We have moved from sugar sweetness to an oily slipperiness.
Will this season be remembered as the ‘Pol Thel Avurudda’ or the ‘Thel Pilika Avurudda’?
Those who celebrate Easter, will have a hard and painful time, with memories of those bloody blasts in churches, the failure to find the brains behind that carnage, and the incompetence of the State apparatus that enabled that huge tragedy to take place.
Is there any difference in the state apparatus today? Is it any less corrupt, less politically structured and managed? Are we really in need of divine intervention to bring those responsible for that carnage, to book, and not the legal and judicial process that is meant to fight and put down crime?
Those who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, even wearing the mournful black, must certainly remember the role of Judas, and the pieces of silver, that enabled the Crucifixion. How much of such silver is moving around these days; and how many business, administrative, and legal Judases are around, to ensure the success of Saubhagyaye Dekma, the flow of corrupt sugar sweetness and oily slithery?
The debate today is about Pol Thel – not much about the carcinogen in the imports, but on how best to get rid of it. The big and official call is to re-export it. Some voices of the people, including a few members of the Sangha, are against such re-exports. If it is dangerous to the health of the people of Sri Lanka, will it have no danger for people in the country it was exported from?
That is not all. Why take it away before all stocks, in whatever godowns, Customs or private, are checked and the real carcinogen level identified, and the importers and/or distributors are brought before the law? There should be public cry to keep those stocks here, and prevent the oil importers and distributors slithering away from the law. Or is this the new meaning of Saubhagya Thinking?
We are moving to a really slippery Avurudda. There is Covid with its own problems, the sudden halt to vaccinations with a Chinese vaccine being waved around, a rise in Covid infections in India – with a pause in vaccine imports from there, and clash of thinking among professionals and politicians on what vaccine to use.
Is this confusion the stuff of the new Avurudu season?
Minister Bandula Gunawardena has given the people an Avurudu Malla. Celebrate avurudu with this thousand rupee benefit. If you don’t have a thousand rupees, just drink some Pol Thel and let your worries slip down your throat. Hold on, what is the connection between cancer and Pilika Pol Thel? That is the avurudu query this season.,
What about all the kavun, kokis, mung kavum, and all those other layers of sweetness that comes from the frying pan and with even small amounts of coconut oil? Has the import of coconut oil taken away the traditional taste of the Aluth Avurudda?
What can the Saubhagya thinkers have in mind to meet this situation in the avurudu games. Will there be a new Thel Keliya where two persons with bodies covered with coconut oil – with or without carcinogen – have a fight with each other? Will any chief guest invited for an avurudu event have to walk on a special Pol Thel layered slippery path to the stage?
and not Pol Thel is the new reality in governance in Sri Lanka. It is the slippery drive in corruption and political manipulation that is the substance of power today. Will there be a loud call for the ban on coconut oil imports? Not likely, because from what else is one to bring cancer threats to our people? Is it from dried chillies or the posible rice imports?
Amidst all this pol thel fears and dangers, this avurudu season is one that has a much bigger show than the village festivities. It is a China-India competition. The Sino-Indo clash for control of official thinking and the policies in the coming months and years. Our President had a long phone chat with President Xi Jinping of China. There must have been much more than coconut oil discussed there. This is the follow up from Geneva. India had better be on the watch. Sino-Lanka connect, with the promise of a single party governance is the new Avurudu Promise for Sri Lanka.
The Pol Thel Keliya of today will soon take us to a Cheena Thel Keliya in politics and governance. What is mentioned as Saubhagye Dekma is in reality an Abhagye Sathya.Lets keep slipping down the path of national disaster, with enough carcinogenic oil to help us down the way.
Harin batting for India
The Minister of Tourism, Harin Fernando, has stated that the Sri Lankan Government will be handing over the operation of Mattala International, Ratmalana International and Colombo International Airports to India. He has added that Sri Lanka is a part of India! Has he lost his senses?
Separately, should it not be the role of the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva to make such a far-reaching decision?
Mattala, Ratmalana and Colombo are the three main airports of entry to Sri Lanka. Giving their management over to Indian organisations is tantamount to putting the proverbial snake inside one’s sarong and complaining that it is stinging.
What then will be the future of Airports and Aviation Sri Lanka (AASL)? They are, in any case, a ‘service provider’.
It is the responsibility of the government of Sri Lanka through its regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka (CAASL), to adhere to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirements and regulations. Will this be compromised?
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines for airport governance declare that the State (in this case Sri Lanka) must be accountable irrespective of national, legal or regulatory framework, or airport ownership and operating model. Could that be ensured under this recently announced arrangement?
