The national income should be increased to eradicate the debt burden of the country and the income could be increased only by increasing production says the candidate of the National People’s Power, JVP Leader Comrade Anura Dissanayake emphasizing that the NPP does have a plan to increase national production.
Comrade Anura Dissanayake said this at the ‘People’s Assembly’ held at RavindraThagore Hall in the University of Ruhuna on the 28th. A large number of academicians, professors, lecturers, doctors, lawyers and other professionals participated.
Comrade Anura Dissanayake spoke about the reason for the debt crisis in the country and how such a colossal debt burden was inflicted, how to end the debt crisis and save the country from such debt traps.
He said, “Debt is not a crime. When a country doesn’t have the necessary amount of capital, they get loans. When a country doesn’t have the technology, we obtain loans to get the necessary technology. This is how countries in the world act. Such a loan becomes a burden when we do not use it to produce real assets. These rulers have made the country indebted to the tune of Rs. 11 trillion. The Auditor-General said despite getting loans worth rs. 11 trillion, the assets owned by the country is only Rs. 1.8 trillion. Rs. 9.2 trillion have disappeared. We were under the impression that the amount that disappeared was only 10%. However, the real figure, according to the Attorney General, is 90%. If so, the main reason for the debt crisis is the failure to create real assets from the loans that have been obtained.
Also, loans were not utilized to create necessary assets. For example, the 48 km of the rail line from Matara to Galle was made high speed. The contract was given to India’s Right company. US$ 150 million was spent to make the track express from Matara to Colombo. US$ 60 million was spent to do the track from Galle to Matara. This is about Rs. 10000 million. When the relaying of the track began, Mr Dallas Alahapperuma was the minister. After the project was completed Mr Kumara Welgama was the minister.
We asked Mr Welgama in Parliament as to how much time did Ruhunu Kumari spend to travel from Galle to Matara before the relaying of the track, and he said 42 minutes. Then we asked him how much time does it take after relaying and the answer was 39 minutes. This means Rs. 10000 million has been spent to get a reduction of only 3 minutes.
Doesn’t it contribute to the debt burden? We are burdened with the debt crisis not for anything else but due to our failure to produce real assets from the loans we have obtained. This is why the President had to recently say Rs. 2 billion that had been spent on the Lotus Tower was unaccountable. Our Comrade Sunil Handunneththi showed that the cost to construct Sooriyawewa Cricket Ground was Rs. 5 billion. However, it was found that Cricket Stadium is worth only Rs 2 billion. Rs. 3 billion has disappeared. This means when a construction is estimated for Rs. 5 billion it is worth only Rs. 2 billion. Rs. 3 billion disappears. This is where the crisis is. What is the solution to this crisis?
It would be necessary to get more loans. First, we must have discussions with those who have given loans. The debt must be surveyed. We have to see whether paying instalments could be rescheduled. When we take loans again, they should be utilized to create production. We believe that loans should be obtained for a large scale industrial network.
Before the Portuguese came to Sri Lanka, the cinnamon business in the country was carried out by Muslim traders. Cinnamon was shipped as bundles just like firewood is bundled in our villages. Even after 600 years, cinnamon is shipped from Sri Lanka like bundles of firewood. Even after 600 years the rulers who ruled this country were unable to ship cinnamon as a value-added product. We will bring in factories to ship cinnamon as value-added products.
Next, Sri Lanka has very valuable graphite resources excavated at three mines including one at Kahatagaha Pathala. Our graphite has the highest percentage of carbon in the world. We still ship it as chunks. We should bring in factories to make value-added products with graphite. At present, a ton of graphite in chunks gets US$ 2000. However, if we utilize this resource correctly, a kilo of graphite could get US$5000. A ton is 1000 kilos. When this company was brought before the Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE) they pointed out that there was a production, but there was no factory. This wealth should be properly used to bring in income for the country. We could get a loan for such a factory and new technology. For, such industries require new technology.
The mineral sands at Pulmoddai is a very valuable natural wealth. I saw in newspapers that some had stated that the mineral sands at Pulmoddai would be completely used up. This is wrong. It is a wealth that cannot be wiped out. Annually, 2 million tons of mineral sands is deposited in the area. For ages, minerals have been depositing and the deposit will never end. As such, when we remove 20 million tons this year, another 20 million tons will be available for excavation next year. What we do at present is to use a very simple method of processing, load it into containers and ship it. We need a factory here. It should be a very modern chemical factory that could use the mineral sands into value-added products and Sri Lanka will be able to earn a profit hundred of times of what is earned by the Mineral Sands Corporation at present. We need a loan for such a factory and technology.
Next, Our phosphate reserve could be used as manure for long term plants such as tea, coconut, lime, oranges and cinnamon. What is done today is to ship it as chunks. We could have a factory here. Such a place requires a loan facility. We have a plan to increase national production. We could increase our national income only by increasing production avenues. This is how we would settle the mountain of debt the rulers in this country have dragged our country into during the last several decades.”