Saturday, October 13, 2018

The ideal village of the future – a desirable place to live, for those who love it!

If anyone has been to China, they will know that the Government owns all the property. So they tell you how you should live. Once you have tenure, you can trade your property as it has value, but when it comes to changes in legislation there is little you can do about it.

So no one in Chinese rural areas lives in ranchettes, while most Sri Lankan villagers do! That means, in Chinese terms, the villager in Sri Lanka is a millionaire, who does not realize how fortunate they are living like they do, as their Chinese counterparts live in cramped multi story dwellings also known as high rise flats.

Unfortunately the mentality of most people who live in Sri Lanka’s villages, believe that the Government owes them a living, they must provide them with electricity, water for drinking with expensive water supply schemes, and water for agriculture, by way of extremely expensive irrigation schemes. Then they are expected to receive fertilizer subsidies, they are expected to be protected from elephants by fences and a very expensive maintenance crew who are the Civil Security Department who have to go everyday on patrol to repair the previous night’s damage by wild elephants, where the fence has been broken.

Then there is a Samurdhi Officer in each GN division, tasked with ensuring that the really poor are helped financially and thus due to corruption even the not so poor receive welfare benefits. The local authority is supposed to provide buses that are highly subsidized to take their children to the nearest schools which can be a long way as the village can be spread out and far away from the high school their kids go to. Similarly the mid wife is supposed to come visiting when the women of the household is pregnant, and when she has the child she is supposed to receive supplementary food so the child is nourished.

In short there is a highly complicated, if expensive welfare system to reach people in villages that cost the state a lot of money to maintain and provide for, none of which is really appreciated by the people in the village, but are expected as basic needs.

This is all done through political patronage as houses are built on low interest loans so that they can live in the same village as their parents, even though there is no jobs in sight for them to do. Then they are expecting the government to provide land in the forests for them to grow food, when it is not a practical option, but the politicians in trying to keep promises are desecrating he environment to appease their vote base. All this as the reader can note is creating a culture of dependency in the village, from which few emerge.

The preferred option for the village

It is clear that unless the people living in the village can be economically self sufficient they should not live there. Many people in villages simply survive out of the remittance sent from an overseas country of ONE family member of the household that keeps the rest of them alive. It is tragic as there are often 3 or 4 healthy adults eating out of this remittance, without making an effort to work, saying there are no jobs. They refuse to go where jobs are saying it is too expensive to find accommodation and it is not worth paying for food and accommodation, leaving them no better off if they go.

These are other than the millions of people from villages who work in the Western Province and live in boarding houses, further making a mockery of this village life they can live only when they go home for the holidays!

How does one make a village alive? It is those people who have been provided with government jobs, who benefit most as they barely work for more than 3 days and spend a day travelling back home and a day going to their workplace and spend their weekends in their home in the village. They may posses a paddy field that has never earned them more than what the cultivation cost them, but they will not give the land to a farmer to work, for worry that they may lose their land to that person. So it is self defeating for them even to be given the land from which they make NO margin, and prevent another who can actually make it work.

Sri Lanka is the world’s most inefficient in Paddy Cultivation, as the land is too fragmented, and the water use is excessive and not well husbanded. Unless laws are changed to allow large scale farmers the use of this land, but pay the owner a rent for its use, where the owner does not lose title, this land is VERY POORLY cultivated by this absent owner.

What do we want to happen?

We want all village land cultivated by a professional farmer. HE knows how to handle the wild animal threat, he knows how to get the most of the land in terms of yield, and he knows how best to use the limited water supply from the village tank, which if he has to share with people who are farming a field, will result in water waste. It is more economical to farm a complete field with water, than do so in a fragmented field where different people farm at different times,

It is better to give all fishing rights (auction if necessary) to one person if the tank is small, rather than many trying to earn a living from the one tank. It is better to remove all subsidies, so people are forced to make rational choices.

We want to make sure that people have a choice. If they wish to leave their village, they should be permitted to do so permanently. If they need to be compensated for leaving then, lets work a scheme where those who remain buy them out, so they get some funds to put their roots in a more economically favorable location to them.

What does this mean? It means labor mobility, that has been hitherto stifled due to land ownership and tenure rules, where people DO NOT wish to abandon land for fear of losing. So they are NOT going to take lucrative employment, or if they do, they leave their family behind, and so a village turns into a geriatric home with a few children who when they are old enough need to be sent to a relative’s place in a big city to go to a better school that has prospects.

The “hondama pasala langama pasala” concept (the nearest school is the best school) will only work if teachers can be persuaded to move to the village where their job is. They don’t as they commute from their homes, not willing to leave their husband and children. There is NO future for any school other than the primary and kindergarten, where the teachers can be trained in village clusters, so they don’t have to travel more than 5 km to their workplace.

Incentives, policy changes have to be consciously made, so that the following occur. Each village will have a hair dressing salon, where one can earn a good living cutting hair, as that is a popular pastime in Sri Lanka. The village could have two to ten shops depending on the size of the village which will employ shopkeepers who can earn a decent living, perhaps a drug store, (pharmacy) and hardware store if the size is right. Now when people don’t want to cook villages also have a hopper, roti or string hopper place. That too employs some one. Then there is a doctor who probably comes once every other day to a cluster where 5 villages are in close proximity, that provides GP services on a private patient basis, increasingly seen in villages, a nurse may be from the village.