Such accountability must be guaranteed by enactment of primary legislation in the aviation sector, mindful of the adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I believe that the Legal Draughtsman’s Office will take an inordinate amount of time to deliver this guarantee, amongst other things.
There is also the matter of establishing an effective regulatory framework with CAASL to monitor technical/safety and economic performance of the aviation sector, and compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) obligations, Standard and Recommended Procedures (SARPs), and policy guidance.
In my opinion CAASL is not yet capable of that. In a combined operation such as this, IATA stipulates “Awareness and mitigation of potential conflicts of interest inherent in the regulatory framework or ownership and operating model through clear separation of powers, for example conflicts between economic oversight and shareholding arrangements, and separation of regulatory and operational functions”.
So, it is not an ‘open-and-shut case’, as Fernando believes. It is complex. His optimism is amazingly unrealistic, to say the least.
Remember, certification of aerodromes by the technical/safety regulator under ICAO requirements will continue to be carried out by CAASL as at present. According to the Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA), report Sri Lankan regulators tend to be more “obstructive” than “facilitative” when it comes to certification. CAASL needs to be revamped for greater efficiency.
Other refinements involve the independence of regulatory authority (CAASL) from government, and striving for separation of economic regulation from technical/safety regulation. CAASL was formed under the ‘Private Companies Ordinance’ but unfortunately it has drifted back to conducting its business as a regular government office, with political interference and all.
Besides, it is vital to establish an Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority, preferably independent of the CAA. Annex 13 to the ICAO convention says: “The State shall establish an accident authority that is independent of the aviation authorities and other entities that could interfere with the conduct or objectivity of an investigation.”
That, I believe, is what ‘checks and balances’ are about.
Meanwhile, the silence of the Aviation Minister is deafening.
The proposed ‘Indian involvement’ is a sad state of affairs when we have aviation experts in this country who have retired from careers in many parts of the world, and are now capable of sharing their knowledge and experience to good effect.
There is already an Indian-managed flying school at Ratmalana catering to Indian students. Maybe the camel has already put its head in the tent, and only money will talk.
Pledges to abolish executive presidency
With the presidential elections around the corner, the abolition of the executive presidency has come up for discussion once again.
This time around, the proposal for abolishing the executive presidency has come from former President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga. She pledged to scrap it first when she ran for Presidency in 1994. But she did not fulfil her promise.
Former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena are also now for scrapping the executive presidency.
Almost all the former Presidents came to power promising to scrap it but once in power they swept it under the carpet.
The Opposition parties claim they are for the abolition, but after the next presidential election. which, they say, they are confident of winning.
Mahinda has recently said it is preferable to abolish the executive presidency because he has already held it twice. However, he seems to have forgotten that he was greedy for power and he failed in his third attempt. For him and most other past Presidents, executive presidency is sour grapes.
They are now trying to have the executive presidency abolished in the hope that they will be able secure the premiership.
Ironically, Anura K Dissanayake, NPP leader and presidential candidate is against the abolition of the executive presidency as he is confident of winning the next presidential election.
So, all of them are in the same boat and one thing is clear; whoever becomes President will never have it abolished.
The campaign for scrapping the executive presidency will go in circles, forever.
Dr. P.A. Samaraweera
Dispelling Misconceptions: Visionary Future of an NPP-led Sri Lanka
by Shantha Jayarathne, PhD
In recent discussions, concerns have emerged about the National People’s Power (NPP) in Sri Lanka, with some fearing a return to outdated communist traditions if the party ascends to power. These apprehensions, often fueled by political agendas, particularly target those with limited political literacy. This article aims to dispel these misconceptions and shed light on the NPP’s forward-looking vision for a progressive and prosperous Sri Lanka.
Coalition of Visionaries
Contrary to the narrative peddled by certain factions, it’s essential to recognise that the NPP represents a diverse coalition of 22 parties and civil society organisations, with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) as its main partner. Importantly, both the NPP and JVP members boast of a commendable track record, free from accusations of corruption, nepotism, or cronyism. Nominations are filed for any election from the NPP under the “Compass” symbol, and contestants with high repute and integrity will be drawn from all 22 constituent parties in the broad coalition.
A Clear Development Roadmap
The NPP has consistently articulated a comprehensive roadmap for the development of Sri Lanka. Emphasising the importance of a thriving Agriculture, Industry, and Service sectors, the party is committed to eliminating barriers hindering investments. Corruption, favouritism, and covert dealings of officials and people with vested interests will be totally eliminated under an NPP government. Furthermore, the NPP pledges to introduce efficient systems, ensuring minimal delays and promoting a business-friendly environment that attracts both local and foreign investors.
