Monday, April 7, 2014

With open season on “unsolicited investments” there is NO limit on Foreign Direct Investment! (FDI)

The investment by the CHEC Port City Co (Pvt) Ltd is the largest single FDI project in Sri Lanka at US$1.3B. I have noted in my previous blog entry about this method of foreign direct investment, and why I do not believe it comes under the normal rules of FDI. CHEC is a subsidiary of CCCC (China Communication Construction Company Ltd) which is listed in the HK and Shanghai Stock Exchanges. The GOVT of China is the majority owner of the company.

Firstly the amount invested is NOT subject to audit, but it is easy to see the US$1.3B investment coming through the banking system. The  money will be spent on development and reclaiming 233 hectares of land, and 125 hectares will belong to the Govt. a further 88 hectares will be leased on 99 year lease to CHEC and 20 hectares will be given to CHEC on a FREEHOLD basis as part of the investment benefit.

It is this 125 hectare carrot that the GOSL is drunk with that it was signed off, without any real evaluation of what is it in for SL and what is the true benefit to China in this investment. I have highlighted in the previous post why it is a no brainer for China as they expect to make windfall profits. What Sri Lanka will do with their 125 acres is as usual open to question, and it is the Govt. of the day that will determine how this is divvied up.

Further there is a policy that under Chinese law, it is a crime to make payment to non PRC (People’s Republic of China) Govt. officials and to officials of International Public Organizations, for any ILLEGITMATE commercial benefits.

The word illegitimate being the operative word. So the money paid to fixers who promise that the deal will be rubber stamped by the GOSL is part of normal commercial transactions and therefore perfectly above board.

From the above case it can be clearly seen what constitutes foreign investment. It is not necessary to provide employment, but some spurious benefit like the GOSL getting 125 hectares is sufficient reason to allow this. There is NO evaluation mechanism to work out how beneficial it is to the Country and in what manner.

It is time there are more people with common sense to evaluate the public benefit if any of these investments, and what public cost. It cannot be undone once approvals are given and therefore it is important that this takes place prior to approval.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bust the Chinese plot – Mega bucks at stake – Port City here we come!

So what brings the Chinese here to Sri Lanka, to put in a bid for the Port City? Unsolicited, but a carrot that seems to the GOSL too good to be true.

A 99 yr lease, at a minimal price and as part of the 250 hectare landfill development the GOSL will be given about 50 hectares at no extra charge! With land, filling and construction they expect it to cost US$1.3B. We in SL have NO idea what their game plan is or how it is going to work. We have given them free reign.  Many who fear it say that it will lead to a property crash in Colombo with all this excess land available for sale and 10,000 plus apartments into Colombo.

Well here goes, as at a minimum of US$500,000 per apartment, they will pre - sell it to the Chinese for US$5B. A quick way to make a cool US$3.5B with eyes closed.

See link for the logic as it is a no brainer.

The question now really becomes, whether the terms were fair or if we were sold down the tubes for our ignorance at the games the Chinese now play.

In fact the profit could be a lot more. With offices and such like the gain on sales greater, so I am merely noting a minimum return to the investor for that risk, in a deal our GOSL negotiators thought was “too good to be true.” How wrong can they be?

The risk is that China will go belly up before they are sold, and even if that were the case, the investors will wish to take their money out, so what is wrong in investing in a property on the SL waterfront, in a tropical paradise one flight away from the unbearably smog laden Beijing. At worst they can escape to the sunny climes of Sri Lanka, who will then play host to this city of Chinamen.

This dovetails neatly with my previous blog entry, on the Chinese invasion, that we are not sufficiently smart in cashing in on

So lift up the Champagne glasses to yet another Chinese coup at our expense!    

Déjà vu

I was reading an interesting article about Charlie Chaplin, about his life and loves, and no doubt his background had something to do with his behavior.

Taking a particular section from the article,

One of these children was Charlie — born in April 1889 to a part-Romany music-hall singer called Hannah Chaplin. She’d already had one son out of wedlock and, although she was married to a successful music-hall artist called Charles Chaplin, it’s unlikely that he was Charlie’s real father. 

Whatever the truth, Chaplin senior gave the infant his name. But a year after the birth, he walked out — probably because he suspected Hannah of infidelity — leaving her and the boys to lead an impoverished existence.

Charlie later confessed that his mother had many subsequent affairs. It’s likely that, in times of extreme poverty, she also took to the streets. This was not unusual in working-class South London, where women drifted in and out of prostitution to save their families.

