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Where Have All the Profits Gone?

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Where Have All the Profits Gone?

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Before you study the economics, study the economists!

Where Have All the Profits Gone?

e-Con e-News 18-25 April 2020

“When orthodoxy fails, heresy must come into its own” – GVS de Silva

ee is ever fascinated by our history – and even more – ee has a nostalgia for the future!

     Our history includes building the first hospital in the world in 5thC Mihintale. A history of learning by doing and making, of innovative irrigation systems to bloom granaries. This transformation was centred in the solidarities of the purana gam sabha (ancient village councils). It was bolstered by the temples and monasteries – those repositories of great knowledge, of medicines, of herbs, their cultivation, of technology. Who & how were made the golden needles of our own – more ancient than the Chinese? – system of acupuncture, the systems of healing, of Helavedakam. Of the venerable ‘Thera’ (Healer / Elder), which gave the world the words ‘therapy’ and ‘therapeutic’. Of a doctrine of compassion towards all sentient beings.

     The bhikkhu were also the leaders of the 16th-19thC resistance to this long horror of colonial onslaught. They suffered the brunt of the destruction, as did the monasteries. Reinstitution of the Sangha had to be conducted from Siam (Thailand), via the Dutch, who had destroyed Lanka’s international shipping. Much has therefore been lost, much destroyed, and even more still to be recovered. An even more amazing contribution, we can make, as we reconstruct our country and the world. Jayaveva!

A sinister smear campaign has commenced against the President’s call for local production, likening it to the attempts at self-sufficiency by the Sirimavo Bandaranaike government. That government had attempted, ’70-’75, to build a rudimentary national economy, in the aftermath of assassination, coup attempts, terrorism, bankruptcy and the escalation of multinational and supranational (IMF, etc) interference, during a massive world food and oil crisis, with sharp rises in imported food stuffs prices, when imports of rice, sugar and flour were 40% of the import bill, and the world rice price rose from £36 per ton to £180, 1972-1974.

            US NGO Advocata and others are now using former Finance Minister Ronnie de Mel to justify what came after. Under de Mel’s tenure, 1977-1988, the open economy was imposed, smashing local industries, undermining public health and education, with the national debt let alone grand theft attaining unprecedented heights (see ee Quotes), leading to terrorism and war, north and south. – https://twitter.com/i/status/1254017151771574273

     They all like to forget it is the English who introduced rationing in 1942, curtailing wasteful imports and extravagance, even promoting local production! Our beloved Anglomaniacs had no complaints then whatsoever! Meanwhile, now, their attacks are growing more hysterical against the government’s international allies, China, Russia, Iran, et al, trying to force the government to go begging again to the IMF and the West.

• Wealthy Lombardy in Italy was a model of privatized healthcare. Italian employers also demanded workers continue working despite the virus. And the plague spread rapidly, in the richest region in Italy! (see ee Workers)

• Be careful if you walk outside! Capitalists are throwing out all their favorite shibboleths so fast, from free trade to laissez-faire, you never know what may fall on your head!

     The Financial Times (FT), the world’s leading business newspaper, has even before Covid, called for “state planning” and a “worker-led economy” !

     India and the EU this week contravened WTO rules by preventing mergers & acquisitions during the contagion! Well, good for them! They must protect themselves! But what of them taking over our resources and industries?

• Here, however, 200 local CEOs (they just love fancy ‘executing’ titles!) are still demanding suspension of labor laws, and privatization of public institutions, even as they clamor for more state money to blow. They even insist they too must profit from any public health spending!

     Yet they will not divulge: Where have all their profits of the last 72 years gone? Did they invest in modern machinofacture and systemofacture? Their apologists claim they were hoping to move to capital-intensive production, one day!

• Both Unilever and Nestle this week noted how long they have ‘served’ this country (on a platter to their European masters?), while making highly publicized Covid donations to key officials. Is this what has inspired the early opening of retail outlets, which mostly sell multinational products? Meanwhile, the Ceylon Tobacco Company is keeping rather quiet? Why?

• The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon has warned the government: of employers sacking “thousands if not millions” while requesting the state pay wages, allowing them to “renegotiate terms and working conditions” in contravention of labour laws, such as not “having to pay overtime / enhanced rates of remuneration”. They also wish a “review” of “the ban on imports of raw materials for manufacture, motor spare parts, fertilizer & chemicals used in agriculture, ingredients for pharmaceutical products etc.” Further they, want to “lay off employees by paying less than the basic salaries offered at present.”

ee welcomes the statements by the President on the need for local production. Workers must, more than ever, support and protect these initiatives, while ensuring his new taskforce – for now filled with corporatists & bureaucrats, including those who’ve so far refused to invest in modern production – will implement and not undermine the President’s stated intent to enable local production.

     Plans for local modern production, if detailed more clearly, will surely inspire and gain wider support. Once those words are translated into action, surely 10,000 Gotabhayas could bloom!

• European governments, which a moment ago were denouncing migrants, are beckoning, despite the danger of contagion, 10,000s of East European workers with “chocolate Easter bunnies”! The sheer hypocrisy of capitalists never fail to startle.

     Meanwhile, migrant worker organizations claim people will fall into more debt as they fall behind on payments to agents. Who do migrant workers owe money to, to go abroad? This is yet another scandal, involving sex, drugs and baila, the media happily avoids exposing (see ee Workers).

181 top CEOs worldwide have declared shareholders are no longer the only important ‘stakeholders’, suddenly discovering there are other beings on the planet. Really? This is 50 years after their Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, ninja of globalization, openly declared in a 1970 NYTimes article: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business… to increase its profits!” (see ee Economists, Business Roundtable).

     ee already pointed out how multinationals have marked 2020 to launch their “socially responsible”, “diverse”, “inclusive” “sustainable” campaigns to greenwash & whitewash corporate power. So why is capitalism so eager to rebrand? Is it cos people worldwide are ready once again to replace capitalism, After all, monopoly MNCs are so centralized and concentrated, they are ripe for socialization and takeover.

     Or is it cos they need global consensus to thwart China’s ‘Made-in-China 2025 Program”, a goal which offers a clear blueprint for underdeveloped economies everywhere? We must study China’s MIC 2025 program carefully – even if most English internet searches only give negative information about it! Like the US Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) diatribe (see ee Sovereignty) Yet, we must read between the lines

     ee Focus provides a xray of how the US ruling class reproduces itself, how US policy is promulgated (via the CFR, etc), and how so-called democracy works in that white settler colonial state.  ee Focus also analyzes the US demonstrations against public health measures!

ee Focus also reproduces excerpts by Garvin Karunaratne on how local & foreign banks, with the IMF in charge, continue to rob the country! This week marks the 150th birth anniversary of the great VI Lenin. ee includes his observation of why it’s important to nationalize the banks.

     It is Lenin who insisted, deploying the metaphor of the then-crucial element of artillery, on the strategy of controlling the “Commanding Heights” of a national economy. The commanding heights of our economy have been handed to rapacious foreign multinationals & their agents. If, as these local corporates insist, to quickly return to the ‘normal’ they love so much, surely 1,000 Lenins must bloom!

Contents

A1. Random Notes

• Mihintale, Nostalgia for the Future • 181 Corporations to ditch Shareholders? • Local Capitalists Threaten Labor Laws? • Presidential Taskforce Quo Vadis? • Europe Welcomes Migrants with Easter Bunnies! • How Local & Foreign Banks Rip off SL • 150th Birthday of Lenin & Commanding Heights • Indian Army Threat? • Who was Zahran’s handler? • Agriculture’s Numerous Bureaus! • What DS did to the Goviya • Philip’s Paddy Lands Act • Mahaveli Boondoggle • JVP’s 100 Vaeva? • English Destruction of Irrigation & Attempted Revival • Rural Money • Rural Home Market, Unilever, Abans etc • We have more resources than Japan • Companies Crying for Public Money • Will Amalean Source local Supplies & Machines? • CBSL Governors • Jail Don’t Bail Capitalists! • Settlers & Biowarfare

A2. Reader Comments

• Reductio Ad Abeyratnum • No Way to IMF • Royal Dutch Shell • BBC & Election Coverage • 1494 & Australia

A3. Quotes of the Week

SL Business More Corrupt than SOEs • Ronnie & Grand Theft • Coup & Assassination • GVS de Silva • Nationalize the Banks!

B. ee Focus       

B1. How US Rulers Dance

B2. Sri Lanka & the Banks – Garvin Karunaratne

B3. Hyperindividualism & Anti-Communism

C. News Index

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A1. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_

• What’s with the Indian media threatening Sri Lanka with an invading army? It turns out to be false, the India’s foreign ministry explains. Yet the earlier announcement, alongside a visit by India’s acting envoy to see the local FM, suggests this could have been an attempt to track the chain of command sparked by such a possibility? Or was it a threat on behalf of India’s exporters, who monopolize SL food stuff imports?

     Meanwhile an Island editorial asks a still-unanswered question about last April’s terror: Who was Zahran’s handler, was he really ISIS? (see ee Sovereignty)

• Academics from the innumerable ministries, depts & offices of Agriculture are coming out of the woodwork, offering their suggestions to the President, replete with the usual hi-tech jargon. Where have they been all these years? Has the media, so busy turning fallow fields into acres of real-estate ads, also avoided examining their learned prognoses?

     A walk through historic Gannoruva and academic Peradeniya evinces innumerable fine, yet almost empty, buildings, with dusty nameboards dedicated to ‘Agriculture’, with cars parked outside, but nobody, not even a gaunt goviya, in sight!

     Of course, one fine initiative has been the Hela Bojun outlets, tho private businesses have been quick to imitate & undermine! Like all the shops crying out Osu Sala, minus the Rajya in front, and the requisite regulations and affordable prices inside!

     As for these governmental agricultural advisors, their advice seems strangely pedestrian, restricted to what a half-dead robot could offer minus the crucial reiteration of issues that have impoverished the cultivator. They also seem fascinated with ‘exports’, even as we have a huge food import bill!

• The first Sinhala Minister of Agriculture, under English colonial rule, their favorite cowboy DS Senanayake, had a program of giving each cultivator 3 acres and a cow. DS is said to have institutionalized the ‘day-to-day impoverished existence’ of the ‘small’ peasantry, with none of the complex features of the Purana Village system.

     One criticism of Philip Gunawardene’s great Paddy Lands Act was, it was enacted “for humanitarian reasons”. That it “secured tenure”, but had no impact on the supply of labor – the fundamental issue facing the development of rural industry.

     Whereas in East Asia, industry was developed using labor involved in rice production, this was not possible cos of the backward nature of rice production in SL.

     So why is the rice producer so impoverished? What happened to the multibillion boondoggle of the World Bank-imposed Accelerated Mahaveli Scheme in the 1980s, which provided huge profits to English, Canadian & Swedish multinationals? It too failed to transform agriculture. The ruling politicians promised Mahaveli would even be exporting food & power to India. Yet the very opposite happened.

     The JVP promised to build 1000 Vaeva. Why did it not come to pass? Their fine talk, like our rivers, our sweat and our blood, still drain uselessly into oceans and seas alien.

• As noted earlier, the power of the puranagam (ancient village) was the spontaneous solidarity among the people, encouraged by the gamsabha (village councils), all inextricably linked to the need to maintain the intricate irrigation system.

