Monday, February 29, 2016

It is simple greed that the farmers are fighting against – Shortage of Fertilizer

It is a crying shame that in 2016, with falling oil prices, the by-product of refining that accounts for 60% of the 750,000 Tons of Fertilizer Imports, namely Urea is currently unavailable here in Polonnaruwa!

I just received an SMS that the President has declared a maximum price of Rs2,500 for a 50kg bag. This is because there is a fear of traders hoarding the stuff, for prices to rise in March. Simply put, market forces don’t appear to operate, as the big boys just as they control the paddy, and therefore rice price are trying to do it for Fertilizer too!! It is simply unacceptable.

Why should prices rise when in the world market they are falling? Traders want to create an artificial shortage. If farmers are given Rs25,000 by the state  to buy whatever they want, instead of giving them fertilizer at subsidized rates, the traders believe they can raise prices and therefore benefit from farmers, flush with money, trying to get their hands on limited fertilizer for the Maha season.

The under pressure, see the headlines of the Sunday Lankadeepa, of yesterday, the largest selling paper on the Island, which screamed, farmers are agitating for the return of the subsidy. The companies importing fertilizer were given the subsidy by the Govt. for them to sell at the lower stipulated price.

Private companies lately did not want to import fertilizer, as the Govt. did not pay this subsidy on time, and there was a time when CIC had an amount due of over Rs6B, on which it was paying interest too, and so losing money, owing to Govt. delay in releasing funds.

The Sunday Times reported that various committees are considering the matter urgently, but that they had not been able to come up with a short circuit solution!

This is all much ado about nothing, with Govt. servants not being able to think outside the box. With so much fertilizer in stock, according to the report, with enough for the whole of the next growing season, WHY ARE FARMERS saying there is NONE? Just get a list of where it is stocked, what the import invoice was for them, and the Govt. simply needs to tell the trader who has the stock, where to send it in the Island, and to price it at 10% above cost, publish this list of the addresses (100 around the island) with price for farmers to buy at. Simple!!!!

If when they call, and the stock is not there, just give a hotline no for the President, to report that there was no stock to by at the published address, and he will take care of the rest! Right Mr President you can sort that little detail through your staff.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

On the Front Line – for the Environment

The local priest, from the Temple adjoining my property, came to see me last night at dusk, while I was working at my desk, with the Candle being brought out, as the Chimney of the Lamp had broken in my home that has no Electricity!

He came to ask to cut the Kumbuk Tree in front of me in the Kumbuk Grove that had died in the primes of its life, for no apparent reason. He wanted the wood for the Temple, for his roof or some such, which for a start I found fishy, as he was accompanied by one whose history was questionable, and I was sure that there was some deal that used the guise of the Temple as cover.

I had made it known in the village, that I would not take kindly to the tree being cut, even though dead, as I was concerned that it was to be the first step in grabbing all the Kumbuk trees in the grove the only ones left uncut in the village!

Actually the land belongs to some state department, as a reservation, and I have no rights over the tree, but if truth be told, it is still easy to obtain the necessary form and signature to do the dirty deed as the locals still are of the view that if the rulers had the right to desecrate Polonnaruwa in the past 50 years to well-nigh desert status, then they should too.

This is a frontline lesson in the importance of our leaders to behave beyond reproach, so that others follow by example.
I have been here in Polonnaruwa for a little over 10 years and during this period have seen a huge amount of deforestation during that period, and most of it as a result of the intervention of the political leaders of the area.

In that sense I feel I am on the frontline, with no army to back me, facing a hidden enemy from all sides, waiting to seize every opportunity to make a buck by the easiest means possible, that is doing something illegal!

The law to them is merely an impediment to their economic upliftment, and can be taken care of for a payment. Until this sense of entitlement is removed from their minds, and sense of ownership of the environment created, (can now only be done with the children growing up today) we are likely to bequeath a desert unlivable, where in one generation we will succeed in destroying this pristine paradise, by our inaction, which no amount of wars and battles of the past succeeded.

Lets start by enshrining the right to clean water, air and food in the new constitution, so we may halt the ongoing destruction of the Environment. 

The Kumbuk Grove with the dead tree being the tree from the left

Does Sri Lanka really need a Two party system?

I recently had the opportunity to read two biographies written by my grandfather, HAJ Hulugalle, on DR Wijewardene and DS Senanayake, both of whom he knew and worked with closely during the period of obtaining independence from the British. It was quite apparent from that, that had it not been for the British two party system, bequeathing a parliamentary system requiring an opposition, and governing party, Sri Lanka was not naturally a Country to which a two party-system was appropriate!

In short the system was forced on us, through the Donoughmore Constitution, of committees that made the Executive decisions, recognized one nation, and not minorities or majority communities. If one studies the 1931 Donoughmore Constitution that gave Sri Lanka universal adult franchise before most other British Colonies, in retrospect, it could have been designed in such a way, and served the purpose of self-government, that would have prevented much of the Ethnic distinctions, and subsequent loss to Sri Lanka of its best and brightest, of ALL Communities, namely, British, Burgher, Malay, Tamil and Sinhala.

Uncannily, I believe if elements had been changed, and if that original Constitution lasted, we would today, be the Island of Paradise that everyone would be fighting to get into, with a GNP per head of US$100,000.

Such is the course of history. Now we come to the present in 2016. We have a National Government like nothing the world has ever seen. Its first task is to draft a New Constitution for the times, and set in place a framework of how Sri Lanka should be governed for the next 50 years.

