2020 president gotabe rajapaksa making a special statement to the general public said that the maximum retail price of a kilogram of dal would be at 65 a kilo of big onions would be at 150 rupees and the maximum retail price of a 425 gram a can fish would be rupees 100. all these numbers have now just gone out of the window thrown out of the window and the people are individual result isn't it so the government as clearly who'd winked the public of sri lanka or are we facing this crisis because of kovit 19 i think you asked a few questions one thing is a government captain can publish guesses government can set maximum prices all these when they introduce those messages they themselves know that there is no mechanism to maintain such you know prices i think they themselves know and just you know pretend the public that we have put the maximum price ceiling and all these things but we we i think they they also know and the other people also know that there is no mechanism uh in place to maintain that such prices and i think certainly we have to say that koit919 pandemic is responsible for the part of the problem uh faced by the people at the moment and the other part i am sure we have to uh basically i it should be accounted for the mismanagement of the economic policy by the present government i think number of steps were taken number of uh you know policies were made uh i think in um without taking into account the the bad the the consequences negative consequences thank you very much doctor priyanka singh i now move my attention to professor thank you very much professor for joining us this evening on the show i want to start off with uh something that was the final statement of dr priyanka singha mismanagement of the economic policies of the present government has the government got its priorities right professor manava actually we have to look in a wider perspective because this is not only sri lanka's suffering when you come to kuwait 19 even fully manage full-fledged economics also today's suffering so therefore we can target and we can criticize there can be a mismanagement now you have to see priority base first you have to save your life that is my main argument not only in sri lanka india same i was in jamaica for a long time in that also people are having the same problem so mismanagement it can be operation and all government also making an effort to give their best benefit and hope the government is making an effort yeah also yeah let me explain now government has given the priority for health regulations and there was a demand as well as request even from the government parties minor part is to lock down sri lanka so therefore that has been fulfilled now and also extended so step by step the government also trying to listen to people listen to experts listen to opposition but it must have a different way that is my argument now in jamaica i have seen the minister of health in parliament as well as shadow minister in opposition they regularly meet opposition leader and the prime minister meet so that mechanism is still not functioning in sri lanka but sri lanka presidential task force is there to minimize coin 19 as well as there are other committees i think they look on cola cost of living and also what should be given the priority so government right if they can't give 5000 they try to give 2 000. so some effort we can't say that is effortless management 100 even any country you tell me it is not happening so we must try from our side also professionals as well as others they should be stakeholders in this uh that is a priority my argument yeah professor mahanam hiva you hit the nail right on the head saying right now the priority should be to save lives which is understandably the top priority that should be in any government's agenda however let's take a look at the agenda of this government they're allocating 35 billion um rupees to expand the marine drive project from um behavior to pandora then they go and construct they are trying to construct a walkway uh in the unravel district now are these priorities now this is where you see this is one voice no this is not one boy this is what the public want to know yeah that is where you have to ask from a government minister not from me yeah no i'm asking you yeah that's what i'm telling so you are only targeting one side yeah there can be other sides also sometimes like what like what they may have a plan for this development they may say they go with that and the other hand whatever the hell uh whatever the vaccine they try to do that but but we are scraping the barrel at the moment you you are not listening to me no no i'm trying to listen to you but i can't click on it to talk after my question you ask yeah no you must tolerate if someone is talking you have to tolerate i i i am tolerating professor but my question is when i ask you a question if you're scared me first explain okay yes okay tell me now don't disturb this let me first take this right and then you ask the governor that's my opinion that is your opinion the government right the government right now is scraping the barrel to find funds is constructing the pandura uh is the priority or is it constructing uh the walkway in unravel district the priority right now where you said saving life you had already understood that you are taking then you talk first no no very well taken so don't disturb me yeah tell me yes like you are taking one no two from that side see the government weaknesses and you try to show government is not doing anything for the people more than sixty percent seventy percent they have done the vaccine they are trying their best so therefore you can't just blame taking one or two projects and these are not the priorities and these are the priorities so that is your voice this is why you said you said yeah that's why i'm telling they have done it that's why i'm telling this government has done their best compared with other countries sixty percent seventy percent vaccine they are doing they are giving their best and also sri lanka army police navy they are helping to save the life so professor you are saying that that is why because they have been doing their best they had to listen to the chief privilege of the uh sex in sri lanka to lock down the country and not the experts i mean basically both must go together there can be some development projects and there can be on the other side how to save the lives of the people so you can't stop one and start i don't know what government say this is where i think and other countries also they go in parallel because you said you said that the government is listening to experts and the people yeah but when it came to the lockdown this time around according to professor chandnija sumana they have listened to the chief predates i don't know that but anyway that is where the government has got its priorities wrong yeah so you you pinch out one or two and telling gm i always had one or two and say i'm telling you the expert expert doctors are there so they all gave their voice maybe pre-let's also give their voice so if it is commonly a group is given that so government has listened so you take print out one yes because of the prelate you have stopped i don't know what the ministers are saying but my i think in a different manner yeah well thank you very much professor pradhar malama if you want to know what the ministers are saying if you watch the news and um if you look at the papers you'll no you don't you can't say whether i am looking the new song no no this is my right that is your right for questions this is what