Then you have the farmers, as mentioned, and fishermen, and perhaps a civil security person to maintain the elephant fences around the village, and then you may have a cluster of government servants who commute in their bikes to the nearest town to work in any number of govt. jobs. It could be the local water supply, samurdhi officer, grama niladari, govi niyamaka, etc.

The average village numbers vary from 500 to 1500 people and of that about 100 heads of household would be working outside of the village, perhaps in Colombo and coming weekly, monthly or quarterly to their homes!

Anyone who wants to leave the village permanently must be assisted out, not retained at all costs! Infrastructure in villages are more expensive than towns.

In summary, the ideal village that will form part of the World Heritage Site

There will be a tourism officer, mainly the oldest able bodied person who could guide people around the village and tell anecdotes of the past.

There will be a few cattle men who manage their herds over land once cultivated.

There will be a few farmers who work more than 10 acres each, as that is the minimum needed for a decent quality of life, and vegetable farmers with slightly lower acreage that produce for the nearest market.

There will be a hair salon or two, a motor bike repair shop, and a tractor driver who sells his services on a daily basis to the owner, or he may own his tractor.

There will be shop keepers, and food shops, and a CSD who maintains the electric fence, a policeman who goes out to work, and perhaps stationed far afield, providing for his family. A school teacher, either in a kindergarten in the village or in a local school.

There could be an owner of a guest house providing accommodation to local or foreign tourists in a good location in the village near the tank.

In short they will all be GAINFULLY employed, that can give life to the village, and income into the village. This is the only way to wean the village from welfare, and make it attractive to visit and preserve traditions and give their services to a lively temple setting that has religious teaching at its heart, not building castles to compete for the flock!

The village will be able to maintain itself, deal with its alcoholics and undesirables, and gently ease out those who are NOT gainfully employed to go to areas where they can find employment. Those who have found employment should be given the chance to sell their property and move out to where they work, and marry, not holding onto another property other than the marital one, because they are unable to sell it due to the lack of a proper title.

This way, there will be equilibrium, with people coming and going, and perhaps even people retiring back to villages, if housing can be easily bought and sold, something NOT possible today. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have a dynamic village with the dame fossils living out of fear and inability to move to where they wish to go. So it is the laws that have to change make it possible. Please do the needful, and revive these dying villages. 

In most countries in the world only wealthy people can live in villages with at least 40 perches of land, others live in flats. Unfortunately most of the people in Sri Lanka don't appreciate how lucky they are so in short you could argue they don't deserve it, and we should allow those who really want to live to live and move those who are complaining out of the village to somewhere else they can positively contribute to society, as clearly they are no now, if at all bleeding the society dry by their demands and rape of the environment.

A true lover of the village will preserve this environment and reverse its damage, and not burn at will, and so it should immediately be known as a privilege to live there, and attract those who want to, and remove those who don't want to.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The only one working in the village is the Barber, because the aimless boys, the so called youth spend their time having their hair styled!

While their sisters are not allowed to go out and play, lest some child molester in the village will have their way, the mother’s make sure they are protected from prying eyes, and make sure they get on the school bus and come home straight after school.

Lo and behold, six months before the daughter sits for her A levels, she runs away with some jobless young man who somehow seems to have a motor cycle, shocking the supposedly conservative household into reality, that NO AMOUNT of cloistered imprisonment can prevent the hormonal urges of the day.

Then what do I find out? The daughter only lives by example, and knows while her Dad is slaving away in Colombo as a driver, the mother, who keeps the daughter home is having an affair with someone half her age, and the daughter knows, and waits for the chance to take her revenge!

This is the state of the state, and I see this daily with my own eyes, as the whole village, a microcosm of a Country of 20,000 villages, comes trundling through my home, on their way to the village tank for a bath, daughters in tow, looking very innocent when with their mothers, carrying the washing!

It is 2018, add Smart phones to this equation, and the mothers have no clue what their little charges are getting into with all sorts of communication tools, they don’t understand, and all they are thinking of is the weekend Bodhi Pooja, which for them is an event in itself so they can gather for a local gossip.

Of course I dare not mention when the mother works in the Middle East, what happens to their children, many of whom go astray, and are left without the protection of mother’s love, so are let loose to do as they please, being long distance parented by way of material goodies, (bicycle, motorbike, three wheeler, jewelry for the daughter, hopefully money in her pass book) and without a purpose in life, easy prey for the latter day drug pushers with new and more elaborate means of getting the youth unhinged with GULIYAS!

This elaborate charade, in latter day two children households, where kids are spoiled, creates competition amongst their generation to have more than their friends, not make do with little. So mental illness is exacerbated in youth, where those who have less, feel inadequate, as it is not exam results that matter, but relationships with the most desirable guy around! 

No wonder then that the Barber shop is the best business going in the village!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The traditional village of old, never had a temple in every village. That is a myth for the ages!