Those born after 1990, who would be under 26 today, would in 2065 be under 75 years of age, who would be the beneficiaries of this Constitution, or those who suffer from its ill effects if it goes drastically wrong, confining the Country into the armpit of history. It important they are included in the process.

When one talks to this generation, it is apparent that the two party system is an alien concept to them, as 70 years of experience has taught us that each election is won on promises, and lost on disappointment that the promises don’t come to fruition, and something worse has resulted.

 It is therefore quite clear that the two party system is NOT the form of Government for Sri Lanka, and in its place the new Constitution MUST allow for people’s representatives representing their own locality, call it Electorate, and you would vote for AN individual to represent you devoid of any party affiliation. It is the person who you can trust to represent you. NOT vote for you, as new technology will ensure that the voting on ALL bills will be done directly by the people exercising their non-transferable vote on fingerprint scanned smartphones wherever in the world they may live as long as they are registered in the system as citizens.

Your MP's task is to act as an overseer to protect your interests, and act as a Couner weight to the Executive who would be running the Country. No minister would be an elected MP, they are appointed for their skills, endorsed as suitable by the MPs. After even an appointment in the US for an Ambassador to Sri Lanka is ratified by the Senate, and until he is he cannot even be sent over. That was why the present Ambassador came so many months after the previous incumbent left. 

It is therefore clear that without a two party system to vote on bills to become Acts of Parliament, they can all be law on a plebiscite of the people, with instant and fool proof results, enfranchising the 3 million Sri Lankans overseas, creating an incredible bond with the mother Country, that will ensure that they will retain their ties, and possibly remit their earnings and invest their savings for the benefit of the Country which will NOT have to rely on foreign investment from NON Sri Lankans!

Now wouldn’t that be quite a change? I ask the reader to think about this proposal objectively, as there is a Golden Chance, a once in a lifetime opportunity from heaven so to speak, in this era of National Government, to go down this path of Government. I know the only people who will be against this are those who currently are in Parliament except of course the Prime Minister, who is the architect of the National Government and will no doubt see the value of this proposal put forward, as his interests are for the economic upliftment of Sri Lanka over his personal hold onto power.

What have we to lose, when the current system has failed Sri Lanka miserably?

In history, especially at the point Sri Lanka gained independence there were missed opportunities and chances, that were not the fault of the British, but more selfishness of the leaders who put self before, Nation, and we have paid dearly since then.

DR Wijewardene’s pre-occupation was the fight for self-government and he felt with the gentleman’s club of educated Sri Lankans at its helm, would be able to iron out differences amicably for the sake of the Country.

The coffers were full when the British gave us this right of self determination, and we just wasted it, to gain or keep power in elections, spiriting away this pot of gold, whilst at the same time creating communal disharmony to hold onto power as fear of others were the focal point of incitement to take your side!

I suspect if there was NO two party system, but a benevolent one party democracy at that stage, things would have changed. People would have been focused on real development and not divisive politics to stay or regain power, and use and disenfranchise minorities to serve their selfish goals.

We have gone full circle taking 70 years with it, and sent out of Sri Lanka people who collectively earn about 5 times what the present Sri Lankans earn in total, proving that their choice was the best for themselves, and the losers are the people who remain, third class, incompetent, self serving, now so insecure as to protect their incompetence from the threats of the latest avatur, ETCA!! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why are we even having a public spat on this? Tamil / Sinhala Marriage

Since the beginning of time, despite Community pressure, whenever love intervened, there was marriage, with or without family blessings. It is a personal thing, and left to two people who make the decision, lets hope weighing all the pros and cons as THEY see fit.

There is NO hard evidence that they were more or less successful than marriage within one’s community, and so we will leave it to the relationship proper, to see if it either works out or not. Actually this is really not very different for inter religious marriages either, though some religions make it very difficult and make couples outcasts from the community if this happens.

Tolerance MUST be the name of the game, and worldwide we see this more amongst more educated people as opposed to less, and that maybe more due to inbuilt prejudices that education surmounts as being absurd.

The moral of that is when one is more educated one is less intolerant of people of other races and religions, and one knows how one can compromise and balance life in an inter-racial or inter-religious marriage.

So chief Minister Wigneswaran’s outburst of disapproval despite his own offspring resorting to interracial marriage, was probably based more on a marriage of unequals or so he thought the Governor’s patronizing way of ending racial divide.

We must not forget that Mr 50:50 himself, GG Ponnambalam’s first wife was French, as he had lived in Europe for sometime, and thought it fit to marry there! It is not new, today’s youth are even less inclined to follow tradition as the world of the internet is devoid of color and religion, for most of the time, and the Chief Minister’s admonishment does not amount to a hill of beans to the audience of Scouts who had come for the Jamboree, that he was addressing in the presence of the President.

In my view it is not up to two old cronies to tell the youth what they should do. They will make the best choices in time, and much of the racial disharmony we face today, is due in part to the old jokers of a bygone age, still trying to influence thinking and brainwashing their own following, but who have NO traction at all with the youth who just look at them as ripe for Madam Tussauds, in their fancy dress outfits, which none of the youth will contemplate wearing.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Public Servants – total numbers to be halved!

The Daily News today published an article headed “Public Servants minimum Basic Salary to be doubled!” but see link, nowhere in the article was this alluded to. So is it lies to draw attention to the article that has nothing really to say, or something by a mischievous reporter to put the Editor in trouble, or to put the Minister on the spot or both.

