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Family Greed Caused Sri Lankan Economic Crisis, Says Opposition MP Shanakiya Rasamanickam

https://sputniknews.com/20220521/family-greed-caused-sri-lankan-economic-crisis-says-opposition-mp-shanakiya-rasamanickam-1095660115.html

Family Greed Caused Sri Lankan Economic Crisis, Says Opposition MP Shanakiya Rasamanickam

Family Greed Caused Sri Lankan Economic Crisis, Says Opposition MP Shanakiya Rasamanickam

The crisis-hit island nation is witnessing the worst economic and political crisis since its independence in 1948. Citizens have taken to the streets for the… 21.05.2022, Sputnik International

2022-05-21T08:17+0000

2022-05-21T08:17+0000

2022-05-21T08:17+0000

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A new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has taken the reins in Sri Lanka and is widely expected to bring some stability and much-needed relief amid the ongoing political and economic turmoil. However, the nation’s opposition parties haven’t stopped protesting.The parties want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take responsibility for the country’s disastrous economic crisis and step down.Sputnik spoke with opposition party parliamentarian Shanakiya Rasamanickam to understand what possible ways out there are for the crisis-hit island nation.Sputnik: How did Sri Lanka end up in such an economic and political crisis? Where did the ruling government fail?Shanakiya Rasamanickam: The political crisis we are facing today is due to the government’s failure to handle the economic crisis.The economic crisis began when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected in 2019. As soon as he got elected, the first thing he did was give tax cuts to large corporations, which had been providing 20-30 percent of the state’s source of income. And, when COVID-19 hit worldwide at that time, credit agencies like Fitch and others downgraded our credit rating, saying that the country didn’t have enough money to pay its bills.But the government at that time borrowed money to pay off previous debts and never told us about the country’s financial situation.They used foreign reserves to pay off loans [despite] knowing that in one year’s time the nation might not have enough money to feed its citizens or even provide for the most basic needs such as medicine for hospitals, electricity, or fuel.The entire COVID situation was very badly managed. President Rajapaksa thought he could handle COVID but they failed miserably and blamed the central bank governor, finance secretary and finance ministers. They’d all been appointed by the President only. Basil Rajapaksa, who was finance minister till April, is also the brother of the President. He [the president] needs to take responsibility for all his appointments. And all of them ended up using Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves, which were at around $7 billion in 2019.Now, the new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says we don’t even have $1 billion.Sputnik: What exactly is the situation in the country, since it is being reported that people are not being able to get essential medicine and fuel.Shanakiya Rasamanickam: Well, we see the situation getting only worse. We don’t have medicine, or fuel and are facing 13 hours of blackout. The Prime Minister has said the next three months would may turn worst. I don’t know how worse it could get from here. In the coming days, we may face a food crisis as the last year’s government ban on importing chemical fertilisers has completely destroyed our rural economy.Now, the President is saying that he doesn’t know what to do. If he does not know anything, and can’t help citizens, he should resign. Why are they still trying to hold on to power? How can citizens trust Rajaspaksa’s family saying that this country didn’t have enough money to pay its bills?Right now, we need a huge influx of foreign currency, at least $1.5 billion. So, we are very worried about the future.Sputnik: What demands do you want to be fulfilled to let the Sri Lankan Parliament run smoothly?Shanakiya Rasamanickam: The main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa put forward four conditions to the president. First, President Rajapaksa should resign and the newly elected prime minister should introduce a law to the Parliament that reduces the president’s power.We do not want to join the ruling government — what was offered by the president to us — to have a unity government for the time being. We cannot sit alongside those who have brought such a crisis into the country.Sputnik: Has the opposition extended the support to the new prime minister?Shanakiya Rasamanickam: It’s conditional support, not on all issues.Sputnik: The government has decided to privatise the national airlines to raise some funds. Are you supporting the government on it?Shanakiya Rasamanickam: Well, for years, Sri Lanka has opposed privatisation because it’s never happened with transparency. The government has lied to us in the past. This time, the opposition has been consulted.Our national airline — Sri Lankan Airlines — has been running on losses for years anyway.The national airline’s chairperson does not have any road map for how to run the airline. So, if we can sell our loss-making enterprise and make money, there is no harm. Selling the airline is in the best interest of the nation.So, it’s too early to say if it’s a great idea or not, or what all should be privatised. So, we should look at things on a case-by-case basis.Sputnik: As a Member of Parliament, how do you think the crisis should have been handled?Shanakiya Rasamanickam: As of now, there is no road map. For the last five weeks, we’ve been getting food from India on a credit line and are thankful to Tamil Nadu State Chief M.K. Stalin and the Government of India.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that they could only help us if there was some political stability in the country.Political stability doesn’t mean having the Parliament and the Prime Minister. But people trust the ruling government. As of now, even the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party members (ruling party) have lost trust from the leaders.The opposition wants some structural change in the political system in Sri Lanka — we should go for a referendum, and the public should acknowledge and decide what they want. And, then, we should bring changes to our constitution.And once that is done, you know, at least we would have resolved a political crisis, which then can help us resolve the economic crisis.