In a Country dotted with Purana Raja Maha Vihares, wherever one’s head is turned, it reinforces the concept that every village has a temple, with the Tank and Dagoba. It is the tank and not the temple “This makes Sri Lanka unique.”

I, for my part am on a mission to get my Countrymen to relate to the village concept differently, in trying to preserve its identity, but in a sustainable manner, and towards that end, the rationale of having one or more temples just does not make sense, with the future in mind.

Why you may ask? Well, sustainability my friends requires that it can last into the future. We cannot do that if we don’t understand TODAY. So what is happening today? There are fewer men being ordained into the priesthood.

I have been a self-appointed observer of villages for the past 15 years, initially in search of a tank wherever I travelled. My question when I got to a place was, Is there is tank, or at least an abandoned tank from the past in this village?

This invariably starts a conversation. It either goes, yes we have a tank, that needs de silting. We used to be able to do two crops a year, but now there is only water for one, if we are lucky. Even then the weather is unpredictable, unlike in the past. Then, we knew exactly when the rains will come, and it was gradual. Today, the rain will fill the tank in a day, and there is then no rain for months. Thus, we don’t have enough water for cultivation with hope for rain.

Of course there are other variations, but this is the most common denominator! There are many long abandoned tanks, that AT LEAST require rehabilitation if only for making the village habitable, attractive, and a place where the community can center round, and leverage, as they did in the past.

As for TEMPLES, less than a quarter of villages have one. The problem with most village temples is that, it is increasingly becoming difficult to attract priests, and if one does, it is those who are not particularly devout, but who see an advantage in making use of the village people for their personal advantage. Once the game is up, and people in the village stop going to the Temple when they see through the priest’s behavior, it is either the priest who realizes the time is up, and leaves, or hangs around, as he has a place to call his own for life.

With the lack of institutional rules, and management of temples from the respective Nikaya, there is too much independence given to the clergy to establish their own rules and create obligations on the part of the village, to ensure the Temple is maintained in some way to suit the Priest.

With most people having at least a motorcycle at their disposal, travelling to an adjoining temple on better roads today, is not difficult and so we should allow the temple to survive on its own respective merit, or merely be used as a place of meditation and maintained by the laity when priests become scarce.

One very significant point easily ignored is that youth, both male and female appear to eschew temples and spend their free time on other activity, this will add to the limited hold of the temple on the community. Increasing demands by temples for final rights at funerals, (pansakulaya) are further alienating the laity, reducing attendance, despite the theoretical notions people imagine.

My point then, is for each village to decide, based on the merits of the temple, priest and the examples set, to patronize or abandon and every village temple in future will either survive or disappear depending on the spiritual service it performs. Let us NOT try to force change, let whatever happens happen. We will then see a gradual reduction in temples, and those with value survive.

This means that a temple is neither necessary, or is one whose demise should affect the survival of the village. The village is an organic place which will only survive if there is life in the village, that is employment, and means of living. Merely providing water, and electricity, does not a village make, and in the worst case only provide a place to stay, where all the people go elsewhere, either daily, weekly, or monthly returning sometimes very irregularly to call their house their home! These are villages populated by the old and infirm only.

In order to provide continuity, an economic activity that is sustainable, without being dependent must exist to provide a village with purpose. The village Tank, provides some of this, if it is large enough to sustain a fishery, and provide irrigation for land that can truly sustain some families. The fragmentation of lands, is not the answer to survival, but the re consolidation of such lands, either by permitting the purchase of paddy fields to provide an economic unit of production, or cooperative use of existing land, as the way to go.

The increasing threats of wild elephants, as well as climate uncertainty, is going to drive more people out of agriculture, by making it less productive and more risky, unless proper steps are taken to ring fence the villages instead of the proposal to ring the elephants. Climate uncertainty will force water savings.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The new village should only be for the chosen few

Sri Lanka is a land of 20,000 villages which are very poorly organized to benefit those living there. These villages need a complete overhaul such as what is suggested.

I have recently spent a lot of time travelling around the country on unnamed roads and following dirt tracks to discover where people live and what they do and formulate recommendations for the long term on how we need to do some immediate social engineering to maximize the quality of life of the people living in Sri Lanka.

I see many people in villages living a hand to mouth existence, borrowing from money lenders to survive, and it is the money lenders who end up buying up property and effectively own the foolish villagers who get into debt.

So what is the practical way out for the survival of the village? A village can only survive if it is efficiently managed, not just having people who don’t fit in and who don’t contribute to the life of the village.

In order to better manage a village, we can have people living in a house and a small plot of land around them, but who earn their income from a profession or trade, NOT farming. We need to have village lands cultivated by a few good farmers who know about agriculture and are willing to try new techniques that with climate change will inevitably be necessary. For that we need more educated professional farmers. They are better able to invest in HEC prevention.

All those who are not, will be encouraged to sell their lands to those who can and instead be given incentives to re train and find employment in other areas. A farm tractor driver is NOT a farmer. All he does is drive his or an owner’s tractor for a daily return, wages or part of the daily taking which is more common in villagers. Ploughing an acre, the driver gets Rs1K and owner Rs9K.

