It has been already announced that there will be radical political and economic changes in the New Year. Underlying all this will be the urgent need to boost the economy in a manner that people can be given some of the benefits they expected through the creation of the Yahapalana government.
Almost two years ago it all began with high expectations. At the time, most people thought that investments were not coming to the country because of the authoritarian style of the then government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa. The reasons often cited were deficiencies in good governance and their inability to maintain good relations with the rest of the world, mainly India and the West and the general expectation was that a change of regime would result in a high flow of FDIs into the country.
The big change did happen, but the two-year period that followed hasn’t seen anything beyond mere expectation and preparation. None of those with allegations of large scale corruption from the previous administration have been punished. Only investigations have been made into such cases; nineteenth amendment to the Constitution was passed and only some preparatory work has been done for drafting a new constitution and resolving the national issue.
On the diplomatic front, friendly relations have been re-established with the West as well as all other important countries in the world. The right to information law has been passed enhancing democracy and a national health policy has been introduced to make certain essential drugs more affordable to the people.
However, in practical terms all these measures have failed to give people the kind of relief they expected. On the contrary, the government’s efforts to increase revenue and establish fiscal consolidation have heaped extra burdens on the people in the form of escalating cost of living while their incomes have remained the same.
As the joint government of the two main parties reach the second half of its term more tangible measures have become necessary to create the change that people expected. The people are becoming weary of mere talk and promises.
Despite negative developments in the area of democracy and good governance, the actions of the previous government were much more visible to the people in terms of change, the most prominent being ending the 30-year war, building noticeable infrastructure such as highways, ports and airports and other projects.
The delayed local government elections technically will have to be held within the new year while the do or die 2020 elections are fast approaching and now it’s time the ruling coalition gets into a mood they can meet people. And that is where mere talk about investments and economic development will not serve any purpose. Henceforth, whatever they do has to be tangible enough for the people if they are to reap electoral benefits which are fundamental to any democracy because it is the will of the people that finally matters.
The New Year is waiting to see a successful beginning of some major infrastructure projects, visible happenings in the much talked about Western Province Megapolis Project and the Colombo Port City with sizable foreign investments coming into the country which together should increase the income levels of the people in a convincing manner.
In the past two years people have been patiently observing all these developments with some hope and their patience has a limit. Therefore, the very survival of the government to a large extent will depend on what they do within this year. It’s a crucial year for the government as well as the country both politically and economically..