Thursday, June 30, 2016

We really don’t appreciate how fortunate we are here in Sri Lanka!

I came across the attached article on the BBC website about a problem in New Zealand, where due to various factors, which include an ageing population, and the natural drift of youth to big cities, that rural New Zealand, has HOMES, JOBS but NO TAKERS. In short some villages are simply dying of OLD AGE. When the owner of a local shop dies, the shop closes for lack of takers, and that village just loses that particular outlet!

Contrast this with Sri Lankan villages of comparable size, like the village I live in Ratmale, Minneriya. It too has about 100 households, and about 400 residents, and it too is dying. Young people leave the village, forsaking farming work, for jobs with better opportunities in Cities, and when they are better educated, like those who are University Graduates, go for other fields such as Teaching, and ALSO move out of their home villages to other areas. Some work in the Middle East.

All the residents of this village own their own homes. None have mortgages to pay, some however have borrowed money to renovate their homes, and have a monthly payment to make to cover their interest and capital repayments. Recently, 5 new houses were built with Govt. assistance for people who were homeless, at the edge of the village on Government land, which really was forest land, being encroached by the Government to provide land for housing.

Many homes are too big for the residents, as the family have left, leaving ageing parents only. People tend to want to build big even in villages, without any concern for the fact that the bigger the place, the more time and cost of the maintenance!

I would like one day, if time and energy permits, to do a study of ALL residents of this village, map their inter-relationships, employment, family details, and property ownership, and income levels, to analyze ITS STRUCTURE and longevity, so as to come up with proposals for fulfilling desires, preserving its ecology, and enhancing agricultural productivity, without encroaching any further on surrounding forests, and in fact regenerate the national forest, and adjoining National Parks, while adding vibrancy to the village, by encouraging youth to return and take jobs in the vicinity in Tourism, Wild Life Conservation, Agriculture, Local Produce, such as Bees Honey, the latter that has almost disappeared with the logging of trees in which honey bees thrived.  

With Urbanization, we have NOT got to the stage as in NZ where there are NO people to even take the jobs that exist in the villages, but if this urban drift is NOT arrested, that will be the inevitable outcome, and that is why I am against any further encroachment by the State, which owns all the land in these parts, on forest, or shrub jungle for housing, and instead manage the existing housing stock, by permitting disposals with titles, releasing funds for people's labor mobility, an essential requirement for growth. All these people live in ranchettes, with home gardens, that the urban dweller can only dream of!

If the Education system is better, it will prevent families sending their offspring to relatives, say in Gampaha to go to school from there, merely because they believe the education they get in those districts is simply far superior, and will give them a leg up in life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

See how the EU and we are on the same issue, and we are all doing the same thing, but without reference to what the others are!


As I write, the Eurocrats in Brussels are busily engaged in discussing if ROUND UP should be allowed, as the permission to use this weedicide expires in the EU at the end of the month. Today, this is more important to them than the BREXIT repercussions, as that is how the EU functions, regulating everything they do, and either giving permission, or banning, and this interference in the everyday lives of the people, is what drove most of the Britons to BREXIT, small wonder then!

So in Sri Lanka, when Glyphosate was banned, our typical enterprising businessmen, decided to import an even more serious substitute, which if the EU rule book was checked first before we banned it, we could have learned how to encompass, the “LIKE GLYPHOSATE” ALSO in the ban instead of having to go over this charade again.

This is a typical international problem, that SHOULD HAVE had an international solution, via the UN, so that we in SL or they in the EU don’t have to face this contentious issue of forever deciding which is poison, and which is not, and which is harmful enough, but not enough to ban it as another interested party will lose out. For crying out loud, if we did not have this product in the first place we would not need to be discussing banning it.

The whole point of the WHO is to ban items internationally that KILL PEOPLE. So if they can ban NUCLEAR, or CHEMICAL WEAPONS, why cant they ban ROUND UP, if it is a KNOWN KILLER OF HUMAN BEINGS.

We are still living in a world, that people make far too much money from making things that kill people, and who are too powerful to stop. We have to have the courage of our convictions to stop them. Whether that means the POPPLY fields in Afghanistan, or the Tobacco Industry, or the AGRO CHEMICAL Giants, we have to have a common denominator, that places them under the same BANNED ACTIVITY. 

Until this world gets to that BASIC PRINCIPLE, the loopholes just keeps getting exploited and the Bureaucrats of Europe or the same in SL are merely COGS IN A WHEEL.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fiscal Consolidation – we must explain this in simple terms that people understand

Economists and Pundits in the Treasury use this word Fiscal Consolidation very glibly. In simple English it is simply ways and means by which the difference between what we spend and what we earn is reduced! Equilibrium being ZERO!

The difference is called the deficit, and like any household, NO DIFFERENT to running the Country, if we spend more than we earn, we either have to borrow to fund that spending, or we have to reduce that spending to be more in line to what we earn. If we continue to spend more than we earn, we will go bankrupt, if our debtors demand immediate repayment, or we get deeper into debt!

So in terms of this Government’s management of its finances, it is simply out of control. Forget about the excesses of the Rajapakse mismanagement. That we all know about. We have failed to explain some of the simple aspects of their heavy borrowings on unproductive investments, where we have to pay interest and capital repayments, when that investment has NOT resulted in any income! Or even public benefit/value from the investment.

The biggest mistake that has resulted in a ballooning of the current account deficit, was the massive Rs10K a month pay raise for the Govt. servants, which the country is still reeling from, and NO ONE dare tell the truth, for upsetting these same Govt. servants who benefited from this pay raise, that has left the Private Sector reeling with their staff demanding higher wages, or voting with their feet by using whatever, and usually this means political influence, to get Govt. jobs, that turn a productive private sector worker into an unproductive govt. sector employee, ready just to mark time to get a pay check! 

