The main topic these days is the budget. In this context, we need to understand the importance of being thrifty and save for the future. The Government and social action groups need to advise the people on this. Steps should be taken for banks to give a higher interest rate for savings and fixed deposits. [...]


If fields are not cultivated, let the armed forces do so


The main topic these days is the budget. In this context, we need to understand the importance of being thrifty and save for the future. The Government and social action groups need to advise the people on this.

Steps should be taken for banks to give a higher interest rate for savings and fixed deposits. Those having such accounts should also be given concessionary loans for investments. Then people will work for the common good of the country.

The income earned from tobacco and alcohol is against religious principles. Lord Buddha has made clear how wealth should be earned properly. He preached that one part should be for consumption, two parts for legitimate business and one part be put away safely for any need in the future. I wonder how many people are following this guidance.

There are many complaints about the government’s expenditure. Most officials do not act with a sense of responsibility and many people still have to give a bribe to get something done in time.

One trader told me, “Reverend Sir, Why are we toiling and making money with great difficulty? Those who are idling and earning commissions and are playing out public funds are earning much more. We are thinking of stopping our businesses.” If the business community’s morale falls, there will be no security. We will have little or foreign investment either.

If there is water in the well it will always be of use. If the springs dry up what can we do? In many places, we hear of forest fires. Sand is being mined recklessly. The price of sand is higher than cement. Sand has become as valuable as gems. The Urban Development Authority was established to develop the cities. Did that happen? We will have to examine that. At least what was taken and sold to a third party should have brought development. But it did not. Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also in charge of urban development, became a victim of circumstances. Most of his achievements have been lost.

It is claimed that Pol Pot in Cambodia destroyed the country and fed the army with human flesh when food became scarce. Even here, the people once boiled wild yam, put sesame to kill the poison, and ate it. What is the price of bread today? The market is full of luxury rice at a high price. The rice consumed by ordinary people was Rs. 80 a kilo just a few weeks ago. By December a kilo of rice will be more than Rs. 100.
How much is a dollar today in comparison to our rupee? When other currencies worldwide are appreciating, ours is going down. One of the reasons for this the free import of items.

One economist told me if we want to we can import rice from India for Rs. 30. I replied, “What are we going to do if there is a famine there?”
Who is looking at our plate of rice when more than half of our paddy fields have become fallow? All paddy lands that are not cultivated should be taken over and handed over to the armed forces or the civil defence forces. In this way we can bring the price of rice to Rs. 30 a kilo. If we increase the wages today the prices of goods will increase tomorrow.

Those who are in charge of tourism do not know what is happening in the tourism industry. We have star-class hotels. Tourists are given accommodation in private homes for five or ten dollars a day. What will happen to the hotel industry this way? From the Airport tourists are fleeced. We have a CID. Let the detectives visit a house of a tourist vehicle driver or a guide. They have luxury houses and vehicles. CID should check such matters instead of checking on elephants at the Kataragama shrine.

People tell me that the gap between the haves and have-nots is increasing. Animosity, vengeance, anger, cheating and robbing have reached alarming levels.

Most of the sick people have to buy their medicinal drugs and have various tests done for money. Education and health services are supposed to be free. These are only in words, people say.

There are students who pay a fee of Rs.1000 for each subject at a mass tuition class. Tuition masters who conduct classes are now wealthy. Parents have their children’s interests uppermost in their minds. They pay the tuition fees for their children’s classes and spend for the school van. Other day-to-day expenses follow, the electricity and water bills, the household expenditure, the upkeep of elderly family members. Life is easier if both parents are employed, but then who will look after the children?

Many people are trying to win lotteries to raise their heads. There are good examples for these in Singapore. Because of this, there is gambling in funeral houses and in offices.

We know that it is a difficult task to develop a country to have peace and joy, especially when the country is labelled as lacking in human rights. The Government needs the sympathy and the understanding of the people. It is wrong to always blame those in authority. We need to put aside differences based on religion, race or caste. We need to unite. That is the need of the hour.

Lord Buddha has preached to us about developing our intellectual capacities. Though we are intelligent only a few make use of this. We see again ethnic flames being fanned through the media. We should punish those who are doing this. We must have a proper intelligence service method to identify those involved and stop the little spark that will cause a fire. Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew took such steps. Sections of the media unnecessarily highlight depravity and immoral activities. These reports spoil the minds of children.

The mobile phone should be limited to talking only and it should not be misused for other wrongful purposes. Mobile phone companies should come under proper legislation.

Sri Lanka has earned a reputation of being a country that wastes time and has the most holidays. If we do not have a 12-hour working plan instead of 8 hours we will be doomed. All businessmen, manufacturers should take a break of one or two weeks and plan out as to how we can correct ourselves.

First of all we must strive to have a good meal. Let it be simple and nutritious. Our food and clothing destroy our culture. Other countries need different clothes according to the seasons. We don’t need that. We were comfortably dressed in simple clothes. We must strive to get out of debt by cutting down unwanted expenditure. Instead of expecting everything from the Government we need start self-employment schemes at least on a minor scale. In October-November let us start the grow-more-food campaign by at least planting a few plants and trees. If we do not cultivate sympathy, duty consciousness and good habits, we will not be able to reap a good harvest.
Remember that “Those who know the way will attain the goal eventually”

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