Finding a limit to swindling
Do you know? Rs. 45 million has been spent for construction of a
village road. These guys are eating in a funny way, no! We even don’t
find a rope to hang but these guys are enjoying Royal Weddings!
Don’t tell lies man! You only see faults in the government. The
second person responded.
Good road network vital for development. File photo
It is not a lie, it is the truth. Don’t you see newspapers? The first
person acting like a village ‘Reuter’ did not stop his argument. He
presented things defending his own views.
“There, a report has been presented to the Parliament with facts and
figures. You can’t lie to the Parliament, no! And the other thing if a
question is raised in Parliament they have to respond with facts, no! “
“Is it true?” The second person conceded in a manner that he has
accepted the story.
“What man? These are our money! Can a government remain silent
allowing persons to swindle funds like this? These fellows are robbing
like thinking that the world will end tomorrow! Does the government
power means taking licence to rob?
This is how a discussion between two persons in a village stall ended
recently. Due to the yielding received from the second person, the first
person went on and on saying what he wanted to say. The first person was
an anti-government person. The second was a person sympathetic to the
government. He is innocent. They become innocent in front of allegations
They do not like their government getting criticized like this in
front of village stalls. But they cannot do anything. They hold the view
that this government should be safeguarded even by silently cursing the
parents of these damn robbers. They still think in this manner. It is
because of this government that we now walk on the roads freely without
It is because of the President. Therefore this government is good for
us despite certain swindling and even if we do not get anything. “The
President is better than everything”. The government is also good,
similar to the President. But if things continued to go this way, and
were not properly controlled the President’s popularity may also slide
down. There are supporters of the Alliance who state like this.
But we do not know the truth about the road of the Wariyapola area.
The news about spending over Rs. 45 million for a renovation of a road
in the Wariyapola came to be known through a written response presented
to a question raised by the Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera. There
is nothing that can be done by Dayasiri as well.
He may have not expected a response like this. The response was like
a ‘piece of fried fish’ received by the Opposition after a long time.
They thought that this response recorded a fine example relating to the
waste and mismanagement of this government.
“Here, how these guys swindle!” This news became a fine topic for the
Opposition who were waiting to hit at the government with any weapon
that comes into their hands. There is no tradition in this country that
the Opposition probe into things to find the truth about information
they receive that are unfavourable to the government. Generally, this is
how it happened even when this government was in the Opposition. Some of
the allegations presented against the Ranil’s government were mere
fabrications. Ranil is unable to come out of these allegations even
today. ‘Elephant-Tiger Pact’ was one such fabrication.
It was a fine creation by the Media Project of the People’s Alliance.
Mangala Samaraweera who was in charge of destroying the image of Ranil
in this manner is now in the Opposition very much close to Ranil. He now
says that he did so because Ranil is an efficient person. But these
petty talks cannot pull out Ranil. It is not possible to reverse even a
lie when it had taken firm root in society.
The Wariyapola road incident is also similar to this. Neither the
government nor the Opposition made a critical analysis of whether such a
thing could happen. But the facts were revealed through an investigation
made by a Sunday newspaper. As per the true story the response given is
a fabrication. In the typing of the response presented to Parliament the
‘dot’ depicting the decimal has been placed incorrectly. Therefore 4.5
million in the process of typing has become 45 million. Due to
presentation of matters without a re-check and cross check the
unnecessary allegation being levelled against the government cannot be
measured in monetary values.
Third World developing countries
The clarification presented about this was a just a murmur. If the
relevant state institution cannot make a clarification that can be felt
by the whole country others cannot have an urge in that regard.
It seems that the responsible officers have not made a thorough cross
check about the expenses relating to the road and the figures prior to
it being presented in the Parliament. Some institutions just carry on as
it goes by. Some others think that because of the President’s virtue
everything is going on smoothly.
The actual expenditure of the Wariyapola road was less than the
estimated allocation. But the expenditure of some other roads and
projects are not being carried out in this manner. The whole country is
aware that there are some stories related to them.
In Third World developing countries such as Sri Lanka the development
progresses with waste, malpractices and cheating. When the project is
expeditious the cheating also becomes expeditious. In the planning of
the accelerated Mahaweli project this factor had even been accepted by
the World Bank. Therefore, it is stated that they unofficially allocated
a margin of 30 percent for waste and malpractices.
The alternative programme proposed instead was to get the
participation of small contractors and the people of the relevant areas
of the project so that 30 percent could be distributed to them.
Therefore, there were houses being constructed in the relevant areas
utilizing Mahaweli cement and Mahaweli sand and stones. Mahaweli fuel
powered the vehicles in the areas.
This was another way of development getting penetrated to the
villages. The change that took place when Chandrika’s government came to
power was explained in the village colloquial terms as follows:
“Sir, it is true that UNP guys robbed, they earned but we also got
something. We got ample O.T. and Bata. It is from those we constructed
these houses. Now these guys are eating alone and we do not get
anything. Therefore those robbers are better than these robbers”.
A government cannot control 100 percent of all these things. But it
can reduce the level of swindling. The ‘something’ mentioned in the
village terms could be allowed to flow into the village level instead of
getting it into the hands of one or two. The village-man will not go to
hoist flags worth one lakh from that but he would get a nice house
constructed. Or else he would repair an old house. Otherwise the term,
“Those guys eat alone and we get nothing” will become firmly
There is a reply to all this in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ itself. It is
supervision by a Monitoring Commission. It says, “The Commission will be
responsible to ensure that annual targets of action plans are met,
annual progress reviews are done and any remedial measures taken
pertaining to any setbacks” (Extract from Mahinda Chinthana). But this
is what the government is not doing. It seems that this government has
not even thought of establishing the Monitoring Commission. Also it
seems that even the shortcomings and malpractices of the projects being
carried out throughout the country being revealed by the media are not
being critically investigated.
However, it seems that all are involved in a project of saving their
skins. But what the people say is, “Dear President we are still with
you, we need you, but be cautious of people around you who only touch
the pooja wattiya and who do not even respond to any criticism of the
government.” Otherwise, after some time, due to the executive power
culture of the President under the constitution, the Opposition will
credit all shortcomings and malpractices to the account of the
President. It is a crime. But it is the existing political tradition.