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Manifesto: no mention of Amendment 19 or Amendment 20

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Pray Sri Lanka pray as five judges deliberate on the country’s future 

by Pro Bono   

Nowhere in the Manifesto has Gota said that he is repealing 19A and introducing 20A to the Constitution. It appears that he has a penchant for being economical with the truth.     

 Gota obtained a two thirds majority by deceiving the people; he posed off as the leader of the anti-MCC Movement. With his ill-gotten majority, he is attempting to push-through 20A for which he does not have the people’s mandate; he would sup with the devil to achieve his ends. 

Terrorist suspect released 

In the meantime, one of the prime Islamic-terrorist suspects in the ‘Easter bombing has been released from custody, purportedly due to lack of evidence 

The country is on tenterhooks while five judges from the Supreme Court, sit in judgment on 39 petitions challenging one of the most controversial amendments to the Constitution ever proposed.  The case promises to be a landmark in Sri Lanka’s political, judicial and cultural history as Sri Lanka’s very existence as a sovereign Nation State may depend on the judicial determination made. 

 

Government MPs plan to vote against party lines  

Analysts say that a popular Government, in a matter of months, has succeeded in making itself most unpopular by attempting to bulldoze the proposed 20th Amendment through Parliament, with its two thirds majority. 

 Many, within the Government ranks, are opposed to some very controversial aspects in the proposed Amendment; the people are demanding from their representatives to openly vote against party lines if the Amendment are voted on in Parliament; they say that those representatives voting against party lines have the people’s support.     

 The opposition, which only yesterday looked so hopelessly disunited and deflated, has suddenly got a second wind as a result of the proposed Amendment. 

 Strangely, with the massive opposition to 20A, its ‘author’ can be found; Ali Sabry has disclaimed ownership, forcing Gota to claim it as his own! 

 

 Fast becoming a political joke 

Gota, described by some as a good administrator, has made some serious and embarrassing gaffes, described in certain circles as ‘military buffoonery’. He is fast becoming a political joke and critics cite these instances to make their point: They point out that out of the blues he issued an illegal gazette on Sept. 10, 2020 to give ownership of State land to those squatting  on such land in total violation of an existing statute which is about  ‘Recovering State Land’ from squatters; the gazette was to override a Statute.  

He was caught with his pants down, furtively withdrawing the illegal gazette on getting wind that it would be torn to shreds in a court of law by anyone challenging the illegal gazette. 

Critics also point out to Gota megalomaniacally making ex cathedra type statements and insisting that words flowing from his mouth are like pearls of wisdom having the validity of government circulars.  

 They also refer to his frivolous use of the gazette as when a gazette was published regularizing coconut sales based on caliper and measuring-tape readings.   

 

Popularity plummets to an all time low 

Some analysts say that within 11 months his popularity rating has plummeted from a 70 percent to a low of 48 percent.  

 His present popularity rating is not entirely due to his non-ending gaffes; Gota secured his victory and his two thirds majority in Parliament by deceiving the people of Sri Lanka; he posed off as Sri Lanka’s flag bearer against the MCC, the most burning issue facing the country  

When the people realized his deception and called his bluff, he ingloriously fell from his pedestal and found it difficult playing a geo-political charade. 

 

Playing the role of house-negro 

Soon, he was collaborating with the Americans on the MCC Plan to take-over Sri Lanka.   

Today, with Trump going down with COVID, Gota’s actions evoke memories of Malcolm X and his explicit description of ‘House Negros’.  

 

Sri Lanka fulfills conditions precedent for MCC Land investment 

Much of Gota’s executive actions are based on ‘Conditions precedent for MCC land investment’, the conditions that Sri Lanka is mandated to fulfill, before the Americans condescend to ink the MCC Agreement.  

 In fact, it is being alleged that the so-called ‘bastard’ Amendment 20 was in fact impregnated by the Americans.  

 

Et tu Gota 

Embarrassed by the faux pas of his younger sibling, Mahinda attempted to rescue Gota from the trap that he was walking into setting up a committee to study and report on the draft of the proposed Amendment.  

