Enough rhetoric Mr. President, time for action

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At a time when the people are drastically losing faith in the Government and in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the President recently said that he believes in the people’s resilience. Addressing the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday (30), President Rajapaksa said that he is confident that with the remarkable resilience of the Sri Lankan people, along with co-operation from international and regional partners, Sri Lanka will prevail to engineer a rapid economic recovery.

The President’s statements come in a context where the people’s patience and resilience are waning rapidly, and they are tired of fighting a battle with life that was created by reasons beyond their control, the main one being the Government’s mismanagement of various aspects of the economy, such as printing money with no regard to rising inflation, and shortsighted policies, such as the hasty plan to go organic in agriculture, which continue to affect the people. The President’s confidence in the people is not going to change anything because the people are not confident about any aspect of their lives. They are not confident about a prosperous tomorrow or at least about surviving today, and they blame the Government for that.

Citizens of Sri Lanka, or any country for that matter, do not appreciate leaders or Governments that tell them to be resilient, especially at a time when they have already sacrificed more than what they can. People need leaders who give them reasons, i.e. concrete plans, to be resilient, and that is also the only and best way to build confidence in Sri Lanka’s international allies.

The President also stated that he relies on the co-operation of Sri Lanka’s international allies. However, following the above-mentioned statement, which is likely to give an impression that the Government is trying to put all the economic burden on the people, expecting the international community to help Sri Lanka is silly. The international community knows more about Sri Lanka’s situation and what the Government has done and not done than the President realises. In fact, the President’s recent address, in which he said that the prevailing economic crisis was not created by him, was reported by several international news outlets while discussing how the present Government’s actions or inactions worsened the country’s situation.

If the President genuinely appreciates the co-operation of international and regional partners or expects their support, what he should be saying to BIMSTEC member countries is how he and the Government are planning to save the country’s economy by presenting specific plans, not how the country was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and is struggling. Other countries, including BIMSTEC member states, too dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic; however, the economy of those countries did not collapse like Sri Lanka’s economy did. In this context, the President should have actually thought twice before blaming the Covid-19 pandemic and related developments entirely for the country’s tragic situation, because it could easily be viewed as an excuse to get more money or various other forms of support from other countries without the Government having an actual plan on how best to utilise such support.

The President has governed the country for over two years, which is more than enough time to understand that unlike desperate Sri Lankans, the international community does not blindly believe promises dressed up as plans and requests for support with no assurance of good outcomes. It is time for the Government to stop playing the blame game, giving empty promises, and expecting some miracle to happen.

It is not too late, because there are still people and international bodies waiting for the Government to come up with plans for specific and strong actions to address the economic crisis even at this eleventh hour.

courtesy Sunday morning

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