Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Voting Rights – A sensible suggestion by the BBS – Why have the main political parties not signed on?

The BBS has urged the Govt. to give voting rights to SL expatriates working and living overseas. This is something I have advocated in this blog previously, as it is quite common amongst many countries including the USA so to do.

Of course it cannot be done overnight, and some planning has to take place, with the foreign missions which will be tasked with carrying this out, having to put in procedures, to ensure transparency and minimize fraud, something with a foreign service staffed by friends, family, and fraudsters will be hard-pressed to do presently.

Estimates vary, but I believe there are approximately 2Million eligible voters over 18 who are Sri Lankan citizens overseas. Their vote can make a significant impact on the result of the elections, and at present it is difficult to gauge who will benefit from their enfranchisement.

I suspect it will affect the large scale vote buying, where no end of goodies are offered just prior to elections, as that is something that cannot be done with the expatriates. The added importance of the expatriates, is that they directly contribute US$10B in remittances annually to the economy, which then with the multiplier effect is completely responsible for all the non-borrowed development that has taken place in Sri Lanka. Put simply, if the economy was allowed to have made market decisions, with NO Govt. interference, and corruption, the economy would have grown at a much higher rate, and the peace dividend accruing to the people would have spread much more equitably.

It is only when the Govt. taxes this money, gives the remitters a low exchange rate (another hidden tax to them) and then borrows at high interest rate also, and take all this money, and divide the spoils amongst a few greedy sycophants, the gains to the economy are merely shared amongst a few as is, without any doubt the case in Sri Lanka today.

If the reader has followed my train of thought carefully, it is pretty obvious that had this suggested change been policy for sometime,  the Country would definitely have been a much better place, in better condition, and both the rule of law, and the level of governance would have ensured a better foundation from which this economy could grow. There are plenty of international examples of the benefit of this massive inflow of free money into the economy, and so we must make it POLICY    

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Pre- Budget gimmicks, so the Budget is poised to read like a giveaway.

First there were the election gimmicks of fuel price reductions, and electricity tariff reductions. Then there was the gas price reduction, as mentioned in my previous blog entry. Now we have the cigarette and alcohol price increases, items normally announced in Budget speeches, but this time craftily reserved for pre-budget releases, so the Budget speech will just seem like a list of goodies for people including the much delayed pay rise for the Govt. servants who have been waiting since the last Presidential Election for this promise, that will be given partly just prior to the Next presidential Election, timed to hopefully fool enough people to think that Santa Claus has come to town.

We must understand that the budget is a zero sum game, where to keep the budget deficit at IMF agreed levels, of a percentage say 4% of GDP, when one reduces tazes of increases subsidies, then they have to be covered by increases in taxes in other areas. Of course the Govt. hopes the zero sum game will actually work as they expect. That is just to be seen. As we are unsure how the people who are hardpressed will react to the increase in alcohol duties by purchasing less, which will reduce the Govt. tax take. Then the action taken will back fire. I do not have the answer to that yet.

With impending Presidential Election the Pres is mindful of his precarious stock value, and wishes to give sizeable breaks and relief to people he considers his key constituency. Whether they buy this carrot is a wholly different thing. Let us hope that this time gimmickry for the gullible will be a ricochet rocket to the regime!

To be fair thanks to the remittances of the people and no thanks to any action on the part of the Regime, the inward remittances will top US$10B, and with the slowing down of the economy, imports will slow down, resulting in positive improvements to the balance of payments, this will enable the Govt. to keep the Rupee strong, and keep the relative costs of imports down.

Therefore the comparative advantage is with the Govt. and they have the upper hand. The fact that they are in addition using unseemly tactics to fool the people into believing they are due more than their fair share is what irks me, and if they so do, then it is up to us to show them that it is wrong and explain to the people that these are merely window dressing gimmicks that we can point out as of not being of any benefit to the people in fact.

Let this be an eye opener to the advance tactics and await more with the budget. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Presidential Rule dictates’ into every reduction in price does not seem to be a smart move anymore!

The latest instance where President demands a reduction of Rs250 from the normal 12.5kg Gas Cylinder, was met with guffaws! It is as if he wants to show the people that he is in charge of every price reduction, when in this case it was already mandated under the usual formula for negotiating increases and reductions in this product, as the world market prices fluctuate from time to time. It is important to realize that, in Sri Lanka, this does not happen each time for the price of petrol as it will just make it administratively cumbersome to enact. However with the future reduction in the price of oil on the cards due to fuel surpluses, this was an inevitable reduction that should have been announced by the Consumer Authority, and instead the President grabbed it to take credit. Tell me if the President would hijack it if they were to increase the price! Hell no it would be blamed on the Minister and the President would take credit by saying despite his imploring him NOT to raise the price he did it. What kind of stupid society do we live in?

This same game was played when the Electricity Tariff was reduced by 25%, it was a political gimmick that was expected in the middle of the campaign, when the 3rd stage of Norochcholai was switched on. The Dispute with the Electricity Board is still raging, as to who is going to plug the deficit created by the President? It certainly wont be from the President’s fund. So now there is a search to tax other items to pay for the reduction in the Electricity tariff. Yesterday saw the increase in Excise Duty on a pack of Cigarettes, very soon in the Budget coming shortly we will see a hike in the Alcohol duties and taxes to pay for this profligacy.