my rights wants yeah you are you are trying to show every time you are correct and go through the daily routines that are taking place uh now i move my attention to professor rohan samarajeeva uh professor ransom ajiva i want to leave you with what professor pradiya mohammed have a left saying that the government you can't pinpoint a few issues in the government and then talk about uh the development drive as a single hand or look at it isolated manner development should take place as well as saving lives should take place so do you agree with this uh thought of professor mahana well i believe that we have to pay attention to the health issues we can't have the kind of death rate that we are having is actually quite one of the highest in the world it's quite a problem and it's sort of coming close as somebody said there were numbers and now they're names and now they're not only just names but their names you know so it's coming very close one could argue that we could have done better with regard to for example vaccines that we could have ordered earlier and we could have got the supplies in earlier you take for example the whole situation with astrazeneca and so on there's a very long gap that we have to but then we understand i mean these are problems that many many governments have have faced the issue is that while we do that in order to do so this other method of controlling the health problem is the shutdown is the lockdown now we all know that the lockdown has got a disproportionate effect on poor people on people who who make their daily wages who are in the informal economy who if they don't go out and make some money they cannot make ends meet we have seen the evidence outside the pawn shops p-a-w-n where people have been giving their whatever gold etc etc trying to get the resources in order to write this period through so i would argue that after a number of lockdowns we've had a situation where a number of people are dry basically i think their savings are running dry that's a serious problem uh if you take the 5000 rupees i mean i know there are some ministers who believe that you can live on less than that but i actually do the groceries these days and i know that 5000 is actually not a very significant amount and now we are not talking 5000 we are talking 2 000 rupees yes right and if you look at it proportionately in relation to what other countries have done so for example i know what they are giving in the united states much smaller substantial amounts which has actually resulted in people's savings going up and and the economy also getting a boost because when the shutdown is over people come out with with a lot of money and ability to spend because of the the stimulus payments and so on that have you done the entire countries like the us we could but we could even compare with with other countries we could compare with even with the percentage now i've looked at the numbers in terms of our welfare programs so all the welfare programs including the 5000 rupee payment uh between january and august of 2020 uh the government spent 199.4 billion all right the comparable period in 2019 it spent 141.5 billion so there's a 50 billion increase quite a lot of that is actually for the 5000 payment but i was with a group of experts where we went and made an argument i mean i'm i'm not partisan i'm i offer my advice and my criticism to any political party that is running the country so we proposed back in may of last year that the imf we brought in and the debt to be restructured we also proposed that people be paid given more money for the money that they were losing for the for the you see if you're a daily wager and the government doesn't allow you to go out because of everybody's health that we agree that that's necessary but that means that you have been deprived of the ability to make a living so the government should compensate you it's not charity the government should compensate you on behalf of those whose health has been safeguarded so the statement at that point was we have free education we have free health care we really don't have a lot of lot of elbow room and i agree we don't have elbow room in this country i agree so if you look at the the overall uh income that the government got when the government says we don't have the money i i looked at the numbers and i agree the government doesn't have the money so their total revenues for 2019 was one let's see 1205 billion slightly over 1 trillion by 2020 it had come down to 906 trill billion right 906 359 and then six zeros now from this 57 was going to government salaries and if you pay if you include salaries pensions and um interest it's all gone there's nothing left right so now i told you that the government spent 199 billion for welfare for this for these payments to look after these people who are affected economically the government doesn't have the money i agree now i could argue that the government went and got it see itself into a situation where it doesn't have the money by cutting those taxes in an arbitrary way back in in last november december i could argue that but what's done is done the government doesn't have the money i agree right but the point is that people are suffering now the question is the government should be truthful we should speak the truth now one of the largest of our welfare schemes is fertilizer the free fertilizer that was promised in the sauber dakhma organic and inorganic fertilizer was promised free that's it says in black and white in the sauvage document now obviously we don't have that money so now we come up with this and bull story about something about organic agriculture being good for us and now we have a situation where people the smallholder farmers in the south i talk to these people they are in deep trouble right they are in deep trouble you don't fertilize at the right time you don't get the the the two buds on a leaf cannot be plucked properly right now some fertilizer has been released but i believe that's a temporary re solution that we have got the this fertilizer stocks if the ships don't keep coming we will have trouble now what when that happens we can tell all the stories we want when that happens we'll be shooting ourselves in the foot because we'll be harming one of our primary major experts if we harm our exports then the question comes around what are we doing we are in a hole but what we are doing is we are digging ourselves way in so professor now the government i saw several ministers saying on record uh saying that they cannot afford to give their salaries uh to the covet fund and uh i saw even a former minister a powerful minister of the nslp government clearly saying that he lives on his wife's salary so when you hear statements like this being made by individuals who have had good ranks in the government what is the predicament of the general public if these individuals in this status in this stature says or make statements of this sort what is the predicament of the individuals the general public in this country so we know that the general public is indeed in deep trouble and we know what the long term the solution to getting out of the hole the solution to getting out of this hole is that we have to get exports because what we are doing now is that we are essentially digging ourselves further deep and in order to get that ability to to look after our exports at least save our exports i told you one example of where i export revenues are likely to come down right that is the situation gets worse that is digging deeper right i think somebody sent me a note saying