Multinationals in Sri Lanka says ‘Everything needs to be Fixed’
‘Before you study the economics, study the economists!’
e-Con e-News 12-18 June 2022
Much of what is depicted as vast corruption is ‘accepted as standard procedure‘ in business and banks
– John Whitehead, former Goldman Sachs Co-Chairman,
former US Deputy Secretary of State
Everything needs to be fixed in the context of international standards,
in terms of human rights and labor law too
– League of Multinational Corporations in Sri Lanka, 2018
The League of Multinational Corporates (LMNC) was formed in early 2018 by seven ‘leading’ multinational companies, predominantly chemical importers, in Sri Lanka: Anglo Unilever (a monopoly in Sri Lanka’s home market), British American Tobacco’s Ceylon Tobacco Co (CTC, ‘the highest market capitalization on the Colombo Stock Exchange’), Anglo HSBC (‘the largest bank in Europe’), US Mastercard (‘with over 500 million customers’), Dutch Heineken (‘World’s 2nd -largest beer manufacturer, operating in over 190 countries’), Lanka Indian Oil Co (‘No 1 Brand in India & first-listed energy company in Sri Lanka’), and top chemical importer Swiss Baur & Co.
The newly formed League (LMNC) invited PM Ranil Wickremesinghe as Chief Guest to their inaugural business forum in 2018. Other participants were Ministers Sagala Ratnayake, Harin Fernando, Harsha de Silva (see ee Focus, Coomaraswamy & Debt).
Wickremesinghe, removed later that year, soon lost his own seat in 2019. An unelected Wickremesinghe is PM again, as well as Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation & National Policies. Mr Wickremesinghe’s present advisory team includes Ratnayake, Fernando and de Silva. They have been ‘hailed widely’ by the ‘international community’ (read: white powers!. So! An unelected minority are indeed ruling the country, perhaps achieving the ‘international standards’ for ‘human rights’ demanded by the LMNC?
• The capitalist media shifted from investigating the Aeroflot sabotage to expose Indian-government-backed capitalist Gautam Adani’s fronting the multinational corporate capture of Mannar’s energy resources. National Freedom Front (NFF) MP Wimal Weerawansa observes the growing Indian role in Sri Lanka is accelerated by the IMF deliberately delaying much needed assistance. The PM has also delayed getting fuel from Russia. Weerawansa suspects the Quad and the West will use their ‘Right to Protect’ policy to launch ‘international’ military operations against Sri Lanka.
Expect further scarcity as the US government weaponizes finance, a foreign policy strategy using ‘incentives (access to capital markets) and penalties (varied sanctions) as tools of coercive diplomacy.
Meanwhile in an attempt to cover up yet another scandal behind the April decision to ‘default’, a battle has broken out in the Central Bank, to assign blame. Former governor WD Lakshman must reveal how his proposal for a development bank was sabotaged. We recall SBD de Silva’s assertion that Sri Lanka’s central bank, set up by the USA, has always opposed the independence of the country. Now capitalists wish to make the bank independent of the country and its people altogether.
• On 15 November 2019, ee registered the new capitalist tactics: ‘the liberal bourgeoisie in the Atlantic heartland of the global political economy has sought to reassert its waning hegemony by way of a resurgent capitalist internationalism’. SBD de Silva had already observed this ‘internationalism’ in his book The Political Economy of Underdevelopment, back in 1982:
Multinational conglomerates like Unilever, etc.,
‘infiltrate international agencies, including the UN system.
With their effective intelligence networks, they can even destabilize governments.
While making use of the military & diplomatic power of international capitalism
as represented by the USA, they in turn serve its political interests.
To a large extent these conglomerates can defend their interests abroad
without colonialism based on conquest of territory, for the reason
that they can control activities by their monopoly of technology and markets.
First, a good portion of their income is in the form
of technological rents, royalties, licensing rights, technical assistance fees, etc.
The technology is rarely transferred, and its diffusion outside the orbit of such corporations
is rigidly controlled. When deprived of this technology and marketing know-how,
the natural resources and cheapened labour of the host countries become idle assets
at least in the short run. Second, transfer pricing enables a multinational
to siphon away profits from high-risk territories; or by easily inflating accounting costs,
it can also minimize local tax liabilities. Third, a ‘fairly wide geopolitical spread’
of production facilities enables multinationals to switch the venue of their operations,
treating a large part of the world as their keyboard.
The 25 biggest US multinational firms in 1967
had production facilities, on average, in 27 countries.
A parallel feature is the spreading of markets over several overseas territories,
any one of which contributes only a small share of the total business.
For all these reasons, the bargaining power of a multinational is immeasurably stronger
than that of the transnational enterprises of the classical colonial period.’
ee ripostes this long quote above by SBD de Silva. SBD likened long quotes in academic texts to musical interludes in Bollywood movies, resorted to whenever the plot failed. For scholars to pad theses to fit the lengths required of scholarship bereft of commitment to transform a long-colonized country. To SB, academics and the private sector was as much if not far more corrupt than the government (ee Focus).
