`Nowhere in the world in there a system known as the third way. Economics are either open or closed. However, there is no situation where an economy is 100 percent open or 100 percent closed. Every economy is managed with certain modifications whereby its care interests are safeguarded,` said UNP Parliamen-tarian Bandula Gunawardena.
He said presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse had agreed with the JVP to reject the open economy established by the UNP under President J. R. Jayawardana in 1977. All other countries have adopted an open economy to suit their needs. Countries like Vietnam, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Russia and among this group of countries who follow open economic policies, he said adding that the only two countries which profess closed economies are North Korea and Cuba but now even these two countries were shifting towards practices adopted under open economies.
`The open economy of Sri Lanka was administered with certain modifications, for example the capital account of Sri Lanka has been closed since 1977 while the current account has been an open one.Further, local producers were safeguarded through tariff controls. Imports of rice were permuted subject to a tax of Rs. 9 per kg, potatoes attracted a levy of Rs. 20 per kg,, chillies Rs. 30 a kg and big onions Rs. 6 per kg. In addition a levy of Rs. 1,000 was charged on every pair of shoes imported into the country. This was to safeguard the local footwear industry, ` he said.
`The alternative to the open economy is the closed economy which Mahinda Rajapakse seeks to implement, if elected as the President of the country. This economic system comprises of import controls, export controls, exchange controls rationing of essential commodities, queues, shortage of drugs, shortage off food, price controls. This system existed in Sri Lanka prior to 1977, when people did not have enough sugar for their cup of tea and had to depend on adulterated jaggery for their requirement of sweetness.It must be remembered that Philip Gunawardane died because he was not allowed to travel to India due to controls on travel as well as foreign exchange. In addition, Buddhist were unable to travel to Dambadiva on pilgrimage, due to a ban on travel as well as foreign exchange.It also included an era where political revenge was rampant. Institutions such as Lake House, Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mils, J. B. Textiles and even the Buhari Hotel were taken over due to political revenge, he said.
A ceiling on house and land ownership were features of the closed economy prior to 1977, Gunawardena said adding that the JVP was well experienced in industrial sabotage through trade union activity which resulted in the shutting down of a number of enterprises. `The JVP would react to a questions of organizations if the owners loose favour with it,` he warned.
He said people have a clear choice, `do they want to move into a prosperous future with Ranil Wickremasinghe or go back to the hardships they experienced prior to 1977.`