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Saturday November 27th, 2021
Economy

Sri Lanka can take high road with cannabis instead of IMF to solve debt crisis: legislator

NOT A SPACED-OUT SOLUTION: Sri Lanka can earn billions from CBD oil instead of bending before creditors

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka can stand straight and solve the debt crisis by exporting cannabis oil instead of bending in two before the International Monetary Fund and other creditors, legislator Diana Gamage who is backing the ruling party said.

“We do not have to beg and bend in two (hingar kun-ner, dekerter namen-ner) before the IMF or other creditors,” legislator Gamage told parliament.

“We can earn billions from the export of CBD oil (Cannabidiol) if we throw out British era legislation, and allow cannabis to be grown commercially. This country has now been an independent country for 73 years and we need not be under colonial laws.”

Not a Zonked-out one

It was a practical solution to the debt crisis and no zonking out was intended.

“I am not saying to allow cannabis to be used as an intoxicating substance,” she said. “Those laws can stay. But we need to throw out legislation banning this crop.”

Sri Lanka is facing an external debt crisis because the central bank printed money from 2015 in activist monetary policy under so-called ‘flexible inflation targeting’ and borrowed abroad to repay maturing debt instead of settling them with current receipts with tight policy.

The IMF program supported activist policy despite having a reserve collecting peg with a high 8 percent inflation target ceiling, allowing the central bank to print tens of billions of rupees to target a call money rate and create forex shortages.

From September 2014 to now there have only been two years of monetary stability in 2017 and 2019, allowing the government to settle debt with current receipts.

Meanwhile, Gamage said IMF was not needed when Sri Lanka joined the cannabis bandwagon.

If the British era law was junked under Section 08 of the Ayurveda Act, the Commissioner of Ayurveda can allow the crop to be grown commercially for medicinal purposes.

“Our gods and nature has given a cash crop,” Gamage said. “The European Investment Bank has said global trade in Cannabis will grow 1000 percent in 10 years.

“In 2018 it was worth 4 to 5 billion US dollars. By 2027 cannabis trade will be worth 140 billion rupees. It is now mostly confined to North America and Europe.

She said CBD oil was being approved for treating several diseases already. These included multiple sclerosis, post-trauma and also Dravet Syndrome for children.

“We can earn billions of dollars from the export of Cannabis (CBD oil),” she said. “I hope this house will throw out this 19th-century British ordinance.” (Colombo/Nov17/2021)

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