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Sunday April 14th, 2024

Sri Lanka warned against ‘Hitler’ wish by German envoy

ECONOMYNEXT – German Ambassador Holger Seubert has warned Sri Lanka against wishing for a ‘Hitler’ after a minister expressed a wish for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to act more like Hitler, on top of a similar call by a Buddhist monk earlier.

“I‘m hearing claims that “a Hitler” could be beneficial to Sri Lanka today,” Seubert said in a twitter.com message.

“Let me remind those voices that Adolf Hitler was responsible for human suffering and despair beyond imagination, with millions of deaths. Definitely no role model for any politician!”

Strong Man

Hitler came to power in the wake of money printing, hyperinflation and socialist policy confusion of the post-World War I Germany’s Weimar Republic and later stabilization efforts by the Heinrich Brüning administration which increased unemployment on top of a depression triggered by the US Federal Reserve.

The illiberal socialist policy confusion of the Weimar Republic led to the call of a ‘strong man’ to come to power.

State Minister Dilum Amunugama claimed that people expected President Rajapaksa to run a dictatorship to some extent (yum tharamakerter).

“The Buddhist clergy also said it is ok to be a Hitler, that is good,” Minister Amunugama said. “Now criticism of the government is due to not being a Hitler. I also accept that.

“I do not think the President has a liking to become a Hitler immediately. If he is pushed to towards that, he will become a Hitler and the people will stop blaming him. Things will then happen well.”

Hitler rode to power on the strongly nationalist, anti-minority platform of the National Socialist (Nazi) party which killed and incarcerated millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and later took land (Lebensraum) from Slavs in Eastern Europe and Russia (Generalplan Ost) killing millions more in the process.

He had support from sections of the Lutheran church, some big businesses hit by Weimar instability, and banned all NGOs except some churches.

However Hitler also printed money, primarily through Mefo bills, a mechanism to circumvent a ban on money printing by Reichsbank – Germany’s then central bank.

The scheme involving the discounting of contractor bills through a third party agency was cooked up by economy minister Hjalmar Schacht.

Schacht had been at the Reichsbank during the Weimar Republic.

Sri Lanka’s central bank in addition to printing money indirectly by discounting contractor bills has engaged in the biggest outright money printing exercise in the history of modern Sri Lanka.

The Mefo bills discounting led to forex shortages in Germany as early as 1934 and Hitler promoted a Nazi autarchy (autarky) or what is now known as ‘self-sufficiency’ amid widespread import controls under his Wehrwirtschaft economic policy.

Self-sufficiency was also driven by the Allied naval blockade during World War I.

Hitler engaged in ‘import substitution’ long before the term became popular among Latin American nations which printed money through Argentina-style central banks and ran out of forex.

The German industrial complex went so far as to produce synthetic fuel, cellulose fibres and synthetic rubber, as forex shortages intensified.

Hitler also made a famous ‘Export or Die’ speech, a slogan used by Sri Lanka’s leaders during the 1980s money printing and currency depreciation.

He by-passed the parliament through an Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz) and ran the country through gazettes appropriating plenary powers as part of the dictatorship.

After Hitler was defeated by the Allies and which included the Soviet Union at the time, liberals came back to power.

Germany then became a global economic power under the Ordoliberals who started their economic program by setting up a new central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, which laid the foundation for the German Economic Miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) defying the Keynesian ideology of depreciation and state spending.

Germany rapidly outpaced Britain, which won World War II but continued to print money under Keynesian ‘stimulus’ and only ended foreign exchange controls 40 years later after Margarat Thatcher came to power applying Austrian economic principles. (Colombo/Apr13/2021)

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  1. Kane Jacobs says:

    Very harmful political misinformation being spread in one section of this article:

    It is obvious to anyone who has studied politics that Hitler was NOT a socialist. He was a fascist and developed Germany’s own national brand of fascism.

    The primary reason for the confusion regarding this is the name of the Nazi party which Hitler led. Anyone who claims Hitler was a socialist just because of the name of his party is making the same mistake as someone who claims that apple fruits and apple phones are made of the same material or are similar in some way because of the name alone.