     The irrigation system was destroyed, by England’s genocidal wars of 1818 & 1848, their abolition of the ‘Rajakariya’ work levy system in 1832, on which public service for roads and irrigation system depended, the dispossession of the entire peasantry, the stealing of the vast temple lands – despite later English attempts to revive the irrigation systems they destroyed, which failed midst imposing a private land market – all led to the diminishing of the common lands (for chena, which provided cash) and equal access to water. Now the US MCC program wishes to further institutionalize the robbery of the commons!

Cultivators also lack money. Many consume most of their produce. The lack of monetization in the rural economy is linked to cultivators bartering the coming year’s harvest for imported supplies from thieving microfinanciers (moneylenders) and merchants.

     The uneven availability of workers due to the cycle of rice production raises the cost of agricultural labor during planting and harvest, which also raises the cost of food. High food costs lead to high wage costs and retard the growth of industry, and forms one basis for underdevelopment – this lies at the root of our discontent. The answer is rural industrialization (& industrial education) synced to the cycle of rice production. Why do our learned professors not mention such issues? And worse: Unilever, et al, and their control of media, means such issues are never discussed.

     The rural home market has been handed over to imports by Abans, Singer, et al, who sell consumer durables, and to Unilever, Nestle, P&G-Hayleys, et al, who sell fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs, see ee Business). The rural home market is vital to form the basis of modern industry. Local industries can employ cultivators during downtimes in rice production. These industries can make the pencils, shoes, clothes, milk, they & their children need, all of which can be produced with local resources, not imported.   

• The media keeps repeating nonsense that we have no resources. We have more natural resources than Japan! We have over 20mn tons of iron ore, which Oruwala stage 3 was expected to smelt. We have the world’s finest graphite, yet not a single factory adding value. We have one of the world’s best sources of Titanium, Beryllium, Boron and Thorium in the mineral sands of the North East and South West.We have salterns, but import all our caustic soda, chlorine, hydrochloric acid. We have garment factories but import all the machinery. We have tea plantations, but import all the machinery. We have extensive paddy, but import all the machinery. We have 5 million vehicles on our roads, but import the spare parts and even tyres & batteries.

• The private sector is begging, even demanding, bailout, and a cut in any recovery plans. Private-public partnerships, they cry for. Even if such partnerships have always been (well, not always) heavily lopsided, and disastrous, like the partnership between parasite and host! And look, at all the paeans, from the so-called Left and the Right, to how lovely the open economy has been to us!

     If they are bailed out, what will they do with the money? What have they done with the (at least) 72 years of profits, under ‘independence’? They have robbed the country and workers blind!

     Why didn’t the garment sector consider such a possibility and take baby steps towards local supply of thread, pin, needle, textiles? Will MAS’ Amalean, who’s joined the President’s Taskforce, declare a program for locally sourced production! And we don’t mean pre-industrial assembly & manufacture!

• “The previous CBSL governor was implementing neoliberal policies which were unacceptable to the present government. He left to make way for WD Lakshman, who favours industrialization. Now they keep blaming the government for printing money. Yet China has always kept the dollar propped up for years to keep the yuan low. Printing money will only affect importers badly. This is good, since we can break the comprador trader hold on the economy.”

ee reproduces a lot of nonsense published by the corporate media, as recorded in the ee News section. ee exists partly to show up the sheer amount of misinformation & disinformation, the monopoly corporate media spews. Of course there are some truths, as the Big Lie technique, propagated first by Freud’s nephew & US General Electric propagandist Edward Bernays, and then by Nazi Goebbels, clearly states, “A big lie needs small truths”.

     It is boring to keep the level of debate at repeating and responding to capitalist falsehoods, or is it more important to ignite a national conversation on the steps needed for modern production? and to clearly state what is to be done!

     Yet ee reproduces these views because it’s important to know what the enemy is saying and doing. Know thyself! Know thy enemy!

The last major capitalist crisis (GFC!) was slicked over by billions being handed over to banks and corporations, who indulged in even greater superconsumption and waste, over the bodies of millions of workers losing livelihoods, of children losing futures, by mighty China having to lift the weight of the recovery.

     Now capitalists, wish once again, to pass the buck, drop the bucket on to the heads and backs of workers. They’re getting trillions, without a murmur of dissent. (Tho apparently not here yet!), while trying to force China to bail them out again! Not only that, they’re trying to head back to the ‘normal’ that brought us to this sorry pass. So they aim to attack & divide China. As becoming abundantly clear.

     As we look at the world and history, few wish to look it in the face. How did white settlers take over whole continents? Is it possible this pandemic was caused by biowarfare, not by China but to attack China? then blame it for causing the scourge. History is replete with such events where the victim is blamed. Here is Trump advisor, Irish-German settler Stephen Bannon, who says he’s no longer an advisor, claiming China is waging war on the US: bit.ly/2RYy1Tf

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A2. Reader Comments

ee thanks Readers who send articles of interest. To make it easier, please excerpt or summarize what is important in any article sent, or your comments, and place the e-link at the end. Better to send by email.

• “Super reading. We like the Reductio ad Abeyratne. Shouldn’t it be Reductio ad Abeyratnam or Abeyratnum?”

• ‘Re: Forget debt – IMF Must Pay Reparations!, I wonder what might happen with an even smaller demand/step – What if all nations owing money to IMF/WB were to say to them, “We will not pay interest or repayments on ‘debts’ until such & such a date. With that date decided by us in consultation with each other.’ (ie indefinite suspension of the idea, IMF WB loans are to be re-paid)

• “Royal Dutch Shell is owned by England & Holland. SL saved $millions by the nationalization, notwithstanding a US embargo. The Kansas Oil Producers’ Cooperative came to the aid of SL, supplying oil when the ‘7 Sisters’ were blocking it.

• Re: BBC’s slanted coverage of their election, Imagine in SL, if the SLPP wins an election over its handling of the pandemic. I can imagine the BBC’s headline then – ‘Resurgence of Sinhala Buddhist extremism gives ruling party landslide victory in SL.’ Boo hoo!”

• “China has 20 land & sea borders. At its very birth as an independent nation, the US army occupied Beijing to allow their defeated allies, the Guomindang (KMT), to loot the ancient palace of all its gold and flee to Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). The PRC has been under siege since then, via funding of KMT-linked opium warlords throughout SE Asia, and by the white wars on Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc – so threats are nothing new. Yet we must learn some history, as to why the Philippines is still named after a white man, why Japan and Korea have to pay to station 10,000s of US troops, why there are so many white military bases in the African, Indian, Pacific oceans, etc?

• Re: 1494 division of the world: “Australia’s state boundaries still reflect the pope’s division of the world between Spain and Portugal – New South Wales (present NSW, Queensland & Victoria) was in the Spanish half and New Holland (S Australia, Northern Territory & W Australia) was Portuguese.

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A3. Quotes of the Week_

• “SL businesses are not competitive because they are massively corrupt. We have some of the most corrupt boards of directors in the world, playing out both employees & shareholders. Yet the media only focuses on government corruption.”

• Ronnie de Mel: “When I was finance minister, it was possible to get more aid during the recession because aid often means large contracts for firms in aid-giving countries which increase employment opportunities for their people. I got all the aid we needed at concessionary terms for the Victoria Dam and other major hydro power and other development projects. I told the British Premier James Callaghan that when they help us build our dams and power stations they will also create jobs for their own people manufacturing sophisticated machinery needed and for connected work here. I used the same rationale in Germany. France and Sweden for some of our large construction works because during that recession they were looking for new avenues of employment for their people.”

• “In 1962, one of the officers involved in the attempted coup, gave as a reason for his animosity to SWRD, that when he was trying to prevent people rushing to the Parliament chamber after the ‘ape aanduwa’ victory in 1956, SWRD’s order to him, was ‘Let them come in’.” (see ee Sovereignty 1956)

• “The editorial board of the Financial Times (FT), the world’s leading business newspaper, carries an editorial calling for “radical reforms… reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last 4 decades.” The FT editorial of April 3 advocated… a more active role for governments in the economy, ways to make labour markets less insecure, and wealth taxes. The FT’s editorial board, increasingly concerned about saving capitalism from itself, had written about the need for “state planning” and a “worker-led economy” last year in Aug.” (see ee Sovereignty, Public Sector)

• ‘Faced with underdevelopment, and confounded by market economic, orthodox economists can only chant: “Produce more, work harder, consume less, tighten your belts, save more, invest more, live within your means, balance your budget, devalue your currency, break the vicious circle of low income and insufficient investment, get to the takeoff point and then soar into self-sustained growth, and a host of such sterile exhortations and banal platitudes.” The bankruptcy of orthodox economic theory, and its inability to understand & state, leave alone solve our economic problems, will become increasingly apparent as our crisis deepens. The alternative approach sketched out here is presented in the belief that when orthodoxy fails, heresy must come into its own. – Some Heretical Thoughts on Economic Development, GVS de Silva, 1973

• Nationalize the Banks!

‘Only by nationalizing the banks can the state put itself in a position to know where and how, whence and when, millions and billions of money flow. And only control over the banks, over the centre, over the pivot and chief mechanism of capitalist circulation, would make it possible to organize real and not fictitious control over all economic life, over the production and distribution of staple goods, and organize that “regulation of economic life” which otherwise is inevitably doomed to remain a ministerial phrase designed to fool the common people…

     Nationalization of the banks would greatly facilitate the simultaneous nationalization of the insurance business, ie, the amalgamation of all the insurance companies into one, the centralization of their operations, and state control over them. Here, too, congresses of insurance company employees could carry out this amalgamation immediately and without any great effort, provided a revolutionary-democratic government decreed this and ordered directors and big shareholders to effect the amalgamation without the slightest delay and held every one of them strictly accountable for it.

     The capitalists have invested 100s of millions in the insurance business; the work is all done by the employees. The amalgamation of this business would lead to lower insurance premiums, would provide a host of facilities and conveniences for the insured, and would make it possible to increase their number without increasing expenditure of effort and funds.

     Absolutely nothing but the inertia, routine and self-interest of a handful of holders of remunerative jobs are delaying this reform, which, among other things, would enhance the country’s defence potential by economizing national labour and creating a number of highly important opportunities to “regulate economic life” not in word, but in deed.’ – VI Lenin, marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/ichtci/04.htm

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B. Special Focus____

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B1. How US Rulers Dance

The US ruling class is a social network of established wealthy families, an oligarchy, sharing a distinct culture and common social status, unified through intermarriage and common experience in exclusive boarding schools to private clubs, etc. They have distinctive customs, language, dress, manners & identifiable social practices that readily distinguish them from the dominated classes.

     Meanwhile, most corporate executives are not ruling class by family origin and are not immediately welcomed into such exclusive social and cultural circles. Yet there are diverse intraclass mechanisms to constantly co-opt and assimilate new money. Individuals with proper educational degrees from Ivy League universities, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, have to adopt the lifestyle, attitudes & manners of the ruling class, and receive invitations to private social clubs, gala parties, debutante balls, be able to buy homes in exclusive neighborhoods, and send their children to the right preparatory schools & academies, making sizeable contributions to charity, with they or their children marrying into established upper-class families: a process continuously taking place from generation to generation.