Yet ee quotes SBD again, in this 4th year since he passed on, for bequeathing us an oeuvre pearl of sweat and science that remains a stand-in for not having a proper economic history of the country. This quote is worth rereading 100,000 and one times over and over again.
It appears in the 17th or last chapter of his book. Here SB strives to locate Sri Lanka’s attempts to transform midst the prevention of investment in modern production. He foresees the formidable organizational challenges posed by a capitalism in decline in the 1970s, as it launched new political and economic wars to preserve colonial power, toppling and installing leaderships.
More importantly, his book ends thus:
‘Clearly the external forces as such are less important than the way in which these forces
condition the internal class structure, strengthening or weakening the barriers to development.
The necessity to probe these internal forces and to bring them into focus with the external ones
leaves a vacuum to be filled. This task needs more research and understanding before there could emerge a sharper and more effective instrument of analysis than the paradigms in vogue.’
• Sri Lanka’s Most Loved Brand is no longer the Rajapakses. The only exciting national ‘brands’ left are fully foreign – corporate concoctions. Though these brands insist they are ‘local’ – Made-in-Sri-Lanka.
15 of the ‘Most Loved Brands’ here belong to English multinational Unilever. The capitalist mass media proudly trumpeted this ‘revelation’ in the midst of the mayhem in May (ee 12 June 2022, Media).
Unilever claims over 10 million loyal customers in Sri Lanka. The President only got votes from 6.9 million, apparently capricious, citizens. And now nobody loves him. No more. If you believe the capitalist media, that is. And according to this very same capitalist media, not only does everybody wish him out – because somehow one man alone is responsible for the loss of dollars, lack of petrol and food – they wish to get rid of the office of the Executive President altogether. And pronto!
Yes, multinationals want President Rajapakse and the office, the elected head of a republican state, eliminated. Best before people figure what’s actually going on… They want it gone before people also recall why mafia have dons and capos, and MNCs call them Chief Executive Officers.
Imperialists plan to turn Sri Lanka into a white military base, and restrain it as a rest & recreation, tourist casino and money laundry, to keep deindustrializing and destabilizing the country.
‘Whereas producer politics expressed the collective power and organization of the working class,
the advent of consumer politics marked its effective decomposition, disorganization, atomization’
(ee 15 November 2019)
Unilever may be the most powerful force over media in the country, over quite a bit of the world, promoting consumer culture. They sponsor all manner of entertainment, etc. Unilever monopolizes SL media time through its agency Mindshare (ee, 21 May 2022). This media highlights and frames political corruption, while hyping the ‘inclusive, green, diverse, sustainable, socially responsible’ facades of multinational capital.
At the very beginning of the recent ‘Aragalaya’, Unilever pulled their advertising from national television broadcasting network Rupavahini (ee, 21 May 2022). Last week, their media dutifully acknowledged in appropriate IMF-ese: ‘State-owned media institutions face economic hardship’. Perhaps Unilever is doing their bit for austerity, taking back their pounds of flesh to trim the fat.
• Media photos show the China and US envoys standing together somewhere in Colombo. The Anglo-Saxon alliance faces defeat in Eastern Europe. These images must be viewed through imperialism’s urgent need to reinforce their wars on Asia via proxies and allied political forces.
• The US this week pushed for Japan and Switzerland’s election to UN Security council. The imperialist encirclement of the Chinese state over the next decade depends on pro-capitalist elements in China demanding the ‘opening-up’ of their economy to capitalism, increasing inequalities, and promoting speculative finance capital.
The Pope says World War III has been declared
‘We are experiencing a 3rd world war fought piecemeal,’ the head of the Catholic Church said in a May 19 interview with Jesuit media outlets that was published on Tuesday, June 14 (ee Sovereignty)
France ‘has entered into a war economy in which I believe we will find ourselves for a long time,’ says French President Macron at the opening of the Eurosatory arms expo in Paris. Last month European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, EU countries had increased their war budgets by an additional €200billion ($209bn).
‘This war is still being waged via proxies, via allied political forces, but it is no less fierce.
Entire regimes are being demolished, governments are being replaced,
and preparations are underway for a large-scale conflict.’
France’s President Macron and the EU state they have entered into a ‘war economy’. The white media talk of ‘great power rivalry’ and ‘geopolitics’, but for us the imperialist wars have never stopped, on land and at sea.
Imperialism wishes to reinforce the international division of capital & labor. They wish to maintain our colonial role as suppliers of raw materials (especially labor!), preventing investment in modern industry (see Random Notes).
continued on: https://eesrilanka.wordpress.com/2022/06/18/imf-delays-dollars-to-fuel-the-flames