All should forget their differences and rally around the government of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to turn the economy around or in the alternative, perish.

By The Outsider

The trend these days has been to bash Ranil left, right and centre. In fact it has now become fashionable to do so; so much so that those with a different point of view have almost become afraid to voice their opinions publicly. It is in this context that I thought of making a few points to be considered with an open mind. I must emphasise at the outset that I am no Ranil sychophant.

1) When Ranil accepted the Premiership unconditionally, I was livid. As most did, I too felt he gave GR a lifeline when he was on the verge of quitting.

2) Eventually it turned out well as GR was anyway compelled to go.

3) Ranil was next appointed acting President and then elected President by a vote in Parliament.

4) We hear arguments that Ranil became President with only 134 votes and thus has no right to be President. I haven’t heard a more illogical argument than that. Ranil became President with 134 out of 225 votes of MPs as provided for in our Constitution. What more could we ask for than a legally and constitutionally appointed President. Even the USA has a constitutional provision for succession if the President dies in office or vacates office.

5) If Ranil is to be removed constitutionally I won’t have any qualms but the attempts to use extra parliamentary means should be nipped in the bud.

6) The Aragalaya was to remove GR and the other Rajapaksas who had ruined the economy. Once that had been achieved, the objectives of the Aragalaya were accomplished and it should have ended. Instead, it was hijacked by the extreme left parties including the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) and the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) led by a person who has been nine years, I understand, in the university and appears to be a professional protester, not interested in qualifying himself.

This group is now trying to overthrow the government through aggression and extra parliamentary means.

Now let’s look at some other factors. When the prime ministership was on offer, there were no other takers besides Ranil. The economy of the country was hanging by a thread. The Leader of the Opposition who was in poll position to be appointed Prime Minister was for some reason unwilling to accept the offer. The need of the country was for someone to take over and steer the ship. He had in in his team a brilliant economist who would have been an asset to the administration in turning around the economy. Sadly this did not happen.

Ranil accepted the challenge (for whatever reason). Had he not, what would the consequences have been? We probably would still be having long fuel queues for days on end. We all know that lives were lost in fuel queues. We probably would not have had LPG available as it is now. Diesel for power generation and medicines too may have become unavailable. Twenty four hour power cuts may have followed.

Since Ranil took over, it’s not as though the flood gates have opened and forex is flowing in freely. It’s simply that the same limited resources are managed far more efficiently than they were during the previous regime which exposed many as being out of their depth in the positions they held. Further the rupee was allowed to float and this encouraged expatriate workers to use the official channels for remitting funds home.

Step by step action is being taken to increase tourist arrivals. Other industries are gradually picking up business. I know of entrepreneurs who are grateful to Ranil for having accepted the challenge and help mitigate our plight. They have invested hundreds of millions of rupees in their businesses which were on the verge of folding up at the peak of the crisis.
The argument is made that a powerful person is controlling the government from behind the scenes and Ranil is a proxy president for him.

That may be so where cabinet appointments, etc are made but with regard to managing the economy I am convinced that Ranil is calling all the shots backed by expert advice.For argument sake let’s say that it is a fact that Ranil has to listen to this powerful person dictating terms to him and consider what options he would have had to tell that powerful person to “go to hell” and have the rug pulled from under his feet or play ball and have parliamentary support for all the economic measures he proposes.I think the answer to which option would be in the interests of the country is a “no brainer”.

We all know what the need of the country is at this point of time. The choice he made was the lesser of the two evils considering the economic situation of the country and turning around the economy was top priority.

While it is no secret that we need the support of the West and multilateral organizations to cooperate with us in our predicament, Ranil was strong enough to call the ambassadors of Western nations and take them on. He drew attention to the fact that there had been “tweets” with incorrect statements e.g. that the police had removed protesters from Galle Face Green when actually the protesters removed were those who obstructed the President’s office.

Yet he was able to get positive statements from heads of government and other organizations like the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club and EU. If there’s any other leader who could have done better, I have not heard of him/her. We need the IMF on board to even be able to open discussions with our creditors. Remember we are not able to negotiate with the IMF from a position of strength. Ranil was considered by the late Mangala Samaraweera as “the best President we never had”. Even most of his fiercest critics concede that he is the best person to handle this situation.

With regard to the harsh treatment of the protesters, it is conceded that in a few recent instances the police action was a bit heavy handed. Besides those instances one couldn’t fault the authorities for questioning those who broke the law and were on record of having invaded and vandalized key institutions like the President’s and Prime Minister’s offices and residences.

We hear of threats, by leaders of some political parties known for their violent actions, to forcibly remove the government. I don’t believe this is the popular sentiment of the people and in the name of democracy this should be prevented. So the bottom line should be that all should forget differences and rally round the government to turn the economy around or in the alternative, perish.

Courtesy:The Island