At a time when the country is deeply engrossed in a financial crisis, dumping funds in Mihin Air is a criminal waste of funds and now both Mihin Air and SriLankan Airlines are making losses, an opposition parliamentarian said last week.
Ravi Karunanayake, MP and former Trade Minister, who was the guest speaker, at the monthly meeting of The Sunday Times Business Club in Colombo, was asked by the audience why he didn’t go to courts to stop this criminal waste, as they did in the fuel hedging case.
The parliamentarian, speaking on the economic situation in the country, said though they are contemplating to do so, it may be a futile exercise as it might see the same treatment as in the case of hedging where the government didn’t go by the court decision.
He said that the government on the pretext of waging a war was charging more than a 300 % tax per litre of petrol which affects many sections of the people.
Mr Karunanayake was confronted with a barrage of queries by the participants that the UNP leadership was very weak in taking a strong stance against the present issues. Mr Karunanayake pointed out that a large number of veteran journalists have left the country for fear of their lives and on the other hand government is defying the country's highest court.
He said that under these uncertain days, the UNP leadership is doing its best.
Mr Karunanayake said that while the country's economy is in a serious situation the professionals of the country are sitting ducks without taking up the crucial issues. He said that the country's economy is in doldrums and unprecedented inflation not because of the war or because of the high cost of fuel earlier, but due to the excessive printing of currency, unparalleled corruption, waste and sheer mismanagement.
He said that the government who challenged and chased away the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now, in sheer desperation for funds, going before the IMF with a begging bowl to seek $1.9 billion to get out of the sorry state of country's financial mess.
Referring to inflation, he said the government says inflation has come down to 7.1 but the actual inflation is quite different from the stated inflation as several important factors have to be addressed. “If inflation has come down why are interest rates still high?” he asked.
He said that the real yardstick in measuring the economy of a country is the foreign exchange reserves - foreign investments and exports.
The country has got to increase them in order to ensure the country's balance of payment. He said that according to the information reaching them the balance of payment in the country is facing a dangerous situation as they are sufficient only until the second week of April.
He said that the stock exchange too reflects the economy. It is going down, because, people are leaving the stock exchange as they feel it is better to spend rather than invest there. The club is hosted by the Cinnamon Grand, Colombo and co-sponsored by Hameedia.