By this means unproductive people will move out of the village into semi urban settings in larger towns, where they can get employment and for whom some housing is provided at subsidized rates by the state. In this way there will be a much better allocation of resources, and wean people from Samurdhi welfare if they are able bodied and employable. Lower infrastructure needs too will result.

It is important to appreciate that there are many people currently living in the village ONLY because they were given state land. However being given land does not a farmer make, and that is why they are in this rut. I am suggesting moving a million people from this rut, into a chance of better employment opportunities in an urban setting where there is a lot more economic activity.

We can then have an equilibrium in a village where man and beast can live in harmony devoid of some of the human elephant conflict (HEC) we see today.

Monday, October 8, 2018

It’s time to reverse years of colonization - re forestation is the answer to get back to one third of our land as forest cover

– it’s regressive, in this day and age of climate change. where priority should be survival of the species!

The demons have finally come home to roost. Years of colonization and transfer of people from place to place with promises of riches have finally shown the great LIE that has fooled generations of our hapless countrymen.

You just have to look at the present President’s family for examples. His father moved from Gampaha District to Polonnaruwa, as he was given some land, and see where they all are. They have ESCHEWED the land and have made their fortune in every area, but farming, while the farmers have not improved their quality of life, having to deal with the likes of one of them, who rules the paddy price by default and size of his purse and mill, of course at the farmer’s expense.

Why is the farmer putting up with this shit? He is being fooled to believe his property has to be tilled, otherwise it will be taken away. So he cannot sell his land and find better means of living, he cannot earn enough on the land, and so he is a PRISONER of his own making, by holding onto the land.

Look at all the people in Sri Lanka who don’t own any land, just maybe enough space for a house. They are the most mobile people, who take the opportunities offered and are rising up the economic ladder. Why is it so hard to see this?

Land has to be economically farmed, it has to be professionally farmed to maximize output even if it is organic. Peasant farming cannot even dream of producing in the efficient quantity to keep a family alive, let alone use that precious land to its maximum. In marginal farming, you have to contend with animals, unpredictable weather, fluctuating prices, money lenders and I can go on and on, as I have been there done that. In efficient farming, you have an educated person managing a larger piece of land, farming it efficiently and managing risk, something that the average so called farmer has no clue in doing.

No one wants to admit that colonization was an utter failure, making peasants enslaved in lands that are not productive, and people thinking they are farmers, when they are probably extremely capable at other professions, but were not directed at what they were best at. Now it is time to find out each person’s strengths and help them find their vocation, as we have the resources to do so, and we have the vacancies that need to be filled desperately, when we are able to match these skills. We have to stop importing workers and instead move people from the land to the jobs that are available, otherwise we will create a permanent impoverished class, made worse by climate change, while at the same time seeing the foreign workers make hay while the sun shines due to our stupidity and at our EXPENSE! 

Are our leaders so blind to this?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Just the morning when you wished the world stood still!

It is not any different “a morning” to other mornings, in fact it is like every other morning here, this First Day of October 2018.

Time does not wait for no man, but years have passed, decades and perhaps centuries, but in this pursuit of glory, we all seem to forget glory is there every day, every moment, and we simply fail to see it. Are blind?

I type this in my home this Monday morning at 6 am, soon after the morning sun commenced its climb over the horizon, but then again, this feeling is not all pervasive. Why? People have completely changed their habits! While I seem to have regressed into the past, or so it seems to others, but not to me, they go about their daily chores of 2018, getting their kids ready for the school bus that comes at 6.30am to take kids to schools, in Minneriya or Hingurakgoda from this village Ratmale, often with money for nutrition-less GRUB! Too lazy to cook it seems.

I am where the old village was a hundred years ago, and subsequently abandoned, once the roads were built, and electricity supplied. People left their freehold land in the village and just squatted on state lands by the side of the roads, building their houses and fencing their lands as theirs, that’s what happened.

So here I am by the side of the Ratmale Tank on a damp morning after last night’s rain, feeling cool, hearing the birds sing their morning anthems of praise for the return of the rainy season after months of drought, and suddenly the whole place seems to be a sea of green, and even my pond in front of my home, which was completely dry, is now half full, with the loud kingfisher call as it flies.

A serpent eagle flew into the top most perch of the tree to the right of me, while the wail of the peacock from some tree signals they are ready to roll.

So, regressing with no power in my home, or pipe borne water, just a well, that mercifully did not run dry this year, and sleeping out in the veranda, where it’s open on three sides to the elements, and light and to everything else, I feel satiated!

None of the village folk are able to enjoy their village as much as I do, as everyone lives in a home that just looks like any home in the country. They sleep in bedrooms, in houses that are fully enclosed, even their windows are locked shut, and perhaps fans humming inside, blissfully unaware of their forefather’s lives sleeping in verandas, in days without power as the coolest place in Rajarata!

As I write this on a desk, in my open veranda, which doubles or quadruples, depending on which way you may look at. It is my bedroom, my study, my dining room and drawing room! After all it is my LIVING ROOM! What is a living room for, crying out loud? It is the room that one lives in after all, and this is my living room, where everything takes place as it did in days of yore, now forever changed in the interests of progress.

