|Wednesday, 4 June 2003|
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About eight months ago it was vehemently announced and advertised in printed and electronic media that a shipping service would be inaugurated between Colombo and Tuticorine (South India) in a short space of time.
Some of our politicians too seemed highly optimistic about the prospects of the intended shipping service. It was indeed heartening news for travellers of middle income bracket in both countries who are subject to severe exploitation by airlines indiscriminately increasing fares from time to time.
For instance, a return air ticket to Chennai costs around Rs. 18,000,00, whereas its price was less than Rs. 8,000,00 a few years ago.
However, the service has not yet become a reality. If this shipping service is started it will obviously be a blessing for a large number of budget travellers of different walks of life who are anxiously awaiting a chance to get out of the jaws of exploitation of airlines.
When I enquired several times from the respective shipping agents in Colombo as to the reason for delay in starting the said shipping service, their petty answers were; MoU was not signed as yet; facilities in the ports at both ends were not adequate; vessel was being repaired etc.
Nevertheless, I urge the authorities to commence the proposed shipping service into a reality, which will undoubtedly be a boon for tourism and commerce and trade between the two countries.
There is news that the Government is planning to privatise certain State institutions, such as the Sri Lanka Railway, the Postal Department, Ceylon Electricity Board, State Engineering Corporation, Katunayake Airport, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation etc. in order to give them a new life and to render to the public a better service, sans red tape.
It is a well-known fact that most of the government institutions, not only are running at a loss but also are not catering to the needs of the public, in the way they ought to be. Indiscipline, lethargy, bribery, corruption, dishonesty, inefficiency, poor administration, cut-throat tactics etc., jointly and severally have become the dominating factors. Some of them are white elephants.
For example, if one were to go to a government office to get any work done, he is simply shunted from pillar to post, wasting his valuable time, sometimes, to come back on another date.
Politeness is badly lacking.
The pity is that the public servants do not understand that they live on public funds. In the good old days, a British Government Agent, writing to the public, ended his letter saying 'Your obedient servant'. Today, a public officer does not do so, perhaps, due to megalomania.
Some of the State institutions are top heavy and the cadre exceedingly large, largely due to political appointments. Most of these employees are recalcitrant to advice, as they suffer from political heat. On the other hand, trade unions play a big role in trying to whitewash the sepulchre.
Trade unions are only concerned about the employees, and not the employers, making things highly complicated, leading to strikes and 'go-slow' movements. In reality, they should advise the employees to keep to discipline and honesty. Let us hope for the better.
When it necessitates to mention the date in any document, usually the date is stated first, followed with the month and thence the year.
As the date is composed of two digits the most (1 to 31), and so is the month (1 to 12) the date and the month (from 1 to 9), either is generally written with a zero preceding.
Similarly, as the year is composed of four digits, it should therefore be stated as, either 0001 or 001 whereby the year would not be mistaken for the date or the month. This method should be so only up to the year 2031, after which the year could be safely stated as 01.02.32 (DDMMYY).
The respective dates could be written is any manner as one may prefer, if it is followed by the letters DDMMYY of YYMMDD or even MMDDYY as the case may be. When a past date is referred to as 01.02.02 which figure would be taken as the year - it would be an utter confusion. So in order to avoid such confusion, if the year is stated with two or three zeros preceding, it would deliver the message.
By virtue of having been British subjects for centuries, we are used to the English method of writing the dates and it is international method too.
We remember still how the computers encountered so much hardships naming the year 2000, because they were, invariably, used to stating the year in two digits. Even now, we still state the year in three digits as 003. Why not train the computer to get used to a four digit year 0003.
In the Daily News past several weeks were letters both for and against the death penalty for murder. Imposition of penalty after considered all legal aspects with evidence proved; right of appeal benefit of doubt weighed towards the concerned, by authority is of unquestionable validity to civilized society that have to have deterrent punishment for crimes committed; specially murder, for prevalence of civilization, existence of man on earth.
Opposition to death penalty for murder is depiction of nothing other than mental state, ulterior motivation allied to crime-oriented behaviour.
The Minister of Employment and Labour announced on the May Day that amendments will bring it to the EPF Act to bring all domestic workers under the EPF Scheme from next year.
This is a very good idea for those who have served for reasonable number of years in households. But in practice now a day it is very seldom you find domestic employees are working long period in a place. These days it's very difficult to find sincere, capable, competent domestic servants. Domestic servants you recruited through the job agents does not last in one place for a long period it is a fact that they may stay mostly three months otherwise they are used to certain habits which the household could not bear any more.
Due to these reasons and conditions it is very seldom you find domestic employees are working in a one place for a long period.
Therefore it may be only cumbersome to the household to introduce new domestic servants to the EPF department very often and even deposited their contributions monthly and submitting records will be an additional burden to the household.
At the same time the short period employees may not claimed their claims when they reached the age to withdraw the funds since they have worked in several places and due to the lack of documents to claim such.
Considering all above I would like to suggest to introduce a payment of gratuity to the domestic employees instead of EPF payments.
The Department of Labour may need to intervene only when an employee made a complaint that he or she may not paid the due gratuity at the end of their services as a domestic worker after the certain number of years.
Monthly payment of EPF to every domestic worker may not be easy to implement and also to get benefits to the employee. Therefore it is worth to be reconsider the introducing of a gratuity payment instead of EPF scheme to the domestic employees which could be simple operation to implement it.
Sri Lanka placed in the Indian Ocean would do well to come to a closer defence and security agreement with India to safeguard the country from external aggression, smuggling of arms into the island through her vast open coastal belt.
Despite spending nearly 30% of the National Revenue on Defence, smuggling of arms and ammunition into the country goes on unabated due to inadequate patrolling of sea belt.
Foreign ships are attacked in our territorial waters with impunity. Financial restrains prevent increasing defence spending.
In these circumstances we could entrust defence of our vital coastal belt to neighbouring India, with whom we have so much in common. India maintains a far greater defence surveillance over her vast coast which could be conveniently extended to cover our shores as well, as external threats to Sri Lanka could be eventually a threat to Indian Defence.
Produced by Lake House