|Friday, 14 November 2003|
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Way back in 1982 the then President mooted the idea of a National Government (NG) but failed as narrow party politics took precedence over national interest. Again in 1999, with the speculation of a snap election and referendum, the idea of an NG became news.
In 2000 the Organisation of Professionals (OPA) issued a statement that the party system is the bane of the political system and suggested the formation of an NG with four primary objectives. In 2001 the Alliance for Democracy (AfD) put forward a 11 point reforms package advocating an NG. But eventually it cooled off. An unbiased analysis will clearly show who are what is against an NG.
. Few of those politicians who are holding portfolios enjoying power and perks which go with it will like to lose them.
. Those who are thriving on dissension and have made themselves indispensable and king makers will not like to have a government of consensus.
. Personal enmity, vengeance is deep rooted amongst some members of different political parties and they will not like to sit together.
. Those who are thriving on bribery, corruption, deceit, violence, contract killings and the like do not want a government where members will meet in harmony, discuss in harmony and disperse in harmony and jointly and severally uphold law and order, the number one concern.
. 'Pothe Guras' who are blind to the situation where law and order is thrown to the gutters and the guttersnipes have picked it up and are ruling the roost. The advantage of a government of consensus is that there is no need for such unwieldy numbers - Ministries and Ministers.
A drastic reduction will result in considerable savings right down the line, salaries, allowances, other perks, vehicles, secretariats, staff, security etc. Furthermore there will be an end to politically motivated strikes.
Just two days after the last Presidential election, at the swearing in ceremony in Temple Trees, the President stated, "I stretch out my hand to you to join the government." This was an invitation to the leader of the UNP in recognition that 42% of the voters had voted for the UNP candidate. Unfortunately that was an opportunity lost, otherwise it may have been the first step towards forming an NG.
Again after the General Election held on 5th December 2001, when the United National Front (UNF) was given a clear mandate by the voters, their leader the present Prime Minister held out an open invitation to the Peoples Alliance (PA) to form an All Party Government. There were no takers. Another lost opportunity.
The ideal situation to form an NG is when there is no uncertainty in the composition of numbers in the Government and Opposition. This idea of an NG should be pursued and should be a prelude to a 'no party' system of government, where the voter has the unfettered choice of voting for the individual of his choice and not be tied down to voting for the party first and thereafter choosing the individual, especially when he/she has three votes to cast.
Except perhaps, the business tycoon, the top Govt. servants, including those in corporations, boards and govt.-sponsored companies,.... you may add to this the politicians, who have never had it better, ever .... everyone else in the country today, is locked in a life-and-death battle with the ever-spiralling costs of living.
If you pause to think, the causes for this sad state, are not far to seek; to run a home, other than the daily needs, amenities that have become essentials for simple living (an urban life, particularly) are electricity, water, gas, transport and telephone for, the telephone is no longer a luxury; medical attention and social obligation (this latter can be left out if you can live in a shell!) have to be included.
All the money we earn, and more, goes to pay for these. How have these amenities, as they exits today, contributed to the national distress called the costs of living? Consider these charges and costs as they were a couple of years ago and as they exist today: they have risen four to five-fold.
The presiding deities of the aforementioned Corporations, boards and companies have been increasing them without even informing the consumers, steadily and merrily!
Just one case in point: The Sri Lanka Telecom, have been tinkering with their charges every month practically; the consumers know it only when their bills arrive. Their monthly rental has been raised to an unprecedented high of Rs. 804! Even if a single call is not taken, there is a bill of Rs. 804 to pay.
When they decided to raise their rental to this staggering figure, it does not need much ingenuity on our part, to understand the psychology of the geniuses at the Telecom.
This was to ensure that even if the consumer, with the utmost economizing and scrounging, may reduce his calls, the Telecom.
Shylocks must be sure they get their pound of flesh for, they can not allow their collections to be subjects to the vagaries of consumer's calls: they have to ensure the continued enjoyment of their luxuries with this ill-gotten money.
The long-suffering consumers have a right to ask why these charges are being increased in this manner every other day, almost. Here are some reasons: these Corporations and others have a habit of increasing their cadre far beyond their minimum requirements, ie., to give jobs to their cronies: mostly they have no work to do and are often seen idling.
Naturally, their salaries and allowances bills and running costs of their establishments have risen; the comforts and luxuries they have provided themselves with, like high-powered vehicles, buildings and plush appurtenance etc., too cost money and, it is the poor consumer who is called upon to pay for all this; that is how his bills keep on rising almost daily, whereas his salaries and earnings have remained static for the last many years. Now, it is time for this swindle to be stopped.
H. M. ILYAS MOHIDEEN,
We the Sri Lankans working hard in the Middle East, for years to earn foreign currencies away from home in unkind climatic conditions sacrificing our labour for dear ones. Most of us have mortgaged our property to come here. But it is pathetic to note how our Sri Lankan Government is treating us.
When we remit our foreign currency to the NRFC account we are paid the world's lowest rate of interest of 1% (for US dollars) per annum. But the banks in the Middle East pay 8% to 10% on savings account, tax free. When we get a loan or a permanent over draft in rupees against our NRFC account 9% interest is charged plus VAT, debit tax, minimum balance charges monthly. In the meantime inflation rate is very high, prices of food items, phone, water bills, electricity charges have gone up.
In short cost of living is increasing day by day. Under the open economic policy big businessmen, industrialists are given loans at a lower rate of interest, allowed to import goods and to sell at fantastic prices and they become billionaires over night. \
They use our foreign exchange. Why this different treatment? How long can we work here? After our return to Sri Lanka how are we going to live? We don't have a pension like the MPs, after five years. Earlier we could have lived on monthly interest on fixed deposits and now the interest rate on fixed deposits are very low, and the cost of living is ncreasing. Who is enjoying the so called economic growth? We have explained our situation to the visiting politicians and when they return to Sri Lanka they forget us.
Now propaganda on this subject is increasing daily through the press in these countries and the Sri Lankans have now started to deposit in foreign banks in the hosted countries.
Let those responsible take serious notice of this pathetic situation before matters become worst.
U. L. Peiris,
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