To all the local people, who come through my land in the evening to bathe in the lake/tank and wash their clothes as they did when their fore- fathers lived, where I now call home, they think the lay-out of my home is so UNHOMELIKE that they call it the HOTEL! What an unnatural thought, when it is more what has been forsaken for modern living that no man wishes to re-enter. It smacks of no security to them, in days when lock and key is the only game in town!

In the past no one closed their homes, there was community living and sharing that took place, as women worked together in walking into the fields to collect the raw material of the reeds to clean and dry before they made their mats and other household items with cane and reed for them, and then some for barter or sale for them to purchase that which they could not supply.

One of the ladies in the village gave me the last of the mats she personally made, before she died, GAVE ME MIND YOU! That even her family did not value, and she realized I appreciated. There is no one left in this village, to carry out that tradition, in this race for progress and modern living steeped in CKDU.

I am the last home here that clings on to wooden furniture that needs to be woven with cane, when it crumbles, but now with the cane industry rapidly disappearing, it is plastic alternative to cane that is used to weave, completely removing the feeling of air flow when seated. To have one’s body ventilated on all sides in days with no fans is forgotten. Damro heavy furniture is the preferred choice to display wealth, frowning on my old fashioned yearnings for days gone by.

I am now confined to be a fossil in this rapidly noise induced form of living, where music blaring, and loud temple berating, from the adjoining temple, replacing its simplistic charm of natural sounds of prayer and chanting.

By the time I have finished this essay @ 6.30am, the KEMANA, an old form of fishing had yielded 2kg of Lake Fish "Korelli" for breakfast and then some. It was put into the canal last night, and the fish going upstream from Kaudulla Tank get entangled in it and are today’s protein fix. 

No wonder life is GOOD!  

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Local Sugar Mafia is making a killing, while India has a Sugar surplus of 10M tonnes. The world market price of sugar is just Rs40!

This is another smoke and mirrors job to fool the masses, as people are very easily taken for a ride by just numbers that don’t mean anything on their own. The intellectualy challenged who really think they know more because they just hang their pea brains on just one point, being blinded to the reality around them, have been led astray by articles of dubious repute, and instead must be looked at in context. Just like the fact that the previous government used US$4Billion in reserves just to protect the rupee that should have been left to depreciate and find its natural level, (meaning its intrinsically realistic value) bearing in mind the real factors of the economy. Therefore it is rich of the former Governor of the CBSL to find blame, in his FT article yesterday, in an exchange rate drop whose history was directly related to his inactions during his tenure in borrowing heavily, externally to prop a worthless currency.

So it should be with sugar.

Due to various production subsidies by the Government and favorable growing conditions, India is now the world’s largest producer of sugar, for at least 2018, and is sitting on a ton of sugar that it knows not what to do with.

We have sugar importers who are a mafia and got their tentacles in the government and so will not permit the Government to do a deal with India, to buy sugar cheap to reduce their surplus, as there is big money at stake.

If I was running Sathosa and I purchased 100,000 Tonnes of sugar and begin selling it with the government taxes of Rs45 after the recent increase, for a total price of Rs100, where Sathosa will have Rs15 profit ALSO, it is going to be sabotaged by the mafia as being anti competitive or equivalent. However as most of the sugar was purchased pre cess increase this should be sold at Rs85/kg instead, but is not. The lowest I have found is Rs100 today.

One must remember that the GOSL takes a while to get their act together. This increase in the sugar cess by Rs15 was long awaited as the world market prices had plummeted a long time ago, and the Sugar Mafia had imported the sugar at the lower prices in large quantities before the increase in Cess. So just by holding onto the stocks they are making a killing, of billions in fact.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Why are we obsessed with exchange rate to the dollar?

After all it has dropped from Rs4.76 in 1966 to over Rs 170 to the US$1 over 50 years later!

We are obsessed with it? because like everything the politicians have led us to believe it is the fault of the party they don’t belong to and that is a serious issue. If you know your economics, you can actually depreciate your exchange rate to boost your economy, especially if you can increase exports substantially.

My contention is that however hard we have tried, our businessmen have not been able to increase FDI nor exports to anything like what we need to meet our external borrowing payments, NOR to boost the growth rate of the economy.

One foolish comment was that India’s exchange rate had dropped more than Sri Lanka’s to the US$. Well I’ll have you know that their economy is actually growing much faster, nearly 8% per annum as compared with our anemic 4% or less, and the drop COULD increase software exports to the US, by increasing back office work in India. So India is not that worried.

So it is time we remove our focus on the WRONG POINT. We are focusing on this stupid issue, because we have two serious problems in our economy. We have a populace that is servile and will not take their time to learn and find out the truth. Of course there are exceptions to this and to them I don’t need to convince them of my argument.

Secondly, we have politicians who are loathe to tell the truth, as the population is more likely to believe the lies of the opposition bent on hurting the party in power, and so is willing to make asinine statements just to arouse the ignorant masses to believe in the wrong thing.

Unfortunately, unlike in many countries, we have the most uneducated media since creation, and they have no intention of telling the truth, helping the masses understand fact from fiction, but merely spend their media time, giving coverage to people who say the most foolish things, so as to sound truthful as it was the media that gave coverage to such fake news, and it must be true!!!

