|Wednesday, 6 October 2004|
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Recently I observed in the press that a shortage of coins of small denominations below Rs. 1 had caused an uproar among the public. In response to this, the Supdt. of Currency of the Central Bank was compelled to issue a statement to the Press, refuting the so called shortage of coins.
In this regard, I have written to the Press, far back in year 2002, suggesting that all coins below Rs. 1 be withdrawn from circulation from a future declared date. Some of the advantages of this proposal are highlighted below.
i) Since all denominations below Rs. 1 are virtually worthless, all pay masters shops, factories, banks, vendors including bus conductors, would be relieved of the time consuming, unproductive hassle of dealing with coins below Rs. 1. Besides, it will save their time and energy spent on unnecessary, unproductive arguments that arise from non-availability of small coins.
In a lighter vein, this proposal will be commended by the beggar community, but condemned by the conductors.
ii) The enormous minting and handling costs of small coins could be saved by the Central Bank in foreign exchange and the economy will be benefited to this extent.
iii) The handling, transportation and labour costs of Commercial Banks and other financial institutions too, will be reduced as a result.
iv) Even the data entry time consumed, (where computers are used), in feeding the dot and the two digits for cents, would be saved, which if calculated, on a countrywide basis would be substantial.
v) The efficiency of the payment system in the country as a whole, will be enhanced, making it convenient both for the consumers and the suppliers.
I am made to understand that certain laws have to be amended or repealed to give effect to this suggestion. Therefore, as an interim measure, I would suggest the following steps, pending the required revision to the laws:
a) All pay masters, industries, institutions, banks and vendors to refrain from quoting cents in their transactions and price markings.
I have already observed that certain Super Markets quote the final bill only in Rupees, ignoring the cents.
b) The Central Bank shall stop minting coins and practically refrain from issuing coins below Rs. 1 to the market. When this happens, the public will automatically get accustomed to ignore small coins.
On the same subject of coinage, I also wish to draw the attention of the monetary authorities in regard to the necessity to have a clear difference in size and shape when minting coins of different denominations, to avoid confusion by the user. For example, it is difficult to differentiate between the Rs. 2 and Rs.10 coins.
It is also suggested that the coins be made lighter to the purse, which also leads to a reduction in minting costs.
Now that an appeal has been made to the public, to give proposals for the Government Budget, perhaps this proposal too could be considered as a Budget proposal.
This has reference to the eye opening letter by Tilak Kularatne (DN Oct. 04) on the damage done to Sinhala Language when it is used in the electronic medium due to technical reasons. One has to compare the quantum of the usage of the language when the modems of technology are designed to convert the written language into the print electronic medium.
English with its alphabet of 24 words facilitate the conversion into electronic modems. We have somehow introduced the Wijesekera sinhala keyboard into the English typing keyboard.
In Tamil there are 3 "N" sounds. We have the nala=lala problem. Time is not far when we will sending messages from our wristwatch or from our cell phones. We will be compelled to have a uniform language for our future requirements.
We have to reduce our letter capacity to meet these technical needs if our language wants to go to the Millennium. Already the computer unit of the Colombo University is experimenting these technicalities and research under the direction of Dr. Ruwan Weerakoon. Mr. Kularatne should comment on these new trends to complete his argument.
You've never known what is to be poor. Fools say that poverty is no crime. But it is. The world impresses that on you very severely. It treats you much worse when you are poor than if you were a murderer or a madman. And the poor are more vicious towards the poor than the rich are; they never forgive you for being one of them.
'Money' is the only thing that can stand between you and hate and persecution and hunger. It's the only fortress a man has. People may talk stupidly about family and position and name. These are nothing if you are poor. For when you are poor you have no family and no position and no name.
You have no money and you go into a shop and try to buy food on credit, and the shop owner shouts at you as if you are a mangy cat and drives you out and every one who hears laughs. Do you know what it means to hear people laugh at you when you have no money.
Don't blame the world when it treats a man like a dog. It is because he's become less than a dog for having no money. He deserves his punishment. It's despicable to be poor. I want you to understand these things. I want to make it impossible for you to ever to have to suffer by giving you all a good education. (This is a condensed version of a para from a book I read many years ago).
Every parents' wish is to give a sound education to their children and to see that they finally get into the university. The wish of every graduate who comes out after their stint at the university is to use their qualifications and knowledge for the betterment of the country, to earn a living and do their duty to their parents who had undergone so much hardship to give them the education.
