Sri Lanka presidential hopeful to play policy referee

(From left) Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director - Payments and Settlements, Central Bank; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank

Jan 15, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s opposition presidential hopeful retired general Sarath Fonseka has said he may have to play referee between pro free market United National Party and Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.

JVP is credited with key initiatives of the post-2004 economic program which proposed expanding state employment, subsidizing fuel and pushing state salaries up by 20 percent without proposing any new taxes on the people to finance the freebies.

Inflation promptly rocketed and the currency fell as money was printed finance to unplanned new expenditures. After several years of high inflation, Sri Lanka’s people are now burdened with a public sector that has expanded by a third to 1.3 million persons.

JVP and the UNP have been arch enemies for decades. The UNP crushed an armed uprising by the group in 1989. In 1971, an earlier uprising was crushed by an administration headed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The concept of Amerasinghe and Wickremesinghe standing on the same platform was unthinkable a few short months ago.

“You have got two shows for the price of one,” Wickremasinghe said. “You have met the general and seen Somawansa and myself on the sam