So the VILE combination of Politics, Public and Publicity, produces peasants pissing in PULP FICTION. We can only change this mindset, when we have people who are educated, WITHOUT A PERSONAL AGRANDISEMENT AGENDA, leading us in the RIGHT PATH or “NIVARADI MARGAYA”. Unfortunately, we have another P to ensure it does not happen, as their hold over the people is vice like, that is Priests. “Religion is the opiate of the masses”   and any sense to detox is met with screams of TREASON!

There were three articles with varying angles on what the problem is and another blatently political article blaming the ills of the depreciation solely on the Government! That article by opposition writer CA Chandraprema, called “the Rupee in free fall” is 

The other more meaningful articles suggesting means of trying to reduce the Balance of Payments Deficit in order to instill confidence a necessary perquisite of a stable currency were the one by Professor Nimal Sanderatne, as follows:

Groundviews in confirming it is simply not the fault of the Government but a series of long-term policies by successive government that have led us here:

Finally, grudging acceptance, a political statement if you will that the State will have to take steps to cut imports that don’t add to Economic Growth if forced.

All the articles above are to give the reader the ability to sift through ideas to come to their own conclusions rather than merely take what I say hook line and sinker, however most importantly I refer the reader to my earlier Blog Entry, and also recommend the reader looks at the extremely useful comments that are not normally talked about, but which make a lot of sense when understanding:

Having said all this, the point that Harsha de Silva made to appeal to the good sense of patriotism has fallen flat see link:

as people just trash even a common sense idea and even Professor Siri Hettige a sociologist, says we cannot volunteer meaning we have no patriots and ONLY govt. policies can reduce import dependence, a point I don’t necessarily accept, unless policy includes brainwashing people’s minds to put their country before self!

BOTTOM LINE: We have no option but to change the way we look at everything and earn our keep, instead of living on borrowings, or other’s generosity. We MUST LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS – PERIOD!

I have to show my colors here. I have not left this Country in the last 10 years to go anywhere. I have not purchased a motor car in the last 15 years and in any case the vehicle purchased 15 years ago was a Tata Cab for Rs900,000 which was totalled when the Police Security Vehicle providing unnecessary security to the Minister of Justice, Rauf Hakeem, skidded and crashed into me over 7 and 1/2 years ago, when it was totalled, and has left me disabled, and not owning any vehicle after that!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

It is wrong to fool the public about exchange rate issues, as the reasons are many, and only one is economic mismanagement or Balance of Payments Deficits

It is surprising this took so long to happen, it should really have happened a year ago, so the Govt could have reacted better and grown reserves for debt repayment and cushioning further falls. If it had devalued a year ago by 10% by now exports would have grown and the BOP would be in better shape.

There are many matters on which one can criticize this administration, but the recent drop in the exchange rate is the LEAST of their economic mismanagement consequences. SO the critics of the Government who pounce on this, which is easy to fool the 95% of the public who have no clue how all the economic factors are related, are actually doing a grave disservice and exposing their nakedness. (Joint Opposition note your treachery here as you are part of the problem, not the solution)

A short essay cannot explain all the inter-dependencies here, but trust me when I say that artificially propping up the Rupee, using borrowed money, or reserves is a futile exercise, as eventually reality bites, and money is wasted. MR has your economic wizard sitting behind you not explained, like he did before?

This is exactly what the opposition did when they were in Government and Nivaard Cabral who is very critical saying each rupee’s fall is going to add so many billions to the debt is just a half truth of which he was as guilty as this govt.  He also spent a lot of reserves, (the people’s money) recklessly in defending the rupee which fell anyway during his watch.

So why is the exchange rate falling? 

Firstly, if we have real interest rates that are higher than the US, if the exchange rate is not going to fall then it is better for an investor in the US to invest in SL and then in a year take his money back as he will have a higher rate of return. To an extent that was the case in the past, when the US as part of QE kept the interest rates artificially low to boost the economy and investment. 

Now it is overheating, and so the interest rates are gradually rising. If we raise the interest rates to keep up, then our business costs rise and the economy that is growing slowly anyway for lack of investment will grow even less. So the Government would rather NOT increase interest rates, it will sap the already sapped Business Confidence which is vital.

NOTE: The Govt. can use the reserves to defend the rupee and lose their reserves with nothing to show in the end, so the rupee will not fall in the short term, or the Govt. could raise interest rates and again the rupee will not fall as much. Both are counter-productive, though listening to Mahinda Rajapakse it is one of these he would do, and ruin the economy further as he has no clue about what is happening. If the budget is also in surplus that will reduce borrowing!

So added to this normal and expected rise in US interest rates, there is the Trump tariffs that have alarmed the world economy. This is an added issue from which we have NO control to resolve and hope it will resolve itself sooner rather than later.

Then there is the Balance of Payments. With remittances NOT growing and exports still stuck, our Balance of Payments are worsening because we are importing a lot more than we export. Now that oil prices have also risen 50%, that too is affecting the Balance of Payments a lot. 