It was Lord Beveridge I think who said, 'that it is better to dig holes and refill them rather than keep people unemployed'. Idle minds they say are devils workshops. It is in these contexts that we must view the Government's plans to find employment to the unemployed graduates. This is a vast store of diverse knowledge which the country has financed and should not be left unused. The Government's initiative to find employment to the graduates should not be ridiculed and criticized as a political gimmick. We are sitting on a powder keg. If the treasury can find the money to pay these graduates and use their knowledge, give them all the support instead of finding procedural loopholes to block the scheme.
The Government has now given this opportunity to the young graduates by initially providing them with a period of training, after which they would be allocated to the various departments.
Care should be exercised to see that Parkinson Law of the tendency to multiply subordinates is avoided or the work of one will now be divided among five! It is my suggestion that the training for these graduates should be a comprehensive one with a duel purpose in mind. The training program should be enlarged to equip them with at least a theoretical knowledge of commercial activities such as marketing, financial management etc., and of course at least a basic conversational knowledge of English.
This would help them to apply for vacancies in the private sector if they are dissatisfied with the work they will be allocated in government service.
This is because providing employment to graduates and other dropouts is not a once and for all exercise. They are coming out annually in large numbers and the economy has to be geared to accommodate them either in the public or the private sector. The private sector could use these trained graduates as human resource bank to draw upon.
The government by their ten thousand tank restoration program appear to be committed to make agriculture, the most important plank in the production oriented economy which is being planned. I feel that it is the right way the economy should be directed.
In order to attract young people to take to agriculture, particularly the children of farming families, every effort should be made to recognize farming as not only a noble profession but also a profitable one. On market days, the farmers in England come to town in their expensive vehicles to transact business. They are both rich and respected.
Here is a good opportunity to do so by employing these graduates in farming areas to guide and help our farmers to use modern production methods and financial management. From where is the Government going to find the people to take up farming as a profession when the farmers' children are now enticed and encouraged to become computer operators! Computer classes appear to be coming up like mushrooms in the rural villages. It has become big business.
Every young boy/girl should of course, be given the opportunity to understand and appreciate computer application and its technology. In this competitive world, Information Technology is indispensable.
The young graduates that are being recruited, could explain to the farmers how computer technology could help them to manage their farms profitably and economically. However, it should not be misused for dubious political advantage or to promote computer imports. Today if you ask any young dropouts from school looking for a job what they are doing, the ready answer is either following a marketing course or a computer course.
P. S. MAHAWATTE,
How can the people themselves reduce the cost of living? Foremost among all, consumption of liquor, the bane of our people should stop and the people will be able to save at least 50% of whatever income they earn specially the working class.
They can't afford to drink. It is a luxury. Then they will be mentally, physically, socially and financially will be better and stronger. Then gambling and smoking should stop which will save at least 25% of their hard earned wages which will go to strengthen their standard of living and family life.
On the other hand, since accidents and crimes will be greatly reduced when the people eschen liquor, the savings for the Government in hospitals and in the Police, will be in billions. It is estimated that 80% of the hospital patients suffer from either liquor related diseases or in consequence to liquor related incidents and accidents.
Some people in the villages and in the suburbs too, are used to extensive use of LP gas for cooking, even when their houses are surrounded by trees, shrubs and jungle yielding a harvest of firewood virtually at no cost to the consumer. Bus travellers should make it a practice to walk a short distance of one or two halts distance without waiting for a bus all the time.
Cost on water and electricity could be greatly reduced by using it sparingly. One could put off lights in vacant rooms or use more bulbs with less voltage. We can stop a running tap while we are brushing our teeth or taking a shave. Part of one's garden can be set apart for cultivation of certain vegetables which certainly could be useful in the light of rising cost of living.
Finally what matters is how one lives with one's own family. Joy and satisfaction does not lie elsewhere but within oneself. Therefore, what one should concentrate on is not actually what others should do to keep one happy, but how what one could do for oneself to keep self happy.
When we fail in health or begin to advance in age, we cut down most of our activities to suit our health and advancing age. Similarly, when one's income comes down or the cost of living goes up, we must adjust our life style and mode of expenditure to suit the income without blaming others forever for one's own ills.
E. M. G. EDIRISINGHE,
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