MATCHING WORDS WITH DEEDS
Posted on October 19th, 2021

RANJITH SOYSA

We were  pleased to read the recent speech delivered at 72nd anniversary of Gajaba Regiment by the President Gotabaya Rajapakasa in which he admitted about the voter disillusionment of his government. We are aware of the fact that the government had to contend with the unprecedented issues on account of the covid epidemic and had to give priority in seeking solutions to the challenges by imposing restrictions to the economic and social activities while channelling limited resources to medical supplies and social service facilities,

If the President is prepared to review and turn a new page for the improvement of the country one should expect the President to rehash the decision-making procedure of the Government. The voters are of the view that some of the crucial steps adopted were either introduced or implemented in some instances without recognizing the impact on the country’s sovereignty and the security.

As an initial step the President should consider appointing a National Planning Committee with the nationalist minded experts to work on a program to tackle key economic issues and management of nationally important strategic centres for next 4 years. Without proceeding ahead haphazardly and creating crisis situations once such decisions are adopted, if the government can adhere to a plan with a nationalist vision, it will be acceptable to the voters who elected the President. Such a plan should also investigate the country’s priorities, future stability, resources, the national security. The implementation should be transparent and should be accountable.

Let us examine some of the issues which were tackled without a proper plan which resulted in causing frustration and disappointment among the voters and the public. The method of overseeing the pricing and supply of commodities such as sugar, rice, garlic, gas cylinders etc was atrocious which brought untold hardships to the consumer as well as to  the producers. The complete mismanagement must be admitted by the government and a more rational formula will have to be adopted if the plan is to take the country systematically forward. It is necessary to exercise detailed examination of the supply chain, the storage facilities, and the Government outlets to get rid of the unconscionable profiteers awaiting to fleece the consumers and marginalize the public organizations which are established to protect the consumers. Once a rational decision is taken the government should pursue the implementation with determination rather than surrender to the dictates of the unscrupulous middlemen who hold onto the stocks  causing loss of confidence of the public.

A crucial area which needs urgent review is how to regulate luxury and semi luxury imports which consumes a considerable amount of foreign exchange earned by export of goods and services including the foreign remittances of  Sri Lankan workers, At least as a short term measure the free trade introduced by JRJ  about 40 years ago should be re-examined and suitable qualitative controls should be introduced to curb the outflow of foreign exchange for non-essential goods.

The President’s holistic decision on the banning of chemical fertilizer is indeed a step in the right direction which will bring expected results in the improvement in soil and water quality and the general health of the masses. However, such a crucial decision was not followed professionally to ascertain the availability of other nutrients and enough supply of compost fertilizer to apply in the following growing season. The unscientific method of managing the subject gave opportunities to many to engage in public agitation against this holistic decision.

It was an indeed ironical to hear the slogans mouthed by ‘farmers’ of 2021 demanding chemical fertilizer whereas their fathers were demonstrating in 1970S decrying the government’s and the officials’ dictates to replace bio fertilizers with chemical fertilizer to ‘usher in the green revolution ‘.It is the wish of the majority of the population to get rid of the vicious cycle of poisoning resulting in the use of chemical fertilizer and we would request the government to take the required steps in the right direction to implement the laudable decision effectively and efficiently.

 We need a clear and dedicated policy in relation to our international relations. We must always be nonaligned in our dealings with the big powers who are engaged in a global power game.

We should know the friendly nations who stood by Sri Lanka when it waged war with Tamil Tiger terrorists and subsequently at UNHCR, and about the other countries  who attempt to crucify Sri Lanka for defeating the world’s most brutal terrorist organization. Their attempts to continue persecuting Sri Lanka will naturally weaken Sri Lankan state and all times Sri Lanka should express her rejection of such vicious attempts and should bring these facts at bi-lateral discussions and multi-lateral conferences.

India, our neighbour is leaving no stone unturned until we have PCs and with all powers. Most of the Sri Lankans do not want PCs, an additional tier of administration at a cost of colossal expenditure and with practically no benefits. At a time when Sri Lankans are required to tighten their belts and manage expenditure, the Government must convey to India that all issues can be managed under the present unitary system of Government. Sri Lanka should be noticeably clear on this issue to enable Sri Lanka -India international relationship to prosper. Sri Lanka should also continue bi-lateral discussions with India regarding to oil tanks in Trinco as to how these can be used for the economic development of the country assuring that Sri Lanka will not allow any other country to have any control over the strategically important Trincomalee harbour. Recently an Indian writer, has stated that India does not bother to understand her neighbouring countries and decides on inter-state policies without considering the expectations of her neighbours. Imposing PCs on Sri Lanka and insistence on the implementation of the failed proposal too emanated from the Indian centralized foreign policy machinery which in this instance  primarily addressed the aspirations of the Tamil Nadu agitators who were expressing their support for the separatists in Sri Lanka. India’s strategy was to kill two birds with one stone and executed its policy of proposing PCs to weaken the central government of Sri Lanka while appeasing the extremists in Tamil Nadu to divert their attention from their own struggle for a separatist racist state in India. Sri Lanka should be firm in rejecting the Indian formula to destabilize the country and continue to address the common issues faced by ordinary people in Sri Lanka including the minorities living in the periphery.

The mandate given by the public clearly stated that the proportional system of representation should be changed and all future elections should be held according to the number electorates and the members should represent the electorates based on the percentage of  votes gained by the candidates. All who investigated into the system introduced by JRJ  were of the view that system breeds corruption and bribery while precluding the visible representation of an electorate.

The President recently invited the expatriate Tamil groups presumably as an effort to improve reconciliation of Sinhala and Tamil views and expectations. Such discussions should be based on specific conditions that the participants do not support separatism in Sri Lanka and they accept the unitary Sri Lanka. Otherwise, such discussions will only provide opportunites to reopen the subject of traditional homelands for minority communities in Sri Lanka pushing the country back to unenviable 1990 s ,

RANJITH SOYSA

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