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!  

EvalColombo2018 – A joke presented by jokers in a country run by jokers

Just read the link in today's FT that highlights the President's speech and you will see what a waste of time it all is. What is the point stating that the public service is only 30% efficient when we have known this all along?

The above launched in Colombo on the 17th of Sept 2018, Chaired by the President and launched by the Prime Minister involving over 100 parliamentarians from across the Globe takes the cake.

The whole idea to encourage evidence based decision making in Government. So when Gamperaliya is about spending Rs80Billion of money we don’t have, to be wasted as an election gimmick, this evidence based decision making has already been damned by our own administration sponsoring this TAMASHA at the public’s expense.

What is the Government trying to do?  The private sector daily, is challenged in making decisions about spending money, hiring people, and investing in new plant and machinery, based on carefully prepared cash flow forecasts and business plans, as any failure has NO SECOND CHANCE.

The PUBLIC SECTOR is JUST WAKING UP  TO THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE BEEN WASTING THE PUBLIC MONEY FROM DAY ONE and is trying to correct their populist and highly wasteful policies and practices, but using this gimmick of EVALUATION.

Hey guys in Government please don’t try to re-invent the wheel. We in the private sector know all about it, and we don’t want people who don’t even understand the concept of waste as it is other people’s money that you waste, deciding that the time is right to use evidence based decision making in order to be MORE EFFICIENT. Give me a break!

All this is just a play upon words. No one on Government knows how much money you are wasting to maintain a system of Public Service we just cannot afford and it is always the poor people in Sri Lanka who are paying for your extravagance. There is NO mention anywhere of Environmental Impact!

De camp from Colombo, and at a stroke you will remove the need for 400,000 public servants, living in Colombo, paying high rents or interest payments for housing, spending 4 hours on the road every day and only working 4 hours a day, and then making high demands on the treasury where 80% of the expenditure is spent. Get rid of the security and car permits for all, and in ONE STROKE you will save Rs300Billion. If that is done, you will not have to engage in evaluation as that is the answer to the problem of Sri Lanka today, and with this stroke of eliminating waste along with the wastrels, only projects which are cost effective and show a public benefit that also reduces environmental impact will be chosen.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Consequences and management of Natural Disasters – How best to handle – lessons to be learnt from Puerto Rico

It is clear from reading the article in the link below on this week’s revelation that the death toll from the Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico A YEAR AGO was revised only this week from 64 to 3,000, that even in the USA there is utter confusion on how to handle a disaster. Don’t forget the USA has natural disasters frequently almost every 6 months and they still have to get their act together in putting procedures in place to make sure those MOST VULNERABLE are immediately assisted.

When reading the article in details there are so many areas that must be considered and is a case study, I will recommend to Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Ministry to read carefully and understand how systems must be in place to minimize the effect of a disaster.

We in Sri Lanka do not have to re-invent the wheel and we can easily use the examples of others to better manage disasters, as it is a science worthy of a degree at University, on disaster management and mitigation, a course a Private University cold set up in Sri Lanka as a world first to attract students from all over the world to follow!

Please be mindful that climate change is upon us and soon the Maldive Islands will disappear with their citizens needing to be re-settled. So it is a matter on our doorstep anyway.

The article even talks about doctors not being trained properly to assess the real reason a death occurred and instead put the reason of the final medical rationale, but what predicated that heart attack or other trauma that speeded death. This is just one aspect of preparedness and directing resources to where it is needed.

Today, 17 districts of 25 are suffering drought, and the most urgent aspect of that is potable water for people and something as simple as that in a small country, has not been properly managed, when you have computer systems, and communications to manage the movement of trucks of water from places there is plenty of it, to places that are in need, which can be done within hours, with simple technology, just like how ambulances can be dispatched to an accident scene in the shortest possible time, when you know the location of the accident and the location of the closest available ambulance. It is the will of the state that is lacking to do the simple things that will save lives and prolong others.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A high powered discussion recently on Human Elephant Conflict agreed it is an urgent National Issue outside of petty political agendas. Where is the follow up on that 150 minute discussion?

