Time to abandon fantasy and rhetoric
Towards the end of the 20th Century the term ‘New Millennium’ became
the hot topic of conversation. Everyone focused their fears on the Y2K,
‘the millennium computer bug’. It was assumed that a complete ‘over-run’
of the century old working systems would be affected as computers would
go berserk, aeroplanes might fall out of the skies on December 31, 2000
and the whole world would plunge into darkness!
As the time drew nearer, some consolatory information confirmed the
computer engineers’ ability to resolve the problem. With such assurances
the world survived.
and tranquility with defeat of terrorism
* Development projects to
* Community participation
* Cooperation and adherence
to policy paramount
First decade from the 21st Century has already worn out and we have
just stepped into another new year where the main emphasis becomes
overall development, as a nation, to accept and adjust ourselves in
every respect and aspect and move with the times at a time Sri Lanka
focuses on an ‘unprecedented development program’ in the immediate
‘Sour grapes’ attitude
What is development? It means many things to scores of people,
politicians and the governments alike, where a populace lives and works
in well designed, resilient environments in which enlightened
enterprises deliver excellent, sustainable products and services for the
cultural and human well-being.
Development motivates a broad range of attitudes, perceptions and
practices with the full participation of a community. In this respect
everyone in a society has something to offer.
Sri Lanka has moved a long way since the millennium. Obliterated
treacherous terrorist element from this land has brought about peace and
tranquility upon citizenry to pave way for further advancement of the
Government and private sector
Despite some ‘sour grapes’ attitude adopted by certain politicians,
massive development projects to boost the entire infrastructure of the
country are on track today.
However, enhancement will not arrive at our doorstep if we were to
fold up our arms and wait till it falls on our laps. At a time the State
is enthusiastically making road maps towards this end, everyone’s
participation too should become dynamic to achieve such aspirations.
In such an endeavour, President Rajapaksa alone cannot accomplish
this task in the fashion of a schoolmaster attempting to discipline
pupils with ‘the rod’! Cooperation and adherence to policy should become
There are highly qualified and handsomely paid officials in both
government and the private sector with full of perks who should bear the
responsibility towards this goal without being seen as proverbial ‘sacks
of Basmati rice’ to warm their posterior.
Awareness, initiative, responsibility, delegation and implementation
of their conviction and influence on their subordinates should become
powerful links in such an agenda.
My personal experience during a visit to a government ‘Authority’
prior to disposing of a land astounded me. Need I say how ghastly I
watched employees of this government department walked into their office
first thing in the morning, then took their breakfast bundles and
disappeared in the direction of the canteen; upon returning back to
their desks getting engrossed with comparing notes on tele-dramas they
watched the previous night with other colleagues while the public
seeking their assistance were kept in desolation and wrath.
A sudden flash out of my mobile phone camera upset a hornet’s nest in
a jiffy and brought the personnel back to ‘sanity’, while a female
member of staff whispered: ‘Araya photo gahuwa pathatharenda danne neha’
(he photographed, wonder whether he is from the press)’ This goes to
illustrate the level of dedication and the respect they exhibit for the
salaries they earn! Line Managers in this instance were either twiddling
their thumbs or still on their way to office!
The Road Development Authority offers ‘60,000 sq. m. of advertisement
space in major Highways on Roundabouts, Centre islands and Splitter
islands as the first phase of a sponsorship scheme’.
Pleasing the eye of motorists alone cannot be called development in
the absence of the Authority’s lack of deep-seated actions to prevent
severe damage being caused to road vehicles due to frequently falling
apart roads with potholes, keeping major roads (such as Parliament Road)
in stark darkness exposing even the police on duty at night as death
Employing a couple of manual workers to do slapdash jobs of filling
potholes with pinches of bitumen and compressing such fillings with
their flip-flops can be viewed as an eye wash and unproductive exercises
only. Surely this kind of operations can’t be called ‘development’ in
Quality of service
The difference between the government and public company operation is
Private banks for instance, have introduced some kind of discipline
by training customers to approach cashiers in an orderly manner, while
within State owned banks it becomes a tug of war among undisciplined and
impatient customers. What advancement......?
The idea behind over employing staff by government offices is to give
public a quality of service. Just to make one more illustration, the
difference in having to pay a consumer (electricity) bill of the CEB
through a Supermarket outlet costs an additional Rs 15 to the consumer
whereas customers served by private electric companies are exempt from
any fee when paying through the same outlets!
The disparity here is that the private company has less staff and
still offers a better and inexpensive service to their customers whereas
the CEB with an overflowing level of staff adds further financial burden
on their customers with an extra levy at Supermarket outlet. If a bank
or a service outlet is authorized to accept payment on consumer bills,
why should the CEB customers have to part with extra payments?
All supplementary charges should automatically be borne by the
billing authority which normally will be included in their periodic
service charges imposed by bank or the nominated outlet. If DEVELOPMENT
is Sri Lanka’s forte in the coming years, then surely ‘it is time for
everybody including politicians and bureaucrats equally to abandon the
realm of fantasy and rhetoric and enter the ambit of action and work’.