As Charlie once said: ‘To gauge the morals of our family by commonplace standards would be as erroneous as putting a thermometer in boiling water.’

So here I am today dealing with a similar situation in 2014. This girl has had a child in marriage, and the father has left him. Then the mother gets involved with an unsuitable man, whom she already has known intimately and suffered violence in his hands, and becomes pregnant, whilst temporarily abandoning her first son to her father. Now she has left this man, and is in limbo wanting to have an abortion, for which when I was asked for help, point blank refused and said she will have to see the baby to full term, and we will discuss what we do with the child afterwards.

She says he or she (the unborn baby)  will not have a father and therefore she must do this, to which I tell her, there are so many successful people in this world, who have been born out of wedlock and there is nothing really wrong in this day and age, as long as we can make some arrangements to ensure the child grows up in a loving and caring family. She has already had an abortion and in my book, after the second time it just becomes a means of birth control, like the pill, and therefore subject to repeated liaisons leading to this tragic outcome.

She has a few options, go back to her first born, bring him up with the second born, children of two fathers, but at least the mother will do what is needed to bring them up in a one parent household. Second would be to abandon her first born which her second liaison is pressing her to do, leaving him at the mercy of grandparents, who will always remind him he was abandoned by both his parents!!! And return to the abusive man to give the baby a child, only to have to leave him when she cannot tolerate the beatings anymore!   

The outcome she favors, and wants my approval for, is to abandon the first born, have an abortion, lie she has NO children and take flight abroad to a maid job in the Middle East, running away from her responsibilities, into a life of independence, or so she assumes, only to be taken advantage of by some foreigner who abandons her when pregnant, to continue a life of a loose woman, to make ends meet and survival, perhaps getting involved in drugs and destroying what is left of her life.

This seems a pattern followed by her mother who abandoned her at about the same age of her son who she is about to abandon.

I am unrelated with no vested interest, and can just wash my hands of the case, and tell her to do as she pleases, or do I get involved and inform her of the options available and the consequences of those options being taken, which I have, but to which she seems deaf at present.

The problem is I am not sure of what she says, namely between truth and fiction of her stories, as she is still in contact with her current partner who she maintains she has left, and which he maintains is just a visit to a relative and she will be back once she gets her ID number so she can attend the ante natal clinics provided for pregnant mothers in this country, which help them through this period!

These matters have existed throughout history and the ignorance of these mothers who continue to make the same mistake, despite being informed of the available options, boggles the mind. The irrational streak in humans defies gravity, logic and time. So shall we hope that we are fortunate in bringing a future Charlie Chaplin, warts and all or we think it better that that potential is snuffed out literally. These are hard choices people make every day; to some hard, to others, run of the mill.   

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Migrant Remittances – struck a chord amongst my readership overseas

Overseas Sri Lankans form the bulk of my blog readership. So it was not surprising that my entry earlier in the day about remittances from the Sri Lankans working overseas led to a huge increase in hits in the past few hours.

So let me elaborate on this topic, so that many of you can reflect on your contribution or lack of it to the overall improvement in the quality of life of us living in Sri Lanka, and the various arguments as to how you can really help.

I have some knowledge in the area, after a 33 year stint living and working overseas in the UK and USA, and how ‘looking in from out’ has changed from ‘looking in from in!’ There are many very curious aspects, where one cannot generalize at all.

Many of the Sri Lankans who emigrated to the Western Countries have established roots there, and therefore merely come to Sri Lanka on vacation, and don’t as a practice send money back for investments or to family. There are of course exceptions to this, with a notable amount of people who now feel it is safe to return for longer periods in retirement, where they have purchased apartments that they can keep closed when not in use. Some have purchased them by investing inherited assets which they sold, for a more manageable asset, namely a flat in Colombo.

This keeps the market for expensive flats buoyant when one wondered who would buy them. Then there are those who send money to help poorer relatives, such as parents’ care, and for study or other reasons. They are also from the Western Diaspora. There was the famous recent speech by Vigneswaran who said this money going to youth in Jaffna has resulted in a number of spoiled lazy young Jaffna Tamils, when the old impression of them was anything but!!!

It is the responsibility of us in Sri Lanka to inculcate an attitude of a productive worth ethic, when many are so fortunate as to be helped from overseas without strings. It is the fault of our education system that has instilled a culture of entitlement that makes us ungrateful for anything we receive without effort!!!