Main “takeaways” from the panel discussion on Monday 10th September on News 1st regarding the Human Elephant Conflict (HEC)

Those on the hot seat were, Environmental Lawyer Jagath Gunewardena, Elephant Expert & Scientist Chairman of the Center for Conservation and Research Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando, Environmentalist & Director Species Conservation Center Pubudu Weeraratne, Chairman of the Federation of Environmental Agencies Rohan Wijesinha, and Deputy Minister for Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Mr Palitha Thewerapperuma. 

This was hosted by Sonali Wanigabaduge and a panel of three journalists picked to ask questions of the panel.

The consensus was this is a NATIONAL PROBLEM that needs urgent discussion and a policy framework devoid of a political agenda, which should not change depending on changes in political colors from time to time. In summary some of the solutions are shown below, to be refined and coated to be acceptable to those affected: 

Too many agencies, all working at cross purposes, which actually contribute to the HEC, which is getting worse by the day, despite the desire to throw resources to mitigate its effects.

Elephants have their own trajectory, based on their history and needs, and this has been blocked off for various reasons, without adequate passages to compensate and permit their migration.

The DWC is resources starved to do the job for which it is responsible, and throwing money for fencing, or adding 3,000 more staff, is not going to automatically resolve the longer issues that need tackling.

Elephants and people share 66% of the land mass of Sri Lanka, and in this area, it is important that people are mindful of this interdependence. Therefore building Udagammana housing units right across Elephant Corridors is going to aggravate an already tense situation rather than alleviate it. All these housing schemes are political gimmicks that will come back to haunt their patrons, as these homes will not be livable due to elephant attacks. It is best to immediately halt their spread and wise to remove those already finished and handed over, before it becomes a liability to the Government.

Adopt the Elephant Management System, prepared by the Department of Wildlife and approved by the Cabinet in its entirety, instead of ignoring it completely. This will prevent further escalation of the conflict.

There is no shortage of elephant experts in Sri Lanka, heed their advice instead of ignoring it. The conflict can be managed with locating the electric fences in ecological boundaries instead of departmental jurisdictions, as the latter is bound to fail and be constantly in need of repair, due to elephant not heeding its dictates!

Remove all cattle from Protected areas and especially from all National Parks as a matter of priority, as grazing cannot be shared by Elephants and cattle, and find alternative enclosed areas for grazing in areas of human settlement.

Permit temporary fencing and protection just for one season crops, and remove them for elephant grazing once harvested, which will alleviate unnecessary fencing barring traditional elephant habitat, while marketing the concept of fencing villages in, and not fencing elephants in, which will not alleviate conflict which will arise, if they are prevented from moving into traditional land
Most local authorities dispose of their rubbish into forest lands frequented by Elephants, which leads to herds gravitating to these dumps, and often ingesting plastic and lethal items as a result. An urgent action plan to prevent this immediately and alternative garbage disposal procedures adopted. Elephants used to this practice are more likely to want to break into villages, than those who have not been exposed to local garbage dumps.

The upkeep, maintenance, repair of Electric Fences - the responsibility of the villagers, who will receive payment to those entrusted. This thrusts responsibility directly to those affected. It has proved successful in areas where this principal has been adopted, with little or no HEC, so it has worked fine!

It is important that steps are taken for the Department of Wildlife Conservation and The Forest Department of Sri Lanka to be under one ministry and work hand in hand, CLOSELY as more elephants inhabit Forest Department Land than land belonging to the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

In keeping with the President’s goal of doubling the land under forest cover, to immediately stop any more land being demarcated for development from DWC and FD land, and perhaps to bring back already degraded land previously given up for sugar cane cultivation and the like, to new planting of forestry.

The private sector as stakeholders in the biodiversity of Sri Lanka can be called into partner projects of re-forestation and managed tourism to counter the bad effects of excessive visitation of Yala, Minneriya and Kaudulla.

If jeep drivers are now acting as tour guides inside the parks, due to the lack of Park Rangers, then they must be trained and carry that certification for the park which they are using. They must adhere to all the rules of the Park strictly and any violations dealt with harshly.

Awareness programs for the public in conflict zones, to the presence of elephants and basic precautions to be taken, especially in travelling in the dark by foot, where elephants can be rattled, and basic precautions to protect one’s property, without resorting to ammunition to chase elephants away.

