|Letters to the Editor
26th July 1998
A cynic once said, "people speak for their religion, write for their religion, fight for their religion, and even die for their religion, except live the religion.
There is a yarn of truth in this saying. For in the so called civilized world it is happening today.
Although this country boasts of a free health service, there appears to be no such privilege to the people of Matale and the remote villagers who visit this hospital from places as far as Laggala. Unfortunately the authorities stationed right on its door- step are blind to the fact that this hospital is the biggest money spinner to the surgeons and physicians who spend most of their time in channelling centres which have sprung up like mushrooms in Matale town under most unhygienic conditions. Some of them do not have the basic facility of a toilet for the use of patients.
Unless a patient pays a fee and sees a V.P or a V.O.G., or surgeon in one of these channelling outlets, he or she has a very remote chance of being seen by a visiting officer and lesser chance of a bed. It is sickening to see maternity patients carrying their bags and baggage and hanging on the corridors of the ward whilst there are empty beds. On inquiry it was found that those empty beds are for the patients of the other V.O.Gs.
The nurses and the attendants have equally adapted to the situation. A serious patient seeking admission to the hospital must bring in a relative or a friend to look after him or her. The nurses only dish out the medicines. I don't think the nurses have ever heard of bed pans or bed-baths. All these have to be done by the relative or the friend who looks after the patient.
The most pathetic sight is to see maternity patients, some after a Caesarian section, carrying their own intravenous drips, having to go to the toilets or walking up to the overweight nurses' table to get their quota of medicines. There is hell to pay if they do not come. They will be scolded like dirt. The Very Reverend Trade Union Leader should note these before he sets up the nurses to demand various things.
Heaven help if you are poor and cannot pay the fee. The only consolation is an overworked house officer who carries on regardless, day and night. This H.O. is the only one who seems to do a job of work. All the other employees are enjoying a nice holiday.
We would like to correct several misleading statements made in last Sunday's article, ''Wireless loop hurts telecom revenue," starting with the headline. Lanka Bell and Suntel are generating a large and rapidly growing stream of revenues for SLT, both directly by paying SLT to carry international calls and, indirectly, by increasing the number of people in the country who can be contacted by phone. As we both expand, we expect that SLT's revenues will grow ever larger in future as a result of our activities. This is not a zero sum game.
Second, it is quite wrong to say that Lanka Bell and Suntel receive a "bulk discount". The calls are made by Lanka Bell and Suntel's customers, so the revenue rightly belongs therefore, to Lanka Bell and Suntel. For the moment, we are required by regulation to charge broadly the same as SLT for international calls. For overseas calls by our customers, SLT connects either Lanka Bell's network or Suntel's network to the relevant overseas network; for providing this service, SLT currently takes 65% of the revenue. This percentage is so high that both Lanka Bell and Suntel currently lose money on international calls. We are confident that the review of these charges now underway will reduce SLT's share to a more reasonable and equitable level.
The article pointed out correctly that more international calls are made to Sri Lanka than are made from Sri Lanka. As a result, SLT receives a very substantial profit each year. Lanka Bell and Suntel both deliver to their valued customers calls from overseas but we receive NO payment whatsoever for this service. SLT keeps all the money obtained from overseas operators. This is not a level playing field.
The Government's aim in licensing two fixed telephone (wireless local loop) operators was to encourage investment in communications services in Sri Lanka and accelerate the availability of phones to the citizens. That aim is clearly being fulfilled as Lanka Bell and Suntel have not only invested heavily in doing so, but are indeed providing rapidly expanding phone service. We would also claim some credit for galvanizing SLT into action - it is now also connecting many more new customers.
Competition is beginning to work its magic for the benefit of the people of Sri Lanka.
In the context of the above, we are sure that special pleading from the monopolist will be recognized for what it is.
Peter R. Nelson
After many letters to the press, the Kesbewa Prade-shiya Sabha started repairing the Gangarama Road - Werahera and we thought that we could travel in safety and comfort.
But it was not to be. Only a portion of this road is repaired. Part of the road has been covered with a layer of mud and sand making it slippery when it rains. A large part of this road has been washed away exposing the metal used and opening up pot holes. Even the part that has been repaired has not been attended to properly and is breaking up already in some places.