     The ruling class operates through 3 classes of financial capital’s institutions, which are at the center of the monopoly capitalist class: New York money-center banks, which link to regional commercial banks through major insurance companies. They make corporate donations to finance the most powerful US planning organizations: These are the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Committee for Economic Development (CED), the Conference Board (CB), the Business Council (BC), and the Business Roundtable (BR). They draw their main membership directly from financial capital and the ruling class. Rooted in the largest corporations (ie, in finance capital), they influence the ‘moderate’ wings of both political parties.

     These finance capitalists & members of their policy-planning network promote corporate liberalism. They claim, the entire business community and the private economy function best if it assumes a posture of “compromise” with other groups influencing policy.

     A competing policy grouping is led by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the US Chamber of Commerce (CC). They represents the ultraconservative wing of the ruling powers. The NAM and CC are supported by smaller corporations (ie, medium-sized competitive capital) and small businesses, influencing ultraconservative Republicans and Democrats.

     Then there is a loose-knit progressive coalition based on middle-class liberal organizations, trade unions, & university intellectuals. These social democratic grouping influence a progressive wing of the Democratic Party… eventually modify their plans to meet corporate liberals’ objections.

     These progressive policy blocs lack any substantial base of power within the US state. They always have to choose eventually between the options of no reform at all, or the corporate liberal plan. Thus, the progressives depend on the support, leadership, and initiative of the top corporate liberals, who ultimately force them to accede to a corporate liberal variant of any reform proposal.

     The CFR, CEB, CB, BC, BR, etc, bring together leading members of the capitalist class, to identify their long-term interests and common national goals on such issues as international trade, public education, war, health care, and labor relations.

     They are technically assisted by academic advisors and technical experts drawn from well-known “ideological satellites” such as major universities, foundations & privately financed research institutes or thinktanks. These “intellectuals” are bribed with lucrative speaking honoraria, endowed university professorships, mission-specific research grants, positions as corporate consultants, positions on boards of directors, and lobbying fees. High-ranking state managers and emerging legislators are trained and socialized to become the spokespersons, allies, and future executive leaders of the ruling cabal.

     For instance, threatened by the rising USSR and the 1930s depression (just as they are now by China & Covid), this planning network set up the US welfare state. The pivotal US Social Security Act of 1935 was made by the Business Advisory Council and allies, while post-1945 foreign policy came from the Council on Foreign Relations (see ee Sovereignty, China 2025).

     They also defeat popular reform initiatives or convert them into token gestures that legitimate the state without altering the distribution of key resources in capitalist society. When the corporate liberal bloc oppose reform, they ally with the ultraconservative NAM-CC bloc, who demand minimalist state and free markets, freezing out of the policy-making process completely. Finance capital (i.e., the corporate liberal wing of the ruling class) make the final policy decisions by active support or passively refusal.

     Significant reforms occur when mass mobilizations take place outside the existing power structure, circumventing the designed class representation institutionalized by the state apparatus. Social-reform policies are then needed to restore political order for long-term stability. The larger the mass popular revolt the more likely corporate liberals initiate or accept reform policies. Corporate liberals will initiate reform proposals that promote and tolerate reform proposals that do not contravene their long-term interests.

     Capitalists use the state to protect private control of the means of production (ie, capital), deciding investments and allocating capital, controlling those classes who must work for capitalists for less than the value they produce. Corporate liberals must quell popular discontent with economic, social, or political reforms.

     Capitalists have to ensure economic & social policies operate through the private market, offering market incentives for business to participation in government programs. Corporate liberals insist that eligibility for access to social spending programs (eg, Social Security, unemployment insurance) requires current or prior labor-market participation, as opposed to need.

     Social spending programs have to link public benefits to long-term employment, creating market rewards and punishments that discipline workers to remain in the labor force, and provide a self-financing funding mechanism that is regressive and nonredistributive.

     Likewise, they demand (as the media, Chambers of Commerce, US Advocata, et al, are insisting right now to grab some Covid profits) that state policies are implemented through private service providers (eg, Medicare, public housing) creating new opportunities for the private sector to maximize profits by supplying public services. Linking implementation of economic and social policies to private markets ensures that any effective state policy needs the cooperation or partnership of private capitalists. Public policies implemented through the marketplace can be sabotaged by refusals to participate in government programs or to supply public services. The welfare system supposedly created to respond to popular demands for economic and social reform, is forced to distribute benefits to the corporate sector (eg, urban renewal for private developers, healthcare for private hospitals) while distributing program costs to service recipients (eg, user fees, Social Security taxation). – See, Barrow, Clyde, Critical theories of the state: Marxist, Neo-Marxist, Post-Marxist

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B2. Sri Lanka and the Banks – Garvin Karunaratne

Here are a collection of excerpts on the games that the IMF, foreign and local private banks play, from articles by Garvin Karunaratne. Most fascinating is the episode (found within the articles) where Standard Chartered tried to steal foreign currency from the writer.

• Devaluation of the rupee (2001)

‘On Jan 25, 2001, some commercial banks in SL sold a US$ at Rs100.00. For a short while on Jan 26, the rupee was at 106. This was possible because the Central Bank had resorted to ‘free float’ the rupee. The IMF hailed this ‘free float’ as a move in the right direction. Was it not a situation of the commercial banks holding the country to ransom?’

– island.lk/2001/02/27/featur01.html

The gathering economic crisis in SL – our own creation by blindly following the IMF? (2002)

‘Since 1977 we commenced borrowing heavily from both foreign and local sources to finance the budget deficit. In the initial stages there was foreign investment coming in and till the foreign investors sucked our resources dry and left our shores with bags of gold turned out by using the underpaid work force we did not feel the crisis advancing on us. In the first 10 years after 1977, we had our agricultural program, and the Mahaweli to talk of as ‘development’. We did achieve something despite increased indebtedness. The foreign investors took away the riches that should have remained in our country. Now we are bending backwards offering all facilities to investors and offering our assets at discounted rates. They will come in grab at the low rates, get into positions of monopoly and thereafter raise prices. The ruination of the country is what will definitely result.’

– island.lk/2002/08/15/featur01.html

• World Bank is at it again: The Third World follows the Pied Piper again (2008)

‘It was Robert MacNamara who decided that loans can be given to the Third World on a liberal basis- even for consumption purposes, which led to the Third World leaders like President Jayawardena of SL accepting loans which led to SL becoming a totally indebted country… poverty and deprivation will never be wiped out until the Structural Adjustment Program provisions like high interest rates, privatization of State ventures, reduction of tariffs, abolition of subsidies, devaluation of currencies, opening up the economy for exploitation by foreign investors, etc are all rescinded and a new paradigm for world development is found.”

– asiantribune.com/node/11607

• How the IMF Swindles SL’s Foreign Exchange (2009)

‘We bluff ourselves calling a bit of money that we hold as reserves. No country in debt has any reserves. What SL calls as reserves are merely some money we hold temporarily – money that we do not own We manipulate our expenses in such a manner that we have a cash balance that we actually do not own. To talk of real reserves we have to go back to the days of Dr NM Perera and Sirimavo. That was before the IMF had thought of their infamous Structural Adjustment Program. How the UNP Ruined the economy – The UNP is agitating that the Government should tell the conditions under which the IMF lending took place and criticizing the Government for going to the IMF. Little do the UNPers realize it was they themselves that ruined the economy of SL by their accepting the SAP of the IMF… also to be blamed for the economic woes they created by following the IMF free market policies.’

– lankaweb.com/news/items09/290309-5.html

Departure of City Bank from SL: in our national interest for Foreign Banks to Go (2013)

‘Foreign banks act in a nefarious manner to devalue our local currency by holding the foreign exchange that comes into our country as their sole possession. Since we accepted the free float, the Government does not decide the exchange rate. This is supposed to be done through the market mechanism and in this the foreign banks have a role to decide in a manner that increases their profits by hoarding the foreign exchange they have collected, bidding the value upwards, causing a devaluation of our Rupee in the process.’

– lankaweb.com/news/items/2013/03/10/the-departure-of-city-bank-from-sri-lanka-it-is-in-our-national-interest-for-foreign-banks-to-go/

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B3. Hyperindividualism & Anti-Communism

Boris Johnson, England’s PM on March 29 said, “There really is such a thing as society,” contradicting Margaret Thatcher, his Conservative predecessor, who batted for pure individualism in 1987 saying “There is no such thing as society.”

The corporate media widely publicizes demonstrations in the US, of people opposing restrictions on public gatherings due to Covid, holding up signs equating social distancing with ‘Communism’. Their arguments are not as unusual as may appear… It’s not just President Trump or right-wing nuts who endorse such actions. There’s a hallowed academic tradition that fully justifies such behavior. Largely promoted to oppose Communism, this ideology has ended up undermining the very idea of community and the nation itself!

From the early decades of the 20thC, especially after the USSR revolution, intellectuals were paid to attack the idea of a collective unity above and beyond the individuals comprising the state. They questioned the legitimacy and relevance of public rule, and expressed pessimism that public welfare could be derived from the disparate interests and voices of the people.

     Fiercely contested debates over social welfare dominated economics of the 1930-40s, pitting social planning against laissez-faire capitalism. To oppose Marxism & Communism, during the “Cold War” (collectively very hot for us) of the 1950s, capitalism’s paid staff devised ‘rational choice theory’ to claim, rational individuals do not cooperate to achieve common goals unless forced to.

    There was no “general will”, no “public”, “no public interest,” nor “general welfare.” Collective decision-making could not achieve rational outcomes, even in the best circumstances. Yet, the US war against Communism and the Soviet Union also destroyed any sense of “US society”.

     ‘Rational choice liberalism’ linking free-market economics and democratic politics, was the very basis of declaring white ideological victory over Soviet Communism.

     Rational choice theory, and the “rationality project”, opposed “organicist or idealist social thought”, which they feared was pro-Communist. During WWII, an Austrian triad: Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, & Democracy (1943), Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944) & Karl Popper’s The Open Society & Its Enemies (1945) gravely ‘feared’ for individualism, rationalism, political and economic freedom. Schumpeter and Popper attacked Marx’s critique of capitalism; Hayek attacked the ills of socialism and collectivism. Social planning or collectivism was the antithesis of individual freedom and the ideals on which white civilization rested.

     The Austrian triad was succeeded by US settlers such as the Romanian Kenneth Arrow, Scotch-Irish southerner James Buchanan, and Dutchman William Riker. Kenneth Arrow’s Nobel-prize-winning work Social Choice and Individual Values.

     Arrow, it was claimed, mathematically demonstrated it was impossible to achieve a comprehensive social goal using individual values and ends as a starting place; “By its very conceptual structure tackle[d] the key issue facing his generation: that of resolving his predecessors’ open-ended debate on the merits of social welfare economics and planning versus spontaneous democratic control predicated on the primacy of the individual consumer or voter.”

     James M Buchanan’s The Calculus of Consent opposed any social theory that gives priority to the group or collective over the individual. William H Riker’s The Theory of Political Coalitions and his positive political theory became central to the entire discipline of US political science. He opposed Marx’s reduction of economics to politics, and equated socialism with populism! Positive liberty lead to tyranny. The only function democratic voting plays is to remove leaders… (To be continued)

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C. News Index_____

ee’s new format provides headlines and links. It’s strongly recommended readers scan carefully the ee News Index to gain a sense of the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’.

