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LSSP celebrates its 86th anniversary 

15 Dec 2021

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which was formed on 18 December 1935, celebrates its 86th anniversary tomorrow (17) this year at the hall of the party headquarters. The theme is “Development towards the elimination of poverty and for social justice”. There must be a well thought out plan to face and overcome the economic crisis, as well as the health problems, Covid-19, and hunger. While supporting the proposal to have a development-oriented Budget, it would appear to be one that is focused on a small section of the capitalist class but one that did not cover the overall economy. For instance, there was little support for the small traders and the small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs). It was disappointing to note that there was no programme for the overall development of the agricultural sector. This includes ensuring the production and supply of adequate fertiliser. The exploitation of the farmer continues without any government support through purchasing and marketing provisions like the marketing department. The high prices of foods are mainly due to exploitation by mill owners and traders. Strengthening of the producer and consumer co-operatives would eliminate the profiteering by middlemen. Besides self-sufficiency in food, the decision by the Government to promote local value-added industry is welcome. The foundation laid by the Science and Technology Ministry to do this through the Vidatha movement at the SMEs level and the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology and the Sri Lanka Institute of Biotechnology at the high-tech level needs to be further intensified. Sri Lanka must become an industrialised country.  The threat from American-led imperialism continues and must be opposed. It is focused on getting control of our economy through the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement and to establish a military base on the basis of the Status of Forces Agreement.  The resounding defeat of the United National Party (UNP) and its allies by the people at the last General Election with the victory of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) prevented the signing of these two dangerous agreements. But these efforts of the US are continuing, and the people led by the progressive forces in the Government and outside must counter all such efforts. The resistance to the 40% share in the Yugadanavi project being given away, with its danger of the US controlling our power generation is welcome. Sri Lanka must stick to the principle that national assets should not be sold to foreigners, and the drive for self-sufficiency must be intensified. The LSSP urges all progressive and nationalist forces to intensify the struggle against these moves by the US and its allies, both foreign and local. However, this should not prevent us from getting help from friendly countries like India, China, and Cuba which are not imperialist and are focused on increasing trade for mutual benefit. But we welcome genuine help from all countries, even the US. The problem of poverty continues, with 60% of families in Sri Lanka living below the poverty line. The problems of unemployment and underemployment continue, seriously affecting their incomes and purchasing power, even of essentials. Along with rising high prices and with no effort on the part of the Government to reduce this by strengthening the co-operative movement, both wholesale and retail, the people live in hunger with some having only one meal a day. The malnutrition level has increased to 18%, which means that one out of five children are ill, and the others are also affected to some extent. This has an adverse effect on their growth, not only of the body but also of the mind. If this continues, the future generation will tend to be stunted, thin, and with lower mental capacity. In my opinion, the Government should give priority to the provision of adequate food and other essentials to all citizens. The development effort (highways, etc.) can be delayed. The Government must make a proper assessment of those living in hunger and the supply of free dry rations weekly should be instituted.  The drive to control the Covid-19 pandemic, where the Government has actively intervened by its immunisation programme is welcome, though we have some reservations about the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech and other messenger ribonucleic acid vaccines. The onus is now on the people to comply with the preventive health regulations (wearing of masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing with soap and water, and avoiding crowds). Where this is not being observed, the Government needs to enforce it, setting up specialised Covid-19 control committees where necessary.   Thus, the LSSP is continuing its anti-imperialist and anti-big capitalist policies to solve the problems of the people. It is necessary to go in a socialist direction by strengthening state participation in the agricultural, industrial, and marketing sectors of the economy. In addition, the move towards a “solidarity economy” should be intensified. All loss-making institutions, both public and private, should be run on solidarity principles. This means that they should function as companies (e.g. 30 years lease where government land is used), which are owned solely by the employees of those institutions. This will not only give them a sense of ownership, leading to greater commitment to improve the performance of the institutions, but also ensure that they get an equal share of the profit. The workers’ administrative council will select professional management and technical personnel purely on merit. This proposal is no ideal dream. It is being practised in several countries abroad, even in Europe. For instance, in Kerala, India, where Tata claimed that they were running the tea estates (63,000 hectares) at a loss, the Left Government took the land back and ran them on the solidarity principle. Not only have they become large profit-making entities but also generated a greater enthusiasm among the workers who have got a share of the profit in addition to their regular salary. All stealing and misconduct has ended as they have a sense of ownership. The LSSP demands that this policy be implemented not only in the plantation sector but in all public and private institutions, especially where they are running at a loss. This would increase productivity and also help in the transition to socialism.  It was the LSSP that led the independence struggle against imperialism and poverty in Sri Lanka from 1935. It built up a strong trade union movement to win the workers’ rights. It led the struggle against poverty by establishing a social welfare state. The leadership was given by Dr. N.M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Bernard Soysa, and others. This struggle must continue on the lines mentioned above for the development of the country in the interest of its entire people, irrespective of community differences, as one united Sri Lankan nation. The struggle in and out of jail for independence and the people’s rights that our founder leaders started must be continued in the direction of socialism.  (The writer is a virologist, Government Parliamentarian, the Committee on Public Accounts Chairman, and the LSSP General Secretary) The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.

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