I would therefore request the giver to consider how the recipient intends spending this largesse, in a land of lotus eaters, as I can assure them that some recipients have a quality of life that is far superior to that of the giver, as his needs and wants are less, and technically subject to food costs, US$100 can buy a US$10,000 life style when the home is paid for and one has a servant to do everything for one.
I am a pauper in income terms now, as compared to the heady days when I had a great income in Santa Barbara, California in the early 1990s, a place where Billionaires and old money Americans call their home, and I attended Gatsby parties in true Gatsby style. However, I have a better a quality of life measured by the services I receive, respect and regard, the inner feelings of contentment from my surroundings. I live on an estate, with few western luxuries, but as I have people to do what I want, it is some daily grind that I don’t have to contend with.

Today, I had my clothes washed, shirts ironed, house completely cleaned and mopped, fridge de frosted and cleaned, 4 dogs fed, and today’s and a few more day’s food cooked. Limes picked from my trees and squeezed and left for me to make fresh lime juice on tap, with even the fresh milk from the cows heated and refrigerated, all for a wage of Rs 1000 (less than US$8) for the day, twice what I really need to pay her, how can I complain. As I am not home for most of the time, I don’t need a full time person, and this once a week help is sufficient.

Whilst my only problem is political, seeing this country ruined by a bunch of thugs some of whom are supported by our misguided overseas sycophants who are unable to appreciate the shortcomings in government, bearing in mind the true potential of the Country and its hardworking people who see little benefit when the lotus eaters in Govt. share the spoils amongst themselves at great public cost, as detailed in most of my blog entries here.

Diaspora don’t be taken in by the rhetoric, as the temporary guest workers in Middle Eastern and other Countries from Italy, Cyprus, to Singapore and Korea pump this economy with US$10B a year, that props up the wasteful spending of the regime, and little accrues to those who actually earn the money.

These 2million plus workers don’t have a vote, and if they had, they would change the face of this leadership at a whisker, which makes it all the more galling that the disenfranchised actually permit the lie to take hold and all our efforts at pointing this out to the gullible voter comes to naught.

However that is another subject, so in conclusion all our sins are covered by the dedication and hard work of our most productive citizens who feel their labor is more appreciated from without than from within, we must never forget their notable contribution in winning the civil war, and propping up a regime that is saying one thing to their audience that includes you whilst doing something completely different. We, who labor after much sacrifice to speak the truth, as we have no other financial stake in this, need your support as well in this venture.           

Migrant Remittances back home as a source of income inequality

and one that is rising in Sri Lanka and therefore regretful!

In regards to a comment in my last blog post, where it was stated that migrant remittances were a source of inequality, and therefore bad for those who have no chance to immigrate, whilst having a ring of truth, has NO basis in trying to prevent it as a policy directive and an inevitability of the freedom to travel.

All civilizations have benefited from remittances. Half the large estates and country houses in the UK came about as a result of the British going overseas to make their fortunes. Even in Roman times, the money sent from say, Roman Britain by the Romans sustained and gave wealth to their families back home.

The economic policies, laws as well as taxation policies that countries enact to reduce inequality should be directed more at equitable distribution of wealth, once earned rather than the prevention of people from legitimately earning as much as they can if they wish.

This is a big topic, so I will restrict it to remittances of Sri Lankan workers, and the pros and cons to the local economy. We must remember that the US$50B of remittances Sri Lanka has received in the past 11 years has had a huge impact on the Sri Lankan economy in that period, and the Governments of the day have taken all the credit. I have consistently maintained, that but for the Government interference in the economy in this period, the growth would have been that much greater had the private sector been allowed to determine the best mode of investment for the funds these remittances have created.

It is purely laws properly enforced and economic policy that can make use of this source of revenue in the best interests of the citizens of Sri Lanka, the main theme of this blog. Much of the remittances have been wasted by the state and misspent, when it could have been directed at productive investment by the private sector. Only people who directly remit to a productive business will benefit, much like the foreign investment in Sri Lanka, but better as the profits here will remain in SL.

Let us walk through a theoretical example to illustrate my point. I remit US$100,000 of my earnings to my NSB account in 2013 to be used by me when I return in 3 years. The exchange rate I receive is at Rs130, so there is Rs13M which after a year I get an interest of 5%. With inflation at 10%, the rupee purchasing power has reduced by 5% after a year. If I sent it to a NRFC account in $, I would be worse off because the interest received will be 2%, and US $ has appreciated in the meantime by Rs2. Leaving me even worse off.

