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‘Theney hatiyata aney’

The open economy can provide no solution to this problem. If they pay the farmer what he demands, the consumer will be unable to purchase rice. One thing the businessman can do is to export it to another rice-eating country, if possible. That will send our Gross Domestic Production up. But our citizens will be malnourished skeletons. The open economy can jolly well solve the problems of foreign wheat farmers.
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by Dr. C. J. Senasinghe

(June 07, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The debacle of our paddy cultivation demands pragmatic economic policies to make life easy for our citizens. Former President Premadasa realised this fact and set up the Janasaviya apparatus inspite of objections from the World Bank. Former President Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga boldly strengthened Janasaviya into Samurdhi which appears to be the ideal way for a quicker solution to the problems of the rural poor. The success of Samurdhi shows us that whatever be the demands of donors, we have to judge what action will bring maximum benefit to the people of our country.

We have to accept the fact that the open economy has messed up certain spheres of economic activity of this country. Local industries that thrived in this country before 1977 were badly affected as a result of cheap imports. The maximum amount of damage, however, was sustained by the paddy farmer. This was because the UNP did away with the Paddy Marketing Board. This left the farmer at the mercy of businessmen who came to purchase paddy. The privatised bus service, too, put the man on the road into difficulties. No one seems to be bothered, because aid donors threaten us if the government tries to do something for the benefit of our poor people.
The sale of state economic ventures to the private sector has reduced government income so that nothing much can be done without obtaining "foreign aid." If taxes are increased it will create inflation. Therefore, our way of life is actually determined by foreign powers, fifty eight years after independence.

No doubt, the open economy serves a purpose, but we must know where to draw the line between the ligitimate condition laid down by a donor and an unjustified request, going against the just and legitimate aspirations of our own people.

One such problem that stands before us is that of the paddy farmer. The open economy has put him in a total mess. On the dictates of the World Bank, the subsidy on fertiliser was done away with. Therefore, the farmers expenditure rose. But when production went up with the application of fertilizers, private wholesale buyers were not willing to buy paddy at the farmer’s price. Therefore, many a farmer would have been forced to borrow money from someone else to buy a bottle of insecticide to finish his mission in this world.

The open economy can provide no solution to this problem. If they pay the farmer what he demands, the consumer will be unable to purchase rice. One thing the businessman can do is to export it to another rice-eating country, if possible. That will send our Gross Domestic Production up. But our citizens will be malnourished skeletons. The open economy can jolly well solve the problems of foreign wheat farmers.

This shows that government must create the administrative machinery to purchase paddy from the farmer and sell rice at a reasonable price to the common man.

Therefore, ‘Thaney Hatiyata Aney’ as the Sinhala saying goes, is something our rulers must always keep in mind.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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