    This troublesome party name is often (misleadingly) translated into English as the “National Socialist German Workers’ Party” as the original format of the words in the German name is incompatible with the rules of grammar in English. However, in the original German, the name of the party is the “Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeitspartei”, and it is clear how the German words corresponding to the English terms “National” and “Socialist” are both merged into one word, which may be translated as “National-Socialist”. This is the dead giveaway that this term has nothing to do with the Socialism, as the former denotes a political ideology that aims to construct a “national society” as the name suggests. (“National society”+”-ism”) This means that the party aimed to create an ethnically homogeneous society that is essentially fully subordinated to the Nation State.

    This is directly opposed and completely different from Socialism which aims to bring ownership of the economy (means of production) into the hands of the collective public regardless of their nationality or race.

    Additionally, the political and economic policies of the Nazi regime show how opposed to socialism they were. In fact, the Nazi party came to power with the promise they made to the German elites at the time that they would stamp out Communism and Socialism in Germany which were popular among the people at the time. This is why most of the wealthiest capitalists in Germany supported the Nazis. Once they came to power, Hitler and his party banned Worker Unions and privatised many previously public corporations that existed in Weimar Germany. In fact, the very term “privatisation” was taken from the Nazi economic policy of “Privatisierung”.

    In conclusion, not only was Hitler NOT a socialist, he was a fascist, which is an extreme form of state enforced enforced authoritarian capitalism which sees the State collaborating with private enterprise and suppressing worker movements.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kane Jacobs says:

    Very harmful political misinformation being spread in one section of this article:

    It is obvious to anyone who has studied politics that Hitler was NOT a socialist. He was a fascist and developed Germany’s own national brand of fascism.

    The primary reason for the confusion regarding this is the name of the Nazi party which Hitler led. Anyone who claims Hitler was a socialist just because of the name of his party is making the same mistake as someone who claims that apple fruits and apple phones are made of the same material or are similar in some way because of the name alone.

    This troublesome party name is often (misleadingly) translated into English as the “National Socialist German Workers’ Party” as the original format of the words in the German name is incompatible with the rules of grammar in English. However, in the original German, the name of the party is the “Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeitspartei”, and it is clear how the German words corresponding to the English terms “National” and “Socialist” are both merged into one word, which may be translated as “National-Socialist”. This is the dead giveaway that this term has nothing to do with the Socialism, as the former denotes a political ideology that aims to construct a “national society” as the name suggests. (“National society”+”-ism”) This means that the party aimed to create an ethnically homogeneous society that is essentially fully subordinated to the Nation State.

    This is directly opposed and completely different from Socialism which aims to bring ownership of the economy (means of production) into the hands of the collective public regardless of their nationality or race.

    Additionally, the political and economic policies of the Nazi regime show how opposed to socialism they were. In fact, the Nazi party came to power with the promise they made to the German elites at the time that they would stamp out Communism and Socialism in Germany which were popular among the people at the time. This is why most of the wealthiest capitalists in Germany supported the Nazis. Once they came to power, Hitler and his party banned Worker Unions and privatised many previously public corporations that existed in Weimar Germany. In fact, the very term “privatisation” was taken from the Nazi economic policy of “Privatisierung”.

    In conclusion, not only was Hitler NOT a socialist, he was a fascist, which is an extreme form of state enforced enforced authoritarian capitalism which sees the State collaborating with private enterprise and suppressing worker movements.

Sri Lanka undershoots inflation target in first quarter despite VAT hike

Sri Lanka undershoots inflation target in first quarter despite VAT hike

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s inflation is expected to lower than initially projected in 2024, despite a value added tax hike, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe has said

“When we looked at the last two monetary policy reviews… we had an inflation path a little elevated to what was realized, ” he told reporters following a March 50 basis point rate cut.

“Mainly because our projection factored in the VAT increase in January and some of the short-term food price increases, we have seen in December and January.

But what we have seen the actual inflation realization, is that the impact of VAT has not been that much and also the reduction in electricity prices also has helped, as well as the supply conditions, especially food supplies has been better.

“As a result, inflation outcome has been much lower than we expected.”

Sri Lanka’s central bank has been conducting broadly deflationary policy, except perhaps in December 2024, when a private credit spike appears to have been accommodated by standing facilities on top a seasonal real demand for cash.

The central bank has also allowed the currency to re-appreciate departing inflationist policy generally seen since 1978, analysts say.

“In our projections, we see in the next 12 to 18 months, inflation will remain well below our target range between 4-6. In our expectation it will remain around 4-5 percent in the next 12 to 18 months.

“That is one of the reasons we saw we had some pace to reduce our policy rate.”

