Monday, October 21, 2019

Our bankers are the shits, their lending practices are the pits, their masters are real gits, and the people who are dim wits, cannot see the light when obscured by tits!

Entrepreneurship is encouraged, but teaching financial management, and providing insurance for economic downturns is not done by the formal sector

The ONLY last resort of turning to the 10% a month interest charging money lender is a license to commit suicide in this economic climate. NO wonder there is slow growth and neither Presidential Candidate has a ready solution to offer.

We live in very uncertain times. Depite the CBSL order to reduce lending rates those benefiting are the larger borrowers who have a credit history, and managing to pay, albeit with difficulty. The critical sector, the SMEs needing Rs5M or less in working capital, or similar business development loans, the true engine of our economy, up and down the country, in every town and village, do not have access to such. 

Only larger organizations with business men who are able to use their crony capitalist credentials to obtain loans, have interest waived, and grease the palms of tax inspectors to further benefit from the CBSL interest lowering windfall. If all that fails, they have a politician who will demand that the state banks lend to this deadbeat, resulting in 90% of the defaults of State Banks.

The article by WA Wijewardena in today’s FT illustrates three examples of enterprising people who don’t have access to funds, and resort to the village money lender whose rates of interest is a recipe for a “License to commit suicide”.

I have maintained all along that the SL Banks pride themselves in making the biggest profits of any company in SL. However it is due to their sheer greed, using collateral for lending, so they cover their backsides many fold, are of NO help to the up and coming businessman, the back bone for recovery and empowerment for youth to take risks and grow the economy.

The Airhead and the Warhead seeking our vote simply cannot comprehend this simple task, and they don’t have advisers with brain cells who can either, so we the public are left to rue another lost chance, as the name of the game in politics is to make promises that sound good, but don’t mean a hill of beans to the economy as they are EMPTY PROMISES!

How and when can we educate our voting public that we need an army of practical bankers, who have their ear to the ground, able to identify a good business proposition from a con artist, and lend to this sector that is the true engine of growth. Even I have approached banks for small loans, less than Rs1M, but branch managers don’t use discretion asking instead for mortgage on land worth many times more, are they serious?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Remembrance of HA Sirisena who troubled none and had no enemies, isn't that enough?

The life of HA Sirisena my man in Ratmale, who looked after me and my property for 8 years (b 18 July, 1953 – d 14 October 2019)

This tribute is written of a good man, who lived, brought up his family, married off his two children and who left them living with their families in adjoining houses now with a total of 5 grandchildren.

He did not achieve greatness in the sense of how we judge success, but please remember we all live and die, and few achieve notoriety, another form of greatness in the eyes of the public.

He had died around 5 am on the 14th and the funeral was at 3pm on the 16th. Finally, and quite unusually for this area, at the time of the last religious rites and up until he was buried, the skies opened up like nothing and it rained so heavily, it was merciful that the sheds put up were large enough to continue with the proceedings without delay. However we were all drenched in our walk to the gravesite and while we watched when the coffin was put and covered over. Only then did the rain cease, only to re start half hour later into the night.

He is buried with the forest surrounding his grave site, so I am happy he has the forest and the sounds of the forest around him, just like how he lived with the same sounds around him at my place, which did not have electricity, also in the middle of the forest and none around even in shouting distance from the house, in complete darkness.

He was born in a village in the South of Sri Lanka between the villages of Werakatiya and Walasmulla in the heart of Mahinda Rajapakse Madamulana home range, and is closely related to Thomaratne Don Franciscu born 16 February 1926 who was a UNP MP and a rival of Don Alwin (DA) Rajapakse of Madamulana, Mahinda Rajapakse’s father born twenty years earlier and the more influential elder brother, Don Mathew (DM) father of George Rajapakse.

He was the eldest of 7 children with the difference in age from him to his youngest sibling being over 16 years. So he left his home town in search of employment around 1977 and found a job in the Textile Mills that had been set up in Minneriya by the Sirimavo Bandaranayake Government, which later closed down as a result of the open door policy of the JR Jayawardene Government that succeeded.