Independent Journalism is NOT such headlines. If it was not in the body of the article I must at least assume it was a downright lie.

It is time the Daily News gets its act together and FIRST “REPORT RESPONSIBLY” otherwise we don’t have any hope.

It was interesting that on Monday, the Chief Priest of the Gangarama Temple told the PM that the Lake House must revert to be an independent organization OUT of Government Control, no matter what Government. This to the PM, from whose family the Srimavo Government nationalized the Newspapers, as she felt they were reporting against her Govt.

Without Independent reporting for so long, our Journalists have failed in their responsibility for OBJECTIVE reporting and are colloquially known to write for the “arackcku botale”.

I purposely put the headline to the article, to show how misleading it is. However I stand by the line, in that it is the ONLY way for Sri Lanka to get back an efficient Public Service which is too overloaded by free loaders to be able to do the job effectively.

There are so many anomalous situations, in the Country. Firstly we have 250,000 job vacancies with no one to do them. Jobs are going overseas, with factories closing because our wage rates are too high, for those industries to be profitable, and added to that they are unable to attract labor. Then Companies are requesting the Govt. for permission to hire foreign labor to work, as otherwise they will not be able to complete their projects on time! Is it that our workers are less productive too? Then we have 600,000 three wheeler drivers, wasting their time in street corners, taking a few hires a day. Uber can throw 80% out of business, with the remainder, earning Rs100,000 a month, which in time will do away with polluting three wheelers and replace with electric taxis, that will both be safer, pollution free, and less numerous causing less traffic! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Time to have the most important Constitutional Councils – New Constitution

The only thing the young people want except for a job that gives them a living wage is, being able to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and eat wholesome food free from poison!

Then if only for their sakes, the stakeholders of the Constitution, we MUST set up Constitutional Councils that protect each of these rights. As they are so important for the existence of Sri Lanka, I personally would have 3 different Councils covering each of the three aspects.

Until there are laws, and until we appreciate how important these three basic requirements for healthy living, nothing else matters. There is really no point saying free health care is a fundamental right if we are unable to assure the former three, as the Country will not be able to protect its citizens from illness if the former are absent, leaving a huge cost to society, that cannot be borne in an era of a growing geriatric population, as compared with today.

In this context minimum acceptable standards for poison residue will have to be set, and their source investigated in order to minimize pollution. Fines and punishments for ensuring these are protected will have to be set, and people have to be taught to protect environment from birth to cultivate good habits, in a society that is slowly turning itself into a garbage dump everywhere you look, and the people don’t seem to have a care in the world.

When adults just don’t see that they are litter bugs, it is only children who can be taught good habits, and to that extent they have to be trained from now, so that we will only see results in 20 years. Wow a 20 year plan to change habits! What else?

It will gradually dawn on the people in a few years that the only answer will be to create a purely organic agriculture nation, as the ONLY means to ensure that our food is edible within the confines of the Constitutional definition to be!

I believe this intention should be in the first paragraph of the Constitution, so that there is no illusion of what it is we are attempting to do, and perhaps be the first Country on earth to enshrine this in the Constitution, and thereby force everyone to take this task seriously, rather than the lip service we are very good at showing!

People put country before self, and you will be surprised at the ROI of life!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New Constitution – provision for future inevitables, not past histrionics!

As referred to in my previous blog entry, the only matters necessary for satisfaction of life from which every other form of happiness emanates is being able to have access to clean water, to breather clean air, and eat food devoid of pollutants. These are the core TRINITY that youth know is essential, and realize that the generation ahead of them have in their haste for personal greed, and division, forgotten, and hence have done everything possible to POLLUTE!

The debate should be how this fundamental human right is enshrined in the Constitution to hover above all else. Freedom of thought, expression, and beliefs all amount to a hill of beans if this is not guaranteed, as we are on a slippery slope to self destruction, unsure if at the current rate of destruction, we will survive at all.

In similar fashion, we must try and predict future problems of National Importance that could divide the nation, and make appropriate guidelines to deal with them within the Constitution, rather than leave it to political grandstanding as in the past to hold the country to ransom resulting in some of the past internal conflicts.

A case in point is the huge unfunded pension liability of the Public Service, which in 5 years will be a severe strain on State coffers, that will inevitably create a situation of mayhem, internal conflict and social schism if NOT resolved now, leaving no ambiguity to clarify.

In true Sri Lankan fashion, this problem is left until it needs immediate resolution by which time war would have been declared. What are the facts? The Govt. cannot meet this pension liability in the foreseeable future in its economic plan.

In short Sri Lanka cannot afford to pay pensions to its retiring state employees. The only course of action is to increase the retirement age to 75, and hope due to the worsening quality of life, due to breathing polluted air, drinking poisoned water, and eating food full of pesticides, that people will die before retirement and save the state this liability. I know this is a cynical approach, but that is the true state of affairs, that the mischievous politicians will use, as a political tool to fool the public, saying they will pay the pensions that the reality has shown is not possible.

How would people be fooled. The people will believe the politicians and vote for those who promise NOT to increase the retirement age, and promise to pay the pensions. Those who know better will lose, and so when money is printed to do so, the Economy will tank, and take a Country down a precipice, because we have voted in a party that has promised the impossible. Sounds like we have heard this one before! De ja vu once again.

 After all there is still a huge population who believe it is the Govt.’s responsibility to provide Govt. jobs, even by giving appointments to people without even a place of work, merely to satisfy the voter out of a promise that will and actually has proved to be treasonable, due to the inability to sustain this with income, borrowing money to pay the Public Sector wages, let alone pensions.