C1. Sovereignty

(ee is pro-politics, pro-politician, pro-nation-state, anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)

ee Sovereignty news emphasizes sovereignty as economic sovereignty – a strong nation is built on modern industrialization fueled by a producer culture.

• No need to deploy military from other countries to SL to fight covid: Defence Secretary

– dailymirror.lk/top_story/No-need-to-deploy-military-from-other-countries-to-SL-to-fight-coronavirus-Defence-Secretary/155-187027

• No plan to send troops to SL – India

– dailymirror.lk/top_story/No-plan-to-send-troops-to-Sri-Lanka-India/155-187018

• Indian Army to send teams to SL to fight Covid

‘The Indian Army is readying separate teams to be deployed in SL, Bangladesh, Bhutan & Afghanistan to help those countries boost capabilities to deal with rising cases of coronavirus, official sources said.’

– dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Indian-Army-to-send-teams-to-Sri-Lanka-to-fight-Covid-19/108-187011

• Indian Army readying team for SL to offer Covid assistance – report

‘Press Trust of India reported quoting official sources on Tues.’

– sundaytimes.lk/article/1118838/indian-army-readying-team-sri-lanka-to-offer-covid-19-assistance-report

• Acting Indian HC meets FM Gunawardena to recap understandings

‘Minister Gunawardena & Acting Indian High Commissioner also discussed the state of bilateral relations and agreed to take forward the understandings reached during the visits of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to India, in Nov 2019, PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, in Feb 2020, and Foreign Min Dinesh Gunawardena, in Jan 2020, the HC spokesman added.

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221413

• No need of reconvening old parliament: President

– dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/No-need-of-reconvening-old-parliament-President/108-186906

• President takes cautious route to restore normalcy

‘Every protective zone will have a committee headed by the Grama Sevaka of the division concerned. The Grama Sevakas will, in turn report, to the respective Divisional Secretary. There are 25 administrative districts in SL and 14,029 Grama Sevaka divisions. The Government Agents in each district will be in overall charge and all matters will be monitored by Governors in each province.’

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/columns/president-takes-cautious-route-to-restore-normalcy-400425.html

• SL’s Easter Sunday attack & understanding Islamic Terrorism

‘Of the major conflicts around the world majority are Muslim, majority of fatalities and injuries are to Muslims, majority are in Muslim nations and majority of the perpetrators are Muslims.’

– lankaweb.com/news/items/2020/04/19/sri-lankas-easter-sunday-attack-understanding-islamic-terrorism/

• Covid – an Unprecedented crisis & also a Tantalizing Opportunity

‘Afro-Americans account for over 70% of the infected… Over 80% of SL’s garment exports are to the US & Europe… SL’s garment sector directly employs 350,000 & indirectly employs around 650,000.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221297

• General Election of 1956 Parts 1 & 2

‘SWRD established a network of contacts with village committee chairmen, monks of village temples, and the intelligentsia of the village, which was of immense support to him later when forming the SLFP… SWRD and George set up a countrywide network of maternity hospitals, rural hospitals and provided the service of trained midwives, said Meegama. …with the eradication of malaria, these measures of 1937-47, helped to lower infant &maternal mortality, to a record low for a 3rd world country… In 1956, SWRD formed his last ‘party’ the MEP… consisted of SLFP led by SWRD, VLSSP led by Philip Gunawardene, the Samastha Lanka Sinhala Bhasha Peramuna led by W Dahanayake and an ‘Independent Group.’ These were the 4 constituent parties mentioned in the MEP program given in Daily News, March 8,1956. ‘Bhasha Peramuna’ was an organization of Sinhalese teachers and literati who wanted Sinhala as the state language. These 4 parties were joined by the Uda Rata Peramuna led by TB Ilangaratne and TB Tennakoon, and KMP Rajaratna’s Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna. 2 Tamil lawyers of the SLFP, AC Nadarajah, and S Thangarajah, as well as ACS Hameed and Badiudeen Mahamud, also joined the MEP. Eksath Bhikshu Peramuna was formed in 1956. It was led by Henpitagedara Gnanasiha, with Talpavila Wimalawansa, Mapitigama Buddharakhita, Hewanpola Ratanasara, Kotagama Vachissara, Bambarende Siri Sivali and Madihe Pannasiha. EBP was a major contributor to the success of the MEP at the 1956 General election.’

– lankaweb.com/news/items/2020/04/18/the-general-election-of-1956-part-1/

– lankaweb.com/news/items/2020/04/19/the-general-election-of-1956-part-2/

• China complains India’s new FDI rules are discriminatory

‘The Indian Govt stepped up scrutiny of investments from companies based in neighbouring countries, in what is widely seen as a move to stave off takeovers by Chinese firms during the coronavirus outbreak.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221397

• Europe races to shield virus-hit firms from bargain hunters

‘fresh action by EU nations to bolster their defences against hostile takeovers that could see key technologies and know-how being lost to countries like China and the US.’

– economynext.com/europe-races-to-shield-virus-hit-firms-from-bargain-hunters-67524/

• Ill-intentioned US thinktank fellow maligns Chinese assistance in Middle East to sow discord

‘The US-based Foreign Policy Association where Haddad-Fonda works…”is probably the most influential of all the agencies which can be shown as a propaganda affiliate of the Council on Foreign Relations in matters concerned primarily with US foreign policy”…a thinktank “dominated by Wall St”

– globaltimes.cn/content/1185036.shtml

• Trump office silently abolished the Pandemic Disease Office of the White House before Covid struck, and cut the funding of the CDC by 25%.Trump is America come round to meet itself – a life-blind bully greed of armed-force money power & self-adoration masked as the ‘free world’ where any dared alternative is attacked to death… Systemic defunding & corporate privatization of public goods & life-support systems have increasingly stripped civil commons across the world before Covid-19 emerged (perhaps from US bio-warfare labs).’

– counterpunch.org/2020/04/17/the-unconscious-system-plague-will-covid-19-finally-awaken-us/

• US Corona outbreak came from Europe

– nationalpost.com/news/covid-19-u-s-coronavirus-outbreak-came-from-europe-flights-not-china-say-researchers

• China, America & the International Order after the Pandemic

‘In withdrawing from multilateral agreements that combat transnational threats, deriding international organizations and high-level groupings, and berating America’s closest partners over their defense spending, the Trump Administration demobilized the country’s first lines of defense. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the Trump administration’s decision to disband the foreign policy bureaucracies designed to plan for precisely this threat.’

– warontherocks.com/2020/03/china-america-and-the-international-order-after-the-pandemic/

• Accusations of racism against Africans originated in US consulate in Guangzhou

– videos.telesurenglish.net/video/819244/china-rejects-us-racism-accusations/

• China unlikely to emerge as leader of post-covid world

‘According to the US Council on Foreign Relations, however, the Belt and Road Initiative appears to have hit a wall in countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.’

– asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Comment/China-unlikely-to-emerge-as-leader-of-post-coronavirus-world

• Pakistan PM calls for global initiative on debt relief

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221311

• Colombia, the Oligarchs & Washington

‘The main element is the large Colombian narco-cartels that traffic the drugs through Mexico and Central America to North America, the drug mafia in N America itself, and the immense demand by consumers for South American cocaine. None of them face the brunt of the drug eradication policy.’

– socialistproject.ca/2020/04/colombia-oligarchs-washington/

• To Stand up to China, the West Must First Re-Discover Itself

‘The fake Left… calls for pride in remembering colonial might…: “And what do we in the West have to offer? A degraded form of neoliberal crony capitalism that commodifies everything within reach and sells to the highest bidder at lowest common moral denominator. A culture that does not know itself and is desperate to repudiate its own history, a history it only dimly remembers.”’

– srilankaguardian.org/2020/04/to-stand-up-to-china-west-must-first-re.html

• Who Is Really Running the US Government?

 ‘The Federalist Society and the Catholic Information Center now exercise enormous influence. (The 5 conservative Supreme Court justices have all been members of the FS, whose recommendations have also shaped Trump’s selections of lower-court judges)

– nytimes.com/2020/04/21/books/review/in-deep-david-rohde.html

• Pandemic Brings to Light the Need for a Stronger Public Sector

‘During a time of crisis, if a country doesn’t have the necessary industrial capacity, it will be in trouble even if it has money to buy if the other countries that do have the production capabilities block the export of the required goods.’

– socialistproject.ca/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-need-for-stronger-public-sector/

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C2. Security

(the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of violence)

ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of legitimate violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance as the basis of a truly independent nation.

• Government questioned why public facilities not fully utilized for corona testing

‘Association of Government Medical Laboratory Technologists alleged that the government was seeking to involve some selected private hospitals in the RT-PCR testing process to identify COVID-19 patients, though available public sector facilities were yet to be fully utilized.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221530

• GMOA complains to President its strategy has been delayed

‘One reason was the health authorities didn’t endorse it, while the other was opposition to the GMOA’s strategy by Prof Indika Karunathilake, Dr Rukshan Bellana and Dr Sudath Samaraweera’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221484

• SL should allow active, private, voluntary Covid test: US Advocata

– economynext.com/sri-lanka-should-allow-active-private-voluntary-coronavirus-tests-on-high-risk-groups-as-curfews-lift-advocata-67847/

• Remembering victims of terrorism

 ‘Was his handler working for another organisation masquerading as an ISIS agent? The picture is not clear. The need for a separate investigation into the external links Zahran had established cannot be overemphasised.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=news-section&page=news-section&code_title=55

• PSC report gathers dust: JVP questions inclusion of Maithri in SLPP list

‘minister Rishard Bathiudeen, who had been in the centre of political storm, over his alleged involvement with the Easter attackers, wasn’t taken in after the change of administration, following the presidential election.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221532

• Habeas corpus applications on behalf of lawyer Hejaaz Hisbullah

‘2 petitions were filed through Attorneys Sanath Wijewardene & Gowry Thavarasha seeking the Court to direct the respondents to release and discharge lawyer Hejaz Hisbullah from custody /detention.’

– dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Habeas-corpus-applications-on-behalf-of-lawyer-Hejaaz-Hisbullah/108-186819

• GMOA’s Covid exit strategy advocates racial profiling

‘Part of the methodology taking Colombo District as example mentions taking into consideration the Muslim population… the number of petrol sheds, of Government hospitals, alcohol consumption per day, unemployment rate, average temperature, annual rainfall & number of hotspots will also be considered’

– ft.lk/front-page/GMOA-s-COVID-19-exit-strategy-advocates-racial-profiling/44-698943

• Hold tobacco industry accountable for the harm caused by Covid

– dailymirror.lk/opinion/Hold-tobacco-industry-accountable-for-the-harm-caused-by-COVID-19/172-186796

• GMOA praises President for liquor ban, wants it extended to fag sales as well

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221406

• Re-opening bars: ADIC wants decision withdrawn

– dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Re-opening-bars-ADIC-wants-decision-withdrawn/108-186899

• The fear factor is a significant determinant

‘The impact of the swine flu epidemic is often forgotten: 60mn affected in the US alone… saw over 12,000 deaths, with 500,000 deaths globally in about a year… While no immediate estimates are available, a report of the US Committee for Economic Development put the share of food and beverages in total personal income expenditure of the US at around 10%. Assuming this applies to most developed countries (higher for developing countries) & adding another 5-10% of expenditure on medical care, it would be reasonable to assume about 80-85% of world GDP has been momentarily extinguished… policymakers have to address a “social crisis” peculiar to developing countries like India, where production is still labour-intensive. Almost 55% of direct employment is in the agricultural and construction sectors.’

