|Thursday, 23 January 2003|
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This refers to letter written by L. C. Gunaratne of Mount Lavinia on the above subject. Perhaps, Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where there are too many holidays in a year. For example, this year, the calendar-dated holidays are:
Public/Bank/Mercantile holidays 12 -- 126 days
Casual/Vacation/Medical leave entitlement 42 days -- 168 days
Maternity leave (excluding all holidays) 84 days --
* 69% of total 252 days
Poyadays were declared weekend holidays on January 6, 1966 and the grant of holidays on fullmoon days for religious observances, restoring Sundays as weekend holidays, was passed by the Senate on August 24, 1977, which was politically motivated. It is a known fact that majority of Buddhists do not make use of poya holidays for religious observances exclusively, and some even go to the extent of making the day a social repast, given to drinking, debauchery and other evils.
Since Sri Lanka is yet a developing country, I would suggest that the number of holidays be reduced to mark the Independence Day, Sinhala/Tamil New Year Day, May Day, Vesak Day, Poson Day, Prophet Mohammed's Birthday, Thaipongal Day, and Christmas Day (in all 8 days), including Sundays and Saturdays for housewives attend to their domestic work.
Why not we learn a lesson from Japan, and how they developed after two atomic bomb explosions in 1945? From what I heard, the Japanese had to work for 10 hours per day, but were paid only for 8 hours. Will our people agree to such an enforcement for the sake of the country? We want more salary for less work.
Aryadasa Ratnasinghe- Mattegoda.
Coconut is extensively grown in about 80 countries with total production of over 50 billion nuts. India ranks first in the world with a production of 13 billion nuts a year from an area of 1.90 million hectares and it is about 25% of the world production. Coconut is widely grown in Sri Lanka and occupies about 450,000 hectares and it is an important component in the daily diet of average Sri Lankan with an estimated per capita consumption of 110 nuts per year.
Approximately 80% of the total 2522 million nuts produced in Sri Lanka are consumed locally, while the rest are exported in the form of copra and oil. Several insect and non-insect pests affect the coconut palm and reduce quality and quantity of coconut. Recently a mite Aceria guerreronis was reported in Kalpitiya in 1997 and now it is reported that it is spreading in Puttalam, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts.
The reasons for occurrence of the new mite pest is still unknown but believed to be introduced from Kerala state in India where it is reported to be in epidemic proportions. The Coconut Research Institute has initiated a short, mid and long-term programmes to combat this mite pest. Therefore it is the duty of all of us to safeguard the coconut crop from foreign pest infestations.
The Government of Sri Lanka through the Plant Protection Ordinance and its quarantine laws prohibit the importation of coconut and its products including seed materials. Also importation of coconut leaves and other parts as packing materials is also prohibited. Besides there are several pests and diseases lethal to coconut established in Asia such as Cadang-Cadang disese in Philippines, Coconut wilt in India, Indonesia and Philippines.
Coconut lethal yellowing is not yet established in Asia but present in other coconut-growing countries. Importation of coconut nuts for consumption from foreign countries will ensure easy passage for these micro organisms and pests to invade our coconut plants.
Some of these diseases listed are not curable as they are caused by virus like organisms or phypoplasma-like organisms. Therefore considering the long-term interests of this magnificent crop called Kapruka it is not advisable to import coconuts into Sri Lanka and ruin the prosperity of millions of small and marginal farmers in Sri Lanka.
PROF ROHAN RAJAPAKSE, Professor of Agricultural Biology & Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Ruhuna, Matara.
The present peace talks, moved away from fear and terror. Humanitarian principles as the order of the day, was willing to provide for the grievances of the homeless. Years gone by, it was the "push of innocent people", real refugees, always became the model for division and dominance, even in history.
The reverse today; negotiations, obviously strengthens the will of the people, in the North & East, as well as the rest of the country. The next step now "Farewell to Arms", Sri Lanka's present division of governance was brought to the open, in a vivid interview. BBC (Asia today) of M. Anton Balasingham. It was clear that the Government and the LTTE's willingness to negotiate, while the President of the country, most willing to dictate and differ. A difference..., which ought not to remain for the country's sake.
LAL KEERTHIE FERNANDO- Denmark.
The Pramuka debacle have brought a feeling among some that Central Bank not only regulates banks but guarantees the safety of the deposits of any bank or finance company. While Central Bank is duty bound to do the former it is impractical to expect them to do the latter.
What is important is that if the Central Bank did their supervision part properly the need for a rescue would not have arisen. It is now revealed that even the restricted banking licence to Pramuka was given with much reluctance. Central Bank should have carried out a closer supervision of Pramuka and even more so because of frequent allegations of irregular and unethical banking practices at that bank.
In that respect Central Bank clearly failed even though it is not possible to make them liable for guaranteeing the deposits in the absence of a deposit insurance scheme. For this very reason a much closer supervision should have been exercised by Central Bank on banks and other financial houses which emit easily identifiable danger signals.
In retrospect Central Bank must be feeling like kicking their own selves for not pursuing to the end the exchange fraud at Seylan which nearly brought about its own end. As long as those responsible for the massive exchange fraud is investigated, exposed and punished there will be dangerous moles who can bring down the collapse of another bank at the most unexpected moment.