Unless there is a Constitutional safeguard to prevent this, what is the point of a Constitution? The Constitution is a means of governing a nation. If its elected representatives, borrow and get the Country into debt just to pay the wages of a bloated bureaucracy, is that governing? I don’t think so.

I can assure the reader that this kind of Constitutional safeguard to quantify the unfunded liability and provide funds to pay this pension now, is NOT EVEN in their dreams as being necessary for inclusion, which would only mean a field day for scaremongers to take power, over the truth tellers in future!

That is why it could be argued that dummies have so far drafted the Constitution, and experts in each of their fields have been excluded from the framework of drafting. The experts don’t know how to inform the drafters of the need for this eventuality within the Constitution, as they have tunnel vision in knowing only their subject matter, but don’t know how this should be included by way of building a provision gradually to cover this eventuality, with a combination of a rising retirement age, (a politically impossible policy, best left for the Constitution) and pension provision.

I have only referred to ONE small matter, and there are many life and death scenarios like this that MUST form part of the discussion, and a compromise solution enacted. We are so fixated with the ethnic issue which in reality is a non issue, as we are all ethnically the same despite our desperate need to differentiate it out of some man made spoke called religion and race and language.

To put to bed once and for all, this ethnic conundrum, introduce gene tests for all politicians immediately so that we can prove that all of them have a different ethnic makeup to that which they so vociferously espouse. It will also shut the Diaspora up for good, when this is outed! Wait till we realize we are only part of the Human Race, all other definitions are so last century to suppress, and strangle.

Residence rights will only be made exclusive, and expensive once in Paradise!   

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Rationale for "New Framework" in drafting a Constitution for Sri Lanka


The Constitutions and their subsequent amendments since Independence have progressively regressed into ones purely to suit the Government in power at the cost of democracy and will of the people. Even the requirement of a 2/3 majority for amendments were abused by the buying of votes for positions and money, questioning the suitability of those elected to Parliament and also the fitness of the elected representatives and their Governments to govern, where the will of the people was subservient to the will of the 2/3 members in Parliament voting for the amendments. Subsequent ruling cabals ensured that both Constitutional amendments and new Constitutions were designed for their longevity, rather the basic purpose for which the Constitution is written or interpreted by Law.

Firstly it is with regret that a majority of MPs in the current parliament were themselves responsible for some of the amendments passed flouting all democratic traditions, such as the now much maligned 18th Amendment. It is the case of asking the Fox how to protect the hen house from Foxes!

It is therefore important that the people directly, present their views on what MUST be enshrined in the Constitution so that there is at least a chance that the final draft before the House, will reflect society’s requirements, and not merely a smoke and mirrors attempt at fooling the masses yet again.

Post-Independence History

Sri Lanka’s recent history has been dogged by conflict in both the North and South, that has resulted in over 250,000 deaths directly attributed to them, ostensibly for different reasons but essentially the same, when one reduces it to the basics, which is this: “The needs and aspirations of a significant minority (disaffected students are also a minority) have been ignored, leaving open their grievances ripe for exploitation, by an opportunistic few”

It is also now commonly accepted that most legislation since independence took the Country backwards instead of forwards, in an attempt to correct perceived flaws in previous Constitutions and Constitutional Amendments, which have actually resulted in barriers to economic development, resulting in the state of the nation today. It is ironic that the only true contribution to the growth in the recent past, of the US$80B inward remittances in the last 15 years has had no assistance from any amendment in the Constitution, and has been generated (though at a high social cost) independently of Government!

In short Government has been the reason for slow growth, and the ruination of the Economy. Putting it simply, without elected government and ONLY the enforcement of the rule of laws already in place would have been sufficient to have taken Sri Lanka to the level of high GDP by this stage.

The change in the language policy, for purely political gain, immediately stopped the fluency of the Citizenry in English, which is seen as a severe impediment to our Global contribution today. Even our citizens in foreign lands would have had a chance of higher earnings with such fluency.

The increasing employment in the Public Service, not out of need, but out of pure Political Expediency has saddled the State to an unimaginable degree, that has both impacted the efficiency of the Public Service, but more importantly deprived the Private Sector of the needed labor to grow. A country with 250,000 vacancies in the private sector, with NO takers is evidence of this treachery. Ironically, politicians have fooled the people into believing that the provision of Govt. jobs is a good thing and take credit for increasing employment in this sphere! With a significant minority having such an opinion, it is still used for political gain, making it very difficult to change public perceptions.

The option of increasing the wages currently offered to fill vacancies will result in the whole payroll structure having to be revised upwards, and so the alternative is to close the businesses and move to Countries where there is labor at lower rates.

The two examples above are shown merely to illustrate a point, that unless old attitudes are replaced in their entirety, a new Constitution will merely go the way of the old, adding to the woes instead of being visionary and relevant to the times.

Stakeholders whose opinions are essential

There are arguments that the Constitution MUST provide guarantees for certain minority groups, to protect them from abuse by the majority. I completely disagree with the logic there. Actually only the citizen’s rights should be enshrined, and all are entitled to the same rights, be they young, old, women, racial groups, castes, religion, sexual orientation and disabled to name a few.

So for example, this means that reasonable attempts within the means of rationality, must enable disabled people to enjoy the benefits that normal people do. It is not the Constitution that must determine that a certain size of location provide disabled access, or Companies with certain employee numbers that is left to Legislation which can from time to time, be amended according to need and economic strength of the society. This logic should hold true for language rights too without having it enshrined in the Constitution.

