Friday, March 4, 2011

local government elections - an opinion

In my area for the Hingurakgoda Pradeshiya Sabha the JVP is hopeful of making a comeback. I know its leaders, one of whom I have helped in the time he was a provincial counseller, to transport free rice to the needy using my vehicle during a particular time of hardship.

The JVP is campaigning on their credibility of actually doing community service and galvanizing people on small issues such as the irrigation rights and managing the farmer organizations and collection and distribution of fertilizer, namely based on their track record of managing small projects that they have undertaken.

The problem with their campaign is that they are still wrapped up in the virulently anti-capitalist philosophy that I do not believe holds much sway today. Today's youth want remunerative employment. The government has made numerous promises which they have not been able to keep and so their credibility is called into question.

If however the voter identifies with the local government issues, I wonder who they believe can solve the local problems.

If I may use two examples in my area. A new Pola building has been built at great cost in a park that used to be a playground for children in Hingurakgoda. Construction projects are always favored as the contracts are invariably given to a favored few who can make money from them. However this Pola building has yet to be opened.

The most obvious reason is that it is too small, and the spaces for pedestrians to walk and the hawkers to display their produce is wholely inadequate. It is obvious that no proper planning went into the project in the haste for a pal to get the contract. In my opinion the money has completely been wasted and the Pola is unlikely to be moved and no one has taken the blame or flak for this faux pas.

Another stupid rule is for all the shops in Hingurakgoda to be closed on Saturdays to give the staff of the shops a day off. Once they threatened to cut the electricity on Saturday as a few traders were flouting the rules. If they had done so all the shops that had food in deep freezers would have suffered immense loss. It is crazy said one of the traders that I know that rules like this are insisted upon when it harms the traders so much as more business would go to nearby towns instead, with some business never to return.

Far from helping workers with time off, it is killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Ironically on the first day they did this, it rained so hard on Sunday that the Pola had to be cancelled and no trade was done by the open shops on Sunday crippling the businesses. On that Saturday it was nice and sunny but all the shops were closed.

They should understand that time off for workers cannot really be mandated in this day and age except for minimum wage legislation and overtime if more than a certain number of hours was worked. The owners of the shops can then determine how they want to open their shops to maximize profitability to themselves whilst abiding by labor laws, instead of being compelled to close their establishments on a day picked on by the local council.

Those who support such rules are those who really envy the hard working, and want everyone to suffer equally. Unfortunately the election campaign seems to concentrate on the personalities involved rather than the issues at stake.

I somehow wish the electors will be able to see than this election is one that affects their lives directly immediately and readily as opposed to National Elections that take more time to show results, and cast their vote for candidates who appear to better fulfill the individual expectation of the people in that area.

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