 When this report was submitted to the cabinet, Gota, either resenting challenges to his authority or prompted by the Americans, consigned the report to the ‘waste-paper basket’.  

 

Government has no mandate from the people to repeal or make amendments 

News from the grapevine is that the Americans are following the Supreme Court proceedings with great interest.  

 Although it is being parroted that Gota had included in his Manifesto that the 19th Amendment would be repealed and a 20th Amendment would be introduced, many voters are bewildered as they are unable to find any mention of this in the Manifesto 

 Analysts say that if such a pledge is not in the Manifesto, it would mean that the people have not given Gota a mandate to repeal 19A nor bring in 20A.  

 It would follow therefore that in addition to a two thirds majority in Parliament, the bill would require the peoples’ consent at a referendum. 

 

Eelamists strategy for a UDI- Dual citizenship 

The proposed 20A includes a section which calls for the repealing of Article 91 (1)(d) (x111) of the present Constitution that debars a foreign citizen from holding political office. 

 If this barrier is removed, the path is cleared for the Americans to capture political power in the Provincial Councils in the North and the East of Sri Lanka through their diaspora-Eelamists having dual citizenship.  

 The Eelam diaspora in the US and other Western countries are awaiting the ‘starting-gate’ to be opened with the passing of 20A.    

Some votaries of Eelam and mercenaries of the US argue that contending for political office and representing people in a political chamber is a right of any citizen of Sri Lanka; they choose to ignore the crux of the counter argument which is not about rights and duties but ‘National Security’. This is the yardstick applied to many rights (for instance ‘The Right to Information’ is denied) when there is a lurking danger to National Security.   

 And to quote Gota from his own Election Manifesto, his priority number One is National Security. It does not require a rocket scientist to understand that dual-citizenship is a major threat to National Security.  

 The danger to our National Security can be perceived given the oath, taken by Rudra Kumaran, Emmanuel, Basil, Hoole and others.    

“I, ……., hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform non-combatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”   

 

The unfolding American scenario 

The scenario to be considered is this:  

On dual citizens being granted political rights, the diaspora Eelamists capture political power in the North and the East by controlling the Provincial Councils and all other lesser units in those provinces. 

The Americans, (see the MCC document) demand that all State Land – 83 percent of the country – be privatized. (As per the MCC document, the success of the MCC project will be measured by the amount of State Land privatized).  

 

The dual citizens buy up all State Land in the North and the East 

The US demands for itself the corridor of 1.2 million acres between Trinco and Colombo that will separate and demarcate the North from the South. (See the MCC document; This is where the electrified railway line would run). 

Wigneswaran, who worked on a USAID project on retirement, makes statements to stir up memories of a separate Tamil State; this is a forerunner to a UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence). 

The MCC document re Privatization of State Land runs into flak {Land (Special Provisions) Bill}. 

Gota comes to America’s rescue by issuing an illegal gazette to ‘privatize’ State Land to squatters et al; an open sesame for any one (squatter or otherwise) to register their names as owners of State Land, as per that gazette. 

When land is thus privatized it no longer comes under the control of the Government (the Centre), but that control is automatically devolved to the local provinces and councils. (Without much fuss Amendment 13 has been implemented, circumventing the legal and other barriers). 

Now that these State lands have been privatized it can be sold to any citizen, diaspora or otherwise.  

Gota is caught out and he is forced to withdraw the illegal gazette.  

With Gota’s moves frustrated, MCC partner India steps in; Modi threatens Mahinda, in a  Zoom Conference, to not impede any measures Gota may take to implement 13A which relates to devolving land and Land power to the North and the East. 

When all land in the North and the East are owned by the diaspora Eelamists, when the Councils in those provinces are controlled by the diaspora Eelamists, when there is a definite border separating the North from the South as is the Trinco-Colombo Corridor of the US, the Eelamists have a strong case to Unilaterally Declare Independence. 

If Sri Lanka expresses its opposition to the UDI, and attempts sending troops to the affected area, US troops manning the Colombo-Trincomalee Corridor would prevent that.  UDI is then a done deal, a fait accompli. 