The public of Sri Lanka, MUST understand that they have paid a huge price to get this YAHAPALANAYA Govt. as this Public Sector pay raise, may have been the pivot to winning the election, but it is ALSO the straw that has broken the Camel's back, resulting in the belt tightening we have already seen. Make no mistake that when the Telephone cost via the VAT has affected everyone, it is SPENDING power that has been affected, which affects every business, as there is less money to spend on other things. Ask any businessman, they will tell you their sales HAVE FALLEN. It appears only the Govt. does not seem to have realized that simple fact of life!

The link above is to the Sunday Times article that also tries, to explain that unless these needed fiscal reforms come about quickly, and it seems even the VAT is quietly leaking buckets, as the Finance Minister who is trying to placate each and every interest group, seems to be gradually giving into every demand, putting further pressure on the class that is least powerful, in that they don’t have the muscle to demand, and they are usually the poorest of the Community. They will bear an unfair burden of paying VAT, and de facto taxes on everything from Phone calls to essential food items, in this most regressive (TAX) country on the face of the Earth, where the poorest pay the higher proportion of Taxes!

Friday, June 24, 2016

BREXIT – It’s Claustrophobia, that resulted in self-flagellation, and sadomasochistic behavior. It’s just a psychological problem stupid!

KNOWING, the pound and the stock market will crash, the foreign holidays will become more problematic, retiring in Spain will be prohibitive, the value of the pension pot will be decimated, and their economy will head South, a section of the English (idiots- for want of any closer meaning) decided that it was worth the price of INDEPENDENCE from rules and dictats from Eureaucrats.

I know how much Europe BENT the rules to prevent them from defecting. They even permitted the PINT and POUND for Gods Sake! That was NO enough for the voters of claustrophobic England, who had visions of Turks under the bed coming up to strangle them in their sleep, and take their house and home!

Sadly it is the end of the English people as we have known who once upon a time ruled the world, and who have finally retreated into their shell, from which they can no longer emerge, in their self imposed prison.

Boy am I not glad I don’t have to be in the midst of the 17.5M idiots who think that way! I am sorry to learn that these masochists want to suffer and suffer they will, for their own stupidity, and idiocy, if they think that leaders like FARAGE, the English version of the TRUMP, is to guide their destiny.

This mental discombobulating, happens when people lose their sense of purpose, then they lose their way, and direction in life, who are frightened by rhetoric and HOODOO no better than VOODOO

When they finally awaken from their dream, and face reality, there will be no one there to greet them, meet them or speak to them. They will be mere insignificant PARIAHs of yore, wallowing in self pity, blaming everything and anyone but themselves for their predicament, and realizing there is NO ONE even to listen anymore to their lament.

All I will say is you have to wollow in your own shit to realize your fate.

With Scotland gone, to the Euro and Europe, and Northern Ireland likewise to the Irish, little Wales will fight for their Nation and Europe once the subsidies sound tantalizing, and the English become a nuisance with nowhere else to go, without crossing an unfriendly border!

England will remain with a cricket team, soulless, lifeless, jobless, friendless, and finally Queenless, when she moves to Balmoral, to see out her days! Bonnie Prince Charlie, will talk to his plants, who will say his Highgrove should join with Wales, leaving William King of England with a "Commonwealth Dream!" with no takers. 


Feeling sorry for the crowd! “Its called CLAUSTROPHOBIA” so BREXIT


I am seated at my desk in the middle of the Forest with no human habitation, and no electricity here either, with the sounds of the forest, and water coming down the anicut from the Tank (Lake) in front of me, to feed the paddy (rice) fields in the village.

I wrote my previous blog entry before the BREXIT polls opened, in such surroundings, exhorting the British to vote to remain. I write this after the polls closed, and awaiting the results.

It is easy given my smug position, to pontificate in this place, with the forest as far at the eyes can see! 90% of the British population of 65Million souls, live in about 20% of the land in Cities and towns, and even in villages which are very compact. The rest of the Country consists of vast Country estates with mansions, farmland, forest and reserves, and other protected areas such as green belt parkland.

It is NO wonder that the people are squeezed into overcrowded areas, and flats, with endless traffic where ever you go, and unseen CCTV cameras following your and your car’s every move! Many people living in the UK must feel highly agitated, and stressed, looking at ways to relieve their stress, and blame someone else for their problems, they have created. So it is easy to blame the threat of immigrants, and blame the EU for immigrants and SO GO BREXIT!

I guess if I was in the UK, and someone shouted we have too many people, and we cant take anymore, and say it is due to EU, I may also tend to believe if I am in a claustrophobic state of mind. So it is a MIND GAME the BREXIT camp are playing with, which is seriously shameful.  

Frankly the British should NOT blame the EU if they can’t control their own borders, and the UK is the only EU Country that has such strict border controls at entrance already! The only method of ensuring legitimacy is having a fool proof identity card, that other countries have, for all residents, and pack off all those who don’t have one to a cell in Scotland, without heating, prior to them being deported to the Falklands, where their claim can be processed, like the Australians who send the Boat People to deserted Nauru, after they mined it out of Phosphate!

This is the only sure way to reduce the magnet of immigrants to the UK, and the EU citizens who have automatic rights of residence in any case would have to provide for themselves, and in most cases are unlikely to just come for a freebie, except in exceptional circumstances, which the media like to highlight for their fame!