The GOSL (Govt) borrows this money from NSB at 6% and invests it on a road project, which due to the commission payments and lack of transparency in awarding the tender is 25% more expensive. The graft engaged in by the contractor, getting quality control engineers to sign off on shoddy work, results in a badly constructed road, with pot holes affecting fuel consumption on vehicles, higher maintenance costs on vehicles etc. The contractor funds his new Porsche with the excessive profits made from shoddy workmanship and the fixer engaged in the graft does likewise because their opportunity cost of money easily earned is low so no return is necessary.

The point is that it is more important to utilize remittances more productively, by first giving a better rate of interest to the saver, and directing the lending of that money, with a lower spread to a private project with a higher rate of return, which would increase the multiplier effect of the benefit.

If I have little faith in lending to the bank believing I will lose value, and instead I buy a house, in the belief that it will appreciate in value, then I am adding to house price inflation, making homes less affordable to local income earners, pushing them out of the chance to buy property even to live!

The latter has NO DOUBT contributed to the increase in property values and by the same token also pumped money into the construction industry, that has helped grow the economy and give more opportunities to Electricians, Plumbers and Masons adding to the Growth rate of the economy.

I don’t think there is ANY doubt of the net benefit of remittances to the economy, and the social cost of family consternation and creation of lazy sons sitting in their three wheelers in every corner of Sri Lanka is a problem that can be addressed by proper social engineering within Sri Lanka to take steps to reduce the incidence of these social ills. The richer the country gets the more problems caused by drugs, and spending and that is a cost of wealth and rich kids all over with less onerous tasks to occupy their time!

It is for the earner overseas to understand these pitfalls of how his or her benefaction is used. It is called psychological counseling, where the guilt of an absent relative is extinguished by money, that holds true even within the economy when parents are busy earning money, and substitute money for love. I know I have covered a lot of ground, and created more discussion points, but hey it is an important fact of Sri Lanka, and it is time we addressed all the pros and cons and come up with a balanced approach to this subject to benefit all.   

Following on from the Gamani Corea Legacy

My last blog entry was on the Seminar yesterday which I attended and following on from a comment in that blog entry, it was apparent what is wrong with our education in Sri Lanka that is merely reflective of the inability to grasp concepts at our universities.

Students who by and large study courses such as Economics in the English language, but many are still not fluent in the language. This then restricts them to reading required texts from which to answer their questions whilst their command and lack of fluency restricts them in appreciating the nuances of concepts such as those discussed at the seminar.

It is interesting to note for example that in the 1970s the discussion was about rich and poor countries and the exploitation of the poor by the rich. That debate has gradually transformed into one of unequal distribution of wealth in both rich and poor countries and poverty alleviation theories have replaced them as topics for discussion and implementation.

With the higher growth rates of the BRIC nations, when compared with the OECD, the focus in world development and growth has shifted to the newly developing nations and the arising inequalities in those countries that are the need of the hour.

Further as emphasized by the various panels, the huge leap in technology have meant that the whole world is wired with the same technology, with the telecommunications in smaller nations being superior to the larger ones, due to the ease with which to cover the nation with broadband, giving them an edge in being a technology hub, to compete in providing both BPO services and cutting edge software development services to clients worldwide.

Changing demographic patterns and Ecological concerns have brought conservation of rapidly declining resources into the forefront. The use of renewable energy and the economics of the development of renewable resources has turned on its head, the whole area of the diversification of resources to energy savings schemes from export or other terms of trade related economic theories.

The transition and emphasis of new areas of growth is better understood with reference to the Gamini Corea legacy of the 70s and 80s of international programs and how they dovetail into matters of state in 2014, where an unheard of aspect, such as remittances from workers in the Middle East, have transformed economies.            

Friday, April 4, 2014

THE CENTRAL BANK – ABSENT – GAMANI COREA LECTURE! What a discourtesy to a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank!

I was privileged to be invited to the Seminar “Gamani Corea’s contribution to Domestic and International Economic Policy” sponsored by the Gamani Corea Foundation, held at the Institute of Policy Studies Auditorium, at Independence Square that started at 2pm and when I left having being walked to my car by Dr.Saman Kelegama, the current Executive Director/ CEO it was 9pm. 