The central bank cut its policy corridor 50 basis points to 8.50 and 9.50 percent, and has allowed excess liquidity to build up in money markets from a balance of payments deficit (net dollar purchases) at the current market interest rate structure.

Though money is being injected through various tools allowing some banks to trade without deposits, overall, there is a sell down of its domestic securities holdings.

Sri Lanka has a reserve collecting central bank currently subject to IMF forex reserve targets and domestic asset sell down target (which are essentially complementary), an inflation target of up to 7 percent and an implicit potential output (printing money for growth) target.

The central bank currently providing exceptionally monetary stability not for many years, and cautiously lowering rates, as well as reversing some of the inflation it has created in the past in food prices and energy.

Since September 2022, when deflationary policy started to show up in the balance of payments, the central bank has only created 3.9 percent inflation according to the widely watched Colombo Consumer Price Index.

However, analysts have warned that in the past, deeply flawed operational frameworks involving multiple and contradictory anchors have tended to trip up when private credit recovered when rates are cut claiming inflation is low.

Sri Lanka also does not have a penalty rate for standing facilities, unlike countries with tighter operational frameworks, which are less prone to crises. (Colombo/Apr14/2024)

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Sri Lanka eyes on speedy debt resolution at IMF/WB Spring Meetings: State Finmin

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is looking forward to have discussions for a speedy debt resolution and restore debt sustainability at the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) starting on Monday (15) in Washington, State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

Minister Semasinghe is leading the Sri Lankas delegation for this year’s IMF/WB Spring Meetings that includes Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana.

The island nation expects to conclude the debt restructuring negotiation with its private creditors and sovereign bond holders and formalize the already agreed deal with bilateral creditors by end of the first half of this year, government sources have told EconomyNext.

Sri Lanka also expects to receive the third tranche of the IMF by mid this year after the completion of the second review of a $3 billion loan program last month.

“We expect fruitful engagements that will pave the way for unlocking the next tranche of essential funding and a speedy debt resolution which will enhance economic stability, confidence, sustainable growth, restore debt sustainability and ultimately, improving the welfare of every Sri Lankan citizen,” the Minister said in his X (Twitter) platform.

“Sri Lanka’s journey to its current state of stability and progress is due to the invaluable support provided by the IMF, World Bank and international partners during the most severe economic crisis we faced since 2022. “

“As we navigate the complexities of global economic challenges, we will engage closely with the IMF and aim to contribute to broader international economic cooperation with our partners.”

“Through dialogue, partnership, and concerted efforts, we are confident that we will achieve brighter economic future for Sri Lanka,” Semasinghe said.

The Monday’s Spring Meetings come as President Ranil Wickremesinghe government is facing a presidential election after long delayed local government and provincial polls.

Some government officials have said there could be likely slippages in the IMF targets during the election period as majority of Sri Lankans feel their struggling has risen due the implementation of IMF conditions including increased taxes.

The government has already started to relax some of the tough conditions it has maintained to boost the state revenue amid an increase in the tax revenue.

However, President Wickremesinghe has vowed to continue the IMF-led reforms as they are citing they are the only solution to come out of the current unprecedented economic crisis. (Colombo/April 14/2024)

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LGBTQIA+ Rights: Europe and South Asia See Similar Discriminatory Practices

ECONOMYNEXT – The rights and protections of the LGBTQIA+ community have been fraught with challenges and continue to be so, despite the many gains achieved in recent years.

Nor are those handful of rights universally applied, a recent discussion which looked at the European and South Asian perspectives on same-sex rights and unions revealed. Most developed nations have introduced protections for those identifying as LGBTQIA+, and a view from a distant lens paints a picture of tolerance. Yet, a closer look at the European arena throws up the many gaps that are evident in the application of the law.

In the so-called conservative South Asian nations, changes to legislation are slow to be implemented. That may come as a surprise, for, contrary to popular belief, same-sex relationships were culturally acceptable in the South Asian region and is not a Western concept points out Ruhaan Joshi, a Public Policy Practitioner from India.

Society’s view on same-sex relationships dimmed with the imposition of Western values and the criminalisation of such relationships with the advent of colonial rule.

While the LGBTQIA+ communities in South Asian countries currently battle to have same-sex relationships decriminalised and their unions legally accepted, the irony is that countries that first made such relationships punishable by law have moved on to be more welcoming, though some discriminatory practices continue.