BREXITIERS are blaming the wrong people, and it is NOT EU membership, that is at the heart of the problem, it is the UK systems of identifying its population, over which it has little control at present. SO it is clear that BREXIT will NOT solve any of the real problems, going from the frying pan into the fire.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

BREXIT or IN – Today’s mindnumbing decision left to idiots~


I am one who knows the UK extremely well having spent more time there than even here in SL, but despite rejecting the offer of citizenship, that I had received, and lucrative employment, I chose to return, to contribute in whatever way I can to this Country, as amply illustrated here in this blog, and 

I have not even stepped out of this Country in a decade but know the change that the EU has brought into the UK in terms of people who have moved in to contribute to the Economy and the vibrancy of a multicultural society there.

May I pontificate on this issue, as I lived and voted in the UK for entry at their referendum in the 70s, seeing the fear mongering, not unlike the Rajapakse regime’s jingoisim against “foreign” used to instill baseless fear amongst “idiot” people no matter what ills the Country faces, resorting to fiction to fool the people.

I know, when the voters go to the polls in a few hours, it is the undecided as of yesterday, who will use their irrational emotive feelings, to decide once and for all which way the UK will turn in their mark for survival, and God help those perceived as foreigners if the Brexiters prevail!

I will only concentrate on a few issues of the debate to make my case. The UK has 65Million residents at present. This includes EU nationals, who do not have the vote, and Commonwealth nationals who do! An anomaly that is irrational in any sense of the word. There are approximately 15 Million UK passport holders who live outside the UK, some holding dual nationality. They will not be voting in this UK election, as they are not registered to vote there. 

Don’t forget the millions of British retirees who live in Europe, who have benefit from being part of the EU. In this comparison, I will not stoop to enter into comparisons with tin pot sizes countries that choose to be in Europe like Ireland, and Greece, or those that choose to be outside, like Switzerland and Norway, as their size and unique circumstances, do not merit discussion here.

The UK is the Country with the HIGHERST growth rate in the EU. Even higher than the resurgent Germans, who are benefitting from the influx of the Millions Syrians to drive their economy. They also have the lowest Unemployment rate in the EU. Remember this is inspite of being in the EU. No wonder then that Cameron decided to go for a referendum, to put the Country to rest once and for all, and did not foresee the Immigrant crisis, and fear of a flood of being overrun taking over the rational debate on the pros and cons of membership.

Due the English language and extremely tolerant people in general, it is a country that draws people from all over the world, despite its unpredictable weather! It is now very hard to find an Englishman in London. Even the Mayor of London, though born in the UK is of foreign parenthood and Islamic beliefs.

This goes to show the level of tolerance, of a Country that immediately accepted 30,000 Ugandans of Asian origin in 1971, when I lived there, when Idi Amin the ruler, expelled them. They came with only the clothes they wore, as Amin confiscated ALL their property, and now they and the next generation, are some of the Wealthiest in the UK. These people have contributed enormously to the new Economic miracle that is the UK now, a long way from the basket case of Europe, when I arrived there to go to school!

Will anyone acknowledge today, that the UK if they did not accept immigrants, and not  join Europe, they would have been one of the poorest Countries in Europe, with an ageing and falling population, and a dying Industry, with a lazy labor force, unwilling to work due to a generous welfare system, and high taxation. IN short, a nation DYING A SLOW DEATH!

Since joining the EU, with the shortage of workers being filled by skilled labor from Europe. I remember how the Poles came and rebuilt London. I remember the soot that covered Buckingham Palace and Whitehall. The gentrification of London, from a squalid cesspit, to a clean and beautiful city, is thanks to EU. Even the arm pit called Peckham, which had worse slums than those along the banks of the Kelani River, where you could buy a whole house with sitting tenants for 1000 pounds, now refurbished can sell for more than 3Million pounds! Only those who remember then can genuinely make this statement, as even David Cameron would not have been allowed to go into those areas as boy, as being too dangerous, and where his millennials now call home.

I don’t think for a moment that if not for the EU and the UKs prime spot within it, the Financial and Tourism Hub it is would have resulted. Now in 2016 the cry to EXIT! Will they ask the 5 million Europeans to leave? They contribute 20%  of the UK economy. No, even the Bxiters want them to remain! How ironic! They want to have their cake and eat it too.

Yes, European bureaucracy is stifling, and the UK parliament has lost some of its executive powers, but all countries have ceded controls of one sort or another to the UK by agreeing to join, it is part of the Globalization of the world. Yes, when Turkey enters the EU there will be 80M new consumers and producers, and a few who will want to migrate. Remember from the Sri Lankan case, those who wish to migrate are the most productive, motivated, and industrious people there are in ANY community, and they most often than not contribute to the host and NOT take from them.

Don’t use the daily imagery of migrants crossing the channel to detract from the argument. The attempts to cross to the UK will in fact increase when out of the EU, as they will not help to stop the flow, and will look the other way, when the “flotilla of reverse of Dunkirk sets sail to the white cliffs of Dover” Will the UK coast guard, man their guns and shoot all the boats in midsea? That is the ONLY way to stop them after leaving the EU!

What I say is DON’T confuse Immigration with Brexit, they are frankly not related in this context of the world where people are desperate to leave, and unless you want to be a Barbarian like Australia, to send them to desert islands and let them stew, you are bound to have this, until the Countries that people leave from are more livable. That is an international crisis that the wealthy nations have a duty to solve for their own sake, let alone the greater good of humanity.