– livemint.com/opinion/columns/the-fear-factor-is-a-significant-determinant-11587212006214.html

• “March 31, a group of scientists from around the world – from Oxford to Beijing Normal University – published in Science… “An Investigation of Transmission Control Measures During the First 50 Days of the COVID-19 Epidemic in China” proposes, if the Chinese government had not initiated the lockdown of Wuhan & the national emergency response, then there would have been 744,000 additional confirmed Covid-19 cases outside Wuhan… A study in The Lancet [England] by 4 epidemiologists from HK show that the lockdown of Wuhan in late Jan prevented the spread of infection outside Hubei Province; the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen & Wenzhou, they write, saw a collapse in numbers of infections within 2 weeks of the partial lockdown… National Administration of TCM would eventually report that 90% of patients received traditional medicine, which was found to be effective in 90%.”

– counterpunch.org/2020/04/15/how-china-broke-the-chain-of-infection

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C3. Economists

(Study the Economists before you study the Economics)

ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefinitions, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.

• Post-Covid reconstruction: Monkeys smarter than… Wijewardena

‘With the nationalisation of the Bank of Ceylon and the creation of the Peoples Bank in 1961, foreign banks operating in the country were prohibited to accept new customers thereby giving a monopoly status to the 2 state banks… enjoyed this position till 1977 when the banking sector was open for international banks of repute… SL’s government in contrast blamed the Western world for the pity state the country’s economy had been undergoing. Contrary to this, when the British left Ceylon in 1948, they had left a huge foreign exchange reserve sufficient for meeting 17 months of future import requirements of the country… After 1970, to suppress price inflation and pressure for the rupee to fall, an economy wide price controls and a strict regime of exchange and import controls were introduced. This created a shortage of goods and to solve that problem, essential goods were distributed through a system of rationing. Since the rationing could not be implemented through private businesses, an empire of government-owned wholesale and retail businesses were established. It created long queues…’

– ft.lk/columns/Post-COVID-19-reconstruction-Monkeys-may-be-smarter-when-following-forefathers/4-698977

• Back to business as unusual – Reductio Ad Abeyratnum

‘China adopted measures to control it more as a “local issue” limited largely to Wuhan city than a “national issue” on the one hand. China has already established the digital and delivery technology to manage businesses even prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus problem on the other hand.’

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/business-times/back-to-business-as-unusual-400297.html

• The Viral Circle: the Epidemic, the Economy, & the Election

‘In SL, the committed amounts so far barely add up to 0.2%, and half of it is committed for vulnerable people (Rs900 per person, or 9000 pp below the poverty line assumed to be at 10% of the population). Tax exemptions and price ceilings can go only so far as they can, and pre-existing programs like Samurdhi are targeted to benefit political supporters and not help the impacted and vulnerable people.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221289

• SL in a post-Covid world

‘Proposal 1: Private sector to fund/partly fund expenditure on healthcare… 2. effective import substitution can lead to a material difference in our balance of payments. Vehicles, which are seen by every government as the “Evil’ that rapes SL of her foreign exchange, only accounts for $700mn (Jan-Nov 2019), whilst the value of food and beverage imported in the same period was $1.3bn… SL exports $5bn of garments we have also imported $250mn of clothing and accessories. If SL allows exporters to sell more than the 5% of exports currently allowed, in the local market, a large proportion of this expenditure could be saved… 3. Restructure SOEs for greater transparency and efficiency… Proposal 4: Suspend all capital expenditure… SL can pursue all available grant funding such as the infamous and much talked about MCC grant

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/business-times/sri-lanka-in-a-post-covid-19-world-400290.html

• CBSL Forensic Audit Reports attack Ajith Nivard Cabraal

‘The unlawful CBSL Forensic Audit Reports were done at a huge cost, only to sling mud at me.’

– lankanewsweb.net/67-general-news/60582-Sri-Lanka-needs-clear-Revival-Strategies-to-emerge-out-of-COVID-19-Hard-Talk-with-Ajith-Nivard-Cab

• Workers are the highest foreign exchange earners

‘Once the main export of SL in value terms, tea has fallen down the line of top exports. In 2018, tea exports were…much lower compared to textile and garment exports…Remittances from SLans working abroad at $7bn annually represent the highest foreign exchange earner…’

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/business-times/new-normal-400303.html

• UNDP Senior Economist Wijeweera Promotes Soros

‘The UNDP economist shared that some nations have advocated unique ideas in this regards. Such include the pitch made by Soros Fund Management Chairman/Hungarian-US billionaire investor George Soros, proposed the EU should issue Perpetual Bonds to finance Covid recovery funds.’

– dailymirror.lk/business-news/We-need-to-make-every-investment-count-now-more-than-ever-says-UNDP-Economist/273-187108

• Post Covid – the New Normal” – Episode 1-Executive Summary

‘The state must allow space and freedom to the private sector providing uninterrupted essential services and play the role of an effective facilitator.’

– newsfirst.lk/2020/04/22/post-covid-the-new-normal-episode-1-executive-summary

• Economics of Covid-19

– ft.lk/ft_tv/ECONOMICS-OF-COVID-19/10520-698820

• Finance Vs the People in the Era of the Pandemic – Prabhat Patnaik

‘But consider the state of the Indian economy. The government is sitting on a whopping 58mn tons of foodgrain stocks (77mn tons if include grains available but not yet ready for immediate distribution); the rabi crop promises to be good; industry has for long been demand-constrained with lots of unutilised capacity (in fact the country was sliding into an industrial recession before being hit by the pandemic); and foreign exchange reserves are at a record half a trillion $s. A larger fiscal deficit under these circumstances cannot possibly have any harmful effects for the economy; but people are suffering because finance capital would not like it.’

– socialistproject.ca/2020/04/finance-versus-the-people-in-the-era-of-the-pandemic/

• The New Poor

‘In 1931, the New Deal cost US$41.7bn, a figure roughly equivalent to 653bn in 2009 $s. ARRA, on the other hand, cost $840bn. However, whereas the New Deal went to fund public infrastructure and livelihoods. ARRA enriched bankers and billionaires.’

– dailymirror.lk/plus/The-NewPoor/352-186773

• Trump Announces His ‘Opening the Country’ Council

‘Some business leaders were reluctant to have to defend Trump’s actions & risk damaging their brands, people with knowledge of the process said. Among those Trump said he had plans to speak with were some of the most prominent names of Wall St & Silicon Valley… Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase; Stephen A Schwarzman, CE of Blackstone; Tim Cook, CE of Apple; and Mark Zuckerberg, CE of Facebook, who he implied would be acting as consultants to his administration… and suggested they were taking on formal roles advising his administration… About 17 million people have filed unemployment claims in recent weeks as businesses have closed or shed payroll, and the financial markets remain down compared with last year… He is also facing pressure from some conservative allies to avoid another expensive stimulus package.

– nytimes.com/2020/04/14/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-reopening-council.html’

• Is ‘Made in China 2025’ a Threat to Global Trade?

An attack by the US Council on Foreign Relations against China’s attempt to create a self-sufficient nation, afraid it may become a model for independence by other nations.

–cfr.org/backgrounder/made-china-2025-threat-global-trade

• “Made in China 2025” plan unveiled to boost manufacturing (2015)

– gbtimes.com/made-china-2025-plan-unveiled-boost-manufacturing

• Homespun

‘John Maynard Keynes’ National Self Sufficiency (1933) said “Ideas, knowledge, science, hospitality, travel – these are the things of their nature to be international. But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible and above all let finance be primarily national. Experience accumulates to prove that most modern processes of mass production can be performed in most countries and climates with almost equal efficiency.” Here, Keynes has put in a nutshell the basic philosophy of a national economy, very importantly, he says, that finance should be national. At present, finance is controlled by Bretton Wood twins, IMF and the World Bank, which have been restructured to serve neo-liberalist policies in the 1960s. Note Keynes’ book is titled ‘National Self Sufficiency’ and finance too should be self sufficient and not depend on foreign debt.

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221298

• Coronavirus, Crisis, & the End of Neoliberalism

‘The political implications are uncertain. Ideologically, neoliberal discourses about the imperative of ‘fiscal austerity’ and the limitations of public policy have vanished. Principled Austrians and neoliberals of every hue hastily retreated into a half-baked Keynesianism, as they tend to do when economies tank: at the time of need, the first to grab the capacious teats of the Treasury wins the big prize, and state intervention is questioned only for what it has not yet done. The private sector and the media beg for government spending, and portentous preachers of the ‘free market’ rush to the TV screens to plead for unlimited public spending in order to save private initiative. No doubt they will get back to normal when circumstances change and memories fade. At that point, the state will become ‘bad’ again, and public services will be ready for another round of culling.’

– socialistproject.ca/2020/04/coronavirus-crisis-and-the-end-of-neoliberalism

• Capitalism Was Dying Before Covid-19 – Why That’s Good for Society

‘When Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, stated that capitalism was dying at Davos, it made us re-examine what got us to this point… In the US, the co-op sector has over $500bn in revenue & 2 million employees. In 2019 there were 156mn working-age Americans, indicating almost 1.5% employed by the cooperative movement…

– entrepreneur.com/article/347768

• A welcome shift away from shareholder supremacy

‘Last Aug, the Business Roundtable, an association of major companies in the US, released the Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, signed by 181 CEOs who committed to leading their firms for the benefit of all stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities & shareholders. The statement represented a move away from “shareholder supremacy”, included a “commitment to all stakeholders.”’

• US Business Roundtable: a victory for the good guys? (2019)

‘The new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation explicitly states: “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders.” The CEOs recognise a duty to shareholders by committing to “generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate”. But they end the statement: “Each of our stakeholders is essential. We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”’

– ipe.com/us-business-roundtable-a-victory-for-the-good-guys/10032880.article

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C4. Economy (Usually reported in monetary terms)

ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, etc.

• Presidential Taskforce on Economic Revival & Poverty Eradication established

– dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Presidential-Task-Force-on-Economic-Revival-and-Poverty-Eradication-established/108-187026

• Composition of the Task Force

‘Many bureaucrats, some officers and corporates’

– ft.lk/front-page/Composition-of-theTask-Force/44-699131

• Government printed more than 200bn rupees to settle its expenses – Patali Champika Ranawaka

‘Finance ministry secretary SR Attygalle pointed out that the money had not been printed in such large amounts as claimed by former minister Ranawaka’

– newsfirst.lk/2020/04/21/govt-has-printed-more-than-200-billion-rupees-to-settle-its-expenses-patali-champika-ranawaka/

• Railways, SLTB & Motor Traffic Department suffer staggering losses owing to lockdown

– sundaytimes.lk/article/1118810/railways-sltb-and-motor-traffic-department-suffer-staggering-losses-owing-to-lockdown

• Covid is a ‘huge reminder’ of ideology than financial safety nets: CEO JB Securities

“government’s debt is over Rs12trillion, and the interest cost this year will approach Rs1trn, so they are also not in a position to bail out SMEs”, JB Securities CEO said…”In the short term there will be job losses, let’s hope that by exercising forbearance on the labour laws some jobs can be saved, if not, most firms will go bust and no one would win”.