So for example when at present we show Buses with destination in three languages, legislation may deem it more practical that it be ONLY in English, so that if the letters are sufficiently large, they can be seem from a far, assisting those commuters in identifying location, more than at present. This compromise may be more acceptable to all instead of ONLY showing it in Sinhala. The current system of having it in all three DOES NOT SERVE THE PURPOSE of having a destination board! It cannot be read from afar making it truly worthless! (Legislation made by those who don't travel in buses)

A significant stakeholder for whom the Constitution is relevant, as it is being drafted with their interests at heart (or it should) Youth born after 1990, who are now coming up to 26 and who would be 76 or less in 50 years when it is mature. Currently their needs are not included, as there is NO mechanism of identifying them and including them, as this age group has few who are able to communicate this effectively, partly due to relative immaturity of our education system in developing these skills pertaining to civic rights and obligations.

The significance of this need is LOST on those who are drafting the Constitution, as they are not as tech savvy as this new generation, and are unable to understand what it is that the future generation wants. IN them there is NO racial, caste, language, political divisiveness.

What does that mean? There is NO NEED in the Constitution to look at the current flaws in the system and correct them, as it is a completely new concept, even devoid of political parties. The two party politics does not mean a hill of beans for the youth of today, and in fact it has been the bane of our legacy, which I have shown above to have caused such misery in Sri Lanka. What is relevant in the UK is not necessarily relevant here.

Our youth want a trusted person to send to parliament, not a person from a particular political party. It is something only the PM understands at present, and one of the main planks of the National Government Concept, that NO OTHER Country on earth has adopted. Hurrah for Sri Lanka to be the first. It is time that the Constitution reflects that and permits people to seek office on their own merits, to represent their Constituency as being the person most likely to assist in ensuring his electorate is key in his personal priority in parliament.

New Technology

The new technology embraced by youth MUST be taken account of in all matters of Constitution making, as it is going to have significant influence on the way we live, vote, make decisions, and behave towards our fellow citizens.

After all what is the Constitution for? It is simply a set of rules by which the Country is governed. In exceptional conditions in order to live amicably with our fellow nations, the Country is subservient to International Treaties it signs such as the UN Charter, which permit interference in our affairs, if it is shown that we have broken conditions of that, and we are sometimes bound by external courts, such as the ICC, to which Sri Lanka is currently not a signatory, but should be soon.

We must go back to basics here and set up the rules as it relates to the next 50 years, where all voting will be electronic from our finger print or more sophisticated identification mode, smart phones where we can vote on any legislation from any part of the world, if we are citizens of Sri Lanka, a privilege NOT currently allowed to the 2.5M Sri Lankan citizens living overseas.

These are sea changes in procedures, that are not even thought about by island mentality legal fossils currently in charge of drafting. We can therefore (all citizens) vote on each bill, not the MP, and ensure that the legislation is far more democratic than at present where only partisan self-interest is enacted!


It is quite clear from the aforementioned preamble, that we should NOT merely prepare a Constitution to correct the mistakes of the past, and tick off one by one once we have done so, in the belief that all past mistakes have been corrected, so the new Constitution will be better than all that have gone before.

It is time for a complete re-write and for this task, get the best and brightest of the Nation under age 25 to write it, and it can be amended by those with knowledge to cover the shortfall that ensures the flaws of this draft are corrected.

In this way, the New Constitution, will be a document in keeping with the times, presented by those who will have to live under it for their lifetime, fully corrected to take account of past fundamental errors, and be a visionary document enshrining the ONLY 3 main ingredients for life, clean water, clean air and clean food. This is the ONLY route for the survival of this Island into the next century.

Friday, February 19, 2016

One Businessman's honest opinion on the state of our Nation from my conversation with him today.

Tasma Nimal as he is known locally, is an owner of a diversified group of companies and recently received an Entrepreneurship Award in the Extra-large sizes business category. He is a self made man who has rapidly grown his business and he told me he even owns the Garment Factory in Medirigiriya with 600 sewing machines, close to my home (10Kms) there.

I, in my capacity as the Director Finance of the ‘Women’s Empowerment Program’ Liya Diriya, currently with 43 societies at village level in the Biyagama, area, went to meet our local businesses to request funds for this program with current fundraising for the Lottery program, and in that context met with Deshamanya KA Nimal Subasinghe.

He is a provider of manpower services, bemoaned the desperate need in our community to empower women to manage their family finances better, as a hugely more important responsibility of Liya Diriya, as that is the key to women’s empowerment over some of the self employment workshops that we sponsor.

He was adamant that in Sri Lanka today, everyone who can work, and wants a job can get employment. Just in his business right now he has over 2,000 vacancies which are not filled due to lack of people. This has nothing to do with skills, but people’s perception of the job, and their preference to ‘wait it out’ until something more rewarding “falls in their lap”!

He has just received requests for thousands of mason's and helpers for construction projects from Contractors, and the interest shown to ads placed only amount to a handful! The Govt. may have NO choice but to import labor if we are to complete these projects on time. There are simply NO takers for the jobs out there.

This is the state of the state today, and I have blogged about this point ad nauseam, and the fact that there will be no takers for the PM 1 million jobs program, (the PM refuses to entertain my opinion, as he counters that the jobs he will find will pay well over Rs50K per month!) as there are NO takers for the 250,000 jobs currently on offer in Sri Lanka that are gong a begging! They can easily be filled from foreign workers, but is not a politically acceptable solution. In short we are country with jobs that people don’t want to do, as the wages offered, and they will not allow others who want to work take them either, if they come from overseas.