I am concentrating on the main the issue of Brexitiers, their TRUMP card, to quash their whole argument out of sight. Simply put, I don’t believe exiting the EU will PREVENT the immigrant draw into the UK, and the UK will not have any MORE control of that due to their inability to date despite the ONLY Country with border controls, to manage to prevent leakage.

We know now that Brexit will result in the pound crashing. It will initially boost exports, but will the EU their biggest market remain so, as barriers will be put, in preference and Turkish goods will flow easier. Skilled Turkish workers will man the big German Industries, that are desperately short of workers. The competitive prices will mean that more Benz cars will come to the UK than the reverse! Making a complete mockery of the argument in the first place, as the British Industry is going to suffer from the EU market loss, rather than gain.

Then look at the plight of the UK pensioners in Southern Europe, escaping from British weather and costs, living on their UK pension. Will they have to leave? If they return the strain on the health services, will be unbearable. The non-productive oldies, will replace the young enterprising migrants. Will it turn the UK into a land of starvation and misery, with a strain on a welfare system that will not be able to cope, instead of the reverse, which the Brexiters have been fear mongering about.

Brexit fears the UK schools will be under pressure, due to migrants. Any country that has youthful migrants will have young families that have children, and schooling means more BUILDINGS and TEACHERS. So what is the problem with that? More construction jobs, but that may go to the immigrants because the locals don’t want to work. HAVE WE NOT SEEN THAT HERE IN SRI LANKA? Remember the Migrants do the jobs the lazy British (even University graduates) don’t want to do.

This is the reason Sri Lanka is stagnating. There are 250,000 vacancies in Sri Lanka today, with the people who don’t want to do those jobs, either because the pay is too low, or because they are in areas that people don’t want to go and live in. Either way, the only way they will be filled, is giving 100,000 work permits to unemployed Indians from Tamil Nadu to work here. They will take the jobs that are on offer, which will double the output of many Sri Lankan firms, that can both provide the domestic demand, and supply export markets. It will grow the Economy. This is the same argument against Brexit!

Yes, the White Englishman is a dying breed! Brexit will not stop that at all. They will be extinct in 50 years, just like the Sinhala Buddhist will as well. Hey at least the British were wise about that, they got their Royalty, from Germany, when the British royals lost their sperm count and could not produce heirs!

If there is a lesson about Brexit for SL, it is the argument of an Island mentality at war over the Global mentality. SL is already SUNK IN a Global world with 2 million of our people working and living abroad, with some remitting their earnings back to Sri Lanka. We cannot close our borders to anyone or anything. We MUST make our Country livable, to retain the most productive, and the Island mentality will ONLY make them leave our shores at a faster rate than ever, and it is the Global mentality that will encourage them to stay.

It is therefore again to the benefit of the UK to remain in a globalized world, giving an opportunity to the best of the world to build the value of their HOST country, and it is time Sri Lanka learns its lessons from this same argument as to how we can move forward with enlightenment and not be stuck in the past.

I hope the UK will remain. If they leave, it will be a lesson in democracy, that we have not done a good job in educating people yet to be global citizens, instead, are still hankering after a past that does not exist and will not return. The UK killed off its hedgerows, and Brexit will NOT bring them back.

We must always look forward to a vision of a world, where we can all live in peace and harmony, and make all currently unlivable places more livable. I live in an area, where people are desperate to leave as they have NO HOPE. I want to bring that hope and love for their Village back with positive thinking! CAN DO SPIRIT of regeneration with NEW TECHNOLOGY, to improve the quality of life. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Aftermath of the Floods – A more permanent solution is needed

However no one has the political courage to make the necessary changes, which have been created by politicians in the first place, to satisfy their short term needs, at the expense of the Community, the people, the environment, and common decency. It is akin to asking the politician to admit he made a mistake and try to overturn his orders, in sufferance to the Govt servants who had to break the rules to bow to their masters!

Lets start with the History, where this area I have been visiting these past few days are at the edge of the Kelani River, which was used as brick kilns, supply building materials for the booming metropolis of Colombo. It created huge craters where the clay soil was excavated and just left when the industry was abandoned, to people who just came and built homes on what was left of the ravaged land.

Homes were built due to the population pressure of the movement of people from all parts of the Country to the Western Province for jobs but there was NO affordable housing for these migrants from Rural to Urban!

Over the years, to increase their voter base, politicians broke all the rules, gave these residents on flood plain and river bank squats, electricity, later water lines, and then even built concrete roads to their homes, thus legitimizing their stay, and moreover gave deeds, forged or not I am not privy to so they could sell and move to better areas, where other less fortunate people moved in buying at more inflated prices.

Much of the large clay pits are now used by fly tippers, making the stench excessive, and was a huge contributor to the garbage that was seen floating around the place, and now distributed all over like an enormous junkyard. Again no one has had the Courage to stop flytipping and fine people and imprison them for this, which is now a health hazard, causing dengue in the area as well.

I saw an army of public health inspectors, going to the houses to see if there are dengue breeding areas, when the flytipping dumps which are for all to see, should have been the first places to clean. As usual they are blind to the real cause, and innocent home owners are asked to cut down on their houseplants!

I am told a huge levee of 5 meters in height has to be built to prevent such floods in the future. If so thousands of people will be asked to leave these areas, and alternative accommodation will have to be provided. The reclaimed land MUST be immediately converted into public parkland, to prevent a repeat from the next generation of squatters as 400 people migrate to the Province daily.

The reality I am afraid is different, as no one has the political will or courage to make the changes drastically needed, and the Megapolis plan does not wish to address the real problem of low income housing, and clearing up the flood plains of people, in order to prevent Colombo from becoming just another slum, with the mass migration taking place to find employment in the Western Province which currently has a labor shortage in excess of 200,000.