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221329

• Why the Open Economy Was the Best Thing to Happen To SL

‘The third and final reason behind the slowdown of SL’s economy is the nature of its exports, which have not changed over time. When a country first commences exports, one of its primary drivers of export growth will be cheap labour, while the exports themselves will be very basic. As the economy grows, this cost advantage will eventually disappear, as relatively less developed nations will claim the cost advantage for themselves. In order to stay afloat, the country will have to move towards more complex exports, which will fetch higher prices so that the rising cost of labour can be taken care of. SL though, has struggled to make this transition, though its larger firms are trying.

– medium.com/@ThatMarketsGuy/why-the-open-economy-was-the-best-thing-to-happen-to-sri-lanka-e09c8e304f10

• Rupee stabilizing, says President’s Media Office

‘The President’s Media said banning import of non-essential items, appeal to the  Sri Lankan expatriate community to remit foreign currency were among factors that helped stabilise the rupee.’

– ft.lk/front-page/Rupee-stabilising-says-President-s-Media-Office/44-698942

• IMF mulls replacing EFF with RFI for Lanka

‘ Sri Lankan authorities expressed interest in a range of options for future engagement with the Fund, and…“we are discussing the option to replace the EFF (Extended Fund Facility) arrangement with the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI).”

– sundayobserver.lk/2020/04/19/business/imf-mulls-replacing-eff-rfi-lanka

• IMF members commit to $11.7bn in new Covid-related pledges

– sundaytimes.lk/article/1118823/imf-members-commit-to-11-7-bln-in-new-covid-19-related-pledges

• Asia virus latest: India curbs foreign takeovers; Japanese tulips snipped

‘India has increased restrictions on direct foreign investment to curb “opportunistic” takeovers and acquisitions of Indian companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade ministry said.’

– economynext.com/asia-virus-latest-india-curbs-foreign-takeovers-japanese-tulips-snipped-67070/

• Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board Calls for Full Funding for Covid Small Business Loans

‘The US’s more than 30 million small businesses employ nearly half of all workers’

– ritzherald.com/the-committee-for-economic-development-of-the-conference-boards-ced-calls-for-full-funding-for-covid-19-small-business-loans/

• US leading economic indicators sink record 6.7% in March as covid spreads

‘The closely followed index, published by the US Conference Board, measuring the nation’s economic health tracks 10 indicators, most of which showed sharp deterioration last month. New jobless claims posted a record surge, for instance, and stock prices plummeted.’

– marketwatch.com/story/us-leading-economic-indicators-post-record-67-plunge-in-march-as-covid-19-pandemic-broke-out-2020-04-17

Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the US declined 6.7% in March to 104.2 (2016 = 100), following a 0.2% decrease in Feb, and a 0.4% increase in Jan. “In March, the US LEI registered the largest decline in its 60-year history…”

– conference-board.org/data/bcicountry.cfm

________________

C5. Workers

(Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)

ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power

• EPZ labour unions propose measures to protect employee rights in Covid recovery process

‘7 unions supported by 20 other organisations write to Labour Minister… “It is unfair to expect workers who are already getting a very low salary to sacrifice their salary to rescue the industry. If there is any need for salary cuts, it should be done from the senior managers and executives salaries and other benefits.” The labour unions that have signed the letter include Ceylon Mercantile Industrial and General Workers Union (CMU), Textile Garment and Clothing Workers Union, Dabindu Collective, Standup Movement Lanka, Shramabhimani Kendraya, Revolutionary Existence for Human Development, and Liberation Movement. They are supported by 20 other organisations.’

– ft.lk/front-page/EPZ-labour-unions-propose-measures-to-protect-employee-rights-in-COVID-19-recovery-process/44-699193

• Top CEOs share wish-list for how SL can emerge stronger post-Covid

‘Over 200 business leaders from a variety of industries – including Banking and Finance, IT/BPM, Manufacturing, Consumer and Retail, Real Estate and Property – weighed in during the week ending 19 April…An overwhelming 61% of business leaders articulated the need to reform labour laws and regulations to make enterprises more agile and competitive…included the enablement of new forms of work such as part-time work, contract work & flexible hours… Reforms of loss-making SOEs’

– ft.lk/top-story/Top-CEOs-share-wish-list-for-how-SL-can-emerge-stronger-post-COVID-19/26-699092

•  Sri Lankan apparel workers in trouble putting food on the table

‘A request has been made by trade unions from employers to remit the wages of employees for April to their bank accounts and continue this procedure if the factories continue to be kept closed. This appeal has been made at the meeting of Tripartite Task Force on Employment chaired by Minister of Employment & Labour Relations Dinesh Gunawardena recently, said Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union’s Joint Secretary Anton Marcus…The Joint Apparel Association Forum requested a means of sustenance for employees who will have no work to perform from April, for companies employing less than 3,000 people and the suspension of EPF/ ETF for 6 months for employers and employees.

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/business-times/sri-lankan-apparel-workers-in-trouble-putting-food-on-the-table-400252.html’

• Estate Workers claim to be deceived by the 5000 rupee allowance

– newsfirst.lk/2020/04/21/estate-workers-claim-to-be-deceieved-by-the-5000-rupee-allowance/

• Migrant worker associations express their concern

‘Many migrant workers fall into a debt bondage trap in attempting to secure a job overseas. Their situations get worse when their wages are delayed or deducted for various reasons…’

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/business-times/migrant-worker-associations-express-their-concern-400269.html

• Over 50,000 migrant workers awaiting to return to country

‘Many low-skilled migrant workers, particular in the construction sector, live in tightly-packed, often unsanitary, labour camps – conditions perfect for the spread of Covid… around 1.7mn overseas employees and 5mn beneficiaries from them. About 90% of these migrant workers have been employed through the 900-member agencies of the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies, who currently provide direct and indirect employment opportunities for almost 100,000 people within the country to facilitate foreign employment for  Sri Lankan migrant workers.’

– dailymirror.lk/business__main/Over-50-000-migrant-workers-awaiting-to-return-to-country/245-186921

• Remittances to India, SL projected to fall by 23% this year

‘India receives over $40 billion from its 10 million citizens working in the GCC countries…UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain…In 2019, Pakistan received $22.5 billion, Bangladesh $18.3 billion, Nepal $8.1 billion, and Afghanistan $900mn from citizens working overseas…’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221537

• Request for a more cautious & measured approach regarding re-opening of schools

‘Due to concerns raised over the health and safety of 4.5 million students, and over 200,000 teachers, a group of credible and responsible citizens, spearheaded by the members of the Voluntary Initiative for National COVID-19 response effort (Education sector), have come together’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221470

• The Economic Impact of Covid-19

“In SL total employment is 8 million of which 3.4 million are in the private sector, 3.2 million fall under the self-employment category and the balance 1.5 million in the government sector…in 2018 SL’s total foreign exports amounted to USD 12 billion and in 2019 it has increased up to USD 16 billion… Normally we import 19% of the total imports from the China, another 19% imports from India, 6% from Singapore and 9% from European countries.”

– dailymirror.lk/insight/The-Economic-Impact-of-Covid-19/374-186816

• Is authoritarian governance irrational?

‘The country needs a paradigm shift in every sector, and in education, too. SL needs skills and not graduates.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221433

• 5,000 buses, 400 trains to be assigned from Mon: Minister

‘”government has decided to call for 50% of state and private-sector employees for work at low risk areas while 20% of employees would be permitted to return to work in high-risk areas under the first phase”.

– dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/5-000-buses-400-trains-to-be-assigned-from-Monday-Minister/108-186821

• The only frequent flyers left: migrant workers in the EU in times of Covid-19

‘Germany is making plans to fly in 10,000s of eastern Europeans for harvesting – keeping the system of seasonal work alive despite the crisis. It is illustrative that, in Frankfurt, incoming Romanians were welcomed with chocolate Easter bunnies by the German agricultural minister – not an accolade they normally receive. In Austria, care-workers were flown in from Bulgaria, Croatia & Romania, and more are supposed to follow – even though the Romanian government recently prevented another flight. Whereas 2 years ago the then right-wing Austrian government introduced measures that reduced the family allowance of many of these eastern European workers, now there are even bonus payments for those care-workers who stay longer. 2 Austrian regions have also flown in agricultural workers from Romania.’

– opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/only-frequent-flyers-left-migrant-workers-eu-times-covid-19

• The Privatized the ‘Lombardy Model’ Crashed!

‘Covid exposed the architecture of Lombardy’s health system, the ‘Lombardy Model’, a region that for 18 years has been the privileged terrain of privatisation of health under a centre-right Government. A private hospital became the first great focus of the spread. Under pressure from employers, factories were kept open. Despite the situation being already out of control, the Lombardy Confindustria launched a campaign on social networks with the hashtag, YesWeWork.’

– revuepolitique.be/blog-notes/covid-19-crimes-et-profits-du-patronat-italien/

Highlights and extracts

• Nye Bevan – the man who made health a human right

‘As a coal miner and the son of a coal miner he knew the price of breathing dust and dirt. “Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune the cost of which should be shared by the community.”’

– ft.lk/columns/Nye-Bevan-the-man-who-made-health-a-human-right/4-698992

• Covid causes devastating losses in working hours, employment – ILO

‘The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7% of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to 195 million full-time workers.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221313

• Unemployment and COVID-19

‘As the coronavirus pandemic hit the US economy, over 10 million filed for unemployment insurance… US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the US Dept of Labor to “move heaven and earth” to implement – quickly – the expanded unemployment benefits Congress passed last week as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).’

– theregreview.org/2020/04/04/saturday-seminar-unemployment-covid-19

_________________

C6. Agriculture

(Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)

ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.

• Imported fertilizer could be substandard, says MONLAR

‘Releasing fertilizer, based on a report submitted by the foreign export company, was not a judicious policy as they had an incentive to provide favourable reports’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221531

• Post COVID-19 economy

‘Our imports have increased appreciably to around US $22bn in the year 2018. Expenditure on food and beverages has increased to nearly US$1.9bn in 2018…we spend nearly Rs.1bn annually to import most of the ayurvedic herbs…Most of the food imported such as sugar, milk food, lentils, onion and maize, at the cost of $1.9bn, can be locally produced…nearly 16% is spent on importing sugar, most of which can be locally produced.. wheat flour is imported at a cost of around R 45bn. There are many tuberous crops such as Innala, sweet potato and yams that can replace wheat flour we import…’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221426

• Prez explores possibility of developing agriculture, other industries at district level

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221402

• Economy should be revived prioritizing agro sector – President

• ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa is considering the idea of creating a new mechanism to purchase, store and distribute agro products by combining all districts in the country, stated President’s Media Division. Attention was also drawn to the importance of establishing an institute similar to Fisheries Corporation

– adaderana.lk/news/62838/economy-should-be-revived-prioritizing-agro-sector-president

• CAA fixes Maximum Retail Price for turmeric powder

‘The CAA issued the relevant Gazette last evening, ordering that no importer, producer, distributor, or trader shall sell, expose, offer for sale, or display for sale turmeric powder above the MRP’

– ft.lk/business/CAA-fixes-Maximum-Retail-Price-for-turmeric-powder/34-699081

• Vegetable prices plummet as Dambulla returns to normal after curfew ends

– sundaytimes.lk/article/1118689/vegetable-prices-plummet-as-dambulla-returns-to-normal-after-curfew-ends

• Government advises farmers to bring harvest to economic centres

‘Following the decision to close the Pettah Manning Market by another week, farmers and traders have been advised to bring vegetables and fruits to economic centres at Meegoda, Narahenpita, Ratmalana, Welisara, Piliyadala and Veyangoda.’