We have not cut down on our travelling and oil usage to make a dent in this despite the rising prices! In fact this Govt. should never have cut the oil price when they took power in the first place and built up reserves for such rainy days.

If we kept the fuel price high we would have fewer vehicles on the road and not paid so much to buy foreign exchange to import vehicles, also. If we were able to at least have a surplus taking into account the remittances, we could have alleviated this depreciation somewhat, but it is not the Govt. to blame for that, it is the people who love to buy imported goods.

So buy fewer cars, don’t give duty free permits, stop sugar consumption by half, eat local green gram and not foreign dhal, allow private medical schools in Sri Lanka to attract foreign students so our kids don’t go to Foreign Universities for Medicine. These are what our citizens should have done. So we can directly BLAME THE GMOA FOR THE EXCHANGE RATE DROP! How’s that for a laugh?

As the consumers are NOT willing to make lifestyle changes, the Govt. has NO option but to allow the exchange rate to find its own level. It could drop to Rs200 to US$1, and it is better it is sooner rather than later, so we can force people to adjust their habits sooner. We have to move from private transport to public transport, we have to encourage more Solar and I have been going on about it for three years, and if we had then the oil we import to run our thermal power plants will be less now.

If we get down to that level, it will immediately help the export industries, and make them more competitive, we can hopefully grow our exports. If our workers go for skilled jobs overseas, as their pay is more attractive, we may have higher remittances as long as skilled workers leave and remit.

The area where it is essential that some patriotism prevails, is for our big companies to keep their money in Sri Lanka, whether in dollar accounts here or change into rupees. They don’t have to convert their dollars if they don’t wish to but the banks will then pay them lower interest on their deposits, as compared to rupees. So please bring your money back to the Country and don’t hide it.

The other area obviously is the need to repay foreign debt. So we have to build reserves for the US$4B debt repayment next year, and so cannot waste our reserves in defending the rupee. That is not mentioned by the Opposition cretins, who took the debt in the first place which this govt. has to repay!

Yes Mahinda Rajapakse regime got us into debt for projects that do not give a return on investment. No one disputes that. Now we have to pay the interest and principal on those investments and we don’t have a return from which to pay that, so we are in deep shit. So for the opposition to blame the Govt is a bit rich!

Yes we have to blame the Yahapalanaya Govt. for increasing the debt, because they decided to pay the Public Servants more. That promise was foolish as we cannot afford to pay them for doing nothing, when the whole economy is short of staff, because all the unproductive workers are in the Public Service due to political appointments. If you are a public servant who was put there by your MPs list, then you are a traitor as you are NOT earning your keep, you are costing the taxpayer money he cannot afford.

I believe a collective effort on the part of the people and business can stop the rot, and if we are able to build confidence, FDI and funds in by foreigners as they feel the long term prospects are attractive, we can reverse the decline.

My honest plan is to let it drop to Rs200, force austerity and then within a year to bring it up to Rs185 by good economic management and foreign inflows, that give good returns on their investment, relative to the alternatives.

So to re-cap we must reduce our volume of imported fuel immediately by 20% by lower usage and encourage electric substitution and public transport. If we can reduce the traffic congestion by 20% at the same time, we are home and dry. We have to get the CEB to be more efficient and reduce thermal fuel consumption and private power from thermal fuel. If we have a moratorium on import of all cars thanks to all car sales and SMMT, we can reduce the import bill by US$1B.

Gold smuggling another treasonable act was another drain on foreign resources and for one year all our people stop travelling overseas for patriotic purposes, will also greatly help.

ITS ALL CALLED CONFIDENCE IN THE ECONOMY not worsening and if we can attract more money not more tourists, by giving them a good service and not cheat them out of their money, and stop unscrupulous jeep operators overcharging, that treasonable act can also help our economy.

Let us all stop buying imported stuff, like apples and oranges, dhal, sugar, and powdered milk for a year, we will be back in business, hail and hearty, and try to use public transport whenever you can and force the private bus operators TO REDUCE fares not increase them, as they will have more customers so not lose out, then we are in business! Its ALL A BUSINESS PROPOSITOIN STUPID!

Friday, September 21, 2018

So what do you think about legally available Wild Boar Meat?

It's easier to recruit licensed hunters, and begat a new profession!

You speak to farmers, and each one has a problem with one or other of animal that destroys their crops. I personally have the biggest problem from Monkeys in my farm in Godagama, affecting mainly my Banana Trees, but to a lesser degree reduces the yield of Coconut and King Coconut Trees also. With less habitat in urban areas, where my farm is, I have more problems with them now than 20 years ago, when they had more tracts of land to roam around in.

If you look at their reproduction, it is proportionate to the food available as their numbers are biologically reduced in the wild, whereas in urban and farming areas with more fruit trees and tasty morsels, they are able to multiply. However the guns we are permitted to use to combat this menace barely hurts them.

I also have problems with porcupines, digging the legumes I plant, and to a lesser extent deer who come at night and eat young shoots of vegetable beds. I don’t have a wild boar problem, but in the Kegalle District, I know many farmers have endless problems with the rising population of Wild Boar. Their natural predator, foxes, who used to feed on their young has been wiped out, so they have been able to multiply. It is difficult to prevent them from harming crops, no matter what precautions that you take to minimize their damage.