Negotiate with villagers to remove homes in direct Elephant corridors and re-house them, in a similar manner people are being resettled when highways are constructed.

A long term plan of purchasing land to return to forest, choosing the areas carefully to permit elephants more space to roam in including unproductive agricultural lands that are subsistence and marginal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Worker exploitation in 2018, by the private sector – real or imagined?

If one reads the report, (link below) that was recently published in the Daily Mirror, it seems to imply that retail workers are particularly badly exploited by their employers. Just think about it for a moment.

Supermarkets of any size are Food City, Keells, Laugfs, Arpico, and Sathosa, the latter owned by the Government

All other retail are small, where if the staff are exploited, it is simply the fault of the employee to suffer in silence, as he or she can leave in an instant as vacancies outnumber job seekers 25 to 1 in this field.

So I ask, we now have an open system of recruitment, where all supermarkets are desperate for employees, and it is up to the employee to continue in service or leave for better prospects. If there are people who want security of employment, then they have to suffer the ignominy of putting up with terms that are unfair or exploitative, but that is only because they choose this security for the chance of perhaps bettering themselves.

There was NO reference in the report above to there being NO alternatives for the disgruntled employees to consider. In today’s labor market, the real problem for all employers, be they Supermarket Chains or any other private company, large or small is the rapid turnover of staff. We are in a labor market that has many vacancies and staff look at all opportunities available to them in choosing to remain or leave, for better prospects. This holds true at ALL LEVELS of employment, from the cleaner right up the chain of command to the boss.

Going back to the supermarket labor force, the staff in these companies compare benefits all the time, as they are in play, meaning they will move for better prospects, depending on their mobility, taking into account their personal circumstances. There is competition for staff and gradually I have noticed that staff gravitate to those who give the best overall package, that consists of working hours, wage rates, benefits in kind, be they be travel, meals, accommodation, child care, promotion prospects, and the chances of those showing promise to rapidly rise through the ranks.

When a staffer says they are poorly paid, they are simply being exploited, because they have chosen to continue to work in the same establishment, without moving out, the reasons for inertia are not all that clear.
One is free to leave to another employer. Vacancies in every Sunday Newspaper seems to defy all sense, for us to imagine that there are no people to fill them.

I personally would turn the whole retail debate on its head, and tell the employers that the ball is in their court to offer the best package that is financially justifiable for the organization to be profitable to the extent it needs to be. IF by doing so they are able to recruit capable, willing and able staff, they will then draw customers in more than they do now. The article assumes, Supermarkets are bent on paying staff a minimum wage which is not sufficient to live on. Well if that is true, no one will take those jobs due the marketplace having more choices. There is a huge dearth of housemaids in Sri Lanka as there is for drivers, obviously people who chose these fields do so because they believe the working condition are more conducive, as otherwise they would leave. So the whole point of the article is lost, and much ado about nothing.

It is also worth mentioning that the overtime carrot is always placed in front of all employees in all fields, not just in retail, to show the potential income if they work the said hours. It is a calculation that is easily done, and frankly, the retailers, being so short staffed and unable to recruit give the existing staff the chance of working many many hours of overtime, with the human limit, being the reasonable amount one can actually work without getting ill from overwork!

It is just as well to point out that employers don’t give staff a large basic salary as the EPF and ETF calculation is based on basic salaries and not on the overtime their staff work. Further let’s not forget that overtime is a factor of the hourly basic wage, and so when that basic wage is higher so is the overtime, a further reason NOT TO PAY a high basic as overtime can be a multiple of that wage, especially when it comes to statutory obligation to pay double time for working on Sundays or Poya Days, actually preferred dates for staff to work on due to extra pay earned then.

From this summary hear, I trust that the reader is able to come to a conclusion that there are options for all people, and those stuck in retail are those incapable of doing anything else, but who should not blame their employers for that predicament, but themselves alone, either due to a lack of education, lack of mobility to move to where better employment prospects are available or simply because they like the devil they know to the devil they don’t!

It is up to each individual to work out their best personal work life balance bearing in mind what’s available. What the state should do is reduce the attraction of Govt. jobs that lead to dissatisfied private sector employees. They compare the NO WORK environment of many public sector jobs, from which to make comparisons and therefore bemoan their lot for journalists to write crap