Modi does a Wigneswaran in India. He has awakened the South Indians to their once Greater Eelam dream. The saga of greater Eelam is perhaps not over; the Balkanization of Sri Lanka will catalyze the Balkanization of India.  

With the diaspora Eelamists controlling Eelam, Eelam would be America’s 53rd State; the 53rd State of the US has scope for expansion when ‘Greater Eelam is annexed to Eelam.  

 

Strong statement by Bar Association 

The Bar Association has come out of its slumber and has done a copious study of the 20th Amendment. That, is a good sign. They have decried that dual citizenship should not be allowed under any circumstances. That is a legal opinion of great import. 

 

The clock begins to tick 

On May 9, 2019, Gammanpila castigated the US in open Parliament for attempting to exert undue influence on ten judges who were under training in the US; this was telecast by Adaderana News channel; see the link given below. http://www.adaderana.lk/news/55005/us-exerted-influenced-on-sl-judiciary-gammanpila?fbclid=IwAR1gR44V9Gb9EEiK6tIhB8cfYrAo-Zv0F22EcM5eMfZuDSj3jPEUkB1SPE0 

 

 Today, three of those judges referred to by Gammanpila, are hearing the petitions on the 20th Amendment.  

 It is a trying time for Sri Lanka and the future of the country hangs on a thread; it hinges on the judicial determination that will be made by the five-member bench. 

 Sri Lankans of all ethnicities and faith, you are exhorted to pray for your country and the bench of judges hearing the petitions. They need your prayers and blessings. Pray that they be granted wisdom and strength of character to act righteously to protect our beloved country.



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THE DEMOCRATIC PARADOX OF SRI LANKA

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by R.J. de Silva, Attorney-at-law

In the distant past, there were many approaches to running civilizations. Cruel and ruthless dictators perpetrated assault on human rights, with impunity. The best known among these tyrants were ATTILA the HUN (AD 434-453 of present day Hungary ), GENGHIS KHAN ( 1206-1227 in Central Asia and China ), TIMUR ( 1370-1405 of modern Syria, Iran , Afghanistan) and QUEEN MARY alias ‘Bloody Mary’(1553-1558 in England ).

The combination of divine or absolute power and lack of contact with people made Dictators and Autocrats fascinating as well as terrifying. It is unclear if such characters suffered from mental illness as defined by current standards or whether their lives were marked by incidents that made them ruthless.

Hadenius and Teorell ( 2007 ) identified distinct dictatorships in monarchies, military regimes, one party regimes and restricted multiparty regimes. Studies have revealed that many dictatorial regimes, have democratic facades or some functioning democratic institutions, some holding regular elections and some having operational political parties and legislatures.

Dictatorships are a form of government in which all power remains in the hands of one person enjoying unlimited governmental power obtained by force or fraudulent means in sham elections. Dictatorships are often characterized by deaths or killings because of greed, hatred, pride and yearning for power. For instance, Hitler caused millions of deaths of Jews, Pol Pot killed millions of Cambodians to forcibly change its culture and Idi Amin was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Indians in Uganda.

Autocracy is very similar to a dictatorship. Here too, the supreme power lies in the hands of an individual with some supported by a slavish political party. Autocrats use little or no consultation when making decisions and exercise independent authority over policies and procedures. Their decisions are not subject to any legal restraints. The system suppresses public debate and makes criticism of the government, a criminal offence.

Like in dictatorships, autocracies also use force and punishments to those who disobey the leader’s commands. Autocrats manifest in many ways in despotism, oligarchy and fascism.

In the ideology of benevolent or enlightened despotism (popular in the 18th Century Europe),a absolute monarchs enacted a number of changes in political institutions and enlightened governance. Most of the despots started their careers as “freedom fighters”. Many of them amassed wealth abroad while the world was in denial.

An oligarchy is a form of government where power is in the hands of a small group of elite people, holding wealth or family or military prowess. Oligarchies are where a small minority rules the government and exercise power in corrupt ways. Such governments are frequently ruled by prominent families whose children are raised and coached as oligarchy’s heirs.

