Covid-pandemic has turned the world up-side down. Sri Lanka is having its own spell of bad luck. Amidst all the covid-chaos, there is an urgent need to think out-of-the-box and come out with creative solutions and options. These may not be conventional approaches but then the whole world is facing something no one has control over and it is today an invisible enemy. As the President, the health services, the armed forces, police and intel agencies try to bring normalcy to Sri Lanka, the people also have a role in abiding by the regulations and ensuring that they adhere to all rules expected of them. Safety and precautions hold key to mitigating, curtailing and controlling its spread. At the same time, it is important to realize that not all are able to stock food, many are in hunger, curfews have heavily impacted daily wage earners and even monthly earners are facing issues, companies are unable to function, business is not generating income or revenue and the basic needs of people – Food, Clothing, Shelter and Health are at risk. In such a situation what can we think of as an interim measure? How about creating a special covid-currency printed by the Sri Lanka Central Bank to be circulated internally until the covid situation is brought under control globally.
This special note will be in circulation amongst Sri Lankans as an interim measure.
Every household is to receive a stipulated amount depending on their income which the grama sevaka will be able to provide input. This will help in generating flow of money and enable buy and sell amongst our own – sufficient enough for us to have a semblance of normalcy.
Those able to can continue dealing in the existing currency.
This new special covid-currency will be mostly useful and a relief to the poor and lower middle class people who have no money in hand to buy anything.
At the same time it enables the government and its associate bodies to ensure Sri Lanka is
• Self-sufficient in food – greater attention to the agriculture of Sri Lanka in particular the distribution supply chain which has again exposed poor supply chain distribution again. This needs to be urgently addressed and those in charge should not wait for disaster situation to get on their feet.
• Self-sufficient in health – it is good news to see Sri Lanka manufacturing its own medicines and Sri Lanka must also encourage alternate medication and relook at dietary changes and turn to healthier food intake. The government and private sector can jointly run such programmes now that covid has shown the need to build people’s immune system.
• Self-sustainability & protecting the land – Sri Lanka’s sovereignty enshrined in the People, compels any and every government to uphold the need to ensure the LAND of Sri Lanka remains in state ownership and is not privatized for whatever reason. Not only the Land the underground resources must also be protected and the intellectual property of the country and its people must be legally protected as well.
Sri Lanka can carry out diplomatic relations only when it is on a strong footing internally, to do so Sri Lanka requires more than rhetoric. We need a sound and simple action plan to be able to practically stand on our feet proudly and be confident that whatever unpronounced troubles that come our way – we have the food, we have the land and we have the people able to face these challenges.
Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister, a special covid-currency may not be in vogue among the economic pundits who have all preferred to run with a begging bowl and come back with foreign currency which we end up having to pay with interest in dollars leaving nothing left for us. We have to export what we should be eating and import what we shouldn’t be eating. This is causing a very unhealthy set of citizens and we will see their unproductivity in time to come.
Let us not forget that there is a cycle to everything. Therefore, please consider this option of printing a special note to be used in this interim period of covid that will enable a circulation of buying and selling and allow our poor and middle class to buy their food and other basic provisions and get on with their lives while the government and the rest of the apparatus plan ways to bring the country back on its feet again. Once we are satisfied that things are going towards normalcy – just cancel those notes.
Hon. Minister. Nivard Cabraal — over to you
Shenali D Waduge