In my opinion, a plan for 100,000 housing units, multi-story is needed in the next 10 to 15 years as a KEY input of the Megapolis plan along with a visionary transport plan, to move these and other urban dwellers SPEEDILY to their place of employment.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Aftermath of the Floods – Entitlement Culture and Unreasonable Demands

Now that the media has left, the politicians resting on their reflected glory from newsclippings of their immediate generosity, floods have subsided, and real situation can come to pass.

It is in this environment that I have been about some of the affected places, trying to determine need, but find the selection process, fraught with difficulty.

The means by which each household was affected was truly different, and their loss too different, so hardly affected and badly affected have all been lumped into one due to inability of the state representative on site, the Grama Niladari (GN) to make that distinction due to local pressure. Sometimes the words of the households are suspect, as the crack in the wall may have had nothing to do with the flood but a pre-existing condition.

Apart from this needs assessment, the flood relief received by each household has also varied, depending on the mode by which they obtained assistance, and most often, the GN has no idea, as he has been bypassed in this process. This makes determination of the needs difficult, and any decision of the GN open to criticism from one set or another.

We met the GN from 5 different areas, and asked them to provide lists of the 15 most affected/ needing assistance households to determine what of the items we were asked to provide, were actually required by that respective household. We determined that simply by going to the house and determining on observation what was needed, as we did not have any better means. We were told that we were the only people who in fact went to the home!

It is possible that the selection of the homes, could be suspect, as we only went into homes which were on the GN list. It is however NOT ours to question, as we cannot be responsible for a personal foible of the state’s representative on site. Further we observed if the homes we visited had other desperate needs that we could note for future action.

What we found was that the extent of loss varied enormously, as the people’s economic condition varied too. Ironically in one wooden shack which was completely covered and all belongings were lost, all three occupants, adults were gainfully employed, and were able to replace their belongings. The wooden shack however was built illegally in an area that always floods, because the people who had come from elsewhere, where unable to find accommodation locally and opted for this temporary dwelling. They simply want a place to live, but are unable to find, a home, for reasonable rent, though there are boarding rooms that they could rent, but landlords prefer to let to only garment girls!  

I understand that in this DS division, there are 4,500+ flood affected homes, which are due to receive Rs10K each from the state. In my opinion, half had hardly any water come into the house, but were included in the lists, by request of homeowners. If the other half got Rs20K instead the truly affected could have been better served. It takes a homeowner to think of his need in relation to his more affected neighbor, and we are still a mee mee mee society, not one where we put our neighbor's needs above ours.

I dread to think of the fights ahead, when people will have to moved out, and other forms of relief is distributed. 

to be continued

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Grama Niladari – The most thankless job in the Government Service


I recently had the task of trying to obtain details of the most needy households in order to assist them in some way to get their lives back together from the effects of the recent disastrous floods.

The Government Servant in the field who should have the closest interaction with the residents is the Grama Niladari. Technically there are over 14,000 Grama Niladari Divisions in the Country, and each should have a GN attached to it. This Public Servant is appointed after passing an exam, and is technically a-political, though there are allegations, that in the past, these were all political appointments made for the benefit of the party in power, and they remain loyal to them.

Be that as it may, he is ONLY given a Rs1,000 a month allowance to have an office in his division, where often there is NO govt. office he can use, and has to pay and get a room from a local person from where he can carry out his activity. I understand that his basic pay or allowance is ONLY Rs15,000 a month, something that is barely sufficient to live on.

He is not entitled to nor given a computer, nor has one to keep a list of the between 500 and 2000 households that he has in his area of responsibility, covering a total population of between 2,000 and 8,000. So when the flood hit, he was NOT able to call all the homes, and find out which were damaged, as he does not even have a list of he mobile phones of those adults at the households.

One of his annual tasks is to go to each home about the end of May, and handover the Electoral Register, for the householder to fill. That is ONLY to list those ordinarily resident at that address, who are 18 years of age at 1st of June that year. SO HE HAS NO CLUE on the other members of that household he should cover.

I remember when I lost my ID card, I had to go to him, to get a letter to inform the Police of this loss, and then go back to him with the Police receipt to file the paperwork for a replacement ID card. So he has to vouch for you as being within his jurisdiction, an essential component for the receipt of an Identity Card.

Similarly, one cannot be buried without his certificate, and I know the bereaved have to go in search of their GN in the middle of the night, to release the body, with evidence of the ID card. He also issues character certificates to people, essential for a job application, to vouch for one’s residency.

I remember, I was not permitted to get electricity, by the GN who refused to authorize the document, (I still don’t have electricity there) because I was NOT the original licensee of the property I occupy, nor his rightful heir, even though I have farmed this property for over 10 years. The original family being given the property by license over 80 years ago, and has changed hands since many times, and I purchased it NOT by a legal document from the Divisional Secretariat but by a transfer from the previous occupant.

There are times when people have to wait hours to see him on his office days, which I believe have to be at least 2 mornings a week. He is not entitled to any assistance, so the wait is often outside his office with no waiting area from the elements either. I know people have to take a day out of work to meet the GN and are unable to achieve their objective due to his inability to come dring stipulated hours, out of an emergency or otherwise, we don’t know.

It is through him that many social services are handled, be it welfare, disability, nutrition subsidies for pregnant mothers, clinics, and special services for the elderly. One can see how much a local community depends on the reliability and diligence of the GN, and when these positions fall vacant and an overseeing GN is appointed temporarily to cover for another in addition to his own, there are problems of verification of information and a breakdown of sorts.

