Society features

Civil society can play a bridging role to help solve the economic crisis | Print edition

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One of the great hopes held by concerned citizens was that the current economic crisis will push the various political parties to unite their efforts to save the country from what President Ranil Wickremesinghe described as “the worst economic crisis in its history”.

This is why the mantra of a “multiparty” or “multiparty” government has been presented as a way for political leaders and political entities to come together to help solve the economic crisis that has beset the people in freefall. .

While different political parties, economists and a range of concerned sections of society have presented and articulated their proposals on different occasions to resolve the crisis, the country as a whole has failed to pull together such diverse suggestions into one program. common minimum that can galvanize the struggle. keep the economy afloat in the short term.

The reasons for this national failure are numerous and need not be discussed here. However, one of the reasons could be the absence of trusted mediators at all levels to work proactively to narrow the differences in the proposals submitted to Parliament.

This is where civil society could actively play a bridging role in shaping a common minimum agenda that will meet the needs of the moment and find the greatest acceptance among the range of actors. While political parties may be tainted by their future electoral prospects, civil society will have no such limitations when helping to resolve the economic crisis.

Civil society mediation or facilitation can pave the way for a “whole country effort” that is so desperately needed at this time.

The seriousness of the economic situation is sometimes not understood by many. The fact that there are no fuel queues, no gas queues, no long power outages, etc. seems to have created a sense of complacency as the country took the economic turn. The fact that these have been managed primarily by using the aid provided by other countries and international organizations and not by solving the currency crisis is sometimes lost on many.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s view on the economy clearly spells out the current economic situation. In his address to Parliament last week, he said: “Today the economy and the financial situation of the country are not at healthy levels. But some political parties and groups continue to work on the assumption that the country is healthy. They formulate their comments and criticisms and formulate their proposals under the same assumption. We can’t assume the economy is back to normal just because there are no fuel queues.

After recalling that the country is facing the most serious economic crisis in its recent history, he explained his strategy to get out of this crisis as follows;

Conclusion of a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Reaching a common agreement on debt restructuring with countries like Japan, India and China and the private creditors who have given us loans

Stabilize the economy by obtaining loan assistance from the IMF and other countries after IMF certification.

Work to raise the country’s economy to a developed level through a general plan after stabilizing the economy.

Concluding his remarks in Parliament, the President reiterated his call made earlier on several occasions: “I invite you all to join this process and take up this challenge together for the good of the country.”

During the ensuing debate on the President’s statement in Parliament, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa presented his party’s 20-point economic plan to resolve the current crisis. Earlier, Dr Harsha de Silva also released an economic plan to resolve the crisis.

During last week’s debate, many speakers underlined the urgency of the situation and made various proposals to deal with the economic crisis.

While MP Champika Ranawaka highlighted the prospect of rising poverty levels leading to a popular uprising, Professor GL Peiris highlighted the importance of tackling the specter of corruption to facilitate the receipt of aid from foreign countries.

In all the opinions expressed by various political actors, there are many commonalities that can be included in a common work program, but the political establishment has not been able to translate these common characteristics into a single plan of action. stock.

It is in this context that the role of civil society becomes important. If he can play a constructive and proactive role in building national consensus on the way forward, there is hope for the future.

(javidyusuf@gmail.com)

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