Sri Lanka

Economic lethargy: Rajapaksa will be sorely missed!

Feb 21, 2017
Running a country is not about having big ideas. It is about implementing at least some of them. One can smell vacillation in implementation of development policyalmost everywhere in the country. Most large scale development projects are held up,annual economic growth is below 5 per cent for a third consecutive year, a balance of payment crisis is looming and Sri Lanka is reportedly going to miss the repayment of loan instalments on the Hambantota Port.   
Each of the large scale development projects (or seemingly normal sized projects) is either getting delayed or has been proved a hoax. The inauguration of an export processing zone in Hambantota turned into a mini-riot, and generated a load of bad publicity, the last thing the country needs as it is vying for foreign direct investment. The government says the mayhem happened because of misinformation. It could have known what was in store when the surveyors who were sent to demarcate the land were chased away by villagers. The government could have planned accordingly; instead it went ahead of the inauguration to seek cheap political publicity and created a right royal mess.   
 
And a related agreement to lease 80 per cent of the Hambantota Port to China Merchant Port Holdings and another 15000 acres for the export zone to the same company is now stuck in a legal wrangling. The Joint Opposition has filed a FR petition challenging the framework agreement. The Chinese are holding up the deal until the court decides and have insisted it’s either both the port and the land (for the economic zone) or no deal. Which in a way is understandable, as the increasingly outspoken Chinese ambassador in Colombo( who could well be personifying mercantilism in the Chinese economic expansion) says, ‘without an export zone, what are we going to export’.
 

 

Daily Mirror, February 21, 2017

 

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