– ft.lk/front-page/Govt-advises-farmers-to-bring-harvest-to-economic-centres/44-698946

• Restoration of Disrupted Food Supply Chains of SL during Post-Covid

‘The deans of the agriculture faculties of state universities last week wrote to the President’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221290

• Putting our agriculture on a path of ‘no regret’ for enhanced food security

‘Labour participation declined from 32.7% in 2010 to 25.5% in 2018… meet labour shortages at crucial times (eg planting and harvesting of crops)… come to terms with labour wages in the plantation sector…The state sector is not a substitute for the private sector… The front and the rear end of rice cultivation are heavily mechanized….tools, especially those imported, made tax free

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221281

• SL’s agricultural sector largely immune to Covid shock: ICRA Lanka

‘Says sector loosely integrated with global supply chains, compared to industry and services’…In 2001, agriculture accounted for 20% of the economy while today, it accounts for 7% with 25% of the workforce concentrated into it.’

– dailymirror.lk/business-news/Sri-Lankas-agricultural-sector-largely-immune-to-COVID-19-shock-ICRA-Lanka/273-186920

• Continuing concerns in food supply distribution & accessibility – Sanderatne

‘Most Samurdhi beneficiaries appear to have not received the promised income support, and there maybe a large number of people who are not Samurdhi recipients, with no income and no means of livelihood due to the curfew, who are unable to access basic food requirements…An emerging problem is the inability to transport agricultural produce from some farming areas to markets.’

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/columns/continuing-concerns-in-food-supply-distribution-and-accessibility-400396.html

• Putting our agriculture on path of ‘no regret’ for enhanced food security – Another Senanayake

‘We must question the fundamental assumption in the article, “Putting our agriculture on a path of ‘no regret’ for enhanced food security,” in The Island April 19: “we have to change this ‘small is beautiful’ mindset when it comes to a massive operation, like agriculture.” A massive operation, like agriculture? As far as I know, historically, agriculture was practiced by small scale farmers for millennia.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221434

• Seychelles, SL in talks to resolve issue of fishermen straying into their waters

‘Seychelles has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4mn sq.km which presents a challenge when it comes to the monitoring of illegal activities…’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221398

• Micro finance and the crisis of  Sri Lankan national economy, Vagisha Gunasekara

‘The Realm of Debt’ -Symposium of Crisis of SL’s rural economy organized by Law & Society Trust on 30-31 July 2019. Vagisha Gunasekera, Senior Lecturer-Open University of SL speaks about micro finance and the crisis of  Sri Lankan national economy’

– youtube.com/watch?v=O_OsCjUBo1Y

_________________

C7. Industry

(False definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)

ee Industry section notes the ignorance about industrialization, the buying of foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound.

• PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike in China,

Visiting industrial zones, steel, iron, mining, hydroelectric, shipbuilding, glass, artwork….

– youtube.com/watch?v=Dj4GKfcBzBg

• “We paid a price for closing industries”: President

‘The President narrated that for a long period of time, SL had been dependent on imports – imports of produce that can and used to be manufactured locally. “We paid a price for it and that was the closure of the industries here, the sectors closed indefinitely as we were dependent on the foreign imports than local products… Hence this is an opportune moment for us to revisit the model we have long cherished for our economy. To make it into one where the national economy, where national production, factories, sectors, particularly agriculture, job creation locally is at the forefront of our efforts.”’

– dailynews.lk/2020/04/21/local/216872/fresh-opportunity-economic-shift

• Trinco Oil Tank Farm

 ‘The price of the main US oil benchmark fell below zero, on Mon, for the first time in history…If only we had developed the Trincomalee oil tank farm and kept it operational to cater to the growing demand for fuel storage!’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=news-section&page=news-section&code_title=42

• Use Trinco Oil Tanks

‘Indian Oil Corporation has been using 14 of the tanks since they were leased out to it in the early 2000. So we have 84 tanks built with one inch thick steel plates just idling in an 850-acre complex…’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221515’

• Plummeting oil prices, missed opportunities & ‘cheap SL politics’

‘At least now let us develop the 800-acre Trincomalee oil tank farm facility on a PPP basis, keeping aside political differences’

– ft.lk/columns/Plummeting-oil-prices-missed-opportunities-and-cheap-Lankan-politics/4-699163

• SL’s Sierra Cables downgraded to ‘BB(lka)’ on Coronavirus, on negative watch

‘Sierra generates around 40% of its revenue from government-related projects – with the Ceylon Electricity Board (AA+(lka)/Negative) an essential client….currency depreciation is counterbalanced by Fitch’s expectation of lower prices for key commodity inputs, such as copper and aluminium…’

– economynext.com/sri-lankas-sierra-cables-downgraded-to-bblka-on-coronavirus-on-negative-watch-67547/

• President focuses on district level development of key industries

‘Increasing rubber production, promotion of local industries including textile, dairy products and the development of several other sectors were discussed in length.’

– ft.lk/news/President-focuses-on-district-level-development-of-key-industries/56-699049

• Covid outbreak a good economic opportunity – President

‘Industries that are linked with importation, or deal with foreign investment have seen a major setback with the virus outbreak, the President pointed out. However, this is a great opportunity to change SL’s economic system and move towards a more local economic plan, said President Rajapaksa: “For a long time, we have imported things that we could manufacture within the country. Due to cheaper imported goods, the local manufacturers, industries got shut down… We must change the local economy, the complete economic model”.

– adaderana.lk/news/62843/covid-19-outbreak-a-good-economic-opportunity-president

• Imports and tariffs

‘Obviously SL depends heavily on imports, and while this comes with challenges, it also gives consumers choice and essential items at fair prices… In 2018, a study that was done by the IMF) said SL’s weak trade competitiveness was largely due to it giving the most protection to industries that do not export significantly and remarked on the use of lobbying rather than strategic development or high employment as reasons for being protected. Processing of fruits and vegetables, bakery products, manufacture of pasta and noodles, sanitaryware, distilling and blending alcohol, cement, soft drinks, mineral water, and dairy products are among the top 10 most protected categories’

– ft.lk/ft_view__editorial/Imports-and-tariffs/58-698974

• SL apparel sector face mass-unemployment, firms run out of cash

‘SL’s small apparel firms will not be able to pay salaries in April, though some of the bigger firms would be able to manage for one or 2 months… As an industry relying on human capital, almost 70% of its overhead costs are generated from its workforce, with factories consisting of 500 as well as 5,000 workers meaning there is not much room to cut costs…The industry employs around 400,000 workers and the sector says another two million indirect workers also depend on it.’

– economynext.com/sri-lanka-apparel-sector-face-mass-unemployment-firms-run-out-of-cash-67249/

• As Covid tears SL’s apparel sector apart, an insider calls for help

‘The apparel industry accounts for about half of our country’s total exports and employs over 15% of the local workforce… this is the only case in SL of a single industry providing mass employment to its citizens (990,000+ skilled workers), in addition to being the country’s second largest forex earner for over 8 years…’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221283

• Appoint one key person for Government’s economic drive – Exporters

“Institutions working with different objectives and agendas”… said Chairman, Exporters Association of SL, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Hayleys PLC Group Shipping Dept Director Chrisso de Mel elaborating the current status of exports and the strategies needed to recoup and revive the industry…. “All line ministries in charge of finance, international trade, shipping, industries and commerce and the heads of key government institutions that come under them must all be accountable to this officer.”

– sundayobserver.lk/2020/04/19/business/appoint-one-key-person-govt%E2%80%99s-economic-drive-exporters

• Hatch & LAN gear up to launch SL’s first fintech accelerator

‘Hatch in partnership with Lankan Angel Network & through the support of the Ford Foundation, will officially launch start-up accelerator program ‘HatchX’.. The program’s strategic partner will be the Fintech Association. It has also received the endorsement of the Central Bank of SL.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221462

• PMI hits all-time low in March 2020

‘SL Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) released by the Statistics Department of Central Bank, manufacturing activities has significantly contracted’

– bizenglish.adaderana.lk/pmi-hits-all-time-low-in-march-2020/

• US crude falls below $15 a barrel as virus throttles demand

In a sign of the level of oversupply, the US Energy Information Administration said crude inventories in the world’s biggest economy rose by 19.25 million barrels last week… “Concern continues to mount that storage facilities in the US will run out of capacity. “

– dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/US-crude-falls-below-15-a-barrel-as-virus-throttles-demand/108-186898

• Cheaper than bottled water: Oil price goes negative as demand collapses, Wall St dips

‘”Basically, bears are out for blood,” analyst Naeem Aslam of Avatrade said…’

– bizenglish.adaderana.lk/cheaper-than-bottled-water-oil-price-goes-negative-as-demand-collapses-wall-street-dips

• When Oil Markets Go Viral

 ‘pandemic & the global economic downturn… where previously existing arrangements may be reworked and consolidated in the interests of the most powerful – we face the very real danger of an emboldened and resurgent oil industry, positioned ever more centrally within our political and economic systems. Such an eventuality would be a disastrous outcome to this current pandemic’

– socialistproject.ca/2020/04/when-oil-markets-go-viral

• Re-tool Oshawa GM Complex to Combat Covid-19

‘Manufacturing worker and healthcare worker representatives call for PM Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford to immediately order the production of essential medical equipment and supplies at the Oshawa GM complex and related parts supplier facilities… first step toward establishing a publicly owned manufacturing centre that could supply strategically necessary goods in times of crisis.’

– socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed-video/retool-oshawagm-combat-covid19/

• Uranium Energy Corp CEO Outlines Need for US Action to Address Uranium Imports

‘Uranium is required for almost 20% of US electricity generation in addition to fueling US’s Nuclear Navy aircraft carriers and submarines. At present, the domestic industry is no longer producing uranium, 100% of requirements are coming from imports or dwindling inventory.’

– marketwatch.com/press-release/uranium-energy-corp-ceo-outlines-need-for-us-action-to-address-americas-uranium-import-dependence-on-steve-bannons-war-room-radio-show-2020-04-22

______________

C8. Finance

(Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)

ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, pointing to the curious role of ratings agencies, again false indices, etc.

• Government’s double standards irk capital markets

Bond market open and buoyant but stock market closed for 5 weeks citing COVID-19…Net foreign outflow from bond market continues and far greater at over Rs. 30 b whereas when CSE closed it was only Rs. 5.4 b…Experts warn of serious repercussions on global investor confidence

– ft.lk/top-story/Govt-s-double-standards-irk-capital-markets/26-699184

 • SL sells US$174mn to defend peg in March after printing money

‘In Jan, SL’s central bank bought 149 million US dollars from markets and sold 60 million dollars to maintain the peg and avoid a loss of credibility in the peg.’

