According to the world’s standard calendar, 2023 has ended, and we are entering a new year. Our people wish each other a Happy New Year every new year’s eve. But we know from experience that life in any year is not auspicious, with mere greetings given as a tradition. As such, in the newly entering year of 2024, without limiting ourselves to mere greetings, let’s determine to make this year and the future starting from this year auspicious to all. It should be our wish for the new year.
The new year 2024 dawns with many crises, difficulties and challenges. But at the same time, we have an opportunity to overcome all these crises, difficulties and challenges in this new year. That is what makes this new year more special than last year.
The challenges of the new year are severe. The economic crisis that erupted in 2022 is further escalating, and the Ranil-Rajapaksa regime has placed the entire burden on the people. The year 2024 comes with an increased VAT burden as per IMF agreements. VAT will be increased from 15% to 18%, and 97 types of goods not subject to VAT will be newly taxed. Among those goods are diesel, petrol, electricity bills, school equipment, agricultural equipment, fertilizer, and cremation. Ranil-Rajapaka’s tax burden is such that people have to pay taxes not only during their lifetime but also after death.
The price of essential goods will inevitably rise to an unsustainable level when the newly imposed tax burden is added to the increase in transport charges and the increase in production costs. Then, people will be confronted with extreme difficulties. With this, even the local industries and agriculture, which are already collapsing and closing down, will be breathing their last breath.
According to the bankrupt neoliberal economic policy that has existed in this country for more than 40 years and according to the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, the country’s remaining resources will also be sold in addition to the heavy tax burden imposed on the people. Bills to tax water are now ready. The Ranil-Rajapakse administration is prepared to sell the electricity board, telecom and even the dairy cows. Thirty-two dairy farms owned by the Sri Lankan government and 28,000 acres of land are now ready to be leased to Amul.
It is clear that due to the continuous collapse of the economy and the increase in the prices of goods and services, people will no longer be able to live in the old way. Then, society will further collapse, crimes, thefts, and frauds will increase, and people will be forced to rethink their future.
Meanwhile, the government is also preparing new suppression laws to suppress the people.
As already happening, these crises and challenges will teach people great experiences in life. This situation will force the citizenry to think deeply about continuing the 75-year-old knock-on political journey. Also, this situation will force the people to decide whether they will continue to tolerate this neo-liberal predatory economic system and the corrupt political culture created by it or not.
The people will also have to decide whether they will continue to tolerate the current system of governance that drags the country and the people to the precipice of destruction by selling all the country’s resources to foreign countries and companies, leasing them and borrowing more and more.
As such, the opportunity to start a new economic and political journey by overcoming the challenges and liberating the country from all these disasters and crises has arisen for the people in this new year. It is the mandatory presidential election that is scheduled to come according to the constitution. That presidential election will be the unequivocal opportunity to lead our country to a new path, a winning path.
It is true that the people make the history of a country. But a group of corrupt elite rulers decided the course of our country’s history instead. Therefore, the wrong history should be corrected by the people themselves. This new year should be a year of rewriting the history of Sri Lanka and a year of victory in a new freedom struggle that will truly build the Sri Lankan nation.
That is because the corrupt family regimes that have ruled this country throughout history have bankrupted the country economically, made it politically weak and failed nationally. We must regain our true freedom, sovereignty and independence. We must build Sri Lankan nation and protect Sri Lanka’s pride. We must make Sri Lanka stand tall in front of the world. It can be done.
Accordingly, we firmly believe that the people who have learned lessons from history should make the new year 2024 a year to change the dark past and rewrite history for a brighter future. We now witness the early signs of people coming together with determination.
As such, we request all the progressive forces, including Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, Malay and people of all religions, producers, and business people, to come forward with courage to erase the dark and painful past of a dependent and bankrupt country, to rewrite the history of the country, to build a new society with economic independence, social justice and human dignity and wish them all a Happy New Year.
Anura Kumara Dissanayake
National People’s Power