dennis silly had said when you are in a in a hole what you do is you at least stop digging so that you keep going down you don't do that right you come out of the hole for that i don't think there's any dispute in my mind that the imf has to come in but imf is a trust building mechanism we have to have some kind of debt restructuring some breathing space so that we can do what we need to do right that we bring the imports in but let me let me tell you one thing yeah this business of restricting imports is going to destroy our economy right thank you very much professor and that has to be addressed we'll speak about all this as the show goes along so on to my immediate right is azra onto my immediate left is tarusa and on to my far left is chaturanga so let's start off tonight's show with the lady herself thank you shamir i'll start with dr priyanka duna singha doctor if you check the exchange rates on the license commercial banks in the country it says the selling rate of the rupee against usd is 222 but the central bank insists saying that the rupee is still at 203 but what we understand is uh they have gone beyond the moral situation concept and now the central bank center the commercial banks are making decisions on their own because they can't meet the market demand how severe is this problem i think that situation simply reflect the the gravity of this issue that is [Music] there is less supply with respect to the foreign currency uh compared to the demand i think on that basis what has happened generally we assume that the commercial bank generally follow the instruction or the kind of a guidance given by the central bank when uh working in the area of you know basically with respect to uh you know foreign currency so with respect to uh you know area of issuing loans and keeping interest rates and there is a broadly commercial bank all in line with the central bank now i have no idea about the history but this is the first time in recent years that we witness the banking system deviate from the central bank guidelines so this is not a very good i think situation because this further diminish the role of the central bank in handling if i put it in a broader sense the monetary policy so this clearly signal out that there is a real issue with respect to uh the real pressure on the currency to depreciate but doctor if if the central bank is insisting that the exchange rate should stand at 203 and expect the commercial banks to follow that kind of guideline shouldn't the central bank fill that dollar shortage in the country and ensure that the commercial banks can actually withstand this kind of pressure from the market is it because our foreign reserves are so low that the central bank can't do it yes of course i think the central central bank simply cannot uh meet the requirement if if it can simply what generally what you do when there is a demand for foreign currency the either you have to let the currency to depreciate if not if you want to keep it if the central bank wants to keep the rate fixed then you central bank must use the reserve and protect it now at the moment central bank does not use any reserve rather simply first or ask the central commercial bank to sell at this rate but the commercial banks are not ready to do so because uh you know it can sell it at a higher rate why should you uh sell at a lower rate approach the summer achiever one other factor that affects the currency depreciation in the country is money printing we saw how when the government settled the settle the big debt repayment a couple of weeks ago the next thing they did was they printed money more money into the system but what the authorities say is that the money it does not get involved in the circulation it gets sterilized within the system so it will not have an impact on inflation but according to what we have learned about the history we saw how hype inflation affected countries like germany and zimbabwe because of the excessive money printing in the country do you think that we are also heading towards a situation like that well there's all this uh discussion of modern monetary theory and so on i really don't think that there's any point in people you know reading up on modern monetary theory and so on and so forth whether it applies to small economies like ours which don't have a reserve currency and so on and so forth right there's no point in getting in there i think everybody sees the evidence everybody sees the evidence that that is not working and i'm again you know the government has little alternatives but the point is they can't they can only create more local rupees there are all these people who are owed money by the by by the government of sri lanka who are getting paid with money that is not real i know this right but you can't print foreign currency that also we know right so the question is we have lost about 3 billion u.s dollars from tourism alone right we have lost that even other goods exports have come down we know this now the question is these gaps cannot be filled by money printing there's no point in talking about money printing anymore this can be filled only by exports right so when it comes to the foreign transactions you really have to deal with the world as it is not as a world that you imagine in your head but how come the authorities are confident that the economy is doing well and you mentioned about resorting to imf if the government is not willing to go into that kind of arrangement shouldn't they come up with another alternative let's put it this way i don't think that professor in total is saying that the economy is doing well now there was a request that we should cut down on fuel consumption because the government has a foreign exchange crisis now that is a minister cabinet minister who made that statement in my tweet in response i said sure i've been i'm happy to do this right but take about your backup vehicles if the government says that not one backup vehicle will be on the road after today then the people of this country will take this kind of request seriously take all the backup vehicles out put them into garages one vehicle per m per minister that's all i'm asking right do something on those so it's not like they're not saying that there's a problem they're saying there's a problem right there are people who know that that the fertilizer problem is serious and they are unable to go back to their their electrics they know there's a problem there are some people who argue that if we go to the imf and remember going to the imf i mean many people have gone to the imf it takes time the relationships break down it's it takes time this is not a pleasant activity in that submission that i referred to that we made in 2020 we said there will be pain the question is what is the path that gives you the least pain there will be pain whichever way we go but process samaritan now when you when you yeah since you're talking about this imf issue everything that the imf may impose on sri lanka for example increase the interest rates happened already use items that are that are required sparingly milk powder is not available as you said petrol and diesel we have a problem so there is almost a rationing system in place already even though we don't call it that and then we don't have imports coming into the country vehicles have been importation of vehicles have been used so everything that the imf may actually impose on the country we have already done it to ourselves so why not then can the government go well my opinion is if we went earlier we would have a gentler path the way