Fascism is a political ideology that elevates the nation and race above the individual and advocates a ‘Consolidated Autocratic government’ led by a dictator under strict economic and social regulation while suppressing the opposition. Fascist administrations were seen in Italy’s Fascist Party under Mussolini ( 1925-1945 )and the National Socialist German Worker’s Party ( Nazi Party ) under Adolf Hitler ( 1925-1943). Interestingly, the majority of the modern dictatorial regimes refer to their leaders by a variety of titles such as President, King and Prime Minister.

The 20th and 21st Century dictators and autocrats ruled with tyrannical power and never tolerated dissent. Some of them were VALDIMIR LENIN ( 1917-1924 Russia ), JOSEPH STALIN ( 1924-1953 Russia ), BENITO MUSSOLINI ( 1925-1945 Italy ), ADOLF HITLER ( 1933-1945 Germany ), FRANCISCO FRANCO ( 1939-1975 Spain ), MAO ZEDONG (1949-1976- China ), IDI AMIN (1971-1979 Uganda), AUGUSTO PINOCHET ( 1973- 1990 Chile ), GEOGIS PAPANDUPOULUS ( 1967-1974 Greece ), COL MUAMMER GADAFI ( 1969-2011 Libya ).

Dictator led countries are also associated with severe poverty, repression, decreasing health and life expectancy, famine, poor education and rising mental illnesses. Eight of these brutal and repressive autocracies which caused poverty in their countries were : KIM JONG UN since 2011 ( North Korea- 40% poverty ), NICOLAS MANDURO since 2013 with his Presidency in dispute ( Venezuela – 82% poverty ) , BASHA AL ASSAD since 2020 ( Syria -82% poverty ), PAUL KAGME since March 2000 (Rwanda -39.1% poverty ), RECEP ERDOGAN since 2014 ( an elected President in Turkey- 21.9% poverty ), and NGUEMA MBASOSGO longest standing President in the world since 1979 for 40 years to date ( Equatorial Guinea -76. 8% poverty). Two of them – PIERRE NKURUNZIZA ( Burundi ) and IDRIS DEBBY ( Chad ) died in June 2020 April 2021 leaving 64.6% and 46.7% poverty respectively, in their impoverished countries. However, VADIMIR PUTIN (since 2000 Russia ) and XI JING PING ( since 2013 China ) are leading economic powers, but these two countries have also never tolerated dissent.

It is common to see dictators and autocrats appointing prominent members of armed forces in civilian positions and show disrespect towards the independence of the judiciary and freedom for the media. Such systems and their rulers show no concern for human rights or dissent. For instance in China, when a popular national movement for democracy was precipitated by Chinese youth and students calling for greater accountability, constitutional due process, freedom of the Press, speech and association drawing about one million people to the Tiananman Square and about 400 other cities, China’s Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping violently suppressed the movement in one day on June 4, 1986, similar to what happened in Rathupaswela in Sri Lanka, subsequently.

The suppression of the Pro- Democracy movement by the use of the army was followed by the wide spread arrest and deportation of foreign journalists and the strict control of the Press. In Russia, VADIMIR PUTIN, characterized his rule with endemic corruption, jailing political opponents, intimidating media freedom and free and fair elections. When Russia invaded Ukrain in February 2022, Putin ordered the arrest of thousands of its own citizens for protesting against the war. Tsarist minded Putin decreed that the independent media and journalists will be will be given 15 year jail terms if the cruel destruction of Ukrain’s infrastructure, historical monuments, hospitals and bombing civilian targets are reported to the Russian people.

Dictators and Autocrats are prone to create personality based autocracies surrounded by family members. Family bandyism weakened State infrastructure in Sri Lanka after 2005. The Rajapaksa family based autocracy weakened the State, democratic practices and institutionalized corruption. Family members and lackeys of Iraq and Libyan leaders weakened the State apparatus of Iraq and Libya. The weakened States of Iraq and Libya were such that, it failed to produce nuclear weapons as planned, to meet the threat of Israeli expansion. Saddam Hussain ( Iraq ) appointed his son- in- law and notoriously brutal Hussein Kamil, to fast track the production of nuclear weapons. That resulted in scientists in Iraq intentionally further slowing down the programme and nicknamed it the “unclear power”.

