We worked tirelessly for the next 2 1/2 years in developing and regulating the capital market. We were successful. In 2014, the CSE was voted the "Most Sustainable Growth Exchange" in Asia, by the subscribers of the CIF Journal of UK, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) and Fidelity Investments. (http://www.news.lk/news/business/item/5847-cse-named-the-most-sustainable-growth-exchange-in-asia-for-2014 )
Companies started raising funds through capital market, trading intensified and investors gained billions. With increased market activities both SEC and CSE operations started earning high revenue. I was serving the government for a laughable allowance Rs 70,000 per month. Fortunately I had worked in the private sector for 18 years holding senior positions prior to joining government. I had saved some money and also I had made some wise investments. So my family could draw from our bank savings for day today expenses while I gave my time for public service. It was a period of huge sacrifice for the family but I was proud of what I was doing.
But today when I reflect, what have I got in return for all these years of work? Only the reputational damage and millions of legal fees defending my self against various politically motivated investigations. I do not want discuss details here due to legal advice but all I can say confidently is that I have never robbed one cent of public money. Though I was heading several state institutes during 2009-2015 I always made it a point to stay away from tender committees, procurement matters and financial decisions. Any financial decision was always taken along with the rest of the Board. As a result having investigated 5 years of my work in several public institutes all my enemies have been able to do is challenging me of a Rs 5 Mn sponsorship given by SEC for series of educational seminars which they claim the recipients have mis-appropitated. That too was never an individual decision and my involvement is only as a signatory amongst many others who routinely sign documents. I was the 5th signatory to the relevant payment voucher to be exact. Anyway this note is not about that.
What I am surprised about is why some media personalities who are highly exited about this kind of politically motivated investigations never talked about the billions the stock market gained during my tenure as SEC chairman from August 2012 to January 2014. They have never ever mentioned that the stock market all share price index grew from 4300 points to 7600 points within 2 ½ years under my chairman ship. They have never highlighted the staggering Rs 160 Billion capital that was raised by companies during the same period. They have never mentioned that market capitalization as a % of GDP appreciated from 20% to 36% during that period. They have never highlighted those assets under management of ‘Unit Trusts’ increased over 1000 times and the total turnover of the corporate debt market appreciated by 6,000% due to the plans we executed.
If there are any genuinely intelligent people left in this society, they must ask the prosecutors and the media the question “what are the true crimes against the public and who actually committed them?" They must raise questions about the billions lost in the capital market for 18 consecutive months before Aug 2012 and ask who was responsible for that crisis. They must also question the billions lost for 10 consecutive months since January 2015 and who is responsible for the current mess. If they find a pattern, then they must also question the wisdom of appointing such people to responsible positions causing huge losses to the investors, industry and the government. Other than using their high offices for personal vengeance and mere political gains, should these people make some effort to develop the industry ?.
But as my self and most of you have realized by now, we live in an ungrateful society. It is much easier to become popular in this environment by finding faults of others than actually doing something yourself. That is why for the last 10 months we do not hear anything progressive but all the time hear about investigations. But have you seen the same level of enthusiasm from these good governance crusaders when it comes to the central bank bond scam. This was called the biggest financial scandal that rocked the country after the famous VAT scam. When the COPE committee found irregularities in the central bank bond issue, the parliament it self was dissolved to prevent the COPE report being presented in the parliament. Who was covering this up and why?. Does the parliamentary election held on 17th August clears the Yahapalana governments of all accusation related to Jan to August 2015 period? Something is wrong then because we are still harping on post January 8th issues.
Today we live in a society full of hatred and malice. You notice so much joy and happiness amongst public to see some one is being punished for right or wrong reasons. But then, this is the human nature anywhere in the world. That’s why in Middle East when ISIS terrorists are beheading innocent people, others gather around the execution site to take photographs from their mobile phones. It must be so much fun to share those pictures and video clips with friends who missed the real show.
The average people in Sri Lanka do not seem to have the slightest idea that all of us are now on a sinking ship. While the new the captain and the crew of this ship are busy prosecuting the former captain and his crew, the ship is drifting towards troubled waters without anybody navigating it.
Whilst the government is borrowing like crazy to run day-to-day operations the country is walking into a debt trap. Over the last 10 months the countries foreign reserves have fallen by more than USD 2 Bn and the foreign borrowings have exceeded USD 4 Bn. The rupee has devalued more than 10% during last ten months and this will result in the trade gap widening further because our imports cost is much bigger than the revenue from exports. We will have to use our foreign reserves once again to bridge the gap and rupee will devalue further. When government is boasting about potential IMF loans, the average people do not understand the repercussions. IMF loans will be used to enhance the money supply, which will further deteriorate the value of local currency.
….Parents who hope to send your young ones to foreign universities in a few years time abandon all hope !
…Those students who follow foreign education programs locally better finish them fast !
...Anybody paying annual subscriptions on foreign currency may God help you !
…Those who plan foreign trips do that fast because if you delay your budgets are not going to be sufficient to do all you had planed.
….Those who had plans to buy new vehicles look for second hand cars before their value also go up !
….People check your monthly glossary bill and learn to live using less imported items !
… Let us all pray that the cost of fuel in the world market will not go up due to the middle east crisis reaching new heights because if that happens then the game will be over for the government and us.
……Those who believe foreign investors will come to save us look for investors who have extra money to lose. That is because anyone who invests a dollar in this country today knows that once the money is converted to rupees there no chance of getting your dollar value back due to a change of mind.
I have come to the realization that there is no point complaining about what’s going on. What we face today are universal problems. Politicians do all kinds of things to remain in power. They spend time suppressing opponents and in that process lose sight of the big picture. This is just history repeating elsewhere.
Funny thing is that public never learns…
So I end this note with a poem written by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) from a Nazi concentration camp.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
When they try to suppress us for political gains it only hardens our beliefs. So no matter what happens I will continue to share my opinion with you as long as I could.
Courtesy - http://lbt.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9844:abandon-hope-all-ye-enter-here&catid=65:expert-advice&Itemid=98