we are doing it we are putting it off putting it off we will have a rougher landing but in my opinion there is no alternative in my opinion there is no alternative i mean we have to look after our debt management there was talk several years ago about creating a debt management office there was talk i mean i've heard in rajit kumar swami talk about it endlessly about how this was peaking we are going to have piled up debt in the next 2019 20 21 these are all all known facts and none of these are surprises right so in my opinion we have to do debt restructuring because of the hit that we took on the tourism account let's simplify yeah the tourism account gave us a enormous hit i i sympathize with the government on this count right that's a real thing people are suffering but the country is also suffering right we thought we will get hit on the on remittances thank god we haven't got hit on that one yet actually there's been a slight increase right yeah so we have to deal with this the question is i don't know i mean it's maybe that all the demonization of the global institutions of the peace process of reconciliation of every blessed thing that you could demonize you have demonized and now because of that rhetoric you can't you have to sort of back into these things i can only speculate why this is because it doesn't make sense so just getting back to what uh professor samar jiva said professor manameva lead with example uh if you're saying to cut down on fuel make sure that you don't have backup vehicles makes sense isn't it this would give the people ample opportunity to start thinking on their feet because the government is doing so the government is taking a haircut henceforth we will do the same thing but the government is not doing that i mean not even single backup vehicle they can go by their vehicle because there is no vo at the moment so i mean government must also dedicate certain things i agree with that but the issue because i can't comment on behalf of them but my argument you have to give example so once you give example even many countries they don't have backup vehicles but i don't know how many backup vehicles these ministers are using my argument not a single backup vehicle they should go by their vehicles this is where we can save money so you must have a proper plan for that when you are discussing it that's why the policy makers when they take a decision from your side i don't know now very recently uh still the public servant salary is uh not deducted but some ministers they say right we are actually contributing this some ministers are not doing that so we are a minister getting certain salary or allowance so privileges there is a way you have to contribute it that that i agree but i don't know whether you can put in a hard and fast rule for everyone all right we are paying half salary i just want to ask you professor now in the president's recent speech he goes on to say that people will have to make sacrifices if the situation aggravates what does that mean in your opinion i think even uh not only from the ministers or public or government service from our side also we have to see certain limitations even now in the pandemic sometimes we have seen people are moving here and there for unnecessary you know moving and also when they are consumption so they try to put their best from the general public side also you also try to limit certain things so i don't know whether this is a democratic country like cuba you can do that now cuba you can put the rule right only two meals per day so likewise they they can't enforce it 100 percent like a communist country but what they say you also try to save certain things that's what that's why i think uh do you now professor jiva said that he goes out and does his shopping these few days because of the restrictions and so on and so forth do you also go out and uh shop i didn't say i go after no you don't go out but you you ict man i got to do e-commerce of course online or whatever it is you do your grocery shopping uh i just want to ask you uh professor have you been doing your grocery shopping lately yeah this morning also right so now there is no russian system in place we saw in the sunday papers that was reported food rationing on the cards to ensure fair prices this was stated by minister bandra guruvadhan himself who is now under um kovid and taking the treatment and he's on quarantine however the question mark is if you go to a supermarket a private supermarket as chaturanga did correctly point out you can only buy 10 kilos of rice the rationing system has already begun so it is not it's like the self-imposed censorship that is in play there is no sunship as per say that has been told by the government however you have to restrict now we just saw uh a recent uh uh revelation that was made by dr sunderland bandar who was from the mr right now he has been summoned to the cid based on the news reports that i'm hearing right now so right now there is no rationing system in place however a rationing system is in place isn't it now it is like this now let's see now you can't buy milk powder there is no milk powder in the market yeah yeah now i'll give a place to buy milk powder it's in bumble a pity highland but they give only 2 500 gram uh 2 ml packets per person yeah yeah that's why i'm telling you so this is where uh not only people now they also get used to that so we have to see how this system and also regularize it and the mechanism which work that's why i said i agree even this full consumption and other things so if people are ready with that to sacrifice and also to follow the health regulation but even this pandemic i have seen everywhere everyone they go everywhere even police are very liberal now so therefore we also have a duty from our side right we also have a duty from our side as a duty must help the country otherwise you can't go alone professor mohammed you were one of the commissioners of the human rights commission in sri lanka now you just mentioned about cuba you can impose a role in cuba you can impose rules in israel can happen however we are a democracy i want to ask you a very direct question do you think democracy prevails in sri lanka at the moment at the moment democracy prevail i'll give some examples you see one of the highly recognized democratic country australia when they came up a demonstration how they are police treated their people but even we had a lot of demonstration but we but but but most of the time police last i think a few demonstration fully kept silent so likewise the last that is the last two to three protests but you shouldn't have the last four to five months back there was no popularity to protest government learner listen government should be like that yeah so every single time something goes wrong the government takes a lesson from that and take it and then we act accordingly they have to they have to study the system and also how other countries trade from that they learn a lesson so this lessons learning is very important so so my question is when these things happen before a few months ago did you did you think that democracy prevailed in sri lanka no because sri lanka forces also police they have to protect the peace as well as people who are using this now with this protest the consequences are coming now i am not going to discuss that so immediately government should set up a committee and try to find a solution that's why this demonstration uh teaches demonstration i am talking but now the teachers are also ready to accept you know whatever the cabinet subcommittee has given but