In his opinion these are living wages, (Rs30,000 per month) and there are huge demands on skills that people have not learned, but should have as vocational training for those who left at or after O levels. Electrician, Carpenter, Mason and Plumber are jobs most in demand, with no one with suitable knowledge to fill this skills gap, and schools should have offered this in the local area schools to all those who drop out, rather than offer useless 3 month computer courses to kids, as there are no jobs for those with such minimal qualification in that field. While on the one hand we fool people into believing these courses are useful, and they turn out to be anything but. The beauty of the vocations above are that they can be done locally from home as they are skills shortages in one’s backyard, not having to go in search of work.

We then got talking on this topic where we offer women Counseling services to help them manage their lives better. He believes that this is the most important benefit to the family unit, as most women don’t even know what their husband’s income is and in his opinion, the wife is actually better able to manage the home finances, especially if the husbands income goes directly to the wife, there will better management and even a surplus every month that can be socked away.

He has many in his employment whose lives he had helped turn round, purely by better management of the family finances, and quoted half dozen real life examples of how this was done. I asked him to come and speak to our women, as coming from a local man, who has made it and mentored some of his own workforce, no one can challenge that legitimacy!

Many in his example, were men who had an alcohol and smoking habit that left next to nothing for the family, and handing the income to the wife, allowed the wife to give the husband pocket money, for his habits forcing him to crimp his wasteful and extravagant style, while she could manage the household expenses.

People don’t realize how much of a monthly income is spent on such extravagances, and so believe they are either underpaid or need a minimum income to live. He quoted examples of men earning Rs40K a month, being unable to make ends, and once the wife better manages the finances have over a quarter available to save each month.

Another example he uses, is that due to this dependence on alcohol and cigarettes, many men don’t reduce their habit when prices rise such as in the recent past, where the duties were upped substantially. The men don’t reduce consumption, and the family suffer starvation and malnutrition as a result. The implication being that the more taxes the Govt. collects is simply paid by families going with less, taking from the already poor as a hugely regressive tax.

He ventured to suggest that the reduced duties on lower alcohol beers that was recently abandoned would have been better, as many would switch to cheaper, lower alcohol liquor through time, and will save both on expenditure and inebriation. Alcohol satiation will be at lower level of toxicity, and release of funds to family maintenance would result a better quality of life. In short the state also contributes to the chronic poverty within families.

Due to poor financial management families are poor, and have the wrong opinion of the value of money and livable wages on offer. If finances are properly managed, families can live well on salaries currently on offer, then this resistance to work because of the perception of low wages, will disappear.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A visit to Karuwelagaswewa and Tabbowa – after a heavy shower!

I went to Karuwalagaswewa to meet an old friend, who I had not met in a while, and who had moved there nearly 5 years ago, and I finally managed to find the time to visit with him on 16th February 2016.

He is a unique person who started life as an artist with the Times of Ceylon in 1980, and who both had a strong personality, being confident at a young age, but one who could not be molded into any other person’s whims and fancies, when he said he was the only person who disagreed with my uncle on principle when he was a cartoonist for Multipacks in that era, writing for a magazine against the JRJ Government.

Jagath, was the pioneer in digital drawing of coloring books and children’s books and has worked in many media companies and knows many media personalities, and is of the caliber of a person who could run ANCL!

He is currently publishing books for order for a publisher, and is also training his daughter who is doing an external degree in Media and Multimedia, who is also an author of a series of books for another publisher.

To find such gems in such far out corners of the Country leads me to believe that such people are dotted around the Country, who don’t care a damn about the system, who are independent souls, and who are quite frustrated at the corrupt system that they see around them, that they retreat to the safety of an isolated spot, where their creativity can be harnessed for their remote location vocation that keeps the home fires burning.

To illustrate one example, his daughter has a unique singing talent but was failed in her attempt to enter the University of Visual and Performing Arts because her voice was not considered good enough by a local singer, who was in the judging panel. At a different event, a well known Indian classical singer had said that her voice was unique, and a hidden talent who should have been snapped up by the university.

Now she is paying and doing an External Degree, and are following the same course work that the Internal (free) Undergraduates follow. Her Professors have said that the whole external student batch is streets ahead in quality and commitment than the University entrants who entered the university upon their Z scores, as these professors teach both sets of students at different time slots at the same University.

The moral of the story is that when you pay for something, you are more likely to put in the effort, and therefore committed to perform for economic benefit.
This was quoted as an example of why he believes we SHOULD NOT give free education to students in Sri Lanka. We should possibly teach them at the state’s expense using good quality well paid teachers till about grade 7, but after that it is all fee paying with scholarships for those who excel irrespective of economic need after that so that the best get ahead irrespective of economic ability to pay.

I must say I too subscribe to this point of view.

This is further proof, that those who enter University on the strength of Z scores and poor evaluation, and are allowed 10 years to get their degree, sometimes waste the state resources for 10 years depriving others of a chance to be educated. (the state allows students 10 years to get your degree, and the student politics thrives due to the few who take advantage of this totally unacceptable subsidy to milk the system and turn the students into wasteful agitators.

So what should be done, as I don’t believe anyone will challenge me on this sad fact of Sri Lankan life, where we are only wasting money on so many things due to the public taking privileges as entitlements.

