The cooperative movement which belonged to the ordinary people was taken over by the Government. The people now have only the death donation society for themselves. Unless we have a replacement to obtain the produce of the village we will have to go to the blackmarketeer. If we can make a change through the temple [...]


Putting the country on the correct path


The cooperative movement which belonged to the ordinary people was taken over by the Government. The people now have only the death donation society for themselves. Unless we have a replacement to obtain the produce of the village we will have to go to the blackmarketeer. If we can make a change through the temple and the church it will be good.

Ven. Galaboda Gnanissara Thera (Podi Hamuduruwo Gangaramaya)

In public places in villages, there is a place to start a cooperative society. Transport facilities are available and these can be used. We will be able to control the prices of food items. Putting the weight of the people’s needs on the Government can be avoided. We can easily find people who can bring in the produce of the villagers from the village itself. The produce of the village can be bought and sold in the village easily.

Today the price of an arecanut is Rs. 15. Is the grower getting this price? Though a kilo of rice could be bought at Rs. 55 the actual price is Rs. 65 or 70. Can we change the cost of living by increasing salaries? Even if we raise the salaries by Rs. 1000 or 2000 we cannot achieve this. Yet, through cooperatives we can achieve much. We need small rice mills and equipment for processing ordinary condiments in the village. Since they are not available we have to buy the items at a higher price from towns. It is important that we practise a give-and-take policy in the village. Earlier, the people used to manage with the common well, and certain common amenities in the same village. Today we have no common labour, no common amenities. People are divided.

In the past we did not have homes for the aged or homes for destitute in our villages. Though the country has developed, we have a population that is unhappy, unhealthy and in want. If we are united and live in peace and share goods with others, we can have a peaceful and a happy village. Both the clergy and others living in the village must strive for this. How can we live in peace and serenity if the country is full of drugs, robberies and all forms of evil? We must give up all forms of violence, hatred and ill will, and live in peace with everyone. We find a very close working relationship with private individuals and government servants when it comes to bribery. This relationship drags the country down to ruin. In bribery there are no caste differences, religious differences. This is solely because of the greed. Those in office must realise this.

In national schools there is a move to favour one’s own ethnic group or religion. Though this helps management of such schools as the State need not worry about the management, it will create ethnic tension in the future. The Government must correct this and change the culture. We now have organised groups dividing the country according to ethnicity, religion and political affiliations. We are getting back to old divisional culture and must put a stop to this. Where there is no peace and unity, corruption, fear and insurgency will rule. Such countries exist even in the 21st century.

Today the tea leaf has become a problem to the state. Can the state cope with the problems of a tea leaf or latex rubber? We will have to get rid of the institutions that do not bring income from tea, and improve the quality so that we may have the quality tea that we had before. The Government is giving out many subsidies for tea. Are these wasted? The tea that is exported as refuse tea brings our good name down. Good tea is being mixed with refuse tea and exported. This has hit our tea market. If we do not maintain quality we cannot obtain competitive prices. The Commissioner and Tea Board are committed to the tea industry. But the actions taken by them have become a headache to some producers. Because of the refuse tea issue a good portion of the tea market has suffered. Even though we have new machinery for tea production we must make it compulsory for producers to produce a part of tea output in the natural way. When the manufactured tea as well as the natural tea come to the market, the consumer will find out and decide what to buy. There is a good demand for tea grown with natural fertilizer rather than with artificial fertilizer. The tea dried by natural means has a higher quality than what is made artificially and chemically.

This is the case of the rice market too. What we export is returned because of our own fault. We cannot keep the rice for one or two weeks as insects and pests start to spread in the rice. We cannot find a good farmer who is capable of giving us good rice. The farmer does not have knowledgeable workers. Wages have risen. Rubber can be improved if we stop importing sheet rubber and latex. Here too the labour rate has gone up. The Government is giving additional subsidies but to no avail. Rubber trees are cut and are used for firewood or furniture. If we plant rubber seeds at roadside it will give shade and some income to the immediate villagers. There is no one to organise these.

There were official abattoirs in every town for the cattle. These are not there even in Colombo now. But there are illegal slaughter houses everywhere. Where are the societies that talk about kindness and maithree? What has happened to the societies that preach against cruelty to animals? Where are the health inspectors? Hospitals are full of people falling sick, because of the related sicknesses. Some are waiting for the garment industry to improve. They are waiting for GSP. Has a census been taken of the factories closed or destroyed? Today we have lost a good portion of our labour force. We may have to have foreign labour soon. Then the lazy ones among us will have to turn to robbing or cheating. Even if no one acknowledges in public many institutions make use of foreign labour in devious ways. There is news to say that labour for paddy harvesting work has come from India.

Therefore it is important that we work without being lazy. Cut down on your leave. Let alone eight hours, at least work for two hours honestly. If foreign labour increase we will have to jump in the sea! I wrote an article last week about Dansal because I felt that all are trying to get something from the Government as if from a Dansala. What can we expect from a country where people are not working properly for at least two hours out of eight? This too without taking a bribe or some illicit help. When these happen, our future generations will suffer and they will be in greater debt. The garment industry began to be established in other countries because our productions and labour costs went up. When this happens we will have to get cheaper foreign labour. It is important that both the public and private sector be strict about wages as against productivity. Otherwise public and private enterprises will collapse. It is my view that if the salaries were increased, facilities provided, country developed, it is the duty of the citizens to come together and contribute their labour and achieve productivity, without making the future of the country bleak. We need to punish the miscreants and those who oppose. We have to appoint a commission to find out what happened to the investors who came here. We must know who siphoned out the investments. Let us first build discipline and recall the investors.

We manufacture cigarettes here. So why do we allow the illicit supply of cigarettes from abroad? Is the Government getting any income? It is the case with alcoholic beverages too. It is the State Trading Corporation that sells duty free alcohol. But at embassy offices duty free alcohol is freely available. Are there so much of staff in these offices? It is good to have a survey and find out. State Institutions contributing to government revenue should be reorganised. Otherwise it is not possible to stop the downfall of the economy. If the state Institutions destroy the state income it is like adding fuel to fire. If you want to destroy the dishonest businessmen we will have to change the Customs Ordinance. It is my view that implementing of GST Duty levy instead of the usual Customs Duties will prevent many malpractices. Illicit trade is not helping the state or its citizens. If the prices of gold and silver and essential goods could be controlled it will help us as well as tourists.

It is essential that the leaders, elders and the members of the clergy play the leading role in directing the people towards discipline and getting them to live in peace and unity. This is the only way we can be happy and develop as a nation.

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