For one to truly understand the contribution Gamani Corea had to both Domestic Economic and Development Policy planning and execution and International Appreciation of some of the particular concerns of the poor nations one would either have had to attend this seminar, or be a student of this eminent son of Sri Lanka.

I will not go into detail or summarize each of the speakers’ major points as it pertains to the above, as it will be shortly documented and possibly printed for future study and appreciation by students interested in some of the history of Economic and Development policy to better understand why we are at this state of development today.

I will instead provide some personal insights into the event and observations I made there from.

The illustrious line up of participants in the seminar had some indirect or direct contact with Gamani Corea, and accordingly illustrated by way of anecdote, or explained by way of historical context as to characters of the day, his contribution and thinking that had an impact on world and Sri Lankan affairs.

A little known tale of how he was less than two years old when Mahatma Gandhi came to stay at his Grandparents home “Sigiriya” in Chilaw, on his only visit to the island, in 1927 and made an impression on the great man, must have rubbed off on him as Manmohan Singh the present Indian Prime Minister and great friend of Gamani Corea, has also extolled his greatness.  

NONE of the speakers, possibly reflecting their elder status, put in context his age at which some of these thought provoking and cutting edge economic theories and ideas were put forward and implemented. It is important for today’s student to put that in context, as well as the knowledge and technology since that have made forecasting, planning, and sensitivity analysis that much easier to perform.
Being born on November 4th 1925, he was at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1945, when England was in shambles, starving, rationing, and he had money! More than most of the English even at Cambridge. It was US money that bailed out England in those days!

When in 1952, he worked as an Economist for Dudley Senanayake, his relative, He was only 27, and already had two BAs, two MAs from both Cambridge and Oxford, and DPhil (PhD) from Oxford!

Though not mentioned at the seminar, Dudley was in and out of his mother’s house, Horton Lodge as he was quite infatuated (also madly in love with) with Gamani’s mother Freda, (Sir John Kotelawala’s sister) and some say, that was why Dudley never married.

He drafted the 6 year plan for Sir John, when he was PM in 1956 at the mere age of 30 and the 10 year plan for SWRD Bandaranayake in 1959 at 33 before his34th Birthday.

No wonder that he had served his country well when he was made the EU Ambassador in 1973 by Mrs B at 48 and UNCTAD Sec Gen before he reached 50.

The long list of participants in discussions and moderation included contemporaries who worked closely with him, such as Godfrey Goonetilleke, Lloyd Fernando, Usvatte Arachchi, Dr Nimal Sanderatne, Mr Lakdasa Hulugalle, Jayantha Dhanapala, and those who interacted with him later, such as Hilarian Codipilly, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, WA Wijewardena, Harsha Aturupana, WD Lakshman, Saman Kelegama, A de VDS Indraratne. I was also pleased to see some familiar faces such as Chandi Chanmugam, Bradman Weerakoon, VK Wickremasinghe as well as many other of Gamani’s contemporaries from the Central Bank and other Ministries that he worked at.

Apart from Tissa Vitharana, a senior Minister of Science and Technology, and one who was part of the left wing thinkers in Gamani’s planning ministry era,  who gave the keynote speech as the Chief Guest alluding to his greatness in the context of Sri Lanka, there was NO  ONE from Government, reflecting the complete absence of intellectual thought emanating from there, and was please to see my good friend Eran Wickremaratne who will be able to put in context Gamani’s contribution, when understanding some of the political and policymaking challenges he has to grapple with in presenting the Opposition’s Policy to take the Country to the next level. 
Conspicuous by their absence was the CENTRAL BANK contingent, WHO WERE INVITED (I was particularly adamant upon my receiving the invitation, to request that the whole Research Team at the Central Bank was invited considering Gamani’s contribution there, just in case they had overlooked that!

Considering Gamani was the Director of Economic Research in 1965 and Deputy Governor in 1970, it was shameful that the CB think tank were not able to learn from all the greats of yesteryear so that they could perform their tasks better.

I will go as far as publicly accuse the Central Bank hierarchy of intellectual vandalism, in not permitting the best and brightest of our public servants from gathering notable facts of history and how it can be better put in context with the problems they must grapple with today. The blame ultimately MUST rest with Nivaard Cabral, who appears to have politicized a largely apolitical position, so that by muzzling the freedom to associate in intellectual thought, is carrying forward the Government policy of misleading firstly their own policy makers, into making bad choices and decisions that bear NO MERIT in reality.

