January 2023
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Hey Ceylon, maybe you’d have been better off as a British colony?

Thursday blog

Looting – Sri Lanka’s favourite national sport?

As you probably know, the once glorious island paradise of Sri Lanka is bankrupt and descending into a failed state. The three main reasons seem to me to be:

  • decades of utterly incompetent government
  • massive, unrepayable loans, especially from China’s Belt and Road debt colonialism/enslavement
  • alleged looting by the kleptocratic elites, especially the Rajapaksa family, whose three brothers just happen to control the country

Sri Lanka’s current President is Gotabaya  Rajapaksa. His brother, Mahinda, is the country’s Prime Minister (and served as president from 2005-2015) and another brother, Basil, was finance minister until he resigned last week along with the rest of the cabinet:

So, for much of this century Sri Lanka has been very much a Rajapaksa and cronies’ family business rather than a serious, democratically-run country.

By 2015, investigators had already reportedly found around $2bn of Sri Lanka’s money stashed away in Dubai allegedly by members of the Rajapaksa family. At the time it was estimated by some nasty cynics that the Rajapajsas had stolen around $10bn as there were reportedly billions more hidden in banks in Switzerland and other welcoming jurisdictions which tend not to ask too many questions about where foreign money is really coming from.

You can be forgiven for suspecting that the enterprising Rajapaksa brothers have been busy since 2015 further adding to their alleged looted wealth.

Since his election for a second term in office, President Gotabaya  Rajapaksa has faced accusations of economic mismanagement, embezzlement and corruption.

One report (the Spectator) says that Sri Lanka owes international lenders more than £21bn, with just £1.7bn in reserves. Another (Daily Mail) stated that Sri Lanka’s total debt stands at $35bn of which $4bn must be repaid this year including a $1bn sovereign bond.

The country has no money to import basic necessities like fuel, food and medicines. Shops and restaurants are closed and armed police patrol the streets. There are curfews in a couple of towns, the police have started shooting demonstrators and the Sri Lankan rupee (or whatever it is the country uses as a currency) is probably worth less than toilet paper. (Sorry, I don’t think they use toilet paper in Sri Lanka)

The price of vegetables has increased fivefold since 2021, while the cost of rice has doubled. There are shortages of almost everything and regular power cuts. Many residents say they are unable to eat more than one meal a day.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s largest public medical body, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), has declared a health emergency. Hospitals have run out of five life-saving drugs and the GMOA says there are shortages of another 180 medicines, as well as a lack of vital surgical and testing equipment.

I suspect that the three Rajapaksa brother have enough money stashed away to pay off all the country’s debts.

But in all the news reports I have seen from Sri Lanka, not many journalists have been terribly enthusiastic about bringing up the subject of the Rajapaksa brothers’ alleged looting. I guess it would be considered “racist” to mention it.

Just small fry by Third World standards

However, the $10bn or $20bn allegedly looted from Sri Lanka is just small beer by supposed ‘developing’ countries’ standards. After all, Sri Lanka is only at position 102 on the Transparency International corruption index. There are 72 countries which are even more corrupt than worthless basket-case Sri Lanka.

A really efficient Third-World kleptocrat will normally have stolen at least $50bn and often over $100bn. Yet idiotic Britain and the West continue to pour hundreds of billions in foreign aid into these totally rotten hell-holes while the rather more sensible Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses its loans to colonise/enslave countries like Sri Lanka. I believe the CCP has taken over a major port in Sri Lanka for the next 90 years and maybe also an airport as Sri Lanka couldn’t cough up the interest payment on a Chinese ‘loan’.

Better off as a British colony?

Ceylon became the independent country of Sri Lanka in 1948. As with so many former colonies, for a few decades things weren’t too bad as it took the Sri Lankan elites a while to destroy the legacies of ‘evil’ British colonialism – a functioning justice system, effective schools and universities, reasonable healthcare and other elements of a civilised society. But by 1983, the Sri Lankans had enough of living in civilised prosperity and started a civil war which lasted till 2009 devastating much of the island.

I believe the Rajapaksas began their takeover of the country in about 2005 and things have pretty much gone even further downhill for most Sri Lankans (but possibly not for the increasingly wealthy Rajapaksas) since then.

Perhaps the collapsing Sri Lanka, like so many other former British colonies – Rhodesia, Kenya, Ghana, drug- and violence-ridden Jamaica, Crapistan, Bangladesh, etc etc – would have been better off if it had remained under British rule?

I wonder if one could make a new joke?

Question: What’s the difference between a British colony with a proper justice system, schools, universities, hospitals and reasonable prosperity and a corrupt, bankrupt, excrement-covered, impoverished, basket-case Third-World hell-hole?

Answer: Just a few years!

5 comments to Hey Ceylon, maybe you’d have been better off as a British colony?

  • Hardcastle

    They would not be better off now David as we are unable to even run our own country any longer.When one considers the standards that existed across all aspects of British life even 50 years ago, today is a different universe.How quickly we have declined as a Nation and the elites who have been responsible seem to think they have all the answers to the problems we face.

  • Ed P

    Sri Lanka has been destroying its own agriculture by ‘going organic’ and reducing fertiliser use. Crop yields are woeful.
    But the Rajapaksas look well-fed.

  • David Craig

    Yes, sorry but I didn’t have room to mention that one of the many stupidities implemented by the Rajapaksas was to ban the use of certain fertilisers which has caused Sri Lankan crop yields (especially rice) to collapse.

  • A Thorpe

    The usually reliable Thomas Sowell has said that colonialism benefits countries in the long term, but admits it wasn’t good at the time. He might have to revise this opinion. Is there a country anywhere with trustworthy and competent politicians? Monaco seems a good bet, until France gets difficult.

  • A Thorpe

    David, you might be interested in this article from the Mises Institute –

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