|Wednesday, 11 June 2003|
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I agree with John W. Hardene "Banks the bane of business" 21st May 2003.
I wish to expose two more money making devices adopted by the banks:-
(1) The banks insist that we maintain a minimum balance in the current account. The amount varies from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 25,000 depending on the bank and the account holder.
(2) The banks debit a "Service Charge" of Rs. 50 per quarter. (the "Service Charge" is doubled if the minimum balance is not maintained).
Is it ethical for a bank to insist on a minimum balance in a current account? Isn't this an ugly and a very mean way of increasing the banks' liquidity without paying a red cent as interest? The commercial banks now pay between 7% and 8% as interest to those who have savings Accounts.
Therefore, if a bank has 10,000 current accounts where a minimum balance of Rs. 5,000 has to be maintained, the bank will have Rs. 50,000,000 (Rupees fifty million) additional cash without paying a red cent as interest.
Assuring an average interest rate of 7.5%, this means that the bank will save Rs. 3,750,000 by way of interest which the bank would have paid if these amounts were deposited in Fixed Deposits or Savings Accounts.
In the same way, assuming that Rs. 50 is charged every quarter as a "Service Charge", the bank will earn Rs. 2,000,000 every year from the 10,000 current accounts.
Thus, the total income to the bank from both these un-ethical means is at least Rs. 5,750,000 (Rupees five million seven hundred and fifty thousand) per year!
My wife and I are retired government pensioners and our only source of income is the pension and the small interest income we get from the Savings Account.
Because of the bank insisting that I maintain a minimum balance of Rs. 5,000 in my current account, my Savings A/C balance is reduced by the same amount and I am deprived of at least Rs. 350 per year by way of interest income.
In addition to this deprivation the bank also debits Rs. 200 per year as "Service Charge". Thus the total loss per year is at least Rs. 550, which is a significant amount for a retired government pensioner. In the past, the banks never resorted to this type of unethical means to earn money.
It is a shame that the banks which boast of huge net profits resort to such mean ways of earning additional revenue at the expense of their account holders.
The Central Bank should look into this matter and instruct the banks not to resort to these unethical means.
I hope the attention of the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Finance will be drawn to this matter.
Contract murder, gang robbery, child rape and murder, bank robbery have increased by leaps and bounds. They all know that the "Death Penalty" is out. after a few years or months they could return and practise their profession.
The MEP Govt abolished the death penalty around 1957 with disastrous results only to be hastily re-introduced in the 1960s.
Around 1978, the death penalty was abolished again and continues up to the present date. Prior to 1978, Mafia type syndicates like the "Colombo Underworld" was virtually non-existent. With stringent laws criminals find that Crime does not pay.
The growth or the CBO underworld received a great stimulus by the Death Penalty abolition in 1978 to usher in a "Dhamista Samajaya".
No one in his right senses, would ever dare take drugs to Singapore or Malayasia, as the punishment is by death penalty! Why is crime low in the countries which strictly adhere to Islamic code of punishment to murder, rape and robbery? Rights victims have to be considered before we think of the rights of criminals to commit crime or get away.
R S R. LENORA,
I was greatly saddened to hear about the death of Architect Geoffrey Bawa. The new parliament building complex at Jayawardenapura and the Kandalama Hotel are perhaps among his major achievements.
He had a worldwide reputation and Sir Christopher Wren's Epitaph "If you require his monument look around you" might well be applied to him.
SIR ARTHUR C. CLARKE,
"Cattle awaiting slaughter deserve better" is the unanimous voice of all right thinking people who have seen the dreadful sight of the cattle roped outside the slaughter house in Baseline Road, Dematagoda.
It is pathetic to witness the happenings in this slaughterhouse for there is no proper maintenance of the infrastructure. The main building is exposed to adverse hygienic conditions and has to be re-structured with facilities to restrain animals prior to their slaughter. The animals have no ramp to use when being unloaded from vehicles and are therefore pulled down brutally. Needless to say, many break their legs. The slaughterers do not mind this because they can then subdue them more easily.
This cruel and sadistic behaviour of the butchers is because the Municipality has not laid down proper policies for animal slaughter. Another example is that one animal can see the other being slaughtered. This is unnecessarily cruel and should be strictly avoided. Also Muslims shouldn't touch this beef because it becomes haram unless the animal does not know that it is going to die and is treated kindly. No human being will want to eat beef if he sees the conditions inside this slaughterhouse for there are human faeces inside as the place is deserted for most of the day and the people from the neighbourhood slums use it as their toilet.
