Bicycle politicos aversion to Agri Industry
Posted on November 28th, 2018

By ; A.A.M.NIZAM – MATARA

The ungrateful designer turned former Finance Minister and a notorious Butterfly leader quisling Mangala Samaraweera has ridiculed the tax concessions announced by Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa recently for the agriculture sector.  Before going to elaborate about the benefits the country could derive from these concessions, it is prudent to have a broad idea about the agriculture sector of this country and its history.

Priority and special attention from our ancient Kings and due to their dedication to agriculture and irrigation sectors a culture of Wewai Daagebai (Tank and the Temple) sprouted all over the country with a majority of population dedicated to agriculture and embracing agriculture as a vocation. They, the farming community became the majority community in the country and Sri Lanka became a major rice and spices exporting country during the times of King Maha Parakrama Bahu and many others. The farming community dominates almost all the districts in Sri Lanka today including the North in which South Indians (Tamils and Malayalis) brought by Dutch colonialists were settled there as tobacco cultivating farmers and were assimilated with the Sri Lankan population.

It is sad to note that quisling Mangala Samaraweera who does not belong to the farming community perhaps does not understand the importance of agriculture and as usual of him to forgetting his past has forgotten that he entered Parliament for the first time in 1989 because of the support extended to him by the Goigama (farming community) voters on the persuasion of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa undertook this mission even neglecting his own election on the instructions of the late Prime Minister Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike.  Madam Bandaranaike who had a thorough knowledge of compositions of people in all districts had instructed Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa  who had much adoration by the Goigama community in the South and particularly in the Matara district as his mother was a respected lady from the Matara district to take Mr. Samaraweera (known at that time as Bicycle apekshaka without having even a vehicle to indulge in canvassing in the vast terrain of Matara district) to the Goigama chieftains in his vehicle and muster their support to Mangala’s candidacy.  This former bicycle apekshaka h as now completely forgotten his own history and has become ungrateful to the man who was the ladder to his rise in politics. When his mother the late Mrs. Khema Samaraweera was alive she used to tell many including this writer that Mangala would not have won his first election in 1989 if not for Mahinda.

This bicycle apekshaka has now become one of the super rich politicians in Sri Lanka and owns a super luxury palatial mansion in Panadura facing the Bogolla Lake and when he comes to Matara he stays at a luxury multi roomed Hotel built by him at Nakulugamuwa, facing the sea reportedly with a bevy of butterflies.  Despite spending millions at elections this super rich politician (former bicycle apekshaka) cannot become first in the district due to caste consciousness of the voters in the Matara district and beat the UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana who belongs to the Goigama caste in the race to become first in the district.

Mr. Samaraweera’s criticism of the agricultural sector could be understood due to  his utter ignorance of the agriculture sector, the products and services coming under this sector, the tools and equipment used in this sector, and its evolution up to the modern times.  It should also be mentioned that he is a politician who has never stepped into a paddy field, ploughed a field, does not understand the vocabulary used in the sector such as Wakkada, Niyara, etc., never gone to a rubber or tea estate, a cinnamon, betel, areca nut, pepper, or other plantations, never driven a tractor, even a hand tractor, never handled  a mamoty, does not know what is a sickle, a rubber tapping knife, how to use pesticides, weedicides and insecticides and when and why it should be used, when the Maha and Yala seasons for paddy start, how cinnamon is peeled, and how other tools are used and the modern methods being used to process agricultural products as value added export products, and anything about plants and cut flowers which have also gained a significant niche in the Agri industry.

Overwhelmed by jealously and criticising the Prime Minister’s tax concessions package he has said that the package also includes measures to reduce taxes for agricultural or other plantations which will benefit large scale, highly profitable rice millers and we wonder how rice millers could benefit from concessions granted to plantations?

Mr. Samaraweera states that revenue collected from all agriculture-based income taxes accounts for approximately 0.03% of total government tax revenue and it is a negligible figure and says that the removal of this will not have a material impact on the agriculture sector and the productivity thereof. How can he make such a stupid statement when over 70% of people in this country depend on various aspects of the agricultural sector?

We would like to point out that Ranil Wickremasinghe government on the whole was averse to the agricultural industry in this country and its first Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake advocated to farmers to focus less attention on farming and said that it is cheaper to import rice compared to the cost incurred for paddy cultivation. One of the first measures undertaken by the butterfly clan was to halt the fertilizer subsidy which was a great incentive to the farmers. Tanks to Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s farmer friendly measures the fertilizer subsidy has now been re-introduced.

Mr. Karunanayake said that paddy and coconut lands should be sold to foreigners to establish industries there.  The historical increase in coconut price and the need to import coconut resulted due to farmers neglecting coconut cultivation. In the pretext of establishing a factory for producing Walksvagon vehicles in Kuliyapitiya and thereby giving employment to many several hectares of coconut land were given to government supporters and the same thing was done in Horana saying that it was for establishing a tyre factory.  They introduced legislation to repeal landing holding laws and legislation banning sale of lands to foreigners and facilitate foreigners to purchase lands in Sri Lanka.

Starting a programme called Gamperaliya recently they in fact attempted to disintegrate villages and one of the objectives of this programme was to encourage foreigners to establish water bottling plants to tap our tank waters for export.  They even said that there are too many tanks in the country full of water being unused whereas there is an acute dearth of water all over the world.   These are a fraction of damages caused to the agriculture sector by the neoliberal and foreign servile butterfly quislings

By the end of 2014 Sri Lanka was self sufficient in rice, maize and several other agriculture products.  Locally produced fruits and vegetables filled market stalls everywhere. We even donated rice to the World Food Programme and commenced exporting rice to several African countries.  We exported maize as well.  If that trend continued Sri Lanka would have by now become a major food exporting country thereby further reducing our balance of payment deficit and providing employment to many youth and our Agriculture Research Institute discovering many improved varieties of seedlings. It is also suitable to mention here that many middle east countries receive a steady supply of fruits, vegetables, cashew, coconut and canned king coconut kernels, fresh coconuts, young coconuts (Kurumba) from the Philippines, Kerala (South India), Pakistan and some African countries earning valuable foreign exchange to those countries.  We also can fill a niche in this field by exporting these products and many others due to the large Sri Lankan population in these countries.

In addition to this many of our families were producing various food crops in their home court yards under the Divineguma programme thereby minimizing their expenses on food and selling the excess production to the nearby markets. Another major crime committed by Mangala and his butterfly clan was completely abandoning all assistance and encouragements provided under the Divineguma programme and force a natural death to this programme which was appreciated by several African countries and even Seychelles adopting it as a model programme.

The Tax concessions announced by Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa have been hailed by agricultural equipment importers and exporters of value added food products.  They claim that in the long run export of food products will increase, and more and more people will get encouraged to become involved in agriculture and the sale of agricultural equipment and tools will get increased drastically.

As regards quisling butterfly Mangala’s criticism relating to tax concessions what we can say is that there is a Tamil saying which asks how can a donkey understand the fragrance of Camphor? (end)

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