In contrast, the tyrant Gadaffi ( Libya ) was surrounded by ‘yes men’ and female bodyguards and an ego trip as a result of which, had no inclination to produce scientists and engineers for the country capable of dealing with complex technicalities associated with the production of nuclear power.

Dictators and Autocrats are prone to interfere with the sovereignty of other countries. Chinese dictator XI JING PING despite being an economic power, is accused of subtle problematic debt trap diplomacy since 2018 in many poor countries in Africa and Asia ruled by corrupt and mismanaging leaders. PUTIN is facing credible allegations of gross violation of human rights in Ukrain and widespread calls for investigation leading up to a trial for war crimes.

Citizen tired of being oppressed and controlled made widespread demands for democracy and the creation of independent Nation States in Europe. Those revolutions popularly known as the ‘Peoples Spring’ in 1848, brought upheavals in Europe mainly due to the dissatisfaction with monarchies, which were at the helm of each country. The revolution started in Sicily and spread to France, Netherlands, Italy and Hungary, Austrian Empire, German Empire and the whole of Europe. Monarchies were replaced by Republics. Old leaders were forced to grant liberal constitutions.

Caught off guard, aristocracy and their allies plotted to return to power and many leaders of the revolutions went into exile. In the decades after 1848, little had changed. Many historians considered the “People’s Spring” a failure, due to the seemingly lack of permanent structural changes. Karl Marx, disappointed with the bourgeois character of the revolution, expressed the theory of a permanent revolution according to which the proletariat should strengthen democratic bourgeois revolutionary forces, until the proletariat itself was ready to seize power.

The Autumn of Nations between 1981 and 1991 (143 years after the political upheavals in Europe), brought down the former Soviet Union (USSR) which was beset with economic stagnation, mismanagement and excessive dogmatism of the Communist Party. It disintegrated USSR without bloodshed to endorse democratic reforms in their countries. Poland was the first to shrug off communism in 1989 after almost a decade of struggles. It was followed by Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Another wave of pro- democracy uprisings began in Muslim countries such as Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain in 2010/2011. It was named the “Arab Spring” and started in December 2010 from Tunisia. However, not all the nations that witnessed such social and political upheaval changed for the better. Some of the very same leaders who fought for democracy in the Muslim world (and in many other parts of the world), presided over the gradual decline of democratic rule in their countries.

In Egypt for example, despite the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, authoritarian rule returned after the controversial election of Morsi in 2012 leading to a coup by his Defence Minister Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in 2013 and he remains in power till today. Libya, since Col Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown violently in October 2011, has remained in a state of civil war with two opposing governments ruling separate regions of the country. The civil war that began in Syria with the Arab Spring has lasted for several years due to ISIS declaring a CALIPHATE governed by Islamic Law in North East of Syria. The ISIS has been effectively defeated, but the oppressive regime of BASHAR AL ASSAD continues with Russian support.

Democracy

In modern times, generations have rebelled against dictatorships and autocrdacy and fought for human rights and respect for the Rule of law. DEMOCRACY is the method of rule most countries have begun to approve. Although democracy is vulnerable it is very resilient. Mahatma Gandhi said: “Democracy and violence go ill together. States that are today minimally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian or if they must become fully democratic, they must become courageously nonviolent” and Langstone Hughes ( 1902 – 1967 ) wrote “Democracy will not come today, this year, not ever through compromise and fear. I tire so of hearing people say, let’s things take its own course. Tomorrow is another day. I do not need any freedom when I am dead. I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.”

To be continued

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My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment says Beyonce

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Beyonce, shown attending the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, is slated to release a new album in July 2022

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, r Six years after she shook the culture with her powerful visual album “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s seventh solo studio work is a pulsating, sweaty collection of club tracks aimed at liberating a world consumed by ennui.

