The Future Appears Bright

The Future Appears Bright

Superpower India were quick off the mark – no sooner had the presidential election results been announced the Indian Foreign Minister was in Colombo to personally congratulate the new President Gotabya Rajapaksa and extend a personal invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit India.

President Gotabya’s visit to India got off to a startling start. Sri Lanka’s president in a departure from the usual practise travelled like an ordinary passenger and flew Business on a scheduled flight. His entourage was remarkably small.

President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi are said to have had fruitful discussions including the matter of reconciliation and a common agreement to contribute against global terrorism. President Rajapaksa clinched a great deal whilst there: he got the Indian Premier to pledge a USD 400 Million line of credit for infrastructure development – the icing on the cake was a further USD 50 Million towards fighting international terrorism.

In the words of that great British TV personality, Bruce Forsythe, “Didn’t he do well”.

The announcement of a series of tax cuts has been greeted with some astonishment but largely with great grace by the population. Certainly the measures proposed will put more money in your hands and will be welcomed by most taxpayers. However, these measures also means that by studious use of the RAMIS system, the Inland Revenue will see a much larger tax file base. The tax free slab has increased to Rs 3,000,000 per annum up from Rs 1.2 million meaning that several hundreds of thousands earning less than Rs 250,000 per month will enjoy tax free status.

These new measures highlights the new government’s keenness and commitment to registering economic growth at over 6% per annum most probably from the beginning of the new year.

Reaching this target will require that the public and foreign investors alike are instilled with a sense of confidence or as we put it sometimes,  increase market sentiment. Higher the sentiment greater the confidence of both local and foreign investors.

Clearly the government of Sri Lanka will need to attract overseas investment in our treasury bills and bonds but people are beginning to question the deficit as a result of these tax cuts.

In actuality these very measures will result in the requisite deficit being covered which when coupled with greater exports and the return of a robust tourism sector will reach the growth plan put in place by senior and experienced hands within Team Rajapaksa.

Interest rates are set to contract resulting in better interest costs, debt servicing costs too will benefit from a strengthened rupee and a greater tax base due to economic revival.

This is the future.

Nandasena Gotabya Rajapaksa has a formidable economic team – Dr PB Jayasundera, AJith Nivard Cabraal aided by Treasury Secretary S R Attygalle. As long as President Gotabya can control corruption especially on large scale purchasing and infrastructure projects, much of the war is won. In the power sector alone wastage and poor management of the distribution of electricity results in wastage of at least 150 MW of power. Several such ‘better management’ will result in the saving of billions of rupees of the public monies. Sri Lanka will have a serious chance of progressing beyond the yardstick per capita GDP of US$ 4,000 per annum.

Sri Lanka is not finished with elections just yet.The general elections will be held in the not too distant future. Yet the United National Party are displaying an appalling lack of leadership but then that too is no surprise since they have consistently had leadership issues for at least the past 25 years.

It appears to this rag that the United National Party consists in the main of persons unable to stand up for what is right and what is democratic. Most of them appear to have been groomed into subservience and worshipping a deity that has zero value. It is as clear as day is different from night that Wickremesinghe their failed leader must call it a day and retire from not only the party leadership but also from parliamentary politics as well.

The commitment of the majority of the upper echelons of the UNP must be questioned. Is it not abundantly clear that the majority of its members at the top simply do not care enough for the people and care more to the point of being nauseous about Ranil Wickremesinghe carrying on as leader of the UNP.

It is about time that the party faithful march to Sri Kotha and sling Wickremesinghe out of their party headquarters if he is so gross as to even consider staying on as party leader and or Opposition leader.

The success of the President Gotabya administration will require a full-on opposition. The fear many Sri Lankans will share is that in the whole scheme of things no one is able to discern if the UNP will shed its deadweight leader and then look to the future.

Que sera sera.