Text and image by PRIYAN DE SILVA
An online petition, initiated by “Save Sri Lanka”, to be forwarded to the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, attributes the current situation in Sri Lanka to poor economic decisions, poor budget planning and management as well as than to endemic corruption by politicians and government officials.
As stated in the petition, for the first time in its history, Sri Lanka has defaulted on its debt repayment and declared bankruptcy.
In response to this crisis, the Sri Lankan government is currently negotiating to restructure existing foreign loans and seek additional IMF loans to address the country’s deficit in foreign exchange reserves. Sri Lanka is asking its expatriates and the rest of the world to help it weather this storm. He also wants to attract more foreign tourists. All measures are aimed at increasing Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserve.
“Save Sri Lanka” argues that if entrenched patterns of financial mismanagement and corruption continue as usual, this latest injection of foreign investment will not contribute to sustained economic growth; nor will it improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable sections of the population. In a corrupt and mismanaged economy, investors cannot expect adequate returns or security for their investments. Tourists will not feel safe visiting a country where there are doubts about the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
“In recognition of these structural problems, a great cry for political and economic reform has emerged from across the country. Even now, there are ongoing non-partisan and non-violent protests in many parts of Sri Lanka, with the main protest taking place in Galle Face, Colombo. These protests demand the resignation of the President and Prime Minister, who are largely responsible for the current crisis. The Galle Face protest, which began on April 09, 2022, brings together hundreds of thousands of people from different political, racial, religious and social backgrounds.
“In solidarity with these protests, and with the aim of preventing corruption, establishing the rule of law and fostering a culture conducive to sustained economic growth and tourism in Sri Lanka, the signatories of the petition call on the Sri Lankan government to make the following changes with immediate effect:
“The current President and Prime Minister must resign immediately to allow an interim administration to take over the governance of the country.
“Interim and future administrations should:
: Abolish the 20th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution
Reinstate the National Audit Act, No. 19 of 2018
“Pass new laws in Parliament requiring politicians to declare their assets before running for office and to be subject to an audit of their declaration of assets and liabilities at the end of their term in Parliament.
“Pass new laws in Parliament requiring politicians and state officials to declare conflicts of interest related to any position they hold
“Restore the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary to hold politicians (ministers, prime minister and president) accountable for their decisions and actions
“Restructure current tax laws to minimize indirect taxes that fall more heavily on low-income groups and enforce income-based tax policies
“Establish mechanisms to recover the country’s stolen assets and the proceeds of corruption.”