Joshi was part of a discussion themed ‘On Being Queer and LGBTQIA+ in South Asia and Europe, held in Germany on April 9 this year. The discussion which included the release of two papers which examined the rights and protections of the LGBTQIA+ community in Europe and South Asia, respectively, was organised by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

Joining Joshi in the discussion were lawyer and parliamentarian Premnath C Dolawatte from Sri Lanka, Milosz Hodun, President, Projekt Polska Foundation, Poland, Michael Kauch, a Member of the European Parliament and RENEW Europe Group and Inaya Zarakhel, a Dutch-Pakistani actress and an activist on Queer Rights, who moderated the discussion. The two papers were presented by Hodun and Joshi, respectively.

In his opening remarks, Kauch pointed out that while the view of the liberals is that the rights recognized in one member nation of the EU must be accepted by all member countries, that is not the ground reality, the issue of Rainbow families being a case in point.

In the context of the European Union, though the Court of Justice has ruled on the freedom of movement of those in same-sex partnerships and their families, the ruling is not universally applied by member nations.

In Italy, and some European nations, surrogacy which helps childless couples to become parents is illegal. In other situations where same-sex parents are of different nationalities a child in that union faces restriction of movement or the possibility of being stateless if one parent hails from a country where such parental rights are not recognised.

Hodun meanwhile stated that in Poland transgender persons must first sue their parents for the gender assigned to them at birth, to have their gender marker changed on documents.

Some countries such as Russia and Azerbaijan resort to State-sponsored homophobia, and in many instances politicians and political parties promote such biases to boost their voter base it was pointed out. Even where laws are in place for the protection of LGBTQIA+ rights, there is no political will to implement them.

In Europe where migrants arrive in droves seeking asylum, and are frowned upon by many of those countries, LGBTQIA+ members face even more discrimination Hodun says, both by other refugees and governments, where most often the state ignores the situation despite the guidelines issued by the UN and the European Court of Justice. Hate speech and hate crimes too are on the rise he adds stating that at least 80 per cent go unreported.

Increasingly the LGBTQIA+ community has experienced a diminishing of their safe spaces as right-wing and populist governments are elected across the globe. Taking a dig at feminism, meanwhile, Kauch states that though feminists uphold a woman’s right to opt for an abortion, they take a different approach on the topic of surrogacy.

Dolawatte who waded into unchartered waters when he presented a Private Member’s Bill to decriminalise same-sex relationships through an amendment to section 365 of the Penal Code and the repealing of section 365A in its totality, is hopeful that the Bill will pass its third reading. It’s been an uphill battle he says, referring to the case filed in the Supreme Court against the Bill. The court ruled in his favour.

He had little or no support from his own party members, but says the President of the country, and younger party members are with him on this issue. Apart from making Sri Lanka a safe space, it would encourage foreign nationals identifying as LGBTQIA+ to visit without fear, and thus boost tourism he opines.

As Joshi states society has come a long way from when LGBTQIA+ were made fun of and were subject to violence to the positive portrayal in movies. Such movies are also well-received by society. Transgender identity has a distinct recognition in South Asian religious beliefs. Hijra, Khwaja Sara or Kinnar are some names given to transgender folk and they have, since ancient times been an accepted group in society. On the one hand, there’s Afghanistan and the Maldives which make no allowances for the LGBTQIA+ community, while Nepal became the first South Asian nation in 2023, to register a same-sex marriage, Joshi states. In most South Asian nations, the courts have ruled in favour of relaxing the rules against this community, and, like in Europe, it is the governments that drag their feet.

For governments to change their stance, society must take the lead in fighting for the unconditional dignity of the individual, freedom of movement, and safeguarding the tenets of democracy, he says adding that it must also run parallel with the LGBTQIA+ community looking beyond themselves at issues that impact democratic values, and the societal restrictions non-LGBTIQIA+ groups face, such as opposition to inter-caste marriage and the right to adopt outside their caste systems and equal access to many other privileges.

While the panellists advocated working together across the global divide as a step towards achieving equal rights for all, Dolawatte also called for caution; too much pressure on such issues from Europe he said may not be welcome, and must be handled with care.

With right-wing and populist governments getting elected across the globe, Kauch claims the forthcoming EU elections will prove crucial in deciding how future and current governments ensure tolerance and diversity amongst their citizenry.

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