Due to the high degree of bureaucracy in Sri Lanka, where many things require a GN certificate of one sort or another, one needs to have a good relationship with the GN, as it is through him that you need to get permission to cut a tree in your property. He has had the cheek to ask for trees on my property to use to make the ceiling of his daughters house! If I say no, he will tie my hands in some other way, when I need his authorization.

This example shows that he uses his position for his benefit, and some have become exceedingly wealthy by using their position to permit criminal activity by his householders, where he shares in some of the loot for not reporting crime. This is when governance is non-existent, and we hope this is now in the past.

In the days gone by, he was called Grama Sevaka Ralahamy,  which followed the Gam Muladeni, or Village Headman, an honorary title, and was the quasi policeman ALSO for the area, and was responsible for reporting criminal activity, and got involved in personal disputes etc. He is the one you reported a complaint of loss or theft of an animal or any other criminal activity. One now has to go to the nearest Police Station to lodge these complaints.

He is usually expected to be in the Divisional Secretariat (DS) on Wednesdays Public Day) to meet with the various subject officers there, on matters of common interest to both, as he is the conduit through whom their subject matter is handled.

So in the case of those affected in the flood, he will liase with the Disaster Management Officer of the DS on needs in his area, and those who are still waiting for relief, or progress of various promises or projects to be or being undertaken in his area to give temporary and more permanent relief to the residents. I have been trying all morning to get in touch with one, but he does not answer his mobile phone.

In this particular flood, out of 49 GN divisions under the DS, 22 were affected, and 8 badly affected, and we are helping in 5 where we were able to contact and meet with the GN when we wanted. The needy in the other areas were not as fortunate! Their GN was not accessible when we wanted to visit and wrap up proceedings.


This description was given, and is in NO WAY extensive as to the duties, and responsibilities attached to this position, so that the reader can come to conclusions on the position’s relevance, and the way in which his knowledge, database, or lack of it, can be used to assist the Govt. in carrying out its duties to the Public in a more efficient and LESS TIME CONSUMING way.

The PUBLIC administration in Sri Lanka is SO EASY to manage, if the zillion people in the public sector, do the job they are being paid for. All things considered, the officers who litter the DS,  HATE to go into the field to do the job and interact with the GN on site, and with little official transport facilities, find excuses, why the numerous services of the state DO NOT get distributed to those in need of them.

This is called an overburdened in strength bureaucracy that has NOT been able to fairly allocate the responsibilities, for action and completion. In my opinion, it expects too much from an under resourced person. Nothing is done by primarily female staff who litter DS offices, due to having Degrees, but who don’t get their hands dirty, and take the needed responsibility for the State Machinery to work.

The Divisional Secretary gets a Rs10M vehicle and a full time driver, so their children and grandchildren can be dropped and picked up at school, college or tuition factory, and so does not go anywhere except for scheduled meetings.
We professionals in the private sector had a scheduled meeting with her, but she had left for an unscheduled meeting at her ministry, without making alternative arrangements for us, and wasted our valuable time, which we had reserved to help with the needs of the truly destitute victims of the recent flood!

People are NOT made of the same cloth, so we have the good and bad in every position, public and private sector. However in the Private Sector, non performers hardly last any time, and are pushed out, whilst in the Public Sector, the truly useless are often promoted upstairs, perpetuating and in fact worsening an already Red Tape laden bureaucracy. The Sri Lankan disease!

The GNs were asked to provide a list of ALL those affected by the floods, and they had done so. However this was not based on degree of being affected. Those who had an inch of water enter their home for 10 minutes, and those that were completely under water to roof level and not cleared for 10 days, went on the same list, for assistance, and those on lists received equal assistance from voluntary or politically organized groups, using those lists.

That resulted in much unfair distribution, with the truly needy often missing out as they had NOT yet been able to notify the GN of their plight, and so did not get into the lists in the first place. How would a simple hand held Pad been able to provide the needed information, if the list had been downloaded to it, and he only had to go around (by boat), and give a number rating as to extent of damage or destruction, so as to identify the gravity of the problem and provide the different levels of relief, resulting in a more equitable, and by implication, a better method of assessing and satisfying need.

In this technological age, these are very simple, cheap, and logical steps that MUST be taken, for administration of ANY emergency. No one I know has even suggested a method of improvement and use these ideas as a pilot project, using existing data of the existing emergency. The simplicity of the data, its use, and availability to share with appropriate authorities will ensure speedy action.

I am still waiting, a month after the tragedy, for the list of the MOST NEEDY 10 homes in 5 GN divisions, so I can distribute my relief supplies, I bought yesterday, and go to those homes, and see for myself, and provide additional support to rebuild or repair broken and washed out toilets, that will not be included in State Aid, and will form the second stage of my relief assistance to the needy. Some children don’t have the basics to go to school with, and others don’t even have a mat to sleep on, why are we so lackadaisical in helping them, at this late stage?


It is clear that in an age where we have 50,000 graduates wanting Govt. jobs, and the previous Govt. hired them at Rs10,000 a month, 55,000 of them! We have NOT been able to use their skills effectively.

We instead have placed too much responsibility on GN, who don’t require a degree for their positions, but have to qualify by passing a relatively simple exam.

There is a serious mismatch our Human Resource, as 70% who graduate from State Universities are women, and their first preference on obtaining an ARTS degree or AGRICULTURE degree, is to get a Teaching or Govt. Job such as at a DS, which from my observation, strengthened my hypothesis.

