Spotlight: Econ Op-eds in Summary (Week ended 26th January '21)
1. Foreign assistance to cope with severe shortages of essentials and foreign reserves
By Nimal Sanderatne
While the immediate critical needs of essential food, pharmaceuticals and fuel may be met by the credit lines from China and India, the country’s foreign debt is increasing and the repayment of more than US$ 6bn this year is a serious concern amidst dwindling reserves.
Thus, it is important that Sri Lanka take immediate steps to resolve our severe crisis in foreign reserves by restructuring our debt and obtaining foreign assistance. A realistic or market-determined exchange rate would also increase foreign remittances.
Additionally, the country should take care to utilize foreign resources prudently to increase the production of the country. The way forward for the country is by increasing the domestic production of goods and services that is of crucial importance to resolving the balance of payments problem in the long run.
2. Organic farming blunder: The case for reparation
By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka
Sri Lanka’s attempt to go fully organic overnight has left the farming communities in rural Sri Lanka in visible distress and despair only months after its imposition, while a threat of food shortages, loom in front of the country.
The main blunder that had resulted in this situation seems to be the decision made to accelerate the organic farming drive, from the previous plan of establishing sustainable agriculture using new knowledge and modern scientific methods, in three years.
The good news is that if properly transitioned, there is a possibility of attaining yields comparable to normal chemical-based agriculture. However, this process requires a considerable transitioning period within which the government should take steps to ensure the livelihood of the farmers and the food security of the country.
(Compiled by: Promodhya Abeysekara, Malik Nazahim & Mariyan Perera)
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