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The crisis-hit island nation is witnessing the worst economic and political crisis since its independence in 1948. Citizens have taken to the streets for the past 40 days, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

A new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has taken the reins in Sri Lanka and is widely expected to bring some stability and much-needed relief amid the ongoing political and economic turmoil. However, the nation’s opposition parties haven’t stopped protesting.

The parties want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take responsibility for the country’s disastrous economic crisis and step down.

Sputnik spoke with opposition party parliamentarian Shanakiya Rasamanickam to understand what possible ways out there are for the crisis-hit island nation.

Sputnik: How did Sri Lanka end up in such an economic and political crisis? Where did the ruling government fail?

Shanakiya Rasamanickam: The political crisis we are facing today is due to the government’s failure to handle the economic crisis.

The economic crisis began when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected in 2019. As soon as he got elected, the first thing he did was give tax cuts to large corporations, which had been providing 20-30 percent of the state’s source of income. And, when COVID-19 hit worldwide at that time, credit agencies like Fitch and others downgraded our credit rating, saying that the country didn’t have enough money to pay its bills.

But the government at that time borrowed money to pay off previous debts and never told us about the country’s financial situation.

They used foreign reserves to pay off loans [despite] knowing that in one year’s time the nation might not have enough money to feed its citizens or even provide for the most basic needs such as medicine for hospitals, electricity, or fuel.

The entire COVID situation was very badly managed. President Rajapaksa thought he could handle COVID but they failed miserably and blamed the central bank governor, finance secretary and finance ministers. They’d all been appointed by the President only. Basil Rajapaksa, who was finance minister till April, is also the brother of the President. He [the president] needs to take responsibility for all his appointments.

And all of them ended up using Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves, which were at around $7 billion in 2019.

Now, the new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says we don’t even have $1 billion.

This is a man-made crisis. One big family created this crisis, and due to their greed, 22 million Sri Lankans are suffering.

Sputnik: What exactly is the situation in the country, since it is being reported that people are not being able to get essential medicine and fuel.

Shanakiya Rasamanickam: Well, we see the situation getting only worse. We don’t have medicine, or fuel and are facing 13 hours of blackout. The Prime Minister has said the next three months would may turn worst.

I don’t know how worse it could get from here. In the coming days, we may face a food crisis as the last year’s government ban on importing chemical fertilisers has completely destroyed our rural economy.

Now, the President is saying that he doesn’t know what to do. If he does not know anything, and can’t help citizens, he should resign. Why are they still trying to hold on to power? How can citizens trust Rajaspaksa’s family saying that this country didn’t have enough money to pay its bills?

Right now, we need a huge influx of foreign currency, at least $1.5 billion. So, we are very worried about the future.

Sputnik: What demands do you want to be fulfilled to let the Sri Lankan Parliament run smoothly?

Shanakiya Rasamanickam: The main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa put forward four conditions to the president. First, President Rajapaksa should resign and the newly elected prime minister should introduce a law to the Parliament that reduces the president’s power.

We do not want to join the ruling government — what was offered by the president to us — to have a unity government for the time being. We cannot sit alongside those who have brought such a crisis into the country.

Sputnik: Has the opposition extended the support to the new prime minister?

Shanakiya Rasamanickam: It’s conditional support, not on all issues.

Sputnik: The government has decided to privatise the national airlines to raise some funds. Are you supporting the government on it?

Shanakiya Rasamanickam: Well, for years, Sri Lanka has opposed privatisation because it’s never happened with transparency. The government has lied to us in the past. This time, the opposition has been consulted.

Our national airline — Sri Lankan Airlines — has been running on losses for years anyway.

The national airline’s chairperson does not have any road map for how to run the airline. So, if we can sell our loss-making enterprise and make money, there is no harm. Selling the airline is in the best interest of the nation.

So, it’s too early to say if it’s a great idea or not, or what all should be privatised. So, we should look at things on a case-by-case basis.

Sputnik: As a Member of Parliament, how do you think the crisis should have been handled?

Shanakiya Rasamanickam: As of now, there is no road map. For the last five weeks, we’ve been getting food from India on a credit line and are thankful to Tamil Nadu State Chief M.K. Stalin and the Government of India.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that they could only help us if there was some political stability in the country.

Political stability doesn’t mean having the Parliament and the Prime Minister. But people trust the ruling government. As of now, even the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party members (ruling party) have lost trust from the leaders.

The opposition wants some structural change in the political system in Sri Lanka — we should go for a referendum, and the public should acknowledge and decide what they want. And, then, we should bring changes to our constitution.

And once that is done, you know, at least we would have resolved a political crisis, which then can help us resolve the economic crisis.

https://sputniknews.com/20220521/family-greed-caused-sri-lankan-economic-crisis-says-opposition-mp-shanakiya-rasamanickam-1095660115.html Family Greed Caused Sri Lankan Economic Crisis, Says Opposition MP Shanakiya Rasamanickam

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