and Practices never effectively implemented
Most Sri Lankans, including the Government, Officials, Judiciary,
Regulators, Law Enforcement Officers, Business, Professionals, Consumers
and Civil Society pay little attention to promulgated policies and
practices. These remain merely as adornments in print and not guiding
core principles embedded in societal values.
initiators and promulgators of national policy need to understand
that any policy is not worth the paper written on, unless there
is effective communication, awareness, buying in by the public on
the basis of its essential nature and acceptance by all as a core
value of society.
newspapers last week reported the true reflection of policies in
practice. A full-page advertisement announced the draft National
Policy on Sand as a Resource for the Construction Industry. Another
news report quoted the Chief of the Judicial Services as holding
the law enforcement chiefs accountable for the failure to implement
judgments and allowing the illicit mining of river sand. The law
enforcement officers then lamented on their inability of enforcement
due to politicians and bigwig cops backing the illicit miners of
story and saga is not limited to sand alone but spreads to every
such policy whether it be the protection of the environment and
ecology, safety and security of road users, mining of gems, exploitation
of timber, dumping of garbage and pollution, admittance of children
to schools, health care or even the solvency and security of financial
policy paper on sand has no reference to a strategy that will assure
the enforcement automatically by society through a buying in process
and acceptance as a societal norm. The paper proposes monitoring
using the mechanism of oversight Ministers in charge, Standing Committees,
law enforcement officers and Regulators. "If you wish to ensure
non enforcement of a policy then give the responsibility to a Minister,
set up a monitoring committee, set up a Regulatory Authority, look
up to the police and the judiciary to round up and punish offenders,"
says the Wise Old Owl.
come all knowing leaders in government and officialdom forget the
need to communicate in order to assure effective awareness and buying
in by the young to old of their societal accountability to assure
the use of sand as a renewable resource? By merely writing a policy
that there are significant dangers of the present illicit mining
of river sand, dangers of exploiting sand beds and dunes around
rivers and seashore and also the danger in haphazardly using sea
sand, none of these risks can be eliminated.
is the same story when it comes to regulations applicable to food.
A mere gazette notice on food labeling issued earlier in the year
setting out that no one should erase or obliterate any labels, compulsory
requirement to specify set declarations in one or more languages,
refrain from selling beyond expiry periods, display special identifying
marks, refrain from indicating references from Medical Associations
or references to "natural" products will not assure compliance
by the importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. The
proof of above is evident to any person visiting shops and super
markets. One has to wade through a stack on a rack to find amongst
expired and overprinted stocks, an item of food that has a reasonable
period to run. One can then imagine the expiry dates of items served
cooked and converted!
of rabies, dengue and malaria, drinking and driving or even driving
recklessly cannot be assured by laws and regulations. Environmental
pollution, conserving scarce energy sources and prevent destroying
forests along with valuable endemic medicinal plants, birds, butterflies
and frogs cannot similarly be left to regulations.
of the key responsibilities of policy makers and regulators is to
build awareness and involve civil society in the enforcement process.
Whilst persons of all age groups can be made stakeholders in this
process, especially children, teachers, religious leaders and mothers
can be valuable allies.
a nation where " Leghgha and Bhaya" or " Shame and
Fear" have faded away with civil society experiencing years
of civil war, lawlessness, crime, corruption, nepotism, indiscipline
and ability to tide over any situation with money and power, it
is obvious that policies, practices and regulations are only for
some and not for others.
the terms of reference in attempting to develop policies, practices
and regulations contain a few questions before terms are drafted?
How can we get these communicated? How can we assure maximum buying
in? How can we make civil society and identified target groups become
flag bearers and enforcement champions of the policy?
policy makers must understand and leverage the power of "Social
Marketing" as the way forward in enforcement and every policy,
practice and regulation must be accompanied by a social marketing
strategy setting clearly the target groups and civil society champions
(The writer could be reached at - email@example.com).