Why is there no good news when Sri Lanka is highlighted in the international news? It is always bad news. The curse of allegations arising from the end of hostilities in May 2009 has not been closed and finished. The Govt. is using it to their advantage, when I firmly believe that they could have resolved this satisfactorily within months, without dragging the Country through years of agony. They don’t appear to me to have any desire to resolve them, because if they do they have little electoral appeal to continue winning elections.
I believe that much of the infrastructure projects have NOT benefited the people, as they can neither use them, nor have they obtained employment through them. The extra carriages on trains just don’t seem to have lessened the overcrowding, as more and more people are commuting the distances to their employment.
Suddenly, the exorbitant rise of basic foodstuffs have shocked the populace, mainly urban, but also rural, into realizing that few except the wealthy have benefitted from the party and unless one has the benefit of a remittance from a relative overseas, one is in deep trouble to survive!
It is working people who live from hand to mouth. From paycheck to paycheck. The apologists for this Government will soon have to eat their words. They say this country has never been so successful, looking at the vehicles on the road, quadrupling in a matter of 6 years! No easy task, but reflective of money and economic activity. However it is merely one of debt, keeping up with the Jones and the necessity of a motorbike due to the long hours of work and the lack of public transport especially after hours, and in many rural areas.
The last vestiges of the war victory still have some mileage left, and the President is mining it for all he has left, as shown in the last election campaign, where the President was on the campaign trail and few of his henchmen in Govt. were giving him support. In fact it appears that they have quietly stayed aloof because they have not been able to face the people, reserving their campaigning to a Govt. friendly press.
The results of the forthcoming elections, may speed up the need for a General Election and Presidential or delay it, depending on how the Govt. interprets it. Especially with a financially bankrupt opposition, making headway!
There is a silver lining where we are now able to accommodate more tourists, and therefore the numbers seem to show a substantial increase, though the actual spend per se is not going up in the right direction.
There is an ongoing drought, which hopefully will come to an end shortly. It has affected some of the farming communities, and the hoped for surpluses of rice have diminished.
There is some retrenchment in employment opportunities, and it is the overseas job that is keeping a lid on agitation of the youth, who nevertheless are generally able to get something somewhere and only those who are left, find it a struggle to get a job that pays a living wage.
The university students are agitating for a few more benefits, as the costs of living affect them badly and most of their parents are not able to support the Rs15,000 a month that is required for board and lodging and their essentials.
The Government servants are those who have suddenly felt the pain of living, as their increments have NOT kept pace with inflation and they moonlight to survive or start taking bribes for small tasks that they control, to supplement their income.
The bloated state sector is a huge drag on the Govt. coffers, and it is seriously not productive nor give a return that is tangible, even with Good Service or other measure of productivity.
They still support the Govt. because they fear that the UNP may reduce the numbers by restructuring the service, much in the way they did in their 2002 Govt. It is therefore important that they state that they will NOT get rid of any person against their will as they will be able to show that new employment opportunities in the private sector at vastly higher remuneration will draw some from the public service to the private. Further the increments the Govt. gave in the past years are only for allowances, and NOT basic. SO it will not increase their pensionable salaries, which will wipe their pension values.
The Govt. electoral benefit is short lived, the pressure is likely to be exerted gradually more by innuendo, that will affect the credibility of our leaders in the international sphere, and no matter what they state, we cannot isolate ourselves from the world and have to be involved and face their music too!!!