ECONOMYNEXT – In a potentially far-reaching slashing of peoples’ everyday freedoms, a council of state officials appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena is to decide what food is ‘essential’ for people, and ban imports of foods that do not match their opinion.
According to a statement from the President’s office, a National Economic Council "expects to take immediate steps to stop importing of all non-essential food items as well as unhealthy foods into the country."
Sri Lanka has a Department of Customs and customs officers created by colonial European colonialists, and jails and police to take away the freedoms of ordinary citizens and punish those who do not live according to the wishes of the rulers.
There is no information yet on what criteria the Economic Council will decide what foods are ‘essential’ for the people or ‘healthy.’
Critics have said that since gaining self-determinations from the British Sri Lanka’s elected ruling class has deprived many freedoms of the people, including language and property rights, trade freedoms, from time to time, using the law-making powers of a legislature inherited from the British.
President Maithripala Sirisena had reportedly said that it is essential to produce all food consumed in the country in the country at the opening of an exhibition held at the Training Institute of Department of Agriculture in Bombuwala, Kalutara, earlier this week.
He was quoted as saying that ‘self-sufficiency’ in food was the identity and the culture of our country for past thousands of years and it should be protected.
Self-sufficiency was an Euopean nationalist idea that was widely practised in Eastern European countries like Germany. Sri Lanka’s on the other hand has history of thousands of years as a regional trading hub and exporter of spices and other items.
Self-sufficiency (autarky) in food was promoted by German historical economists, and expanded under Hitler. Hitler was motivated to seek ‘food security’ partly because Germany was blockaded by the Allies in the First World War.
Autarky was also promoted because Nazi Germany faced foreign currency shortages due to money printing with ‘Mefo-bills’ a type of note which expanded the money supply, generating balance of payments problems.
Senior National Socialist leader Herman Goering was put in place a four year plan to achieve autarky and made a Reich Plenipotentiary, wide ranging powers, to carry out the task.
Among the aims of the autarky plan was to produce synthetic oil.
Sri Lanka practised self-sufficiency heavily during the 1970s, after the Bretton Woods system of failed soft-pegs collapsed, and draconian legislation was used to control foreign exchange flows and trade.
Sri Lanka celebrates 40-years of re-opening the economy in 1977.
However unlike in Germany, where the currency was reformed and money printing was stopped after the Nazis were defeated, leading to a free trading ‘German economic miracle, Sri Lanka has failed to fix the central bank even now.
As a result, frequent balance of payments crisis continue to provide support for economic nationalists, for self-sufficient advocates, and rent seekers who seek to exploit the poor with high import duties on the basis of ‘saving foreign exchange’.
Analysts have warned that a plan to target a real exchange rate index may create continual weakening of the currency in the style of a crawling peg.
Economic philosophers have said that import controls which aims to target foreigners eventually led to targeting oppression in Germany and other countries.
"In a world in which people have grasped the meaning of a market society, and therefore advocate a consumer’s policy, there is no legal discrimination against Jews," wrote economists and philosopher Ludwig von Misses.
"Whoever dislikes the Jews may in such a world avoid patronizing Jewish shopkeepers, doctors, and lawyers.
"On the other hand, in a world of interventionism only a miracle can in the long run hinder legal discrimination against Jews.
"The policy of protecting the less efficient domestic producer against the more efficient foreign producer, the artisan against the manufacturer, and the small shop against the department store and the chain stores would be incomplete if it did not protect the “Aryan” against the Jew.
In the US, under the Trump administration an anti-import bias and minority targeting is now taking place. (Colombo/Sept29/2017)