A sound move | Daily News

A sound move

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s assurance to the public that they no longer would have to be constrained by Government circulars to have their work attended to at Government Departments, hopefully, would see an end to the longs years of suffering by members of the public at the hands of officialdom who stick to their ARs and FRs, which anyway is a colonial legacy.

The President gave this assurance while interacting with villagers in Badulla over the weekend when a villager complained of how he was thwarted in getting a job done at a Government department due to a circular.

The President ordered the youth to report back to the department concerned and have his matter attended to and that his (President’s) word should carry sufficient weight over and above any circular.

The President observed that there is no necessity for any member of the public to be bound by circulars anymore. Circulars are designed to stall progress. Had he been forced to follow circulars (as Defence Secretary) the war would still be raging. The President’s observations, no doubt, would be most welcome to many who were pushed from pillar to post to have even a mundane matter attended to due to some Government circular standing in the way.

Not just the ordinary public, even big time investors have been turned away or discouraged by these cumbersome regulations and the insistence by panjandrums in the Government service in sticking to circulars which are obsolete, moribund and designed for an entirely different era that is long behind us. How many development projects that would have greatly benefitted this country had been similarly put on the backburner due to the Government circulars causing a stumbling block?

This assurance by the President certainly is in keeping with his hands on approach in governance that has become typical of him and designed to produce results. He similarly dispensed with all rules and regulations that hampered small and medium scale entrepreneurs from obtaining bank loans during the recent crisis period resulting from the Coronavirus.

Besides, Government circulars should be designed to facilitate matters and ensure things get a move on instead of placing obstacles to the process. True, circulars have been formulated to ensure certain safeguards are in place against irregularities and corrupt practices. But sticking to the very letter of these regulations sometimes become counter-productive, with negative outcomes.

Besides, often times, corrupt officials make use of these regulations to purposely delay attending to matters with an eye for some consideration. Hence, circulars can also be abused by sitting on matters until a price is exacted.

From this point of view the Presidential edict to the public to disregard Government circulars will also have the desired effect in curbing corruption to a large extent at the top level.

While, doing away with circulars in Government departments is a positive step a word of caution too is in order. There are certain circulars containing regulations designed for the well-being of the people. Hence, there should not be a blanket blackout out of all Government circulars such as those formulated to protect the environment. Hopefully, the Presidential insistence to the public to ignore Government circulars would not give ideas to certain ruling party politicians to get into mischief. It should be strictly borne in mind that the President’s order was with a view to facilitate the work of the ordinary folk who were hitherto hemmed in by Government circulars.

Not just Government circulars. Steps should also be taken to de-regularize most other moribund practices and hide-bound traditions and customs in society that hamper progress. We are after all living in a vastly transformed world where technology had advanced by leaps and bounds. It is with this in mind that President Rajapaksa has taken measures to change the whole higher education system to meet the emerging challenges and make our youth oriented to fit into the present day job market.

The entire state sector establishment too needs a thorough shake up to go with the Presidential insistence of dispensing with outdated circulars. Competence and efficiency should be ingrained in the minds of all public servants.

Like the President always insist, Out of the Box thinking is needed to grapple with the present day challenges.

Now that the old, dusty Government circulars are going to be a thing of the past, hopefully, a new lease of life would be breathed into the public service to serve the public with extra diligence and commitment.

It is the President’s often aired view that since he was given an overwhelming mandate by the people, they (people) should receive number one priority in all aspects of service. His foray into far flung villages to personally study and learn of the peoples’ woes and problems, no doubt, stem from this desire. Freeing the people from being bound by weighty and cumbersome Government circulars to get even a simple task attended to, no doubt, is another step in the President’s journey to fulfill the wishes and aspirations of the people who reposed their enormous trust in him.