Statement by the Sri Lanka Association Berlin e.V. on the current political situation in Sri Lanka
Link to the Sinhala translation at the end.
Sri Lanka Association Berlin e.V. has only issued statements on the political situation of the country on very few occasions when the situation in Sri Lanka has been very critical. As the country is facing its most painful downturn since independence taking hundred thousands of Sri Lankans to the streets, we are herewith complying with the request of our membership by issuing the following statement.
Sri Lanka is facing the countries worse post-independence economic crisis due to defective policies, mismanagement and mainly corruption of the current and previous governments. Since last week hundred thousands of Sri Lankans are protesting in all parts of the country demanding the President and the government to resign immediately due to continuous shortages of food, medicine and fuel, along with record inflation and regular blackouts.
The economic crisis has quickly turned into a humanitarian crisis. The security of essential supplies are no longer guaranteed. The supply of electricity, gas and food to the population is severely interrupted. Inflation has hit highest levels for decades. The unprecedented rise in food prices is also a result of ill-advised agricultural policies as the 100% Organic Farming Policy led to significantly reduced harvests. The working life, the business world, the education system and even the family life of the people in Sri Lanka have been severely affected. Even though the pandemic has exacerbated the situation, the crisis is a result of flawed economic and fiscal policies in recent years.
The economic crisis started with the completely ill-timed tax concessions introduced in 2019 and consequent loss of revenue to the state. This led to a widespread downgrading by several rating agencies and consequently to increased borrowing cost for Sri Lanka. Colombo’s initial stance not to obtain IMF support to handle the debt crisis, fixing of an upper limit for the dollar reducing official foreign currency transfers to Sri Lanka to an all-time low accelerated the crisis. The government relied on obtaining short-term loans and swaps from countries not demanding policy adoptions at higher interest rates instead of negotiating a long-term solution involving the IMF. The main reason for this was to prevent the institutions interference in the governments defective politics, concentration of power in the hands of one family and their self-serving interests.
It is proven that the present government is not capable of handling country’s current problems. Therefore, we demand the immediate resignation of the President and the Prime Minister after agreeing with all Parliamentarians on a caretaker President and an interim Prime Minister with adequate qualifications and experience to handle the current economic, political and social crisis. The new PM should be endowed with a mandate to appoint a cabinet of qualified professionals with expertise and experience in the respective portfolios and social competency to handle current problems. The interim government has the task to improve the supply of essential items to the country as soon as possible, to negotiate a long-term repayment plan with creditors and the IMF and to elaborate and implement a master plan for economic recovery and long-term growth within 12 – 18 months.
It is vital that the interim government obtains the mandate to amend the constitution to reset the balance of power between the parliament and the executive and restoring the role of the parliament as it was before last constitutional amendment. After this period of 12 to 18 months new presidential and parliamentary elections should be held with a mandate to “dare more democracy”.
Sri Lanka needs the “System Change” for which hundred thousands are protesting since over two weeks. For this, the current government and also the opposition must make way.
To achieve this objective the Sri Lanka Association Berlin e.V. has up to now forwarded a letter to H.E. President through the Embassy in Berlin with 188 signatures of Sri Lankans living in Germany demanding his resignation, written to Eurojust (EU and CH organisation responsible for judicial coordination to combat organised crime and money laundering) highlighting reasons to examine and freeze accounts and assts of leading SL politicians, published an article on our website on the current political situation in SL and supported several independent and impartial protest rallies. Further to this the association, joining a worldwide initiative of expatriates, has originated a project to provide essential medical goods to Sri Lanka in nearest future.
Finally we emphasize our contempt to any attempts taken to dissolve the struggle by raising issues pertaining to race, religion, cast, age or any other form of splitting and destroying the unity of Sri Lankans.
Executive Committee of the SLA Berlin