– economynext.com/sri-lanka-sells-us174mn-to-defend-peg-in-march-after-printing-money-67048/

• SL prints more money as rating downgraded to just above CCC

‘A key domestic asset stock of SL’s central bank went up by over 8bn rupees to 291bn rupees on April 24 on the settlement day for a Treasuries action data showed as the sovereign rating was downgrade’

– economynext.com/sri-lanka-prints-more-money-as-rating-downgraded-to-just-above-ccc-68138/

• Objectives of special deposit account may not be realized, former SEC chief says

‘6 month deposit period is a long term mechanism to attract foreign direct investments into SL, which has to settle more than 4.8bn USD of foreign loans this year.’

– newsfirst.lk/2020/04/24/objectives-of-special-deposit-account-may-not-be-realized-former-sec-chief-says/

• Fitch downgrades SL on debt sustainability worries

‘SL’s reserves are about $ 7.2bn, but the country’s external debt payments from May to Dec 2020 amount to $ 3.2bn, including a $1bn international sovereign bond payment due in Oct.’

– ft.lk/top-story/Fitch-downgrades-SL-on-debt-sustainability-worries/26-699228

• CB approves Union Bank’s request to cease primary dealership

– ft.lk/front-page/CB-approves-Union-Bank-s-request-to-cease-primary-dealership/44-699236

• Moody’s places ratings of 3 Lankan banks on review for downgrade

‘Less than a week after SL’s sovereign rating was placed under review for possible downgrade, due to the economic shock of COVID-19, Moody’s yesterday placed Bank of Ceylon (BOC), Hatton National Bank (HNB) and Sampath Bank under review for downgrade, due to the high level of dependency between the creditworthiness of  Sri Lankan banks and sovereign.

– dailymirror.lk/business-news/Moodys-places-ratings-of-3-Lankan-banks-on-review-for-downgrade/273-186919

• Companies defer big investments as they rush to conserve cash amid liquidity drought

Fitch Ratings identified consumer retail, construction and hotels as the most affected from the pandemic while utilities, telecommunications and healthcare are listed as the least affected… Hemas has interests in healthcare and pharmaceutical, FMCG, logistics and marine and leisure… LVL Energy Fund PLC, which owns and operates several hydro, wind and thermal projects in SL, Bangladesh and Nepal: “The main problem we are faced with is the long delay in receiving payment from the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) for our sales.”’

– dailymirror.lk/business-news/Companies-defer-big-investments-as-they-rush-to-conserve-cash-amid-liquidity-drought/273-187107

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C9. Business

(Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)

ee Business aka ee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, making money from unproductive land selling, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’

• ISPs ripping-off consumers?

‘It seems that all the ISP’s have banded together to fleece SL internet users. They have split the packages to all types of categories such as Anytime, night time, week-end, 4G bonus etc. What is the purpose of these categories, other than to confuse the customer to pay more for what he does not use?

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221291

•  Sri Lankan consumer retail, construction, hotels most affected by coronavirus – Fitch Ratings

‘The recent negative rating action on the 2 consumer durable retailers Singer (SL) and Abans PLC reflects Fitch’s view of the weak demand for non-essential good…However, Fitch-rated  Sri Lankan corporates exposed to hotels such as Melstacorp PLC and Hemas Holdings PLC also have exposure to other diversified business segments which are more defensive, and/or have high rating headroom, which mitigates the impact.’

– sundaytimes.lk/article/1118821/sri-lankan-consumer-retail-construction-hotels-most-affected-by-coronavirus-fitch-ratings

• THASL seeks fewer caveats in pandemic relief plan

‘Hotel Association (THASL) chairman said: “THASL is the apex body of the hotel industry which represents about 240 hotels across the country and accounts for about 70% of the room inventory.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221416

• SL property developers seek to re-start work, clarity on import controls

‘The Condominium Developers Association of SL: The property development industry is the primary employer and revenue source for the majority of professional construction firms, as well as thousands of SMEs across the economy, from small scale building material providers, to manufacturers and installers of a range of finished goods and equipment.’

– economynext.com/sri-lanka-property-developers-seek-to-re-start-work-clarity-on-import-controls-66794/

• Unilever SL commits Rs35mn towards Covid relief efforts

‘Donations were made to the PM, Health Minister& Army Commander…” We’ve been part of SL for the past 82 years; we will fight this together…”

– dailymirror.lk/business-news/Unilever-Sri-Lanka-commits-Rs-35mn-towards-COVID-19-relief-efforts/273-186849

• Nestlé contribution to battle Covid reaches Rs50mn

‘We have been with SL over the last 114 years, through good times and bad. We have always cared deeply about the welfare of our people… Nestlé is continuing to buy milk from its 14,000 farmers,’

– dailymirror.lk/press-releases/Nestl%C3%A9-contribution-to-battle-COVID-19-reaches-Rs-50-million-employees-to-voluntarily-donate-part/335-187017

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C10. Politics

(Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)

ee Politics points to the constant media diversions and the mercantile and financial forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.

• 20 June: Why any election is better than none – Dayan Jayatilleka

‘Socially, the greatest danger is a corona-proliferating premature election. Politically, the greatest danger is the growing momentum of the extra-constitutional ‘zero-election/exceptional regime’ project. “All things must pass” and so too shall COVID-19, but the retrieval of democracy won’t be as predictable and will surely be more protracted. As a Realist, I’d say, better any election and a parliamentary Opposition, than no election. As philosophy argues, “is” must not be derived from “ought”. It’s what it is.”

– ft.lk/columns/20-June-Why-any-election-is-better-than-none/4-699112

• Losers fishing in troubled waters

‘The opposition consisting of estranged Yahapalana politicos, currently left high and dry, appear to be seeking to make a comeback courtesy the coronavirus pandemic, all the time pretending that the government is anxious to have early elections at any cost. Even the Yahapalanaya appointed Election Commission seems to be sympathetic to them.’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221387

• General election on June 20 -NEC

– dailymirror.lk/top_story/General-election-on-June-20-NEC/155-186905

• Politics of Postponing Parliamentary Elections amid a Pandemic

‘If elections are postponed again the President seems to be contemplating a tough course of “solo” action sans Parliament. In short President Rajapaksa is prepared to cross the Rubicon of necessity.’

– dailymirror.lk/opinion/Politics-of-Postponing-Parliamentary-Elections-Amid-a-Pandemic/172-187187

• Uda Kendawala Siri Saranankara

‘Ven Udakendawala Siri Saranankara ( Jan 7, 1902 – Nov 13, 1966) was an outstanding political bhikkhu of SL. He is forgotten today. However, his name should not be erased completely from history. He was continuously active under a hostile British administration, and unlike most activists of the time, he was very influential. His activism straddled both British rule and the subsequent period of independent rule. Saranankara was the first President of the Communist Party of SL, in 1943.’

– lankaweb.com/news/items/2020/04/10/uda-kendawala-siri-saranankara/

• GMOA demands information from Health Ministry to activate Exit Strategy on Covid

– sundaytimes.lk/article/1118617/gmoa-demands-information-to-activate-exit-strategy-on-covid-19

• TUs call for caution setting date for general elections

‘The unions that came together include the Ceylon Teachers Union, the Railway Unions, the Postal Unions and the Health Services Union’

– sundaytimes.lk/article/1118640/tus-call-for-caution-setting-date-for-general-elections

• The government is taking a huge gamble

‘If the situation improves, the government will be lucky. But it will be ruined politically if coronavirus returns with a vengeance… the question is who, in the opinion of the EC, should give the all-clear for it to commence the process of conducting the general election? Does it think the law allows it to use its discretion to decide whether the public health emergency is over or not?’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=news-section&page=news-section&code_title=55

• Despite Covid-19, can SL conduct safe elections like S Korea? – Jeyaraj

‘many opine that there is no need for elections at all as the police, security forces and other essential services continue to carry out their services, irrespective of the danger prevailing. But we uphold the democratic values and are for holding elections at the due time…” the Premier said.’

– dailymirror.lk/opinion/Despite-Covid-19-can-Sri-Lanka-conduct-safe-elections-like-South-Korea/172-186863

• April’s Hoole Feels Out of Line

‘Prof Hoole said that as he was still in Jaffna, the EC lacked a quorum to meet… He didn’t feel safe standing in a queue, in the Jaffna hospital, to obtain a certificate required for him to leave the district’

– island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=221306

• General Elections amidst Covid Pandemic? You must be joking!

‘For even as PB Jayasundera says in his presidential reply to the Elections Commissioner, ‘’I need hardly emphasise that it is the right of the people of this country to exercise their franchise, which is their sovereign right,” it cannot be stressed too vigorously that all rights stand dwarfed next to the god given towering right to life, for sans the supreme right to life, does it matter that a thousand sovereign rights lie enshrined in the statute books?’

– sundaytimes.lk/200419/columns/general-elections-amidst-covid-pandemic-you-must-be-joking-400460.html

• Beware a new wave of populism, born out of coronavirus-induced economic inequity

‘Pre-existing tendencies towards monopoly, Chinese dominance and predatory capitalism will explode unless governments take measures to contain them’

– theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/18/beware-a-new-wave-of-populism-born-out-of-coronavirus-induced-economic-inequity

• Paul Fanlund: In this crisis, there’s nothing ‘deranged’ about loathing Trump

‘Krugman describes modern US conservatism as “the interlocking network of media organizations and think tanks that serves the interests of right-wing billionaires, and has effectively taken over the GOP.”’

– madison.com/ct/opinion/column/paul_fanlund/paul-fanlund-in-this-crisis-there-s-nothing-deranged-about-loathing-donald-trump/article_3b34847c-8c6b-572e-8e9f-1b0081d998d8.html

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C11. Media

(Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)

ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.

Sunday Times Political Editor rubbishes Colombo Telegraph article, sends letter of demand to editor

– http://www.sundaytimes.lk/article/1119029/st-political-editor-rubbishes-colombo-telegraph-article-sends-letter-of-demand-to-editor

• Journalist Iqbal Athas Exposed In ‘Poison-Pen’ Propaganda Operation

– https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/journalist-iqbal-athas-exposed-in-poison-pen-propaganda-operation

• SL government intensifies crackdown on social media

‘How a supposed Leftist media site gathers a few random incidents to make a case’ 

– wsws.org/en/articles/2020/04/09/medi-a09.html

 • Cause Marketing in the Time of Covid

 ‘Where multinationals claim to be doing good things for people while laying workers off and making bigger profits: Facebook is offering another $100 million in grants and advertising credits to publishers. …Twitter is protecting and supporting journalists during this time by giving $1mn to the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation.’

– chiefmarketer.com/cause-marketing-in-the-era-of-covid-19/

• Qiao Collective is a collective of diaspora Chinese challenging US aggression on China

‘We seek to disrupt Western misinformation and propaganda and to affirm the basic humanity of Chinese people. We believe misinformation has weakened the US left’s ability to connect the dots between US-China relations and US political, military, and economic imperialism in the Global South.’

– qiaocollective.com/about

• Trump’s fresh push to control of VOA

‘US citizens are prohibited from disseminating Voice of America broadcasts for fear US citizens may find out what VOA is proclaiming to the world about democracy in the USA. Trump still wants it to be a more open propaganda arm!… US Agency for Global Media oversees funding of VOA, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free AsiaVOA director Amanda Bennett is a former Philadelphia Inquirer editor, wife of ex-Washington Post owner Donald Graham and Barack Obama appointee…’

– politico.com/news/2020/04/22/donald-trump-propaganda-war-199799

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