He therefore married Chandralatha, called Chooti Menike, a very industrious and hardworking lady who even now had her own Papaya Cultivation in her front yard selling fresh papaya from the front of the house to whoever stops to buy some. I believe the land was her property, along with the paddy fields.

I even have photos of her working on my wattle and daub house plastering mud for a daily wage, many years ago, so she was equally an earning partner in the relationship as he was, to keep the home fires burning.

In addition to my monthly stipend I paid him, he kept a Betal Leaf plantation on the property taking care of it, and tending to it in his imitable style and plucking the mature leaves, before his evening bath in the lake, and he would then take them to the various shops from where they were sold to customers and that supplemented his income.

Latterly, however, some disease overtook it where most of the plants died and I had just bought 100 plants for him in Hingurakgoda, just a day before he fell ill, in fact that night he had wanted pork for dinner and we had searched high and low for it, but could only get chicken for dinner which was cooked and eaten before his attack that night, that led us to take him to hospital, that night being the last he was able to spend on my property.

Once he fell ill and the property was not guarded at nights, the elephants moved in and destroyed what was left, including the betal plantation, so I guess that was just an end of an era, where I have to begin again, concentrating on just oranges and lime to be planted in between the mature trees, as they are the only crops that are usually safe from elephants and monkeys.

All in all, he was given whatever he had asked for in the last few months, and except for the few weeks in the ICU his demise was swift with minimum of suffering. He admitted it was his fault in not taking his medication when he should have all these years as he was a heart patient of long standing, so it was only inevitable that he would have an attack that could kill him sooner rather than later and he pushed his luck this long, that is about 5 years living the way he wanted.

Most of all I was so happy when his daughter told me he was so pleased that her daughter had topped the area with 161 marks in the Grade 5 exam a few days ago.

A nephew, that is a son of one of his sisters gave the vote of thanks at the funeral and made it a point to mention my name and his work with me at my home, to say that was what he had been doing up until his demise. I was also asked to make a speech at the funeral but declined.

His 6 younger siblings attended his funeral and I spoke with his three younger brothers, at different times to give them some idea of what he was like, and what he liked to do and what he in fact did for me. I did not meet his 3 younger sisters who were also there. His youngest brother has a herd of buffalo and supplies curd to shops in the area, and has built a business based on the quality of his product.

Sirisena suffered a heart attack while I was with him over a month ago, and had been admitted to the ICU of the Polonnaruwa Hospital, which had released him,  after a few weeks, heavily medicated, but with the knowledge that he was not strong enough to undergo open heart surgery for blocked valves, due to both diabetic and kidney failure.

While when we said our good byes on October 5th when I returned to Godagama, I had a premonition that it may be the last time I saw him. In fact while we had a few minutes to chat while he was seated in my veranda, I asked him how his family were financially, and if they had the basics to live and he was in the affirmative, as his son had a good job at the DWC, and though his son in law was only a small farmer, with little land, he earned his living doing daily labor to keep the home fires burning. They were not poor, but did not have any financial reserves, living primarily from day to day only.

I had in the previous week bought him a new phone, as his phone had finally packed up, and I had also personally taken him to have his eyes tested to Hingurakgoda, but was told that he should first consult a surgeon as his eye sight seems to be non-static, and possibly needs to be tested for other complications first, before even being able to write a prescription.

Both due to his illness and the need to sort matters out with regard to getting an electricity connection, I had the chance of spending much more time at Ratmale this last month than I had in the past, as well as the fact that I had left my job, and so was both able to spend time a week before his death, not going anywhere else, as well as having the two days to spend with the family and their friends at the funeral having arrived on the night of his demise and left only the following day after the funeral back to Colombo. I therefore look on that as being fortunate!

I was told after his first stint in hospital, he had wanted to keep some cash with him to give the attendants who had put the catheter on him, so they would do the needful, and much to my disgust as he was removed from the ward to ICU just before he died of total heart failure, his new phone I had given him and money on the bed was stolen, most likely by hospital staff! I sometimes wonder about man’s greed even in light of a man who was to die within a few hours and had no one by his side at the end.

