Thursday, June 16, 2016

It is time the Government find a spokesman to lucidly explain their policies and counter misconceptions

A fresh face is needed to bat for the Government, as all the current players (politicians) have lost credibility with the PUBLIC and a genuine well argued defence of the Govt. Policies and Actions to attack unfounded criticism is long overdue

In light of criticism from the likes of WA Wijewardena, the former central bank deputy governor with 20years experience there, on a weekly basis, there is NO counterweight to his arguments, which are NOT always fair, as he has been on a personal agenda even in the previous Government for their lapses.

While it is refreshing to be reminded of incoherent policy decisions, and having a Monetary Board, who really don’t understand Monetary Policy, and therefore are NOT competent to be the trustees of the Bank in their operational actions, it is IMPORTANT that the Govt. provide a credible defence of its actions.

Without it, with Wijewardena, having the whole page to himself, people ONLY believe his word, whether true or false, and then have the impression that the Govt. is a bungling train wreck with the train driver drunk! 

Unrelenting criticism from a man with a font of knowledge as a man on a mission to crucify the Monetary Policy of Sri Lanka, we need a man to counter who can present the alternative scenario, while accepting some obvious lapses with dignity, but pointing out the tunnel vision of the Wijewardena game plan. His deficiencies don't get reported due to the lack of a competent challenger! Silence is weakness in this respect.

IF the Govt. does NOT do this immediately you are heading for a crisis of confidence and an economy that sooner rather than later will implode, with an exchange rate crisis, capital flight when exchange controls are lifted, and harsher terms from the IMF which further affect the poorer segments of our society, over the rest.

The leadership is rudderless, and NO ONE appears prepared to criticize the leader for fear of falling out of favor. It is NO time for niceties, and instead it is time for a spirited defence, and a game plan from now on till the end of term, that the people can trust. The distraction of the floods, Salawa and Ministers’ cars does not help.

The schock and awe facts of the current week, of removing exchange controls with one breath whilst introducing Capital Gains Tax when the Stock Market has tanked, is a case in point. It confused the issue which will result in another salvo from WA instead of silencing him to eat HUMBLE Pie just once!

Somehow the PM is NOT capable of giving the needed gravitas to an economic statement, and neither does the Finance Minister have that, so here goes:

The following can be attached to the overall Policy Statement that only gives the macroeconomic picture, of expected deficit, borrowing requirement, domestic and foreign, repayments of principal and interest for 2017, balance of payments, and remittances growth and expected economic growth. It is important to justify with certainty that the Govt. has covered its borrowing requirement at the lowest interest rates possible, to confirm the manifesto promises made.

1                   List all definite cabinet approved infrastructure projects that are currently in progress, with estimated completion dates, and funding mechanism, and total cost. The Rs5B Rajagiriya Flyover being the latest.
2                   List those that are continuing from previous Government projects in a similar manner in the same format.
3                   List the major policy changes that have benefited the people, be it the Govt. sector pay raise, or private sector pay raise.
4                   Promise a certain level of prosecution for crimes of the past regime, that the people are still waiting for beginning with a high profile case, to be imminently started. Concentrating on finding and recovering loot.
5                   Give assurances to senior Govt. servants who have suddenly, decided NOT to rock the boat by taking their initiative in projects under their direction, for FEAR OF FCID, that they SHOULD NOT fear prosecution where they have followed procedure, and NOT succumbed to pressure from above.
6                   Delegate powers direct to the District Secretaries to manage their workforce to SERVE the people and NOT the politicians, along with a performance measurement and promotional prospects for the productive.
7                   Announce major improvements to the Education, Health, and Welfare sectors to ensure justice and accountability and ombudsmen for complaints.
8                   Direct agriculture to produce, poison free, but affordable food, coupled with a nutrition, plan to reduce malnutrition amongst children.

These are a few ideas that can get maximum impact with the public who have lost faith in the Govt. and the Govt. has not satisfied their concerns in any way at all.

Progress in all these areas should be reported widely every month, so the public realize that this is not just words and intent, but serious and implemented.

In all this the politicians MUST also be prepared to make sacrifices on behalf of the state, and the responsibilities they take up, must be satisfactorily carried out, and the PMs office, constantly monitoring progress, and accountability for action.  

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