AH THESE 'CON'OMISTS!
The brouhaha now being
made about the Central Bank governor's statement that the IMF
loan will not be necessary, has given cause to a tantrum being
thrown by Harsha de Silva, alleged economic affairs advisor to
the UNP. As a preamble to this comment, let it be said that it
might be wise, not merely to save this country, but to save the
science of economics itself from the 'intellectual' depredations
of an 'economist' of de Silva's ilk.
De Silva is quite the statistician, and being no economist,
he says as a statistician would, that the country should have
availed itself of the IMF's offer of a new facility, which comes
by some other name and not 'structural adjustment', ( ... but
its better that the jargon is ignored, as a loan is a loan is a
De Silva then takes issue with the new decision to reject the
IMF facility as the Sri Lankan government takes up the position
it has sufficient reserves to service debts, and if need be,
engage in some sort of commercial borrowing.
Any 'economist' with anything called a conscience would
salute a policymaker's decision to forego an IMF facility as
even the most uninitiated of dunderheads know that facilities
such as this from the IMF come with conditionalities which heap
untold burdens on the people, in the name of austerity.
But in what must be unique to Sri Lanka, you seen an
opposition 'economist' goading on the country to opt for a loan
facility that will, as night follows day, definitely impose more
financial burdens on the people of this country through
conditionalities that have wreaked havoc in several countries,
if the record of international lending agencies is anything to
Argentina of course has to be the best example. Right now,
even as this comment is being penned, the President of Argentina
Christina Fernandez Kerchner is doing battle with the
International Monetary Fund, at risk of her country being
summarily removed from the IMF members list.
But Kerchner is ever keyed up for a good fight! It will be
remembered that her late husband, Nestor Kirchner rejected IMF
conditionalities with disdain, and basically told the lending
organization to go to hell.
As a result, Argentina, having spurned the quick and easy fix
offered by the Bretton-Woods lending twin, was able to borrow
from the unlikeliest of sources and turn the national economy
around, registering unprecedented growth of 8 per cent, whereas
the countries that swallowed the bitter pill of austerity
prescribed by the IMF didn't either grow or prevent a massive
swathe of their populations from sliding below the poverty line.
De Silva's hideous argument is that Sri Lanka by turning our
backs on the IMF facility would have to indulge in high interest
commercial borrowing that will increase the debt burden and
further impoverish the people.
Contrast this with Sri Lanka having to keel over and meekly
accept IMF conditionalities! The people would neither have a
future or a present, if this were to be the case.
Progress is not easy, and the trick is to find the money to
lift the country out of middle income status and into
prosperity, by securing the funding for accelerating
infrastructural development, and then securing growth.
Pseudo-economists such as Kumar David who has been crying out
hyena like for eons that the sky will fall down on us tomorrow,
have for instance, decried projects such as the Mattala airport
-- which is so ludicrous considering that the entire Eastern
belt is going to take a quantum jump in terms of tourism
progress due to the establishment of the new Mattala strip.
No country progressed on savings and savings alone - indeed,
no individual did. Risk takers are the success stories of
tomorrow, and this is so axiomatic that it has to be explained
only to the Davids and the Harshas who have their heads
perennially buried in the sand.
Ostriches - the birds -- probably have a keener sense of what
it takes to grow a country than these oxymoronic