Unfortunate incident at FTZ, Katunayake has temporarily set back the
presenting of the Pension Scheme Bill in the legislature with regard to
workers employed in the private and state sector, including the workers
in plantation sector, who have to be dependent upon their savings in the
EPF/ETF contributions which are hardly sufficient to sustain a living
Nevertheless, frequent reduction of interest rates by commercial and
savings banks together with escalation of Cost of Living have given
retired elders a torrid time. Therefore, initiation of a pension scheme
for the employees who become dependents on EPF is welcoming. It had
better to give an option for retired EPF contributors who are already in
retirement as well to derive benefit of the proposed pension scheme. In
case the banks bring down interest rates still further, these elders
will fall from hearth to fire.
Even if someone maintains a savings account of Rs 1 million in a
fixed deposit, it is not possible for him to get Rs 10,000 per month.
Evidently, only less than 15 percent of retired employees are having
deposits around Rs 1 million in banks, as wages and salaries paid to
them in the past were very small compared with those of present
employees in private and public sectors.
We often hear most of the elderly citizens saying that they are
unable to afford basic requirements needed for them out of their monthly
income. Obviously old-aged people need money only to pass their latter
part of life happily and trouble-free.
While it is incumbent on the part of government to make a clear
awareness among the people of the proposed EPF Employees' Pension
Scheme, opposition political parties should also weight this issue more
reasonably and justly. They have a right to pin point the pros and cons
of it to the public.
As such, they should resolutely come up with a realistic solution to
this grueling problem presently faced with hapless elders as well as for
the benefit of employees who would fall into misery on retirement.
If they seek narrow political advantage out of this issue, thousands
of dejected senior citizens will have to suffer hellishly so long as
I read a news item of a senior police officer stating that giving
kappan is also an offence'. I think the police wanted to highlight this
known fact as it will be a 'headache' for them to arrest those who
demand it, specially if it has some connections with politicians.
Who will wish to give Kappan to anyone who demands it? Who will
refuse to give kappan when he or she is threatened of his or her life?
Life is precious and cannot be measured by money.
Police must see that no extortionist escapes from their clutches
however much the latter is powerful in whatever manner.
Then there was another warning from the police recently.
It was of persons visiting houses claiming they are from the police.
In such cases they want us to ask for their identity cards, check out
their details and if suspicious to check with the area police. But the
issue is what are we to check when their bogus identity cards seem to be
Anyway, the best is, if it is at night, to give a call to the area
police station and inquire whether police officers are sent to check his
or her house before opening the doors. The visiting police officers need
not get angry if such a verification is done as it is for our safety.
However, it is better to maintain a policy of not opening the doors
for strangers and even for the police late at night. Anything is not
seriously essential for these people to attend to the houses at night.
I came to know W Dahanayaka in 1957. He was relating about his
experiences while being the Minister of Education.
After I retired from government service I went with a friend to his
place to get a telephone call. He asked me where I am working now and I
told him I retired from Government service. He had a hearty laugh and
said "so now you are a JP. I asked him what it means, then he said you
are a jolly pensioner but later you will be a JPUM that is you will be a
jolly pensioner unable to manage.
How true it is now as we pensioneers are finding very difficult to
live with the pension. Every month on the pension day I know I am a JPUM.
Are we taking poison with our daily diet? This question arises when
we read the reports of the scientists who found arsenic in the agro
chemicals used in the production of rice. Apart from this, many
consumers are unaware that the additives used in food preservation are
injurious to health.
The busy householder prefers to buy food items prepared and packed by
reputed manufacturers but never bothers to read the small print on the
label marked ingredients. Even if the buyer cares to read that part of
the label he may find it difficult to identify the preservatives used in
the product because they are indicated by numbers, such as "E 211, E 224
or E 200-203." Many consumers, therefore, do not know the danger of
consuming food with such preservatives.
Any interested reader can visit the website www.traditionaloven.com/
articles/122. dangerous food/additives to avoid" and see that the above
stated food additives are Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Metabusulphate and
Sorbic Acid which could cause Asthma. They come under the category of
"Dangerous Food Additives."
Suitable measures to educate the public are therefore, an urgent
Speeding by motorists on the Marine Drive has become a meanace to the
public. There is no road discipline observed by the drivers and the
worst is overtaking the vehicles by these indisciplined drivers. There
is no chance for those who are observing the rules. It is high time the
police take suitable action to curb this meanace.
We are happy about the campaign carried out by the Health Ministry
inspecting the residences on cleanliness. However I wish to bring to the
kind notice about certain things that are happening under the guise of
inspection of houses.
Recently about four or five persons in T-shirts arrived at a house
and scolded the householder after inspection and threatened to fine Rs
50,000. A few minutes later another person arrived and demanded a bribe
saying that he will settle the matter. The householder in desperation
has given Rs 10,000 demanded by this person. Again, recently a gang who
was masquerading as Public Health Officers has arrived at a house in
Dehiwela when the people of the house were at their work places. When
the householders allowed them in, they were tied and robbed. The Health
Ministry must ensure that the following steps are taken to avoid
situation like the above cases.
* Ensure only uniformed health officers to inspect the residences.
* Inspect residences only on Sundays when all households are at home.
* Accompanying the health team should be a uniformed Environmental
police officer (a brainchild of the Defence Ministry) with his identity
number clearly displayed.
* Householders are not familiar with scrutinizing identity cards of
police and health officers and therefore the closest police station
should corporate if the householder inquires by telephone about the
identity number of at least the Environmental Police Officer
accompanying the inspection team.
* Information of the above arrangements should be communicated to the
public regularly by loud speaker announcements.
* The spraying of pesticides by health employees which has been
stopped presently be continued even though the present arrangement
requires householders to clean their premises weekly.
* Ensure garbage is removed weekly and householders keep closed bins
in their premises until garbage is removed.
* Arrange a shramadana campaign according to the necessity with the
participation of Members of public, police, health officers and Members
of Parliament in the area.