Another matter that was pointed out, was the abuse of the health care system, where when drugs are prescribed free of charge, a course of 7 days of drugs, turns into one where the patient only takes it for two days, if his cured he stops then, and even if he is NOT he still just takes it for two and then seeks native treatment saying this western mumbo jumbo does not work!

The state spends money on this that the public waste! So even in Health Care, if we charge we will not waste the resources and only go to hospital if needed!

It was a meeting of the minds where I was at his place as early as 9am and was there till after 6.30pm as there was so much to discuss, and make plans for action. I also advised him to go to the District Secretariat on the 17th or 18th to present his views on the new Constitution and give reasons why so that the committees may take some of these views of people in the provinces into account.

It was a long day for me leaving home at 5am and returning at Midnight, but it was certainly worth every moment. As of to welcome me in advance a totally unexpected rain of over 90 minutes had completely washed off all the dust on the ground the previous night, which brought a good omen.

I bought some fresh prawns at the Puttalam Fish market at dawn, for us to enjoy at lunch with a good home cooked meal, and fresh local oranges to quench our thirst. Thanks Jagath for taking the time to spend a productive day.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

CEB Engineers – hope you are not the ones promoting the death of Sri Lanka

The murderers of Sri Lankans are everywhere, especially in Government, and the public service and also quasi governmental institutions such as the CEB, CPC, CEA, CA and hundreds of other bodies.

Put simply the decisions made by these people affect the lives of normal average Sri Lankans. So to illustrate just one example, those who imported high cadmium fertilizer have contributed to the massive deaths due to Kidney Disease, and those who profit from the building of Norochcholai have contributed to deaths from poor air quality in that area too.

It is NO use passing the buck. We are eating unhealthy food, (poor control of the quality of what we eat, as our State does not inform the people of how poisonous, MSG is as it is now used as a weed killer additive) We are drinking contaminated water, (poor information of what water is safe to drink and not) and we are now breathing foul air (the State is still wholly incapable of regulating the pollutants emitted from vehicles!) THEY ARE ALL KILLERS passed by the Govt. by the likes of elected MPs and the whole layer of Govt. of Public Servants and decision makers in places like the CEB.

Please correct me if I am mistaken, but the recommendations to the Govt. to go ahead with the Sampur Coal Power Project come up from technically competent people who are using their LICENCE TO KILL. If they are doing it for profit, a pay check, then they are traitors to the core.

Until we have a Constitution strong enough that people take responsibility for their actions, public servants and employees of bodies under that sector, will make decisions that are beneficial to them first, and MAY BE harmful to the Country.

It is therefore with regret that I can only appeal to the Common Sense of people who have had an education in every field except in commons sense, to see the BIG PICTURE. The limitation of their current knowledge, does not know that even electricity generation is going in for a rapid change with the advent of high storage batteries that will make the Govt. boast that the whole Country is now within the Grid, a wholly superfluous statement.

Once these high storage batteries are in use, in about 5 years, I expect at least 250,000 of the high usage households to leave the grid altogether as they will be able to generate their own renewable energy, and store it to use in their homes, and to charge their vehicles overnight. The level of knowledge of our highly paid Electrical Engineers who can’t even read, has not penetrated that far!

ACID RAIN that is about to Destroy Sri Lanka, and our decision makers are happily getting ready to send us all to a quick grave! Unless you wake up.

As a nation, we are suckers to those who rule over us. We elect them and then allow them to kill us and live off our dead bodies. The strange thing is we don’t even realize that is what is happening.

In 2016, there is enough evidence in the world about what has happened when certain huge Investment Projects, purportedly for the Nation’s good have been carried out, and we now know to tell the true tale of ideas gone bad. We in Sri Lanka don’t ever seem to learn from others mistakes, and we want it to happen to us, and sometimes even then we don’t learn. I guess our head is full of shit!

China and India has learned the hard way,  that the cost of development, by building Coal Fired Power plants, have destroyed their environment. That is why China wants Port City Colombo. Just so that the Chinese can come here to breathe clean air. They are always in it for their selfish reasons, and we have yet to learn that FACT. So why are we ruining that same environment, by putting up yet another Coal Fired Power Station in Sampur? We know the ash deposits from Kalpitiya has destroyed the environment there, and also agriculture, why do we want a repeat of that destruction? Because we are suckers for punishment!

CEB is frankly mad to even recommend 6 coal powered plants. I believe even one more is one too many, and am disappointed that the PM has been so badly advised by his fan club, as he is on a collision course with nature.

If we want to self destruct, then so be it, but let all the people realize that is what is happening, rather than be fooled into a false sense of security that they are OK.

This entry is just the first in a series to gradually educate the reader, and hopefully he would then further inform his circle of readers and friends and so on which will hopefully put a stop to the Sampur Power Station from ever seeing the light of day.

I also hope to show here, that there are alternatives that are not harmful, and available instead.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A possible solution to the impending Paddy Purchasing and Price Fixing Conundrum

10th February 2016


It was a pleasure meeting you at dinner last night, and as promised, I am summarizing how I see the impending paddy crisis of the next two months until the harvest is over by Sinhala and Tamil New Year, along with a possible solution. It must be remembered that this issue is a recurring one and has been for as long as we have been self sufficient in paddy production, and so it is not a permanent solution, but one to achieve TWO main objectives without delay.