this is too late that's why i'm telling you government should act right purely government should over there because we are still on the subject of the imf and so on and so forth as uh correctly brought forward by uh chaturanga professor samar shiva i want to drag your attention to zambia for an example zambia has to pay 12.74 billion us dollars they had a recent elections on the uh 10th of august uh a couple of weeks ago and a new government was elected to power and the new government very clearly says that they have to go through a restructuring agreement with the imf to ensure that they are bailed out are we moving towards countries like zambia at the moment now this is very alarming as asda mentioned before are we going through the process of being another zimbabwe raises an eyebrow isn't it we are in a precarious situation aren't we no i don't think there's anything shameful about uh about uh getting your debt restructured in in the middle of a pandemic right when the pandemic hit i looked to see whether we had what were the countries that had taken urgent immediate assistance from the imf not restructuring right just assistance except for india and bhutan all the other south asian countries had at that point right we are talking about last april may that period so i don't think there's anything shameful i mean i was surprised that we hadn't i really thought we should have but but we didn't do that for whatever reason india because of their big reserves they can they don't have to and india you know looks after bhutan there are currencies pegged to the indian currency and various things like that so the question is do you take the remedial measures at the right time i don't even think that imf is essential i agree with some of my colleagues that what we really need is a credible plan that people will believe and it will be reflected in the the ratings that we get that people will believe that we are getting ourselves on a path where we can responsibly manage our debt but now we are in a situation where i don't think we can come up with a reasonable credible plan without the backing of an entity like the imf so that's the only reason i'm talking about the imf i have no particular love for the imf somebody else is going to play that role why not but strongman of the previous government let's take a look at the 2006 or 2009 era we saw the malware once saying that we had to pull the plug from the world bank and then we went with the begging bull to the world bank now we have ajit nevad khabra state minister of capital markets saying that we have to not rely on the imf we can manage our own debt there is no issue with that so do you think the imf will come to a country like sri lanka if the sentiment if the transparency is not there will you come after you see mr v malviro answer was still in the government i can remember i wrote articles with sort of poking fun at the plug-pulling metaphor right he even called uh dr pbu jason an economic assassin as well but but the thing is those were said in the heat of the election to win the election those statements were made and then we went to the imf of course mr ajit newark cabral himself went to the imf he was the central bank governor at that time right so the question is that is you know these kinds of decisions are not made by the personal animosity or ego or things like that you know these are big boys right so these negotiations you have to do them in a hard-headed way and these negotiations have been done over and over again i mean if anything sri lanka has gone to the imf too many times over our short history right so mahana maheva just a couple of days ago standard and pools also since they're talking about the economic situation in the country they cut down sri lanka's rating to ccc minus and they say that they're expecting sri lanka to face a severe financial crisis in the next 12 months are you personally satisfied with the money in which our authorities are tackling the economic challenges right now my personal view basically economic challenges i am not much think they are going on the right way because the question you ask for the next 12 months we have to be very curious we don't know how we are going to plan it and also all these depend with the pandemic so the government also must have a strategy in the next 12 months so we we we don't know what day this uh lockdown will you know open so likewise i don't think we can have a long term plan but you have to see the situation and weekly you have to analyze and see how you take these steps forward now basically country is suffering with loans as well as other income we don't get so that's why they try to open for the tourist with a bubble and also you know all these uh our middle east as well as other countries those who earn some money for sri lanka now they have come back more than three hundred thousand so this this is where you you can't bear there dr mana you're precise in saying we have to analyze this weekly because last week the government came forward and said we don't have an issue with regard to milk powder we will sort it out there was the gas shortage two weeks ago they said we will sort it out now we see just now a short while ago emergency regulations relevant to the supply of essential food items sugar rice and paddy declared by the president with midnight from midnight tonight so yes as you said on a weekly basis we don't know what is going on in the country the government says this week we are fine the next week they impose emergency regulations we don't know what will happen the next week but my question to you is slightly different my question to you is coming to you like this now the priority of the government has to also be taken into consideration we knew immediately when the kovid pandemic happened there were people talking about this earlier and then there was this sense of ignorance from the side of the government and then we are here today when even the opposition leader is the matter of the vaccination there were you know what happened we all remember the the tonics the the former health minister trying to throw the pots into rivers we remember all of this now at this moment we see the government engaging develop infrastructure development projects especially i'm i'm referring to this latest one paragraph walking path being built when as we discussed people don't even have food to eat so the priority of the government where where but who is thinking these things dr mahana mayweather so the policy makers must take a decision because we can give our views only but i think both must go together because if there is a i don't know this uh walking path you are talking about this river bank is in parakrambao river right okay parakantha tank so this is where prioritizing people needs as well as certain projects once again i am telling that so the government advisors are there so uda and others they they must take a decision and also municipality council that's right so so they they should come and take this to the higher level pro highest level and tell ok these are not the priorities but we need these type of priorities on the other hand people are also suffering certain people there is nothing to it so then what is the other plan we must have to set up this economy and uh i think uh they must think that in future that was the mahanam all do you think if you don't mind uh is it on the same subject or it's on the same side right okay all in all do you think that currently the government is heading towards the right direction i think government they also have their advisors they