I know that most of the intake into Teaching are NOT competent to teach, resulting in the failure of our Education System, and those taken into the DS are NOT competent in the task handed to them either, resulting in a HUGE WASTE of resources, and a PUBLIC that has been fooled intuitively!

I recommend that the GN position is UPGRADED immediately, and better trained, and more responsible people are appointed to this post. I would seriously evaluate the effectiveness of office based staff in DS as a matter of priority, as they have a huge responsibility that they are NOT able to fulfill, and whether it is because most of them are female, and unwilling to go into the field and get their colorful OSARIES (Kandyan Style Sarees) dirty, I am not able to definitely conclude!

The name GN may have connotations that are NOT high ranking, and if that is the case, a name change may achieve a status change, and along with it a carder more appropriate to take their job to the desired level, along with promotion prospects is to be considered, and I will admit I don’t know how the system works.

I shall remind our readers that the President of Sri Lanka was a former GN, himself, and if there is anyone with more experience and knowledge on how this position should be viewed in the future it is him. I hope I can have this translated into Sinhala and sent to him, for him to get an opinion from an outsider, as to what I believe the position should be at, in the public service pecking order, due to the first line of the state’s relationship with its citizens being the all important GN.

In my extensive reading of Newspapers and journals of the day, I have yet to see one that covers this topic, and I hope I have at least raised an EYEBROW~

It is time the Government find a spokesman to lucidly explain their policies and counter misconceptions

A fresh face is needed to bat for the Government, as all the current players (politicians) have lost credibility with the PUBLIC and a genuine well argued defence of the Govt. Policies and Actions to attack unfounded criticism is long overdue

In light of criticism from the likes of WA Wijewardena, the former central bank deputy governor with 20years experience there, on a weekly basis, there is NO counterweight to his arguments, which are NOT always fair, as he has been on a personal agenda even in the previous Government for their lapses.

While it is refreshing to be reminded of incoherent policy decisions, and having a Monetary Board, who really don’t understand Monetary Policy, and therefore are NOT competent to be the trustees of the Bank in their operational actions, it is IMPORTANT that the Govt. provide a credible defence of its actions.

Without it, with Wijewardena, having the whole page to himself, people ONLY believe his word, whether true or false, and then have the impression that the Govt. is a bungling train wreck with the train driver drunk! 

Unrelenting criticism from a man with a font of knowledge as a man on a mission to crucify the Monetary Policy of Sri Lanka, we need a man to counter who can present the alternative scenario, while accepting some obvious lapses with dignity, but pointing out the tunnel vision of the Wijewardena game plan. His deficiencies don't get reported due to the lack of a competent challenger! Silence is weakness in this respect.

IF the Govt. does NOT do this immediately you are heading for a crisis of confidence and an economy that sooner rather than later will implode, with an exchange rate crisis, capital flight when exchange controls are lifted, and harsher terms from the IMF which further affect the poorer segments of our society, over the rest.

The leadership is rudderless, and NO ONE appears prepared to criticize the leader for fear of falling out of favor. It is NO time for niceties, and instead it is time for a spirited defence, and a game plan from now on till the end of term, that the people can trust. The distraction of the floods, Salawa and Ministers’ cars does not help.

The schock and awe facts of the current week, of removing exchange controls with one breath whilst introducing Capital Gains Tax when the Stock Market has tanked, is a case in point. It confused the issue which will result in another salvo from WA instead of silencing him to eat HUMBLE Pie just once!

Somehow the PM is NOT capable of giving the needed gravitas to an economic statement, and neither does the Finance Minister have that, so here goes:

The following can be attached to the overall Policy Statement that only gives the macroeconomic picture, of expected deficit, borrowing requirement, domestic and foreign, repayments of principal and interest for 2017, balance of payments, and remittances growth and expected economic growth. It is important to justify with certainty that the Govt. has covered its borrowing requirement at the lowest interest rates possible, to confirm the manifesto promises made.

1                   List all definite cabinet approved infrastructure projects that are currently in progress, with estimated completion dates, and funding mechanism, and total cost. The Rs5B Rajagiriya Flyover being the latest.
2                   List those that are continuing from previous Government projects in a similar manner in the same format.
3                   List the major policy changes that have benefited the people, be it the Govt. sector pay raise, or private sector pay raise.
4                   Promise a certain level of prosecution for crimes of the past regime, that the people are still waiting for beginning with a high profile case, to be imminently started. Concentrating on finding and recovering loot.
5                   Give assurances to senior Govt. servants who have suddenly, decided NOT to rock the boat by taking their initiative in projects under their direction, for FEAR OF FCID, that they SHOULD NOT fear prosecution where they have followed procedure, and NOT succumbed to pressure from above.
6                   Delegate powers direct to the District Secretaries to manage their workforce to SERVE the people and NOT the politicians, along with a performance measurement and promotional prospects for the productive.
7                   Announce major improvements to the Education, Health, and Welfare sectors to ensure justice and accountability and ombudsmen for complaints.
8                   Direct agriculture to produce, poison free, but affordable food, coupled with a nutrition, plan to reduce malnutrition amongst children.

These are a few ideas that can get maximum impact with the public who have lost faith in the Govt. and the Govt. has not satisfied their concerns in any way at all.

Progress in all these areas should be reported widely every month, so the public realize that this is not just words and intent, but serious and implemented.

In all this the politicians MUST also be prepared to make sacrifices on behalf of the state, and the responsibilities they take up, must be satisfactorily carried out, and the PMs office, constantly monitoring progress, and accountability for action.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The UNTOLD story of the 1990 Muslim Settlement in Puttlam

Just as I have pointed out the anomaly of the social engineering in the North and East, there is a forgotten population that is still displaced, from forcible expulsion in 1990, and NO ONE it seems has really looked into their well being.