However look at who is allowed to do what! I understand a cabinet paper is being presented to permit, the transport of Wild Boar. That opens a whole can of worms. Just remember even cattle cannot be killed except with a license, but anyone is allowed to kill wild boar, and now when anyone is legally permitted to transport Wild Boar, it will be easier to transport this than even beef!

How come? First let us get our ethics right, before we begin a buckshot approach to solving a problem. There are two issues here, one of killing animals on your property if they harm your crops, and the second is being able to transport the meat of that animal to sell, as that is effectively what it permits. The minute you permit a delicacy to be sold, then you start a new business, that you will later find impossible to control, and by trying to sort one problem out you create many more problems due to lack of foresight and forethought.

So what do we need? We need a proper mechanism to control out of control populations of vermin. They maybe wild boar in parts of Kegalle, they maybe peacocks in parts of Polonnaruwa, they maybe monkeys in urban areas like mine that is a growing nuisance, giant squirrels in some areas eating the mango plantations, porcupines in other areas, and lone male elephants in 60% of the Country that are trapped in confined areas, due to lack of food and who stray into homesteads to look for rich pickings!

What does this all tell you? It is not a Wild Boar issue, it is an issue with a whole series of pest human conflict costing the Agricultural Sector over Rs50B of crop losses every year, and many farmers do not venture into increased cultivation because of this menace. It’s a bigger issue that has to be managed.

What you need is not a transport option, but a trained force within the DWC to combat the threat of animals, armed with the right tools, to kill if need be, or capture and re-locate en masse if possible, and if there is a delicacy that is marketable, they will have the ONLY authority to market this game, by selling legitimately in the open market from approved outlets. Revenuer generating!

If there is a market for Monkey meat they can sell that. If they have to kill stray cattle in National Parks like Maduru Oya, they should be able to sell that beef too. It is a business proposition that can be done with a PPP with the DWC. However all killing CAN ONLY BE DONE by DWC personnel who are given the tools needed to do the job, so it does not permit a free for all.

When one legitimizes GAME, then anything can be sold as Wild Boar, and is done today, illegally with police sanction. So catching criminals is going to be harder for the police, who would love this project of the Government as they can take bribes from the Poachers and pass everything off as Wild Boar. So all varieties of deer, sambur, land monitors, is fair GAME!

Why can’t we in Sri Lanka understand that the people are brought up with a criminal mind set, because they only see corruption succeed. Whether it is the local police in rural areas, who along with the local politicians scam everyone for their own ends, or drug dealers, and thugs with protection rackets becoming rich, this is an automatic excuse for the criminal mind to get in on the act to better themselves, in the guise of transporting Wild Boar. Don’t allow it!

You are going to create a new class of hunter, in addition to the poachers, who will purchase the rifles needed to kill, and make a sport of this. However the poachers will lay traps ostensibly for Wild Boar, and kill every other creature of the night, including Leopard, and Jungle Cat both of which are highly endangered. Surely it is playing with the unpredictable, isn’t it?  

Simply put, we cannot accede to this request to transport Wild Boar, without opening up a whole can worms, to the extent we will just not be able to control it. It will add another notch in the armory of bribe taking, that every law that is set up does. First allow the transport of beef, an item that is not scarce, and allow the slaughter of cattle in National Parks, that are preventing the Elephants from grazing, due to encroachment by cattle, adding to HEC, before venturing further. So let’s get our priorities right please, A before B, not F before D!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Education – even Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) are being heavily cheated on and just found out by the Education Ministry.

Read the link below to simply show the extent of cheating by our Sri Lankan kids. One massive exercise in cheating from a very young age due to the pressure the kids and parents are under from the Grade 5 exam.

It is clear, from the article that was put out today, 19th September,  that many people get in to good schools having cheated, and so it is better to just stop this exam and lessen the burden by abolishing the grade 5 exam forthwith and use other tried and tested means to measure intelligence and give the truly bright boy or girl a chance to excel in a better school, which is the whole intention of the project.

If cheating is so prevalent from a young age, people think they can get to places by foul means more than fair and it compromises the whole efficacy of the country Brand as a rogue brand.

Why doesn’t the army of people in the education department agree to change the system, we know has failed and worse does not provide the needed HR skills that companies require today.

There are so many vacancies in so many fields that cannot be filled because we don’t have the people, with the right qualifications to fill them and we have not changed the Education Curricula and practices to teach the kids,, skills that will be useful in the modern workplace.

Why is it so hard to convince the inertia in the massive education department building which is being further expanded to put more emphasis where it is needed and almost everyday the solutions to the problem are discussed with no interest by the staff of the Education Department, as it is just more work.

Just look at the text books most of which hace hardly changed for last 10 years while the whole world has changed beyond recognition.

Lets first kill the canard that the MCQ are fool proof and accept that even them are completely fudged, allowing mediocre kids to go to high places while the best are languishing. It is a crime and the staff in education must be punished for their INACTIVITY. We are killing our kids with crap, consigning them to a life of waste, only because we were unwilling to identify a good from the chaff, being too lazy to use better means of evaluation!