The problem was further aggravated by the purchase of 250,000 tonnes of rice from overseas at the closing stages of the Mahinda Rajapakse administration, with the attendant corruption scandal and Sathosa, and tonnes of rice rotting, unfit for human consumption, and in some instances for even animal consumption. Waste of public resources has been the order of the day under that administration, and it is time we identified the problem and provide solutions that are at the lowest cost to the producer and the consumer, both of whom are caught in a trap created by the unscrupulous businessmen, taking advantage of the lack of coordination and chaos created by Govt. policy gone completely berserk! 

1                   To ensure that the Govt. is able to absorb and store the paddy that the small farmer wishes to sell to the Govt. without agitation and the opposition using it as a weapon to incite public discontent.

2                   That the Govt. can promise the consumer the benefit of a price reduction in the basic staple of our Country, at least by a drop of Rs15/kg, without the producer farmer being hurt by a reduction in income.

Suggested Plan to solve issue 1

1                      A bumper harvest is forecast this Maha season, and the relevant Govt. institution can give the policy makers, the volume by District of what it will be. It is also best to forecast what the expected purchases of Paddy from each District will also be as offered by the small farmer, so that the treasury can allocate the necessary funds for the purchase without the delay to prevent a repeat of the agitation that took place last season.

2                      A further report is required on how this purchase will be stored in Govt. or private warehouses, without farmers having to queue for days outside warehouses that have closed their doors due to lack of space etc. It is very important that the storage space is reserved in advance and responsibility for ensuring this taken by the relevant officials.

3                      A detailed report must be prepared and updated weekly until the end of the purchase period, to keep abreast of the status, so action can be taken immediately if there are changes to the original forecasts.

Suggested Plan to solve issue 2

1                   Araliya Rice, (Dudley Sirisena) and Nipuna Rice (Siripala Gamlath) work together to control the price of Rice in Sri Lanka. In an impending situation of a bumper harvest, the word is out that prices are likely to fall, and the farmgate prices offered are ALSO set by this duo. Currently it is between Rs 20 and Rs22 per kg.
2                   The govt. guaranteed price is Rs38/kg dried and brought to their stores, say a Rs16/kg difference. That is for a maximum of 2000kg for a farmer. Any excess will anyway be sold at the prevailing market price, unless the farmer is financially and storage wise able to keep the paddy with him.

3                   On the basis that there has been a sudden drop in price of paddy, the Govt. MUST insist on price controls to bring the maximum price down by Rs 15 by showing quite clearly to the millers, that they can still make a good profit even at the lower price, as their input cost has come down significantly.
4                   The millers will play hardball, as they know the Govt. does not have the resources, or milling capacity to compete with them, by buying at higher prices at the farmgate, and milling it and selling Rice through Sathosa at the revised price to force a price reduction.

5                   Further the millers know the Govt. does not have the warehouse space to buy to force the price up, or to compete with their agents in purchasing excess production. The laws of perfect competition do not apply here, due to the fractured state of the market with the rest of the milling unable to organize themselves as a counterweight to them, and tendency of those who can hold on to their harvest till prices rise, will do so.

6                   Unless forced to sell, the two millers can refuse to sell their rice at the lower price, and thereby create a scarcity and maintain a high price, negating the plan to reduce the cost of living, by lowering the Rice price.

7                   The only solution to force this price reduction, is to come to an agreement with 20 smaller millers for them to mill the paddy of the Govt. and the Govt. to sell this rice at Sathosa at the reduced price, but ensure that the Sathosa network DO NOT RUN OUT of rice. They will then be able to inform the public that they reduced the price, and the two Oligopolists will also be forced to do so, if they are not willing to agree to the Govt. proposal suggested earlier.

The Impending Paddy Crisis – Updated as at 10th February 2016

Facts as I have been able to glean from my sources in Polonnaruwa. I returned from a week’s stay at my home in Minneriya on 7th February 2016.

1                   The Government is expected to begin purchases of Paddy effective 20th February 2016. The purchase price farmers are expecting is Rs38/kg Nadu and Rs41/kg Samba.

2                   The two biggest millers, have just emptied the Govt. stores of Paddy stocks, with Araliya purchasing Samba at Rs40/kg (purchased 8 months ago at Rs50/kg) and Nipuna purchasing Nadu at Rs33/kg (purchased 8 months ago at Rs45/kg) Note the subsidy cost eaten by the state which is the basis on which the complaint has been made to the FCID.

3                   Paddy is currently being harvested in Kantale, Kurunegala and Eastern Province, and the Kantale paddy is going at farm gate for Rs22/kg today.

4                   If allowance is made for moisture, the cost of production for rice for an average miller is Rs 34/kg(can sell the by-product rice bran for Rs30/kg)

5                   The current market price of Sudu Kekulu is Rs68/kg and no small miller will want to undercut this price due to threats of shutting off their inputs, and so they conform to this price, as they too share in part of the profit.

6                   The oligopoly of the two main millers control the price of Rice in Sri Lanka. Their combined  capacity of their mills is 2.5Million kg of paddy per day, which extrapolated amounts to a DAILY gross margin, before transport and retailer margins of Rs57M (monthly based on 25days production is Rs1.425Billion)

7                   The Govt. is reliant on these millers, to buy this excess stock from last season, to empty warehouses to accept the new harvest. Will the remaining space in Govt. warehouses, be sufficient to purchase the paddy that the farmers (restricted to 2000kg per farmer) wish to dispose of? or will it create agitation, that the PMB is not purchasing the paddy brought to its stores after drying to the requisite, maximum moisture content?