Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Rs 50 Billion Fertilizer Subsidy Scam

It is shameful for a Govt. in power with many years of rule to spend Rs 50B on just the subsidy on importation of fertilizer. Suffice to say that importation of anything in Sri Lanka is fraught with corruption therefore it is inevitable that even this simple product (basically various components of NPK that goes into the different fertilizer mixes for different crops) will be imported at costs far exceeding what they could be purchased at.

As usual we will wait for the reports asked in Parliament after these imports by Public or Private enterprises and look at what the Govt paid to importers and billions of rupees of frauds will come out but by that time a few years from now the damage would already have been done and no one will be held accountable and the minister of the time will say it was not done during his watch. The money would be in overseas banks from the over invoicing from these imports.

The real point one must ask is if our agricultural production will increase as a result of the Rs 50B subsidy? The answer is a firm NO. I am afraid I know from practice in my farming experience in Polonnaruwa and this hypothesis has been proved by extensive reports by researches at the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank that advises the Govt. on policy issues. I am certain they did not recommend this policy.

It is just a political ploy to garner votes by yet again playing football with farmers, when the problems of farmers in not at all in the cost of imported fertilizer. In the scheme of things that is the least of their costs. I am reported at length about the high cost of pesticides that exceed the cost of fertilizer.

This govt. does not have one farmer in its ranks. They DO NOT know what they need and by extending the fertilizer subsidy to all crops, is increasing the problem that has already been created.

I am also appalled that the govt. is calling in 4000 farmers from all parts of the country to the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium for the President to speak and others to explain this subsidy and how to use the fertilizer, and for them to go and spread the word to their fellow farmers. Just goes to show how much they understand the farmers. A farmer worthy of his name will not waste a day being told how to apply fertilizer. If he is a real farmer he will know how little or how much to apply of all sorts of input mixture.

This is just a complete political junket to reward the party faithful in the guise of an education program. You can only teach farming on the land and not in an office or lab or God forbid in a huge arena. So this form of tom foolery for cheap political gain will not do our country any good.

Understand what the Farmer really needs to improve his output before charging like a bull in a china shop. Understand that the most productive farmers who farm land in excess of 5 acres DO NOT get a fertilizer subsidy and their yields exceed those who do.

For a point of reference the govt. spends Rs100Billion a year on all forms of Education, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary and this is not of imported stuff, the main cost being Salaries of Teachers. Look at the state of Education and you will appreciate where our Country's priorities are.

It is shameful that we do not have leaders who really care for this country able to connect with the people and stop this mass scale fraud being perpetrated on the hapless and innocent citizen.


Anonymous said...

I agree some better system of importation of fertilizer must be carried out so that we import quality fertilizer at the lowest prices, without the user being scammed.

This can only be done if people are free to import fertilizer from where ever they can.

The problem is when we do not have adequate testing facilities to ensure that what is in fact imported is of a quality that is being marketed and not something inferior and totally useless

Anonymous said...

It is sheer lunacy to give a subsidy for 100% imported fertilizer. A subsidy for organic fertilizer which would be completely home grown would make more sense, but there are no commissions, kickbacks and over invoicing for the purposes of making money.

This is the tragedy of SL, where personal interests supersede the greater good.