I believe there were 10,000 Muslims who were evicted from their homes in various places in the Mannar District on account of the War, and put in temporary refugee camps in Puttlam, north of the Town. With procreation, marriage and extended families, this number has NOW swelled to about 50,000 and still live in these squalid conditions there, with some being successful in business, having better homes and a quality of life than others.

THESE PEOPLE have their vote NOT in the PUTTLAM District but in the Mannar District, and so their vote is taken to the District and used as part of the Mannar District vote base for politicians even though some have never even been to Mannar. They are permitted to vote without an ID card.

I recently spoke with the District Secretary of Puttlam, who though he is technically responsible for them, are not in any of his GN divisions, and so when a death occurs, there is NO WAY a GN death certificate which is necessary can be issued prior to disposing of the body! You cannot bury without it!

They are GN less or province less, people! No one has pointed this out. No one wishes to address this problem, due to various racial balances. Perhaps if all these people are added to the Puttlam District, it could alter the racial composition of the Electorates and upset the local political landscape. Due to this no one has had the courage to address and resolve the issue, and give these people even an INDENTITY CARD. How can you issue an ID card if you don’t have a GN division?

Some of the people in these camps have land in the Mannar District, but for convenience live in their camps, as the conditions are presumably better for them here. The camps are thriving communities that have been transformed into permanent homes, and then I say merely give them permanent residency there, if they do not wish to move to their previous homes, if that is their wish.

In these times, it is a minor problem that no one wishes to intercede in, and it is important that we resolve this, once and for all, by merely giving the people the option of deciding where they wish to live, and if they can find a home there, they are free to move. It should NOT be the state to resettle them at State Expense.    

When I see foreign emissaries, going around Sri Lanka to report on progress of resettlement, I ask myself why have we permitted it?

I was perturbed when I just saw some photos of the UK High Commissioner visiting houses of people resettled in the North East, using some form of UK aid or assistance.

Whenever anyone of note arrives in Sri Lanka, they make a bee line to Jaffna, as if it is an essential part of their pilgrimage, as if to check on the people living there, and if matters have settled, and people are living NORMALLY!

Is all this due to the PUSH factor from their Country, where citizens of Sri Lankan Tamil origin, have placed political pressure on them to go there for themselves and see the real situation? or is it merely an attempt to gain some validity to their visit by going to these areas that have not seen any violence in 7 years? Frankly the people are calmer there than in Orlando FL, today, and we are certainly not sending an emissary to USA to look into their welfare.

I find all this very patronizing on the part of the visitor, or the Ambassador, and if I can’t go there, to see for myself and ask them, my fellow countrymen, can I help you with something you don’t have, why should I permit these do gooders from across many ponds to do so? Why is the Govt. permitting this?


In principle we must stop these foreign looky loos, making this pilgrimage, and instead empower, and allow our own people who work in social service, to go and look into their welfare, and use the available state funding to help them with their livelihood development. This foreign input is ONLY in a divided Country. We are UNITED, as one aren’t we?

We have a severe employment shortage, especially a skills shortage. There are people stuck in tracts of land, in the North and East with little means of sustenance, why do we keep these refugees there? Have we lost our priorities? Should we not move them elsewhere, provide them with housing and employment, where they can be gainfully employed, and add to the economic growth of Sri Lanka, rather than be a burden on the state dragging their limited resources to provide welfare?

I can’t help feeling that this is a conspiracy of the West, to permanently interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. We are stupid enough to permit this, whilst India forbids it without flinching. They don’t even accept aid from anyone in case of emergencies as they believe they can cope with all eventualities.

We are talking a UNIFIED Country, we should NOT engage in resettlement of people just to justify racial balances. People should be able to MOVE FREELY and live anywhere of their choice in such a country, just as Sinhala people must be allowed to go and buy property in Jaffna if they so wish, and carry on a business.

In my opinion, the current political climate is rigid, and not in keeping with the times, where people are mobile, and if 80% of Jaffna Tamils from the Peninsula are now overseas, and only resettled Tamils in the Peninsula, I have every right to settle in Jaffna as the other man, if the Diaspora choose not to return!

If Sri Lanka truly believes that we have turned the corner, and are an upwardly mobile, country with new aspirations and horizons, the politicians, especially in the North and East MUST also take that step, and not enslave their electorate to outdated themes of land, province, homelands as such.

Now the majority of the Tamil speaking people speak Sinhala also. Only a minority who live in the Northern and Eastern areas don’t. It is extremely unfair of the politicians to leave them as hostages to their own personal agendas, when all they want is a better life for themselves and their children, and we can give them, that, but possibly not where they are current living, due to lack of opportunities.

If people from the rural Sinhala villages can move to the Western Province in search of work, so can those from rural Tamil villages. They must be given the option of choosing their fate, not for others, and even the British in this instance to tie them up in the North, by building houses.

This also goes to my contention that this project to build 65,000 houses is ALSO misplaced, as we will continue, to enslave people, by building a home, in an area with little future, instead of moving them where there is, and building them their home in a different location.

Development and growth is organic. People move to where there is a job, a livelihood, an office, a factory. It is usually NOT the other way round. A private concern may bring the factory, to where the people are if that is the only way they can grow. However it is which comes first, it should be the employment opportunity, and then the infrastructure can be built round it. Schools, shops offices, factories and the Govt. machinery!

Let us NOT treat women headed households as a problem, and look at it as a resource that can benefit from policies aimed at development and sustainability.