Just to summarize the event briefly, Gamani’s detailed analysis given by Godfrey Goonetilleke a very close associate and I believe the Chairman of his Foundation, should have left the lengthy document to be read by the attendees and reduced his time to just a few personal observation. The session then would have been more fruitful permitting a greater participation of the audience which was NOT possible due to time constraints.

Gamani’s life was in three parts, his contribution to Sri Lanka’s policy making then his UNCTAD years, and the later years in the NIEO and North South Dialog as well as the South Forum, whilst at the same time setting up the Sri Lanka Economic Association, Marga Institute and the Institute of Policy Studies, that are NOW in a position to carry on the intellectual discussion, with a view to influencing the Governments of the day on major aspects of policy so that Sri Lanka can meet its future challenges.

One notable and contemporary issue that Gamani appears to have sown the seeds was the climate change, environment debate, where we in Sri Lanka owe to Gamani Corea to put forward development policies that will realize sustainable development without environmental degradation, and in fact incorporate environmental regeneration to reverse the drastic environmental damage caused since 2004 that at today’s pace will leave a legacy of waste and desolation for our future, IF WE DO NOT ACT IMMEDIATELY TO ARREST IT.     
There were NO young faces, except for the staff of IPS who also attended. It is a sign of our times, when today’s youth in their quest for learning, miss the basics! I hope the Gamani Corea Foundation understand that their primary job is to improve Economic understanding of the future policy makers, and make a conscious effort to identify, promote, educate and incentivize the best of our young fertile minds into this sphere of policy and decision making, and intellectualize by way of similar seminars so that new ideas can be developed in arriving at truly Sri Lankan solutions to the myriad of self inflicted wounds that afflict our Country.

We can NO LONGER blame, as was the case in Gamani’s time, the Western Developed Nations for the core of our internal problems.

I respectfully commend the leadership of Dr Saman Kelegama and his staff at IPS for making the effort to make the seminar a resounding success and I sincerely hope that the event is well documented for a future student to learn from.

I also hope that the huge endowment that Gamani Corea, bequeathed to “the future Sri Lankan” is put to the use it was intended for, and not frittered away by those who already have served their nation believing it to be a fora a for a few fun days to live through their retirement reminiscing on their glory days!         

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Smoking is bad for your health! So let us ban the sale of cigarettes to all who were born in THIS CENTURY

It is NO April Fool’s joke, when I read this editorial in the Mirror, of an initiative of British doctors to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone born in this Century!

In my opinion it is an honest and practical way forward, and can easily be enforced, without affecting the rights of those who are already addicted.

In this way we can stop the next generation from getting into this habit, and counter the criticism that Tobacco Companies target the very young and impressionable. With this initiative, we can begin the publicity as to why it is best to avoid, and if this is started in this fashion, there is little chance of people growing up being addicted. Addiction being a very difficult task to kill!

The tobacco lobby worldwide would be the first to counter this proposal that has come from Medical Practitioners seeing patients with smoking related medical problems, and knowing they can EASILY be avoided if there is a gradual ban and a reduction in the smokers, which will eventually result in lower smoking related deaths and illness.

Frankly this issue is a NO BRAINER! Having to argue this anti smoking case is itself ridiculous as it is self evident. So it is time the people and Governments take the initiative and the courage of their convictions to demand this change in status, so that in 50 years we can almost eliminate smoking related casualties “ALL TOGETHER”. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I do realize that the Govt. has now become dependent on the revenue from Tobacco taxes to waste on their extravagant and unproductive investments. However in the long run, a country can count on better health and productivity of its workforce, which will not only overcome the lost revenue, but will be able to  divert scarce resources into other areas of say, Health Care spending, so that the health of the community can be raised and maintained, and all possible emergencies curtailed.

It is incumbent upon us to draw a line in the sand, and say enough is enough, and go ahead with conviction politics, and themes to improve the quality of life of the people who live in this fine Country.   

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Media is at fault for reporting rubbish!

The Minister of Health (or so the news today says) has reportedly said that the private hospitals have lost over 50% of the business as they are overcharging their patients!!!!!

I ask the reporter who submitted this to seriously consider if either he is off his head or if the Minister is off his head! This is a case of misinformation with NO rational point in the story.

To start with it is in the Minister’s interest to have private healthcare, as there then will result in LESS DEMAND for public health care, which he is in charge of. Secondly if the Private Health Charges are excessive, then if people cannot pay, they will go out of business, and will be replaced by more affordable private health care. It is WRONG to report a 50% drop in patients receiving treatment in the private sector as that is patently NOT TRUE, and in fact in general it is increasing every day.

