ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 16
Financial Times  

Ranil and the HSBC loan

In your business pages editorial last week you ask the question,” is Ranil crazy or is he foolish’.

As a psychiatrist I certify that he is indeed both crazy and foolish. Your business editor and his business friends reasoning are so sound that he is indeed certifiably crazy. Your business editor writes that this once pro business Ranil is now becoming pro farmer, pro Samurdhi recipient and pro poor. That is indeed an emerging sign of craziness in Ranil. Change of heart or change of attitude is a well known sign of craziness. It is particularly so when the sentiments change from being pro business to pro poor.
Why else would he take a pro poor stance when he could remain pro big business and collect enough money for his party and his brothers. He could even buy an Aston Martin! He should follow the example of some in the media who follow big money for scholarships for their children and those who run their own side business with money from big business!

Big business in Sri Lanka cries for the poor but distributes their wealth through trust funds. In order to raise money for the poor they side with the powers whose hearts are equally crying for the poor.

You refer to Ranil threatening the HSBC, the world’s biggest bank that maintain ‘the highest standards and integrity’. HSBC is in association with J.P. Morgan Bank trying to give US$500 million dollars to the poor in Sri Lanka. Are these two philanthropic banks reaching out to the poor in this country trying to give them US$500 million dollars as a token of their sympathy for the down trodden in Sri Lanka?

Is it a sign of craziness it Ranil becomes suspicious of where this money would end up? You and I would agree that none of that would end up in the pockets of a snow white government or in a Caribbean account. Ranil asks why take dollar loans for Norochchalai coal power project when the Chinese government is taking care of it.

Then he asks why take money for the Southern highway at this exorbitant rate of 7.5%, when the World Bank is funding it? Is it crazy to realize that these projects when funded by public banks and governments will not bring a few rupees to the empty pockets of our poor political masters? How would the COPE chairman keep his committee busy in the absence of such free flowing funds coming to this government?

Dr. Ranil Abeyasinghe

Business Editor replies:

The writer has completely missed the point in his rush to defend the Opposition Leader or the people for that matter. Our point was that ‘yes’ take the government to task but not another party which to it is just a commercial transaction, nothing less/nothing more.
As for the loan itself and its need, we said last week, “There is no doubt that the loan itself raises many questions and would result in Sri Lankans being called upon to pay through their noses.” We have raised concerns about the loan in earlier weeks (and will still continue to do so) and have criticized the government and opposition alike in an objective way on many issues in the past.
By all means go after the culprit (the government if proved the borrowings are going the wrong way), and that’s what the Opposition Leader should be doing not attacking a commercial lender whose sole objective like any bank including local banks is profit and responsibility to shareholders.


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