The recent reduction in the price of fuel was in the same light, and the extra reduction on Kerosene was merely an Election sop to the estate Tamil vote, that uses Kerosene still for a myriad of tasks, and was a bait to catch their vote!

What is so sad is that the people of Sri Lanka are being completely fooled by these antics into a wrong sense of belief of the person of the President, and as the Opposition does not field someone so crafty and make similarly outrageous “seeni bola katha” to tap into the mass ignorance that pervades some Professors of Economics to simple folk who are not given the tools to use their common sense by the devious mental misleading games of the present regime.

Start with the Premise that this is a very rich country, that has been ruined by politicians for personal gain, and therein you may find the answers you have been looking for in securing the future of this truly great country.    

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Catholics of Sri Lanka – Time for ‘soul’ searching and drawing a line!

There are a million votes at stake here, and it is time each and every Catholic understands what it is to be a Catholic!

Sri Lanka has had 10 years of Dynastic rule, and as in all dynastic examples, power corrupts absolutely, when it is given to the same people for an extended period of time. This is true with the Presidential rule in Sri Lanka, and so it is with all the Catholic Politicians of the Government, who have been the real enemies of the Catholic Church. They have been unable to separate what it is to be a Catholic from what it is to be a yes man of a Despot. They have continued to reinforce the illegitimacy of unbridled corruption, by being corrupt themselves. 

Remember there were Catholic Popes who were despots too, and it is high time the flock realize and hopefully be reminded from the pulpit, that it is easier for a poor man to reach the gates of heaven than for a rich man, who tries to hold on to wealth and power.

It is even worse when the Ruler is completely oblivious to righteousness and sinks to the gutter like a guttersnipe to protect his sycophants. The latest example being just this week.  The President of Sri Lanka was unable to reprimand one of his own, for reasons to be discussed elsewhere, and worse he brought him along in his hijacked plane to Rome to meet the Pope. (hijacked from the people of Sri Lanka who own Sri Lankan Airlines, and the citizens do not authorize unnecessary junkets with junkies in tow).

After the bashing that Chris Nonis got from Sajin de Vass whatever the merits of (as in when you lie with dogs you catch fleas), he should have been asked to lie low for a while until the dust had settled. It was most uncouth of the President to call him to join him with his band to Rome, which left the Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith No Option but to prevent this convicted criminal being presented to the Pope, (though alas there were a majority in that party who were unconvicted rogues.) 

However, in trying to appease a dodgy President, Malcolm Ranjith had to be persuaded by a close family friend Chris Nonis, from a well-known Catholic family, that it was indeed wrong, and disrespectful for this man to be introduced to the Pope.

What is most disconcerting, and this MUST BE FULLY EXPLAINED to the Catholic flock, the President incapable of seeing the justice in this step, had the audacity to call Chris Nonis who has gone beyond the call of duty to be sycophantic to his patron, and tell him, why is he trying to create a rift with him and the Catholics, by asking the Cardinal NOT to permit Sajin de Vaas to have an audience with the Pope. Durrrrrrrrrrrr! 

It is one thing in politics to introduce criminal Heads of State to the Pope, as he has to suffer that in silence and be polite, but completely another when known criminals also are presented to associate with him. It is time we pointed this flaw in our Presidency to the Catholic flock.

Now that the shit has really hit the fan, and all of Sajin de Vaas’s improprieties and amassing wealth have come to light, and the President is unequivocally siding with him, it means he has drawn a line in the sand to protect his friend at all costs, even at the expense of the people of Sri Lanka. It is not at all difficult to explain this argument logically, and it is the duty of the Church, and if they are frightened as they fear repression, then up to the elders of the Catholic Church, especially from the opposition to point this out in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS to the people without delay. If not the choices they make may go against their FAITH!

It is no use citing the fact that the President’s wife is a Catholic, and that all his three children have been baptized as Catholics, that is not one for deflecting his true colors. When one is determined to hold on to power at all costs, they do not behave in a logical and humane manner, and all is for political expediency.

What do you call a President going on an unsolicited visit at great public c expense? A sheer waste of the people’s resources, meant to fool the people into a false sense of importance of their leader. He simply GATE CRASHED THE VATICAN, and the Pope was just too humble to shoo him off like an uninvited crow.

When Religion is misused and abused for personal gain, and NO OTHER REASON, then we must call a spade a spade and protest about it. We have two previous visits by Pope’s but in neither case, did the Head of State have to venture out to invite him. In any case the Cardinal has already issued the itinerary, so it is NO longer an invitation.

If he indulges in any more political gimmicks, I am sure the Pope will just overfly the Country, and make no bones about it that MR will be held responsible, however vehemently he will try to blame the opposition yet again for his own downfall and shame!

Time to be Christian, to let go of greed and avarice, and firstly invite all citizens of Sri Lanka to feel fully part of this great Country, and tell the BBS interlopers that they are living in a hallucinatory world that does not exist in reality, and it would be best for them to get a dose of real life, come out of their cocoons and engage with real people casting out the craving for publicity, the only real reason for their growth. It is clear that wiser counsel demands a new order of people’s power, not one person’s!