Appreciating our Rupee
Not everyone it seems, appreciates the fact that our own humble Rupee is appreciating in value viz-a-viz international currencies. What all this would basically mean to the average Mr and Ms. Sri Lankan is that the country's economy is recovering, and the price of imports, especially crucial items like foodstuffs and oil, would be just a fraction cheaper than it was.

It would also mean that you get a little more out of your Rupee when you travel abroad. It would mean that inflation might be reduced a teeny-weeny bit and there might be some attraction of Foreign Direct Investment. A strong currency is a plus point for the sovereign rating of Sri Lanka - the show-piece of economic viability - in the eyes of foreign investors.

If an ordinary citizen would view this as a good sign and of a resurgence in the economy, not so the Exporters, or some of them who have an advocate in their Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris. He came to the cabinet and argued for a devalued Rupee so that the country's exports would be cheaper in foreign markets.

Finance Minister K.N. Choksy counter-argued that an appreciating Rupee will have a beneficial impact on the economy taken as a whole, while the Prime Minister said that there must be a balance between the benfits to Exporters from a depreciated Rupee, and to the people at large from an appreciating Rupee because Imports will cost less.

It is time that the ordinary folks at home were given a break from the massive burdens that have been placed on them over the years. Most of them simply can’t pay their monthly bills nor balance their budgets, and they curse successive Governments when they go to the market. These ordinary people must benefit from the natural process of prices coming down.

Unfortunately there is a limit to relying on the patriotic call urging Sri Lankans to keep on tightening their belts for future prosperity. On the other hand, why should he or she continue to make sacrifices when they can see the criminal wastage of public funds indulged in by cabinet ministers, past and present. One cannot ask the people to make sactrifices forever. The UNP has a reputation of concentrating on the big players and on macro-economics. That they run after the ordinary citizen only at election-time is a historical fact.

The big players - the Exporters, especialy those in the apparal and tea industries undoubtedly bring in the foreign exchange and need some form of protection. But how much do they import themselves? And for how long must they be protected?
Not for ever, and at the expense of the hard-pressed housewife all the time.

These industries must be cost and management effective. They have the capacity to be more productive - to give productivity bonuses and to get things moving. The ordinary people have their limitations to improve their lot. These benefits - like an appreciating Rupee may not even be permanent, and when they accrue, they must be passed to the citizen, the majority of whom live in difficult circumstances.

The Government's economic record is credited with a 5.5 per cent growth for the second half of this year, on par with India and China. To the man and woman on the street this does not mean anything.

The Budget is round the corner, and the Government's economic policies must be tempered with a humane approach. It ought to be a policy not to be dictated by the IMF and the World Bank. which are the institutions responsible for not only doling out the big bucks,but also inadvertently, formenting revolutions throughout the world.

No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo.
Editor - steditor@wijeya.lk , News - stnews@wijeya.lk Features - stfeat@wijeya.lk
Business - btimes@wijeya.lk Subs - suntimes@wijeya.lk,
Funday Times - funtimes@wijeya.lk
EDITORIAL OFFICE Tel: 326247, 328889, 433272-3. Fax: 423922, 423258
ADVERTISING OFFICE Advertising - advt@wijeya.lk , Fax: 423921
CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT No. 10, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2.
Tel: 435454, 448322, 074 714252. Fax: 459725

Back to Top  Back to Index  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Contact us: | Editorial | | Webmaster|