also have their priorities my argument it must be balanced you can't stop all the development work and you know flat money for that side so you have to think that but you all are picking one note too and other than that you all are not taking talking about the health situation how the government has given the priority for that so taking the balanced view professor mahanam you criticized uh that that opinion earlier on in the show as well that samir spoke about these unnecessary development projects where you immediately yeah you press the uh vaccination drive that is currently taking place in sri lanka which is in full force can you tell me two correct decisions this government made since kovit 19 hit sri lanka uh in the earlier 2020 and two wrong decisions this government made just to get some clear ground here no comment thank you welcome no circle right up so if you if there's no comment i just want to quickly move to uh a doctor piranha who said i'll come back to you hello from ahmed in a bit because i just want to make sure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to speak so one of the sima former presidents in sri lanka mr angelo patrick posed the question to uh doctor priyanka singha now imf will require a recovery plan uh which our government will find far too politically sensitive to implement like increase in taxes reduce subsidies privatize loss making government businesses uh the government at the end of the day if they want the assistance of the imf need to bite the bullet isn't it i think that we can [Music] what we can see is that based on the past experience now the sri lanka has sought imf assistance around 16 times and based on that we can say if we go to imf the imf will put you know these conditions conditions with respect to either revenue consolidation oh expenditure cut that is what we generally believe in in order to address the structural weaknesses imf may come up with those uh you know reforms so won't want governments to go ahead with those three points but i am sure that two things i i must you know [Music] mention here number one is that why the form why the world leaders decided to form an institutions like imf the very reason is that to assist the members when it when the members face with some balance of payment related issues the imf was ah set up in order to assist so that now this is a situation i mean we are there we collect right um if i recollect right uh doctors imf was formed in 1944 as a result of the great depression and that is how the imf was formed in new york to make sure that the countries that are being suffering as a result of the great depression are looked after quite well isn't it basically in order to help the countries when it comes to the balance of payment crisis that include the the stabilization of the currency as well because if not it could hurt the world trade and the payment system so when it was formed in 1944 there were 44 members and now there are approximately 190 members who are dependent on the imf if we are to move forward uh dr singha what should be the first step that we should take now if we want the help of the imf what must be the first step i think now i will come back to your what should be the first step i think one thing that we need to make sure that imf even the other uh you know institutions financial institution understand the current context where the member countries seek financial assistance in such a context uh you know raising taxes is not a really a good measure at this moment even expenditure cut is not a really a good moment at the moment so i don't expect that imf to go i mean i have to come up with the same reform package that generally uh we witnessed in in the previous occasion that is the number one that has also failed dr new singh in certain countries no no i think now that is i think one thing very important to discuss the now we say that imf has failed that policy prescription you know when drone and all these things but we must also agree now without addressing the structural weaknesses in the economy it is not possible to find a solution for the issues in the medium to long term that is what is the structural problem now there is a gap between the uh in the government revenue and expenditure there is a gap between the you know foreign exchange uh you know supply and demand if i put in a very broader perspective other way around we can say that there is a balance of payment issue so for to that to what we have to do to address that issue we have to improve the competitiveness in the economy so that we can increase the export and similarly when it comes to the article the our budget deficit we have to see how we can improve our revenue position while rationalizing the expenditure so so so without addressing those with required reforms there is no shortcuts now what has happened in the past is that we implement the imf programs until to the until that program is over then we get we simply deviate from that yeah we simply now sometime what happened even after this government came into power we simply uh you know provides some tax tax concessions for some reason now if you look at the export sector you mentioned before that it's very important to build the exports in the country and agricultural products like tea has a bigger role to play right now the fertilized issue is not evidently seen in the fertilizer in the tea industry at the moment but in the long run when crops don't give the nursery yield things will not improve as a result of that what would be the ripple effects on the country's export revenue well i mean t i think it's relatively simple we have had large numbers of agricultural experts writing to the president quoting studies saying what the crop losses in each area will be right now i can talk about a particular sector in agricultural in agriculture that i was deeply involved in which is the question of exporting fruits and vegetables to europe and and elsewhere subject to eurogap standards and so on so we were looking at the with the department of agriculture in peru we were working with them and the exporters association to help get these things to europe and these are the ones that are going to be hit the hardest because here you can't send ugly fruits to to put that to put a term this term is actually used in the trade you know things that are gnarly and have got knobs and various things you've got to send decent looking fruits and vegetables and you've got to have the right amount of chemicals and the right kinds of chemicals the incredible amount of documentation that is involved in it i mean these people had to say here's where we keep the pesticides here's where we keep that we decides and the distance between them is such and such all those records had to be kept right so when you have this kind of blanket prohibitions people will in their desperation because they have invested money in the crop right in their desperation they'll start putting illegal or unapproved chemicals on their fruits and vegetables or tea and then the people will be doing random tests at the other end and when they do render this they'll find out these are not entirely based on trust and they will be rejected and when they're rejected they're incinerated in europe they incinerate entire container loads right so this is destroying relationships right is it destroying markets right now in 2017 when the glyphosate band came into play professor there was a huge issue with the tea industry and the japanese market i know that's why i'm saying none of these things are unknown i mean this is what really