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CP Leader warns of danger of being at mercy of the dollar with it likely to lose its world reserve currency status

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Suggests looking at India and China as alternative options

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The United States has printed trillions of dollars in the past year and Sri Lanka will be at the mercy of its volatility unless it looks at ways to reduce its dependence on the dollar, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL) Dr. G. Weerasinghe told The Island on Wednesday.

The CPSL recently released a policy manifesto, Idirimagin Idiriyata, at the party’s 80th anniversary and proposed an alternative development mechanism.

After several centuries, the centre of world economy has shifted to Asia, and it has opened up new developmental avenues for Sri Lanka, General Secretary of the Communist Party said. Speaking about the Idirimagin Idiriyata policy manifesto the CPSL launched on 03 July, he said that most Sri Lankan economists are western oriented and ignore new world trends.

“In the last 20-30 years, many Asian economies took off, but we couldn’t get on the bus. This is because our entire economy is oriented to the West. We don’t even think what the Chinese, Indian, Korean or Japanese market wants. Clearly they don’t need our tea or garments. We have to figure out what these new markets want,” he said. Dr. Weerasinghe added that China is the main business partner with 140 countries in the world. China and India do a lot of business together, despite the frequent clamouring by Indian media, he said. “China is the biggest market in the world. China has a 500 million strong middle class. We have to also seriously think of India, which is the most populous country in the world. What about ASEAN? CPSL calls for a reorientation of Sri Lanka’s trade policy,” he said.

The CPSL General Secretary said that de-dollarization and the availability of new payment platforms are also developments that Sri Lanka should look at. In recent years, it has become evident that the United States and a few of its allies are manipulating international institutions that were meant to be apolitical, he said.

“They are also using sanctions to punish countries that do not bow down to the West. They are misusing the fact that the U.S. Dollar is the reserve currency of the world. They have also used payment platforms like SWIFT which was said to be beyond politics. A lot of countries have seen what happened to Iran and Russia and are worried that the same fate would befall them. Most major powers in the world are thinking about using alternative currencies to do business between each other. They have also looked at payment gateways like Mir,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the US and EU imposed sanctions on about 6000 products on Russia following the Ukrainian war. Without being daunted, it rearranged its economy towards Asia and have managed to escape economic collapse. This made many major powers realize that the US and EU can only influence them, if U.S. dollars are used for trade.

“De-dollarization has gained momentum ever since. Russia, Iran and a few other countries have been kicked out of SWIFT,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that Sri Lanka has now decided that the Chinese Yuan and the Indian rupee can be used for trade. Some elements are insisting that this would be bad for the country without giving a rational explanation, he said.

The CP General Secretary mentioned that there are a few new development banks in the world, i.e. the BRICS bank and the AAIB. Sri Lanka only depends on the World Bank, IMF, etc., and these establishments have been tools of the West to impose its hegemony on the rest of the world, he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe added that until 1978, Sri Lanka took a number of progressive steps to defeat colonialism, and to industrialize. It attempted to formulate its own drug policy with Dr. Senaka Bibile, which is now widely respected around the world.

However, everything changed after 1977 and the problems created from the shift in the economic policy culminated with the current economic crisis, he said.

“Almost all governments, since 1977, have followed policies that were inimical to the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. We moved to low paying and low-productivity service jobs. It is a well-known fact that all nations that joined the developed nations club in the last 60 years focused on labour intensive manufacturing and boosting agricultural productivity. This is the history of development, but we have decided to ignore, it since 1977,” he said, adding that the institutions set up to ensure adherence to the Washington Consensus, i.e. World Bank and the IMF dictates, had encouraged deindustrialization in Sri Lanka.

“In fact, a 2003 agreement we signed with the IMF says that the Sri Lankan government will not take steps to develop industrialization,” he said.

The CPSL General Secretary said that as the state had lost both tax and non-tax revenue, it was compelled to borrow, especially from the International Sovereign Bond (ISB) markets.

“We started borrowing from these markets in 2007. Up until 2015, we borrowed about 30 percent of our total debt from ISBs. Between 2015 and 2019, we borrowed over 13 billion US dollars from these markets. These bonds are held by companies based in the US and the EU. They are literally poli mudalalis (loan sharks). Borrowing from these markets has ruined us. However, there is a big campaign by the West and its local allies to place the blame on China,” he said.

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