The statement made by Chief
Justice Sarath N. Silva on Tuesday imploring the authorities for
serious measures to bring down the present cost of living is
perhaps an unprecedented step that would give the public a
degree of hope.
Declaring open the first Consumer Court in the country at
Hulftsdorp the CJ made the point that the prime duty of the
authorities is to protect the consumer and bring down the
increasing prices of goods.
That this plea came from no less a personage than the Supreme
Head of one of the three pillars of Governance, namely the
Judiciary (the others being the Executive and the Legislature)
it is hoped would carry weight with those concerned to do their
utmost to address this grave situation confronting the public.
There was a time when the ruling party Parliament
backbenchers formed themselves into a "Mulberry Group" whose
task it was to keep the Government in the know of the problems
and difficulties faced by the people and suggest remedial
Such a group may not exist any longer, but the gesture on the
part of Chief Justice to raise this issue should be acknowledged
and appreciated by all.
The CJ of course conceded that the conflict was the chief
contributory factor to the rise in inflation and resultant
soaring CoL. The solution, as any economist would agree, he said
lay in increased production and he went on to lament the non-utilisation
of the abundance of resources in the country.
In other words what he was lamenting about was the vast
potential of the country's economy which has gone untapped. If
these areas were developed the results would have been shared by
all whilst also providing a solution to the COL issue.
This is the ultimate aim of the Government which has already
liberated the East, freeing up vast areas for cultivation, and
is aiming to liberate the North, with equally good agri
In this respect the CJ's thinking is in tune with that of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who loses no opportunity to
emphasise on the need for integrating the North into the common
economic veal which in turn would go long way in easing the
economic burdens of the population.
It is towards realising this goal that the President had lost
no time in forging ahead with his ambitious development drive in
the liberated areas through the "Reawakening" programme. The
current military thrust in the North it is hoped would achieve
its objective before long of bringing all land under the
terrorists under Government control and put into productive use
in keeping with the President's objective.
It must also be said that President Rajapaksa who is not
unaware of the CoL burden has taken several measures to cushion
its impact on the ordinary masses.
The various concessions granted to Pettah merchants by way of
reduced levies and the recent steps to pass on the benefit of an
anticipated drop in world gas prices to the consumers and the
recent pledge not to increase electricity rates for the poorer
sections are some of the measures being taken to ease the CoL
burden on the public. It is a demonstration of the President's
concern in this regard.
Steps should also be taken to effectively deal with waste and
corruption in most of our State institutions which too have a
significant bearing on the current CoL.
The public on the other hand should appreciate the
constraints under which the Government is trying to keep the
economy afloat in the face of a costly war to salvage the
country from the separatist threat whilst also battling rising
prices of commodities in the international market.
Instead the public can cooperate to redress this condition at
least to some extent by small measures such as doing away with
non- essentials in their daily living and by the simple act of
switching off idle electricity bulbs in their homes.
These minor measures collectively could add up to an enormous
saving to the national coffers at a time every rupee will have