boggles my mind and right people know and ripe and right now they found out diron took video sites that are being used in the tea plantations in sri lanka as a result of that many exporters have been battered because of the issues that are that the exporters face in terms of finding the right produce to the right market now let's talk about you know everybody in sri lanka likes value added and branded and all these good stuff right but look at some of the packaging for some of the packaging items you have to have some component from outside you have to open an lc you have to make payments to your long-standing partners you can't suddenly say now we are changing the terms of payment for you now you you have to give me long credit i can't i can't pay you pay you the way i used to pay you can't do that now you have one piece missing how is your export going to work what i like to tell people is you know in terms of exports the largest single export item in sri lanka is everybody knows apparel but in terms of imports last year what is the largest single item that was also material for the apparel industry right depending on the year because last year was one where we didn't drive a lot and the the fuel price the petroleum prices were low so petroleum went to two but otherwise about 15 percent is petroleum right oil and various aspects of that so when you have that many of the inputs coming from outside right and you have to run from pillar to post looking at people asking your old college mates machan can you give me this can you find me some dollars i mean this is not the way to do business so we'll come back to that in a minute uh professor i think it's very important to speak about the opening of lcs because there are many manufacturing companies in sri lanka who are suffering as a result of not being able to open lcs but i want to pick uh professor mahanam hawa's brain on on your thoughts about the ban on the imputation of chemical fertilizer actually now ban of chemical fertilizer is a good concept but you have to start step by step immediately if you put a band then how you can fill the gap now they have understood and they have you know given certain permission to actually uh import that but we have to go with this organic fertilizer that is very very important but when you are taking a decision that decision must be uh you know you have to see whether you can sustain that so immediately when you took the decision most of the countries supported yes sri lanka is the first country where they practice it but later they understood immediately you can't do it but you have to give some opportunity for the farmers because they can't actually transfer or convert to that so i mean the practice where you starting now is good because you give some opportunity for them to you know start with chemical fertilizer and step by step but that is not the program that is being adopted in sri lanka at the moment professor right now there's a complete prohibition so i am telling my opinion yeah so so there is a problem you know what i am in my opinion because when when a question about give me two mistakes that the government made you said no comment now this is why i am telling my opinion personal opinion i am not representing any party here the foundation of chemical fertilizer issue you say one comment so that's i'll take that as one issue that the government has not done right but what is the government but my opinion i am telling so correctly you take yeah what i say but other than that you are trying to fill that gap and putting he is saying this way and therefore it is right and there we go that's all right now you know you see the judge of your own case no no you have to you have to say when when tarus asked to give us two areas that the government went wrong you said no comment but when you when uh doctor professor said there's an issue with the implication of chemical fertilizer then you tend to be that is my opinion that's why you are telling this is the gov that's not the way the government is doing so the government's thinking of bringing down six thousand metric tons of rice from overseas because a cabinet paper has been approved on that front as well to bring down six thousand megatons of rice are these rice that the government is importing to sri lanka must this be organic or shouldn't should it be non-organic given the fact that the government has imposed a uh ban on chemical fertilizer in sri lanka i have no idea about that i don't have any idea about the government's uh nation to bring down then what about the rubber industry why is the rubber industry uh individuals can't bring down chemical fertilizer that means you can answer that number yeah that rather we don't really have to do it because you can't stop it immediately you can't stop that and give some opportunity to use this chemical fertilizer that's my answer well professor do you think that these decisions are made after consulting the relevant authorities or you know after thinking ah have to be how to be but i don't know how they take the decision when you are coming for a decision like that perfectly i agree with you you have to uh you know have your consultant as well as you have to do a feasibility study and you have to see ground level what is happening taking all these things into consideration you have to take a decision i would argue that the government didn't i think the evidence is very clear because when this came out of the blue i actually went and studied the cabinet paper the only justification that is given is the language in the the the manifesto sauber that one sauber get that message we'll give free fertilizer we'll have a 10 year period now i personally based on evidence if anybody wants i i'll tell you i think the whole idea of conver of doing without chemical fertilizer is wrong right i'm not hedging my bets here i'm saying that organic fertilizer organic agriculture is a niche product 100 of the economy you cannot have organic kali base there's no country in the world that has done it i was advising the government of bhutan in 2009 when they made the announcement they have not been able to do it their their the studies have been done by independent parties welfare of all parties in in society one exception being the farmers who got all the various subsidies that were given other than them the entire country and food security suffered so did you advise this government as well when this decision was no no i even when i'm advising government i will say what i have to say were you consulted at least by uh this no no no no previous government in 2017 when they brought the glyphosate ban no i did i was for 20 months on an unpaid basis i was trying to rescue the ict agency of sri lanka 20 months unpaid right so that means that they were listening to my advice on that front if it involved technology but they weren't listening to my advice on everything else if you look at my writing which is quite public i have been hard critical about some of the budgets that came before 2017. no but do you agree with what uh professor mahal may have said that the government is listening to experts no i don't i don't because i know for for a fact that when the oil the palm oil ban which was again a wrong decision a wrong decision taken wrongly right taken wrongly because the imports that's one matter growing the seedlings that were in this in the country these are all individual decisions were wrong and when people wanted to make presentations these were former heads of the rubber research institute etc etc when they wanted to make presentations