This is an eyewash with the forthcoming elections in view, but I don't think the people would be deceived by this. It looks as if they are saying, "we have repaired part of the road. Vote for us and if we win we will repair the rest".
P. M. Gunasekera
I joined the Local Government Service as a clerk on 5. 4. 1965 and retired on 1. 1. 1991 according to Treasury Circular 44/90 issued on 18. 10. 1990 (option).
From that date of my retirement up to now the W & O P contribution is being deducted from my pension. When I enquired personally from the Director of Pensions Department of L. G. S. he informed me that all Local Government Service employees are compulsorily required to contribute towards this fund for 35 years, even after retirement.
But this rule does not apply at all to government employees. It is unfair and an injustice that the Local Government Service employees are given stepmotherly treatment compared to the Central Government employees breaching their assurance of treating all employees alike. He told me that this matter has to be brought before Parliament and the Local Government Act must be amended accordingly.
Since my retirement I have already contributed W & O P nearly eight years up to now and according to this rule I have another two more years during which period this contribution will be deducted unreasonably from my pension.
Hence I like to appeal to the Ministry of Public Administration to rectify this injustice and be impartial towards the Pensioners.
"Haste Makes Waste". How true this axiom is? Should we think that the BCCSL tried to disprove this norm by its anxiety to transform the ordinary cricket field of Galle into an International Stadium? What a mess it made by overdoing things in order to stage the second lap of the "NIDAHAS" Trophy Tournament!!! I would not be wrong, if I say if it was not for the South-West monsoon which bared all shortfalls and made a mockery of our set-up, we would have sat on our laurels for some more time. After all, during the first test ever to be staged in Galle, ground developers were praised from all corners for the goodwork within a short period.
But, "Seeing is believing". The chaotic drainage system was visible to all eyes and may have been witnessed by people all over the world through the TV screen. The unprofessionally dug drains around the ground to drain the rain water revealed the valiant efforts made by the Board to bring the game underway.
The concept of constructing grounds of International standard, throughout the island, is applaudable, but it should not be in haste and make futile, the efforts put into force. I emphasize "In Haste" since the decision to play a Test match in Galle, I believe, was taken by the present ex-Co of the BCCSL, after it was voted into its position, which means the ground authorities had just less than three months to develop it and build the essential infrastructure to make it to an International Stadium. If we expect an amateur to accomplish this task skilfully within such a short period, I think we should examine our heads.
The Galle cricket ground was known to be a paddyfield during heavy downpours. If professionals were assigned to put things in order, I feel, at least they would have foreseen problems beforehand and advised the Board accordingly. But "Devils Dare Where Angels Fear to Tread." The result was precarious, although praises poured from all quarters irrespective of the camouflage. It was visible to the naked eye during the one-day internationals.
The poor state of affairs continue with the other well-known cricket stadia too. While it is sad to hear that the Asgiriya stadium has to be given a face-lift, if it is to stage another Test match, it is rather conspicuous that the ground that was used to play the first ever Test match has existed so long devoid of any development.
If we are to grow as a cricket playing nation comparable to the big league, we should plan our priorities before we venture into new areas in haste.
Let us improve our existing assets before dreaming of constructing Test venues in far away places like Dambulla.
The Government is taking a step in the wrong direction by getting the consumers who are nearly 18 million in number to subsidize the potato farmer, nearly 50,000 by asking the consumer to pay Rs. 40.00 - 50.00 per Kg., when the potatoes from across the seas could be bought and supplied for Rs 20.00 a Kg. or less if duty free. In two or three years time SAFTA will come into operation, then what is going to happen to the potato farmers and our always ebullient Minister who is at the bottom of this saga. The solution to get out of this enigma is to stop potato cultivation and help the potato farmer with govenment subsidies to grow other crops suitable for export. The Agricultural Department could specify the export potential crops that could be grown and the ministry help in the process of finding funds.
The solution is so easy, the consumer so happy and the potato cultivators so content. The means justify the end.
O. P. Perera.
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