Time to abandon fantasy and rhetoric
Posted on January 10th, 2011

Dr. Tilak Fernando

Towards the end of the 20th Century the term “ƒ”¹…”New Millennium’ became the hot topic of conversation. Everyone focused their fears on the Y2K, “ƒ”¹…”the millennium computer bug’. It was assumed that a complete “ƒ”¹…”over-run’ of the century old working systems would be affected as computers would go berserk, aeroplanes might fall out of the skies on December 31, 2000 and the whole world would plunge into darkness!

As the time drew nearer, some consolatory information confirmed the computer engineers’ ability to resolve the problem. With such assurances the world survived.

Development drive
* Peace and tranquility with defeat of terrorism * Development projects to boost infrastructure

* Community participation important

* Cooperation and adherence to policy paramount

First decade from the 21st Century has already worn out and we have just stepped into another new year where the main emphasis becomes overall development, as a nation, to accept and adjust ourselves in every respect and aspect and move with the times at a time Sri Lanka focuses on an “ƒ”¹…”unprecedented development program’ in the immediate future.

“ƒ”¹…”Sour grapes’ attitude

What is development? It means many things to scores of people, politicians and the governments alike, where a populace lives and works in well designed, resilient environments in which enlightened enterprises deliver excellent, sustainable products and services for the cultural and human well-being.

Development motivates a broad range of attitudes, perceptions and practices with the full participation of a community. In this respect everyone in a society has something to offer.

Sri Lanka has moved a long way since the millennium. Obliterated treacherous terrorist element from this land has brought about peace and tranquility upon citizenry to pave way for further advancement of the country.

Government and private sector

Despite some “ƒ”¹…”sour grapes’ attitude adopted by certain politicians, massive development projects to boost the entire infrastructure of the country are on track today.

However, enhancement will not arrive at our doorstep if we were to fold up our arms and wait till it falls on our laps. At a time the State is enthusiastically making road maps towards this end, everyone’s participation too should become dynamic to achieve such aspirations.

In such an endeavour, President Rajapaksa alone cannot accomplish this task in the fashion of a schoolmaster attempting to discipline pupils with “ƒ”¹…”the rod’! Cooperation and adherence to policy should become paramount.

There are highly qualified and handsomely paid officials in both government and the private sector with full of perks who should bear the responsibility towards this goal without being seen as proverbial “ƒ”¹…”sacks of Basmati rice’ to warm their posterior.

Awareness, initiative, responsibility, delegation and implementation of their conviction and influence on their subordinates should become powerful links in such an agenda.

Sponsorship scheme

My personal experience during a visit to a government “ƒ”¹…”Authority’ prior to disposing of a land astounded me. Need I say how ghastly I watched employees of this government department walked into their office first thing in the morning, then took their breakfast bundles and disappeared in the direction of the canteen; upon returning back to their desks getting engrossed with comparing notes on tele-dramas they watched the previous night with other colleagues while the public seeking their assistance were kept in desolation and wrath.

A sudden flash out of my mobile phone camera upset a hornet’s nest in a jiffy and brought the personnel back to “ƒ”¹…”sanity’, while a female member of staff whispered: “ƒ”¹…”Araya photo gahuwa pathatharenda danne neha’ (he photographed, wonder whether he is from the press)’ This goes to illustrate the level of dedication and the respect they exhibit for the salaries they earn! Line Managers in this instance were either twiddling their thumbs or still on their way to office!

The Road Development Authority offers “ƒ”¹…”60,000 sq. m. of advertisement space in major Highways on Roundabouts, Centre islands and Splitter islands as the first phase of a sponsorship scheme’.

Pleasing the eye of motorists alone cannot be called development in the absence of the Authority’s lack of deep-seated actions to prevent severe damage being caused to road vehicles due to frequently falling apart roads with potholes, keeping major roads (such as Parliament Road) in stark darkness exposing even the police on duty at night as death traps.

Employing a couple of manual workers to do slapdash jobs of filling potholes with pinches of bitumen and compressing such fillings with their flip-flops can be viewed as an eye wash and unproductive exercises only. Surely this kind of operations can’t be called “ƒ”¹…”development’ in any language?

Quality of service

The difference between the government and public company operation is widely divergent.

Private banks for instance, have introduced some kind of discipline by training customers to approach cashiers in an orderly manner, while within State owned banks it becomes a tug of war among undisciplined and impatient customers. What advancement……?

The idea behind over employing staff by government offices is to give public a quality of service. Just to make one more illustration, the difference in having to pay a consumer (electricity) bill of the CEB through a Supermarket outlet costs an additional Rs 15 to the consumer whereas customers served by private electric companies are exempt from any fee when paying through the same outlets!

The disparity here is that the private company has less staff and still offers a better and inexpensive service to their customers whereas the CEB with an overflowing level of staff adds further financial burden on their customers with an extra levy at Supermarket outlet. If a bank or a service outlet is authorized to accept payment on consumer bills, why should the CEB customers have to part with extra payments?

All supplementary charges should automatically be borne by the billing authority which normally will be included in their periodic service charges imposed by bank or the nominated outlet. If DEVELOPMENT is Sri Lanka’s forte in the coming years, then surely “ƒ”¹…”it is time for everybody including politicians and bureaucrats equally to abandon the realm of fantasy and rhetoric and enter the ambit of action and work’.

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