they were not given time i say this with responsibility i talk to these people because i work i i have an interest in agricultural economics and then and then i'll give you further evidence that after the fertilizer ban came in there was a letter that was signed even by the director general of agriculture even by the sitting director general of agriculture sitting government officials put their jobs on the line and they said this should not be done now if they were consulted beforehand would they have to be writing letters so you didn't consult you didn't look at prior experience which was the glyphosate fiasco you didn't look at international experience of which there's plenty bhutan being being won none of these were done i'm sorry just because something is in a manifesto and even the manifesto i checked even the manifesto didn't say they were going to do this in this manner it said over 10 years right so getting back into uh the lc matter that you spoke about uh professor jiva manufacturing companies in sri lanka are finding it difficult to open lcs at the moment however we saw the minister of health recently in an interview a very uh lightly saying yes you can open lcs if you go to the banks if you can do it over the phone uh very harshly not even respecting the fact there are manufacturing companies in sri lanka who are toiling so hard to find ends meet to make sure that the comp the country's economy grows as a result so what is going on at banks now the banks are saying that they don't have money to open lcs uh as you said before uh suppliers overseas are require requesting are required to give a 120 day period however all the exporters and importers are in limbo at the moment well the tragedy of this is you see you some of you may know i've been interested in this whole business of electoral reform i've spent a lot of time working on it and there are many people who say that people who go to parliament should have degrees i disagree with that i have always disagreed with that but one of the things i think is that we must have a certain number of people who've met payroll i'm using american term but in the u.s we say have you met payroll that is have you had the responsibility at the end of the month to having making sure that your employees are paid right that is some kind of business experience you must have these are people who have been living off the state they have been mps in this country who have been mps from the 1980s and the 1990s even before coming into parliament they have been doing other things but not meeting payroll not taking responsibility and i think people like that are the ones who tell us oh you can go to the bank and get an lco over the phone right the reality is that this is not you know when you have a complex manufacturing process as our friend professor primition vaticorula says there's something called global production networks where you know you need requirements now i mean i was very surprised recently i got my daughter was in south africa and she brought me some honey bush tea or some weird south african thing i turned it upside down and it had been packeted put into the packet the packaging was done in sri lanka so can you imagine honey bushra whatever that raw material had been sent to sri lanka because we were good at handling tea and our some company here had done the packaging beautiful packaging and nice thin box and rapid and sent it back and she goes to some place and says oh this is what i'm going to give my father right so this is the economy that we are living in these people don't have a clue as to what this economy is about that your entire now i'll just give you another local example harishchandra everybody knows harichandra even when even during the the the 1777 uh worst in closed economy period harishchandra was there you could buy coffee you could buy spices they had to cancel certain export orders because they couldn't get a small ingredient one part of the ingredient that they needed was unavailable because of the import restrictions from india import restrictions kill exports that simple thing people don't understand lcs and relations i mean relationships take time to build in the commercial world you don't just change walk away from promises and ways of doing business that you have developed over the years these people don't understand it i would say there's a great or empathy towards not only the the common man who has to suffer and you know stand in line and hockey's gold uh jewelry in order to get some money to go to live through a uh a lockdown but i would say there's a lack of empathy about the people who actually bring us the dollars so do the exports so professor the professor samarjeeva completely rejects the point of view made by you saying that government listens to experts uh the government only does things for their betterment for their goodwill and everything in a nutshell what uh professor said was illogical thinking is taking place in the government ranks at the moment what is the message you have for the government now my message is this now we take the present scenario now let's see uh experts were called for this lockdown and all the medical experts as well as other experts in that field they gathered and thereafter they gave their opinion according to that government acted right you can cross me and you can ask some questions no point of asking your profession yeah yeah that's why i'm feeling not heard that's why that's why i'm telling okay so i am not sure whether this has been given by individual or not now every ministry there are consultants they have recruit so those consultants are basically advising the minister so minister may listen no may not listen there is a transparency issue so my argument it should not be like that it should not be like that if the consultants are there experts are there when they give their opinion you have to see it properly analyze it and act accordingly if they are not doing it it may be a loss for the government but professor early you mentioned that the government is learning from the past mistake is moving forward so do you think that they have learned anything out of this situation especially when it comes to this particular they were talking sorry i think now they have studied the situation and they may be taking certain precautions for the future so that is where the way forward you may not agree with my answer but that's why i see but professor we hardly see any results the outcome is it because um why i mean i don't understand now i mean different people think clipper and we know there are six people here one go against and six go one side it doesn't matter i am telling this this is for people perception do you think the 6.9 million people who voted for this government are happy i am not talking about this government voting and other things yeah do you think they are happy with the way the government is going i can't say that i have not done a survey about it so i can see so we have to see it for<br><!-- wp:image {"id":1776,"sizeSlug":"large","linkDestination":"none"} -->rn<figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img class="wp-image-1776" src="https://en.videoencontexto.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Face_the_Nation_TV1_Challenges_and_the_way_forward_30082021_gAzY3BF6X2A.jpg" alt="Face the Nation TV1; Challenges and the way forward 30.08.2021" /></figure>rn<!-- /wp:image -->[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Face the Nation TV1; Challenges and the way forward 30.08.2021

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