There may be instances where in a given area the patients coming in to a private health provider falls, due to a host of reasons, which may include a transfer of the reputable doctor, increase in charges, where lower and more competitive charges are available locally, a bad press at a particular private clinic, that results in an exodus of patients or such like. It is wrong for him therefore to extrapolate a statement from ONE individual and say that there is a 50% drop.

Therefore we come to the question of whether this person is competent to hold this office. If he was he will be able to use common sense, which in this case he does not have. He is NOT EVEN scoring a political point on behalf of a better state medical system, which would have been the least he should have done in making any statement in this regard.

I would therefore request the reporter to try and at least make head of tail of what the minister says, and either insinuate that he is incompetent, and in need of mental treatment or to make sense of what he was trying to say, by enunciating what he meant without REPORTING RUBBISH        

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sri Lanka is in the news again. All for the wrong reasons as usual.

Why is there no good news when Sri Lanka is highlighted in the international news? It is always bad news. The curse of allegations arising from the end of hostilities in May 2009 has not been closed and finished. The Govt. is using it to their advantage, when I firmly believe that they could have resolved this satisfactorily within months, without dragging the Country through years of agony. They don’t appear to me to have any desire to resolve them, because if they do they have little electoral appeal to continue winning elections.

I believe that much of the infrastructure projects have NOT benefited the people, as they can neither use them, nor have they obtained employment through them. The extra carriages on trains just don’t seem to have lessened the overcrowding, as more and more people are commuting the distances to their employment. 

Suddenly, the exorbitant rise of basic foodstuffs have shocked the populace, mainly urban, but also rural, into realizing that few except the wealthy have benefitted from the party and unless one has the benefit of a remittance from a relative overseas, one is in deep trouble to survive!

It is working people who live from hand to mouth. From paycheck to paycheck. The apologists for this Government will soon have to eat their words. They say this country has never been so successful, looking at the vehicles on the road, quadrupling in a matter of 6 years! No easy task, but reflective of money and economic activity. However it is merely one of debt, keeping up with the Jones and the necessity of a motorbike due to the long hours of work and the lack of public transport especially after hours, and in many rural areas.      

The last vestiges of the war victory still have some mileage left, and the President is mining it for all he has left, as shown in the last election campaign, where the President was on the campaign trail and few of his henchmen in Govt. were giving him support. In fact it appears that they have quietly stayed aloof because they have not been able to face the people, reserving their campaigning to a Govt. friendly press.

The results of the forthcoming elections, may speed up the need for a General Election and Presidential or delay it, depending   on how the Govt. interprets it. Especially with a financially bankrupt opposition, making headway!

There is a silver lining where we are now able to accommodate more tourists, and therefore the numbers seem to show a substantial increase, though the actual spend per se is not going up in the right direction.

There is an ongoing drought, which hopefully will come to an end shortly. It has affected some of the farming communities, and the hoped for surpluses of rice have diminished.

There is some retrenchment in employment opportunities, and it is the overseas job that is keeping a lid on agitation of the youth, who nevertheless are generally able to get something somewhere and only those who are left, find it a struggle to get a job that pays a living wage.

The university students are agitating for a few more benefits, as the costs of living affect them badly and most of their parents are not able to support the Rs15,000 a month that is required for board and lodging and their essentials.

The Government servants are those who have suddenly felt the pain of living, as their increments have NOT kept pace with inflation and they moonlight to survive or start taking bribes for small tasks that they control, to supplement their income.

The bloated state sector is a huge drag on the Govt. coffers, and it is seriously not productive nor give a return that is tangible, even with Good Service or other measure of productivity.

They still support the Govt. because they fear that the UNP may reduce the numbers by restructuring the service, much in the way they did in their 2002 Govt. It is therefore important that they state that they will NOT get rid of any person against their will as they will be able to show that new employment opportunities in the private sector at vastly higher remuneration will draw some from the public service to the private. Further the increments the Govt. gave in the past years are only for allowances, and NOT basic. SO it will not increase their pensionable salaries, which will wipe their pension values.

The Govt. electoral benefit is short lived, the pressure is likely to be exerted gradually more by innuendo, that will affect the credibility of our leaders in the international sphere, and no matter what they state, we cannot isolate ourselves from the world and have to be involved and face their music too!!!