bonuses – We’re bamboozled
The country is in the throes of chaos and confusion over the various
Boards and Corporations being in the red. This has resulted in an
unconscionable burden being placed on the hapless people. On reflection,
one is left in serious doubt whether all the resulting government
exertions and efforts are directed to recoup the failing institutions
or to salvage a government teetering on the brink of a financial
the hosannas on receiving about Rs. 3 billion aid mainly for tsunami
reconstruction after all the pomp and pageantry appear incongruous,
when compared with the Rs. 4.5 billion offered to the last government
even without any natural calamity occurring.
was not very long ago, when in fact these Boards and Corporations
were not encumbered by political pressures and were making large
profits. It is an open secret that these institutions have now fallen
into crisis due mainly to political interference and panjandrums.
Hence it is clear that any future reforms, which are politically
motivated and activated are doomed to fail, further exacerbating
the people's travails.
President claims that expeditious reforms are inevitable and imperative,
in order to prevent the total collapse of the two State Banks. A
simple solution would be for the government to at least pay up all
the colossal outstanding arrears accrued by its various departments
etc. so that the Boards and Corporations could then service a considerable
part of its own Bank commitments.
fact, it does not appear that the government is in such dire financial
straits. It is impossible to imagine how the government finds the
massive funds to send shoals of parliamentarians and their coteries
roaming round the globe. Surely a part of this money could have
been channelled to settle at least some of its outstanding debts.
Possibly the people become priorities only on election platforms.
addition the situation is further compounded because the Boards
and Corporations are riddled with inefficiency, corruption, profligacy
etc. All the governments of the recent past, have contributed to
this sorry state by saturating these institutions from top to bottom
with political stooges and henchmen. Ministers turn a blind eye
for obvious reasons. Hence to further fragment the existing institutions
will only aggravate this parlous state. Of course, they will no
doubt open out more and more avenues for further political intrusions
is a possible way of rejuvenating these sick institutions. These
should be given over to a staff of competent and capable people
to administer, devoid of any political interference and allowed
to take independent decisions.
are some other aspects that are usually hidden from the public that
merit consideration. The escalating prices of public utilities are
certainly not solely due to the alleged increase in fuel prices
etc. No government has ever purchased oil at the prices blazoned
out on public platforms (the Central Bank reports confirm this).
These price increases only help the government. It will in any case
continue not to pay either its existing arrears or even the new
bills, but will certainly benefit by the enhanced taxation that
will accrue from the price hikes.
us consider a specific example. The National Water Supply and Drainage
Board had gone to the extent of providing each consumer with details
of a "Revised Tariff". They had gone further to work out
some examples, indicating how a customer could even work out his
own impending bill. What relief and consolation that will give the
customer is hard to imagine except possibly to realize how much
further he is being diddled and exploited. But the shameless deception
perpetrated on the customer is that nowhere in their worked examples
have they shown that the customer will be levied a further 10% as
the VAT. This is all the more culpable because even a menu-card
in on ordinary hotel specifically mentions this tax. The sum and
substance of this mathematical skulduggery is that the customer
will now have to pay almost double the earlier bill (a 100% increase).
is no secret that although the Water Board claims that it is in
financial straits, it was nevertheless able to pay a massive year-end
bonus to each of its employees. From where did the Board garner
this colossal sum of money? Was it from fleecing that customer or
from a loan from a Bank? Could these be accepted as symptoms of
an institution in dire financial depths. One is now led to believe
that the new price hikes could as well be to ensure a higher bonus
grant at the end of this year as well. The government remains totally
mute on all this.
Water Board has also resorted to another ruse. This is certainly
taking place in the Maharagama sector. The water supply is stopped
at various times of the day unannounced. When it is subsequently
released a vast quantity of air also gushes in. This air also activates
the water meter. In fact the spluttering and hissing of the water
coming into the emptied toilet cistern can be heard round the house.
Earlier the people paid only for the supply of plain water, now
they have to pay higher rates for water-cum-air. Such crass exploitation
is hard to match.
How is it possible that Janaraja, the temple tusker, was
commandeered to take part in a perahera, when he was suffering from
ear and foot infection? If he was sick he should have been given
medicine and made to rest until recovery, not squeezed into fancy
dress, shoved into a long-winding procession, with a casket perched
precariously atop, and goaded to walk on his damaged feet with flashing
lights irritating his eyes and blasting firecrackers deafening his
already sick ears.
insist that the new animal welfare regulations being drafted should
include a legally binding provision of a welfare/medical scheme
for these hapless animals, including the temple elephants, who are
all hired out. Something of what they earn so laboriously should
be spent on their comfort. Evidently, Janaraja was in silent pain,
until he went berserk.
force a sick elephant into a perahera and then subdue his resultant
revolt with seven mahouts armed with whips, chains and we do not
know what else, smacks of rank violation of the Buddha's call for
compassion towards all living beings.
Prema Ranawaka-Das Moratuwa
The price of eggs before the tsunami was Rs. 4.50. After the tsunami,
most people stopped eating fish for reasons best known to them.
The poultry producers seized this opportunity to raise the price
of eggs to Rs. 9.50 and dealt a heavy blow to the consumers who
were already burdened with a high cost of living.
poultry farmers even forced traders to increase the price of poultry
meat products, for which the traders showed their disapproval by
demonstrating against their decision.
asked, the poultry producers would justify the price increase by
using economic jargon in relation to supply and demand. I appeal
to the relevant minister to import eggs from India to give some
relief to the consumer.
P.A. Binduhewna Panadura
the much needed wheels moving
The Minister of Transport, Felix Perera's proposed school
bus service comes as welcome news. This news was relayed over T.V.
and radio a month ago, but has still not been implemented. I would
suggest that this particular bus service be extended to the suburbs
as well and not only to Colombo.
of passengers without any breathing space, footboard travelling
and speeding by reckless drivers are all part of the problems students
and other passengers face.
J.M. Opatha Ekala
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