Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party (UNP) this week launched a website, www.lankaeconomics.com, which it said would serve as “a public platform” to discuss its economic policy. With a daily discussion based around one economy-centred ‘fact’ in which the public was interested, the website would facilitate an “exchange” of views between the government and the opposition on highlighted topics.
According to noted economist and UNP National List nominee, Dr. Harsha de Silva, who launched the website; www.lankaeconomics.com would be an official forum whereby the UNP would take an approach more akin to a ‘shadow’ government and put forward its own view rather than letting ‘others’ indicate the party’s position.
Importantly, according to Dr, de Silva, this website would also allow the UNP to gauge public viewpoint regarding the current economic issues. The inaugural topic addressed on the website was the government’s recent issuing of US$ 92 million in development bonds.
The UNP position regarding this US$ 92 in development bonds was, according to Dr. de Silva, that not even a quarter would go towards development. He also commented on last year’s US$ 2.6 billion loan by the International Monetary Fund to Sri Lanka; saying that all the money released so far, as per the first two tranches of the IMF loan, had been used to re-pay previous debts and that none of it had gone towards its intended area of North and East development.
Dr. de Silva also noted that the government was taking on higher and higher interest commercial debt rather than applying for loans with more appropriate and lower interest rates. He also indicated that the UNP would soon make public the letters it wrote objecting to the US$ 500 million loan by HSBC, including the unconstitutional elements (pertaining to the HSBC loan that it had alleged in these letters).
Other topics covered by www.lankaeconomics.com since its launch were allegations that increased public sector borrowing was crowding out private sector borrowing as banks were earmarking increasing portions of the ever-shrinking credit pool to public sector enterprises.