Government’s Primary Obligations
Addressing fears of property takeover, the NPP asserts that its government will not engage in business activities but will focus on essential public utility services, education, health, social security, and defence to ensure the well-being and security of the nation. NPP will not only encourage local investments but also it will take all possible measures to attract foreign direct investments. State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) facing financial challenges will undergo restructuring with utmost transparency, fostering efficiency and accountability.
Business Friendly Environment
The NPP is dedicated to creating a level playing field for businesses by implementing regulations inspired by the most developed economies. Consistent antitrust laws, investment protection laws, and laws that are inconsistent and complex will be amended or new laws will be enacted to ensure fair competition and safeguard business interests. By fostering an environment that encourages innovation and competition, the NPP aims to boost economic growth and prosperity. NPP plans to streamline the systems and process to facilitate investments within the shortest possible timeframe whereby it aims to take Sri Lanka in the Ease of Doing Business Index from 99th position today to a position within the first 50. The Cooperative system will be strengthened in an NPP government and they will be regulated to deliver an effective and efficient service to the periphery.
Transparent Tax Policy
Simplifying Sri Lanka’s tax policy is a priority for the NPP, aiming to create a transparent and tax-friendly environment. NPP will ensure a stable and consistent progressive tax policy in the country, and all regressive taxes will be eliminated. Citizens will be provided with clear information at the end of the Tax Year on how their tax contributions are utilised for public services, promoting accountability and citizen engagement. This transparency is crucial for building trust between the government and its citizens.
Learning from Developed Countries
Taking lessons from successful models of governance in developed countries, an NPP government will strive to implement best practices in public administration. Emphasising the importance of accountable institutions, streamlined bureaucracy, and effective public service delivery, the party is committed to ensuring transparency and efficiency in governance. There will be a minimum number of cabinet ministries for key areas, and their roles and functions will be clearly defined while making the officials accountable to their respective assigned functions. Zero tolerance for corruption and the law of the land will be applied to everyone alike.
Economic Adjustments and IMF Negotiations
Acknowledging the need for economic stability, the NPP plans to initiate negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This strategic move aims to strike a balance between economic adjustments and safeguarding the livelihoods of the people in the country. The NPP is dedicated to ensuring that any economic reforms are implemented with a people-centric approach, minimising adverse effects on the general population and the industry.
Nonaligned Foreign Policy
The NPP upholds a nonaligned foreign policy, reflecting a commitment to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence. While fostering international relations, the party is resolute in not allowing foreign nations to utilise Sri Lanka’s soil for military purposes. This stance ensures that the country remains neutral and independent in its dealings with other nations, safeguarding national interests and security.
Repositioning Sri Lanka in the World Order
A central tenet of the NPP’s vision is the repositioning of Sri Lanka in the global context. The party is dedicated to identifying and leveraging the country’s potentials, addressing weaknesses, seizing opportunities, and managing threats, both internal and external. This strategic approach aims to elevate Sri Lanka’s standing on the world stage, fostering positive engagement with the international community.
Quality of Life Improvement
A key focus of the NPP government is enhancing the quality of life for all citizens. The party recognises the importance of social welfare, healthcare, education, and infrastructure development in elevating living standards. By prioritising these aspects, the NPP aims to create a society where every citizen can enjoy a higher quality of life, emphasising the well-being and prosperity of the people.
Addressing False Propaganda
Amidst the misconceptions surrounding the NPP, it is crucial to address the motivations behind certain groups disseminating false propaganda. The fearmongering tactics employed by those with vested interests seek to perpetuate a status quo that has allowed for ill-gotten wealth and alleged illegal transactions. These groups, resistant to change, attempt to sway public opinion by sowing seeds of doubt about the NPP’s commitment to a fair and just governance model.
However, when one closely examines the NPP’s dedication to transparency, efficient governance, and inclusive development, it becomes evident that these accusations are nothing more than a desperate attempt to cling to the shadows of a fading era. The party’s emphasis on tackling corruption, restructuring inefficient State-Owned Enterprises, and simplifying the tax policy directly challenges the interests of those who have thrived in an environment of opacity and undue influence.
As citizens, it is paramount to discern the true intentions behind such narratives and recognize the NPP as a force poised to break free from the shackles of corruption and vested interests. By supporting the NPP’s vision, Sri Lankans have the opportunity to usher in a new era – one marked by ethical governance, economic prosperity, and a society that prioritises the well-being of its people over the interests of a privileged few.
In conclusion, the NPP stands not only as a political entity but as a beacon of hope, calling on the people to embrace change, reject false narratives, and collectively forge a path towards a brighter and more equitable future.
(The Writer, a UK resident, is a former Senior Consultant at the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA). He is a member of the NPP-Policy Development Team, and he can be reached through email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fair weather will prevail except for evening showers in Kalutara, Galle, Matara and Rathnapura districts
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