A top economist on Wednesday slammed the Presidential Candidates of two major parties for coming up with vote-catching gimmicks with regard to economic policies in their manifestos without spelling out the procedure to achieve those economic targets.
Addressing a seminar on “Economic Policies of Two major Parties,” Sri Lanka Economist Association (SLEA) President Prof. A.D.V.De Indraratne said that both presidential candidates had placed emphasis on vote-catching proposals which were symptomatic treatment.
“One party promises to give fertilizer at Rs.550 per 50kg bag. The other party promises to give it at Rs.25. One party promises to create 100,000 jobs annually, the other 200,000. What, how and where is not clearly spelt out. One party proposes a guaranteed price of Rs.16 50-17.50 and the other party Rs.17 for a kilo of paddy, and both parties offer Rs. 25 for a litre of milk, and the list thus goes on,” he said.
The seminar had been organized by the SLEA jointly with the Organization of Professional Associations.
Prof. Indraratne said that the major problem faced by the country today was the poverty and hunger and the deprivation of poor, and still 40 percent of people live below the poverty line, resulting from the slow economic growth accompanied with high unemployment rate.
He said that the bottom 20 percent of population receives less than four percent of the Gross Domestic Product and the top 20 percent receive 55 percent of it.
“The slow growth and income disparities, in turn, were due to low investment and low productivity and unbalanced development, namely neglecting the rural economy and agriculture and concentration of development in a few urban areas,” he said.
He said that ad hoc salary hikes and other payments or issue of food stamps without corresponding growth in the real domestic product income would turn out to be illusory and self-defeating.
“Fifty years ago, we were very much ahead of our East Asian neighbours like Singapore and Malaysia. Today we are lagging far behind them because of our confrontational politics,” he said.
Economist Dr.Harsha De Silva said that the cost of living was the major problem of people living outside the North-east in the country.
Referring to the Mahinda Chintana manifesto, he said that his plans to move away from the open economic policies to a national economic policy would be a sign of the country being driven back to the 1970-1977 era.
Speaking at the occasion Economic Consultant to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse Ajith Nivard Cabraal said that the SLFP alliance with JVP and JHU was extremely important because of the ability to achieve targets with consensus.
He said that they would support local industries as in Japan and India, and small and medium scale entrepreneurs would be strengthened .