I took exception to the priest saying that he never came to the temple, when his daughter and wife did the needful to the temple in offering alms and food. Did they even know that he always listened to Bana and Pirith on the radio when he was in the house? Does that not signify an element of piety? He lived a good life and he has nothing to regret having brought up his family, who are inevitably going to miss, him, but that is sadly the circle of life.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Childcare in 2020 Sri Lanka – A crisis that has not been addressed adequately

This is a critical topic, obviously not one dick of the Presidential hopefuls even understands it, so will not even have a brain cell to explain this issue or worse include it in their manifesto or in discussions.

On the other hand we have just been presented with the message that part of the reason for the slow growth rate in Sri Lanka is the low labor force participation of females in Sri Lanka. Why do you think? It is a combination of many males who still have to grow up who think the women’s job is to keep the home, while he can go work and get drunk afterwards and come legless, having spent most of his wages and the wife merely has to do the needful on the pittance he gives her!

Trust me I know what I am saying as I have lived long enough in the rural areas of Sri Lanka to witness this. Added to this the modern day slavery our women endure in the Middle East to fend for their families and form the largest foreign exchange earnings for the country, with the second being the garment industry that employs females, who contribute to the labor force participation, but are not given their true place in society either.

So who can blame women, as those who add to the labor force have to leave families behind to work for the most part, except for the few married mothers who work in garment factories that pick them up from their own homes.

Given this background the childcare is left to grandparents, as we don’t have a social welfare net of foster care or homes where these kids can be looked after.

So what am I advocating in solving childcare, while at the same time increasing the labor force participation rate of women?

Temporary housing where families can live and flexibility of schools is one option, because increasingly, fathers and mothers work far from home, some do the silly thing of commuting daily, so kids don’t see them, others are boarded and come home at weekends or sometimes only once a month, where the kids are brought up by the extended family, usually grandparents.

Frankly, children need a stable home environment and often, if the parents cannot provide that the grandparents can fill the role effectively, with minimal damage to the child. If they in fact are the care givers, then they must be identified in the data base and assisted in doing their job, as it is a labor of love, unpaid and most of all under appreciated. This is another reason that women go into teaching so they can be home early, not because they want to teach well!
As one can see, there is a myriad of problems in child care and there is emphasis on the work place having a crèche to take care of children and allowing mothers flexible working schedules so that they can take care of their children, while holding down a job, contributing to the economy of SL.

So what is the job of the state in all this?

Simply to understand the issue, and then be an enabler allowing parents and even grandparents benefits when they are both taking care of children, while not being paid or mothers doing it while they are working. Being a male dominated society, the fathers being the primary care giver is few and far between, but nevertheless instances where they have to sacrifice their employment opportunities for this.

I recommend that we first build a data base of the census of affected children, and then analyze what if any help their caregivers need. I have always advocated the sue of the schools that being closed in villages for lack of teachers and students being attracted to the nearest towns. These properties can server as places where the carers can come to and form a series of crèches and pre-schools that fill this void.

It is a no brainer to use this property for both seniors and child care centers as well as pre-schools which can make a dying village vibrant. I see the schools that have closed turn into drug dens or worse, and some have fallen into ruin with lack of maintenance as the Govt. department which owns it has no alternative use for it! One has to look at the stock of Government Property everywhere to see the waste of public property due to the lack of foresight of the State Sector officers in utilizing the resources at their disposal for the greater good of their citizens.

The link below is to an article showing that this problem is universal and not restricted to Sri Lanka. So it is one of merely addressing this issue with foresight, and a plan to achieve the objectives I have set out earlier.

In Conclusion

In order to increase labor force participation of women in Sri Lanka to aid the development effort and improve the standard of living, we need to understand why it is fewer women work, and worse why it has fallen instead of risen, and take the necessary steps to reverse this trend, one of which is how to manage child care, with assistance from the state in turning closed schools into community centers where children can be brought up with love and extended family care.