Shock treatment | Page 131 | Daily News

Shock treatment

Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has called on the government to implement a crash programme for the next 18 months that covers both, the social, and, economic aspects, affecting the masses. He said cosmetic and policy changes would serve no purpose at this particular time. The minister said he was working on such a programme in consultation with other ministries and it will be presented soon.

Minister Ranawaka, a professional engineer, and, known for his pragmatic viewpoints that even clash with that of the government he serves, no doubt, has come to his conclusion after a dispassionate assessment of the results of the recent LG elections, where the government fared badly, to it mildly. The voters certainly had responded in the manner they did due to many shortcomings, nay blunders, on the part of the government, that those like Minister Ranawaka thinks should be rectified, and, rectified fast, if it is to make any headway electoral wise.

They (voters) crave for quick fix solutions and are not enamoured by high flown concepts, or, principles and practices in true democracies that are taken for granted in the west. Nor, are they interested in long term macroeconomic policies with a long gestation period that may or may not bear fruit in the end. Features of good governance like the The Right to Information Act, or, political reforms like additional women’s representation in parliament or the local bodies, laudable as they are, have no resonance with the ordinary public. Nor the promises to introduce the tools for modern techniques in education, or, the creation of industrial zones, in the rural hinterland. What the vast majority of our people need are the basics that would sustain them in their day-to-day lives.

This reality, sadly, had escaped the attention of the powers that be, in the Yahapalanaya government, for which it had to pay a heavy price at the LG elections.

But all is not lost. The government still has time to atone for its lapses and forge ahead determinedly by taking to heart the suggestion of Minister Ranawaka. Indeed, a crash programme, or, more precisely, ‘shock treatment’ is what the government needs now to rouse it from its slumber and get its act together.

To begin with, a comprehensive study, or, a postmortem should be carried out on the election results to meaningfully ascertain where the government had been found wanting. It is very clear that, both, the rural, and, urban voter had turned their backs on the government in equal measure. While factors such as slashing of the subsidies, wholesale withdrawal of Samurdhi, falling back in the distribution of fertilizer to the farmer, lack of a proper programme to purchase his harvest, the lack of water for cultivation etc. were among the chief issues with the rural voter, while the extremely high cost of living, allegations of corruption in the government, the long standing garbage problem, failure to compensate the Salawa and the Meethotamulla victims, the haphazard distribution of school uniforms and textbooks, the alleged sale of national assets, were, no doubt sore points with the urban voter.

The inadequate and ineffective response to charges of witch-hunts carried out against the rana viruvas by the Joint Opposition, and, the virulent campaign that the country was on the verge of division, as a result of the new constitution (although the Consultative Committees includes JO MP) also played its part to a great degree in alienating both, the urban and rural voter, from the government. The lack of an effective counter to the half truths and falsehoods propagated by the Pro-Rajapaksa media too went a long way towards influencing the voters to vote as they did.

All these have to be tackled cumulatively, in whatever crash programme that is being suggested by Minister Ranawaka, if the government is to make any headway. Dealing piecemeal or prioritizing a few issues only will not make a difference.

Above all, putting up a united front by the protagonists too is of extreme importance if the Yahapalanaya government is to continue its preset journey sans hiccups. The infighting among alliance partners, too, made a not inconsiderable dent in the January 8 and August 15 combined Yahapalanaya vote, as the results show.

Be that as it may, with the Provincial Council elections only months away, the crash programme envisaged by Minister Ranawaka should get moving in earnest. The Joint Opposition, presently on a roll, by the successes at the LG polls have already planned countrywide rallies to mobilize the masses. No doubt, it will hope to obtain the maximum mileage by demonstrating its popularity, via the crowds, at these rallies. The government ought to respond to this effectively, by launching a counter propaganda blitz of its own.

But, first it should show results on the ground. It is only by addressing all its shortcomings that have been listed above that the government will be able to muster the support of the people. It certainly would need a crash programme to wrest the initiative.


There are 2 Comments

Development proposals must be prepared by the respective ministries in consultation with the provincial and district level officers expeditiously. One person or ministry should not undertake this important task. The ministries of Agriculture, Food &Coop; Disaster Management, Irrigation and Water Resources Management; and Rural water Supply including agencies responsible for rural roads and small bridges must develop implementable and cost-effective plans for immediate implementation throughout the country.Most of the ministers make blunders to implement development projects only within their districts. This is one reason why the people voted against the ruling parties. This is quite visible in the Housing ministry as most of the Gamudawa programs are in the Hambantota and people rejected this concept. Besides, the ministries must monitor the projects to ensure high quality and a good degree of effectiveness. We have seen many projects of very low quality and incomplete projects creating disrespect for the govt.

Editor suggests "must show results on the ground" Simply the best comment, responding to a pragmatic politician. The Public Service was never a one man show, but team work under a structured leadership. In the Health Service, the team have become money craving TU terrorists trying to control the leaders for selfish monopoly of practice. SAITM is perfect example of a one man show, now 2 with CEO, which clings with offerings to GMOA, to send his students by hook or by crook for a second Russian expedition, the first attempt having failed 10 years ago. These unsuspecting students are govt. approved for a local MBBS. What a turn of events inviting disaster for Prez./PM in elections.


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