Another severe problem is that children in the nearby slums daily watch the slaughter of these animals along with their parents. This experience will contribute to the creation of a group of people with a passion for violence, as these children are daily exposed to these tragic and cruel scenes and will most likely absorb this cruel behaviour and re-enact them later in their lives by causing aggravated cruelty to both humans and animals. Serial killers begin their sad journey in life by witnessing and participating in cruelty to animals when they are young.
The Colombo Municipal Council should immediately take steps to have proper cattle and meat inspection that comply with at least minimum international standards. There are no meat examiners to carry out the duties of pre and post slaughter flesh only crows and dogs are there to fulfil the duties of the so-called meat inspectors! Prior to slaughter, the animal should be kept for examination for twenty-four hours.
The usual and unprofessional solution and the lame excuses forwarded by the Municipality Officer is, "mechanise the slaughterhouse". Period to such mechanization (if this is to be accepted as the so-called solution), the slaughterhouse has to be properly re-structured and reconstituted according to international standards. For instance in one advanced country no cattle can see another being slaughtered because the cattle destined to die must walk round a bend before being killed. Therefore the plight of the victim cannot be seen by the cattle following it. Such a simple consideration will not seem much to people in the meat trade but will mean a lot for the doomed animal.
We as humans must learn to be compassionate to animals without dismissing these issues or being indifferent to them. If you partake meat, you must take moral responsibility for the welfare of the animals destined for slaughter. Most people are horrified by animal abuse when they recognize or see it. Also in the effort to help animals we may feel for them with our hearts but this is not enough so we must also think with our brains and translate our kind thoughts into action that improve the lives of these innocent animals.
Sri Lanka has been known since time immemorial as a "Dhammadipa" where Ahimsa (non injury to sentient beings) was a cardinal tenet in governance. There is a lot of inspiration that one can gain from Sri Lanka's pre-colonial history where our former Kings consistently promulgated laws as seen in epigraphical records to protect the lives of birds, fish in the great tanks and quadrupeds. This is a unique historical legacy. The failure of post-independence governments in Sri Lanka to embrace compassionate policies on Animal Welfare when the rest of the world is steadily marching in that direction, must be seen as a dereliction of public duty and a national disgrace.
There is hardly a politician in this country today who espouses the cause of animal welfare in public. So morally bankrupt have we become. What a let down of our compassionate cultural heritage which would make any other civilized country proud. Today public policies in Sri Lanka encourage ordinary families in many parts of the country to rear animals for slaughter, and provide incentives for export of meat in a diabolical move to erase our cultural heritage.
It is imperative that cruel and inhumane conduct towards animals must be considerably reduced if not completely removed.
We urge the Mayor of Colombo to take effective remedial action on behalf of all the animal lovers.
Very often there are news items and letters concerning the Railway.
The GMR wails that they are running at a tremendous loss and they do not have sufficient funds to put back the railway on the right track. Then again the engineers say the rolling stock is very old and there isn't enough of ballast on certain tracks. That is why there has been a spate of derailments never before heard of in the railway in the past. The GMR wants to purchase new coaches and engines and also improve the suburban services but cash constraints are holding him back.
Then what about the Pakistani wagon fiasco in 2001. The railway imported wagons from Pakistan running into millions and after they were brought down it was found that the wheel specifications did not conform to the local tracks and the CGR wanted to repair them at a cost of Rs. 1.3 million. Nobody knows what happened afterwards. If correct tender procedures were followed such a technical defect could not have occurred, unless of course someone in the CGR wanted to make a quick buck. Some body should have instituted an inquiry and if anyone was found to have flouted correct tender procedures the person should have been asked to pay for the lapse .
Why doesn't the GMR turn the junk to gold. Look at the colossal waste of usable and unusable wagons, coaches, engines, steel rails, steel wheels, nuts, screws, plates and bolts lying about all over railway yards, stations and on both sides of the tracks etc.
Railway authorities must leave their ivory tower at Maradana and travel from station to station all over the island and you can see why the railway is losing. Steel, Iron, Copper, Brass etc and many more items could be recovered and sold to the Steel Corporation, Hardware Corporation and also the private sector and thereby recover several millions of rupees. Then again what about the valuable land these coaches, wagons and engines stand on as also other very valuable Railway property lying in many parts of the island. They could also be sold or leased out thereby bringing in much needed cash for the Railway.
At the same time it would be wise to also dismantle relics of the Railway like large steel overhead water tanks, coal sheds, goods-sheds, water columns, signal cabins etc., as they were used during the "steam - engine" period and serve no purpose now.
In fact these are anachronisms in this era of diesel engines and electrification around the corner.
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