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The MCC land-grab, ACSA and other stuff sent under the radar

Summary

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The private sector controls Sri Lanka’s most important national resources, through public and not-so-public means. The health and education system, though public, is hobbled by private interests (imported pharma, equipment, tuition, foreign universities), etc.

Sri Lanka’s capitalists (are they really “ours”?) make loads of money while sleeping (through fictitious land & money markets, drugs, worker trafficking, etc), They are unwilling and incapable of employing people with dignity, let alone prevent people’s ongoing impoverishment.

They rather continue to exploit workers as much as they can by increasing hours of work, removing terms and conditions, including health and safety. They will not invest in developing workers skills, not adding (nor making) machinery in the workplace.

Sri Lanka has no class dedicated to capital accumulation: dedicated to improving the division of labor, creating separate processes and independent branches of industry, which increases the use of machine capital, increasing the ratio of using better plant, machinery and raw materials.

In our country it is the state that has to fulfil this role of enabling capital accumulation. While there’s no guarantee the current President will implement such a policy, modern industry is indispensable to advance the people. The attacks on reducing executive power preclude discussion on why this power is necessary, especially for industrialization.

Mere discontent alone does not produce real change. There have to be real conditions to enable such change. The more organized people are toward attaining a goal, the more efficient the tools and machinery they wield, the easier and less aching are the ‘labor pains’.• Does chatter about the MCC land-grab alone, or also going on about China, ignore issues like the renewal of the ACSA military pact in 2017?

ACSA was renewed on 4 Aug 2017, “in secret, amidst much controversy. It has not been tabled in Parliament. No one knows the contents of it. Only 180 days’ notice is required for Sri Lanka to exit from the agreement. Sri Lanka should exit from ACSA.”

The 2007 agreement culminated 50 years of pressure by the US government to obtain military rights within Sri Lanka, just as the English enjoyed until 1957. Having signed that US agreement, the dogs, or rather the cats, were called off after a bloody almost-30-year war.

Instead of focusing on what ACSA actually means, the media has increased focus on the MCC alone, and hypes the US-China drama. Is it because of ACSA, that there is so much pressure to prevent China’s presence to counterbalance US colonial dictat? Yet all these countries have their own massive trade with China.

The 2017 renewal of the ACSA was considered then-US ambassador Atul Keshap’s crowning achievement. Now as the “Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Dept of State”, Keshap is perhaps who gave recent US visitor Chief Assistant Deputy Secretary at Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson, the cojones to play the undiplomatic bad cop, demanding we make decisions.

• As noted above, the robbery of the state-owned Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank involved Advocata, IPS, and now opposition critics and corruption-fighters such as assembler-of-god Eran Wickremaratne, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development, and Minister of Public Enterprise and Development, Kabir Hashim, who set up a new Public Enterprise Board Act, “to lead the public utilities of the country towards a market-oriented commercialization to make them financially viable”. This was all done under the war cry that SOEs were losing money and should be privatized. Tennakoon tells another story of who was behind the losses: “The government is paying interest and banks paying back a little of that to the government.”

•  Even more interesting is this week’s headline: Standard Chartered clinches ADB’s prestigious Trade Finance Deal of the Year 2020 Award. The ADB award was given to SC Bank for risking an ADB deal to extend a $25mn trade loan to the state-owned People’s Bank. What was the loan for? To enable “the State Pharmaceutical Corporation’s operations to purchase medical supplies” against Covid-19. The news item does not state what the supplies are, and where from. But knowing SCB can we imagine the supplies also come from SCB-related companies? More importantly, we are reduced to borrowing from middlemen for English Banks, all over again.

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