SEP meeting discusses socialist policies needed to tackle Sri Lankan government budget


Last Sunday, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) in Sri Lanka hosted a successful online public meeting attended by nearly 100 people, including students and workers from all over Sri Lanka, as well as India. and the Middle East. Entitled “How to fight against the austerity budget of the Rajapakse government?” The video has so far been viewed by over 1,000 people and shared over 300 times.

Presiding over the meeting, SEP Deputy National Secretary Deepal Jayasekara stressed that the main challenge for workers fighting the government’s brutal social measures was to arm themselves with a socialist political perspective.

PES political committee member Saman Gunadasa presented the main report. He said that while the main concern of all Sri Lankan capitalist parties was how to put the burden of the economic crisis on the masses, the SEP meeting was called to discuss how workers could fight for their own. interests.

SEP meeting in Sri Lanka

The speaker referred to the statement by Finance Minister Basil Rajapakse in the budget speech that the government was facing “the most difficult period in history” but was “equipped with all the forces necessary to manage the situation. economy and overcome such challenges “.

This statement, Gunadasa said, meant Colombo was launching a ruthless attack on the jobs and living conditions of the working class and the oppressed in order to secure the profit interests of big business. This involved tax exemptions for capitalists but a wage freeze for workers, as well as cuts in allowances for public health care, samurdhi (limited social allowances for the poor), water supply, community development. women and children and rural housing.

Similar class war attacks, he said, were imposed by ruling elites around the world in response to the worsening economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gunadasa noted that Sri Lanka’s debt-ridden economy now ranks alongside Ethiopia, Iraq and Tunisia.

“The budget proposes to impose this crisis on workers. This will certainly involve a massive attack on the working class for the government to reduce the budget deficit, which has exceeded 14.7% of GDP in 2020, to 8.8% of GDP next year, ”he said. .

The government’s main target was the public sector, Gunadasa continued, citing the finance minister’s statement that the sector was an “unbearable burden”. Colombo’s response has been major budget cuts in the public sector and a massive privatization program.

To increase dollar reserves, export manufacturing plants continued to operate, even though thousands of factory workers were infected with COVID-19. Sri Lankans working overseas have also been overlooked by Colombo in order to keep up the influx of remittances, the speaker said.

Gunadasa asked a question: “What happened to the bourgeoisie, including business and big business? [during the pandemic], as the working class faced such vicious attacks? “

He responded by detailing how President Rajapakse had asked the Central Bank to provide massive concessional funds to large corporations, along with more tax cuts and other concessions. “The capitalist enterprises got the social wealth extracted from the workers,” he said.

Gunadasa said the international working class was unwilling to accept these austerity attacks. He referred to the eruption of strikes and protests in Sri Lanka and around the world. Rajapakse, like his global counterparts, responded to growing social opposition by turning to dictatorial forms of government.

Gunadasa analyzed the role of opposition parties in Sri Lanka. “At first glance, these parties seem to be critical of the government, but if you look closely at what is being said, they are advising the government on the best ways to implement the government’s agenda. “

The main opposition parties, the Samagi Jana Balawewaya and the United National Party, called on the government to seek more loans from the International Monetary Fund.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna covered up the fact that the root of the problem is the capitalist system by falsely claiming that the crisis was the result of government corruption and fraud.

The pseudo-left Frontline Socialist Party set a political trap for the working class by calling for a “broad left front”, which included the bourgeois parties.

“All of these groups are based on a reactionary nationalist agenda,” said the speaker. The workers could only defend their rights and win their demands by fighting for the unification of the international working class.

To start such a struggle, said Gunadasa, workers in every workplace, regardless of their job categories or other artificial divisions, had to organize grassroots committees independent of the union bureaucracies and fight for a workers’ government and peasant based on socialist policies.

“Such a government will end capitalist exploitation. Workers should use the achievements of their work directly for social necessity, and not for private profit, ”he stressed. “The resources of society should belong to the workers. “

Concluding his speech, Gunadasa invited audience members to join the fight led by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and support the Global Workers’ Inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic initiated by the World Socialist Website .

The meeting ended with a question-and-answer session. Responding to a question about the unification of farmers’ struggles in India and Sri Lanka, Gunadasa explained the need for a unified independent movement of Indian and Sri Lankan workers based on socialist and internationalist policies to rally poor farmers in the two countries.

Nationalist unions in India and Sri Lanka, including those led by Indian Stalinist parties, he said, were hostile to the development of such a unified movement. The Trotskyist SEP was the only party in the South Asian region to fight for this prospect.

Jayasekera, the chairman of the meeting, responded to a question from a listener in South India on the role of caste-based parties. The main role of these parties, explained Jayasekara, was to divide the workers while guaranteeing the privileges of a small elite in the castes concerned, at the expense of the vast majority of workers and the oppressed masses.

The pro-imperialist bourgeoisie in the backward capitalist countries, including India, he continued, “is unable to overcome the unresolved problems of the democratic revolution, such as land issues and caste oppression” . These problems could only be solved by the working class, rallying all the other oppressed masses and fighting for socialist policies.


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