ROYCE GUNASEKERA- Nugegoda
The day Central Bank came down with the rush of a bird of prey with snatching action to examine documents relating to Pramuka Bank managerial work cash counters were open up to 6 p.m.
The examiners failed to seal the cash counters. Withdrawals and deposits the customers did make. There was no illegality in those transactions. Surprisingly, a customer who stepped out after a withdrawal made within 6 p.m., was subjected for a rigid check after 6 p.m.
Even after a fair explanation followed by an explanation in writing, cash in the handbag was seized. No receipt was issued. It is learnt that this episode too is added to the list of charges and made a case issue. Central Bank Governor, A. S. S. Jayawardana re-iterated the probe is in the sole interest of depositors. How then come that he practices not what he solemnly preaches?
"Ab Une Disce Omnes".
C. L. TERRENCE FERNANDO- Moratuwa
As an ex planter, I wish to share my experiences with those in the trade, on the above assignment, mostly applicable to smallholders for their benefit.
Being an extremely important and vital assignment, which is very costly as well, it should be ensured that this exercise is methodically undertaken during wet weather, on which depends the future crops. For this purpose I have designed a system where upto 125 x 50 kg. bags of fertilizer could be casted within a day, with a workforce of around ten workers, with a tractor for internal transport.
Mode of application is by using aluminium pans or latex dishes (RSS) where around 8 kgs of fertilizer could be accommodated. Accordingly, if the rate of application is 3 or 4 kgs per palm, fertilizer for two trees could be taken by one worker at a time, applying half the quantity per palm.
When casting the dishes with fertilizer should be held similar to carrying a pot of water by a female, while with the right hand with open fingers, splashing the fertilizer out of the dishes, sprinkling same round the palm on the manuring circle in one round. This method would enable the fertilizer not to fall in lumps, but evenly distributed at less cost.
The fertilizer transported by tractor for distribution should be unloaded two to three bags at a time on the trailer and given to the workers in the respective trays for application. 'For this purpose a few extra dishes to keep the fertilizer ready for collection would expedite the work in question.
If the labour employed is taken as ten, two should be employed for the tractor for distribution of the fertilizer to the workers, while the balance eight is employed for casting, going along with the tractor taking individual rows.
If this exercise is to be further expedited, the palms unsuitable for fertilizing should be identified in advance, preventing waste of fertilizer and money. It should be also noted that the distance from the tractor and the area fertilized is kept minimum, for quick application, needless to mention that the ground conditions should be satisfactory as well, for easy movement of the workers.
The vital part of this exercise is the application, where a proprietor with a days visit to the property could ensure that the total quantity of fertilizer supplied could be fully and correctly applied in his presence for the benefit of the plantation.
Accordingly, forking and mulching could also be arranged to follow simultaneously, which should be attended to within the shortest possible delay. This assignment, if undertaken as recommended above could be completed within five hours achieving the best results.
TOMMY WANIGESINGHE- Kurunegala.
Tassie Seneviratne's article on the above subject that appeared in the DN of 06.01.03 is a revelation that should draw the attention of the powers that be and necessary remedial measures taken.
The general public are concerned that justice does not always appear to be done. News reports of bribery, corruption, embezzlement etc. in which politicians, top officials, banks are involved have appeared in the newspapers but strangely investigations in regard to them are slow or absent.
The Bribery Commission is stated as having declined to investigate certain complaints on grounds that they do not come within their purview but the Supreme Court has held that they are within the purview of the Commission. It is up to the minister concerned to clarify the position. If the Bribery Commission is swayed by political or any other kind of pressure it is failing in its duties.
I. P. NANAYAKKARA- Kalutara
I wish to refer to the Daily News of December 30 regarding the news item of skills development projects for 2003 through Samurdhi movement. I think it is a good move by the Government to recognize the acute shortage of jobs for dropouts of university entrance and those who have studied up to lower levels.
These youths normally follow various courses available according to their financial standings and mostly they go for Computer training. However these youths ultimately after following these courses find they are unable to find jobs and they become burden to their parents and the country. The unrest of most of the youths are mostly due to frustration and they resort to various types of violence. So it is timely that government is trying to address this problem at least now.
However, it is very important to take into consideration the opportunities available for these youths to get productive employment whether self-employment or otherwise. When we consider the natural resources available in the country up to now, mostly we have not tapped these in rural areas.
We have concentrated on ventures in urban areas and rural areas neglected and the rural youths are deprived of employment. If we can identify various projects in rural areas considering the natural resources available in the locality and we should try to develop projects like rubber-based industries, livestock farms, manufacturing of paper and other agro-base Industries etc.
The whole process should be to get the local manpower to promote these industries so as to give opportunities to get employment thereby it will benefit the country in general and youth will be gainfully employed in all these industries, manufacturing process should be targeted to promote end products. For example from rubber latex various rubber-based Industries should be developed to be marketed locally as well as for export. We know about 65% of the population comprises rural sectors and by developing the rural sector, country could be brought forward not backwards as we have experienced in the past.
Once skills are developed some of them can go in for self-employment projects and there should be avenues of employment opportunities for others. Also we have seen that all governments have encouraged various self-employment projects from Agriculture to Industries but when it comes to market their products they find it extremely difficult to market their products. The so-called middle-Man who does not exert much get a major share from those products.
So, government should consider all these factors when implementing the skills development projects for youths in the country.
ASOKA NAWARATHNE- Kandy
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