The destitution of promise and under the yoke of the madness of multiple national crises

To say that what the people are enduring is akin to ‘adding insult to injury’ would be the mildest description possible in our gloomy isle. As queues snake down streets and by lanes, and around corners, some essential items have virtually vanished into thin air.

As a nation, we are reduced to reversing our traditions of giving alms, to begging for them. People and businesses alike have been rendered defenceless and destitute.

The latter will have no option but to recharge their batteries (once power is restored!) and hope that the Sri Lankan Rupee will stabilise, as and when the expected bridging finance and the IMF’s first tranche of the bailout package flows in.

THE INDEX So there are no surprises as the LMD-NielsenIQ Business Confidence Index (BCI) stays on its slippery course, sliding a perilous 17 basis points to 99 in May from its lowest level this year of 116 in April.

Do we dare hope that what goes down will come up?

In a sense, there is hope: compared to the same time last year, the barometer of biz confidence is up 10 notches from the 89 it had fallen to on account of the third wave of COVID-19. That said, the BCI is still uncomfortably below its all-time average of 126 and nine points shy of its 12 month average of 109.

We should brace ourselves for a slide down the rabbit hole if the index continues its current trend.

NielsenIQ’s Director – Consumer Insights Therica Miyanadeniya remarks: “Both the BCI and the CCI (Consumer Confidence Index) reflect this despairing mood… The prediction of darker days to come hangs over Sri Lanka like the sword of Damocles.”

SENSITIVITIES At the time of going to print, the countless downside risks that hovered over the economy and political landscape in April have lengthened their shadows to overcast the BCI’s prospects of improvement in the coming months.

With leaders elsewhere threatening the world’s existence by toying with maniacal ideas of unleashing nuclear warfare, many other nations too are looking at a future not unlike our present.

But at home, our woes still centre on a floundering economy, malleable and mobile politicians, the crushing poverty that promises to threaten the future of the downtrodden and worries about how long the lights will stay on.

And still, our young clamour for change, doggedly sticking to the aims of their aragalaya.

PROJECTIONS Despite our assertions in recent editions of LMD that the business community may well be taking a longer-term view, a majority of 87 percent of businesspeople feel that the economy will get worse.

So it’s rabbit hole time… and whether you keep your eyes open or closed for the ride is a choice; but an uncomfortable and unbidden ride is assured.

There is little light at the end of the tunnel as we hang our hopes on what the newly appointed prime minister can muster, in terms of political and fiscal policy changes, and support for his plans to arrest the free fall from both local and international communities.

Miyanadeniya concludes that “Sri Lanka desperately needs a miracle to happen to inject life back into a failed nation – but where that miracle will come from is anybody’s guess.”