Beyonce, the paradigm-shifting music royal whose art has long established her as one of entertainment’s seminal stars, released her hotly anticipated album “Renaissance,” a house-tinged dance record primed for its summer needle drop

Eminently danceable and rife with nods to disco and EDM history — Queen Bey interpolates Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder along with James Brown and the archetypal synth line from “Show Me Love,” the 1990s house smash by Robin S — the 16-song album is poised to reign over the season.

Prior to releasing her opus Beyonce had dropped “Break My Soul” to acclaim, setting the tone for her house revival that highlighted the Black, queer and working-class artists and communities who molded the electronic dance genre, which first developed in Chicago in the 1980s.The megastar has indicated that “Renaissance” is but the first act of three, in a project she said she recorded over the course of three years during the pandemic.

“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” Beyonce on her website.

“It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving,” she continued. “My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking.”

“A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”

– ‘Expansive listening journey’ –

In the weeks preceding the release of “Renaissance” Beyonce teased the album with the steady stream of glossy, curated portraits of herself that over the past decade have become her signature.But though she’s received wide praise for keeping the world of music videos on the cutting edge, Beyonce put out her latest record sans visuals (they’re promised at a later date.)

In a statement her label Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records lent insight into the decision, saying the artist “decided to lead without visuals giving fans the opportunity to be limitless in their expansive listening journey.”

Beyonce’s soaring vocals have their place on “Renaissance” but it’s the rhythmic, urgent call to the dance floor that stands out, with a tapestry of influences paying homage to pioneers of funk, soul, rap, house and disco.

“Unique / That’s what you are /Stilettos kicking vintage crystal off the bar,” she sings on “Alien Superstar,” which samples Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” in a sonic ode to voguing, the stylized house dance that emerged from the Black LGBTQ ballroom culture of the 1960s.

That song closes by sampling a speech from Barbara Ann Teer, who founded Harlem’s National Black Theatre.

On “Virgo’s Groove” Beyonce gets raunchy with an unabashed sex anthem, adding a titular nod to her star sign — the Virgo turns 41 on September 4.Along with a smattering of deep house cuts as well as tributes to gospel, funk and soul, Beyonce’s collaborators on “Renaissance” include Nile Rodgers, Skrillex, Nigerian singer Tems, Grace Jones, Pharrell and, of course, her rap mogul husband Jay-Z.

– Album leaks, Beyhive stings –

Beyonce has long bucked music’s conventional wisdom, and is credited with popularizing the surprise album drop.She later made waves by releasing “Lemonade” — the groundbreaking work that chronicled her own emotional catharsis following infidelity within a generational and racial context — first on cable television, and limiting its streaming availability.

Since “Lemonade” she’s released “Homecoming,” a live album and film featuring footage from her mythic 2018 Coachella performance, as well as the critically acclaimed song “Black Parade” — which dropped amid mass protests ignited by the police murder of George Floyd.

That song saw the megastar, who first gained fame as a member of Destiny’s Child, become the winningest woman ever at the Grammys with 28, and the gala’s most decorated singer.But for all her cultural clout and an indisputable throne in music’s pantheon, Beyonce’s songs have not seen the same commercial dominance as other contemporary global stars — her last number one solo hit was 2008’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

That’s poised to change with “Renaissance.”

The album’s release saw Queen Bey return to music business as usual, deploying pre-sales, a lead single drop, a tracklist and polished social media fodder.But it wasn’t without a hitch — in the days prior to the official release, the album leaked online.

Bey thanked her hive for waiting, and added that “I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early.”

“We are going to take our time and Enjoy the music,” the megastar told her fandom. “I love you deep.”–AFP

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Are we to burn borrowed dollars just to cook a meal?

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Eng. Parakrama Jayasinghe

How many of the consumers who opt to use LPG for cooking, realize that they are burning the dollars borrowed with difficulty, just to cook a meal, while the use of LPG hardly brings in any foreign exchange? The reality is that while the country is struggling to raise the dollars even through loans to import adequate supplies of transport fuel, taking loans to import LPG, which will not result in any Forex earnings could hardly be considered ethical or a priority.

The CBSL data below shows the immense amount of dollars drained out of the country in the past years, purely due to the high powered promotions to coerce and trap the consumers to this non sustainable consumption.

With the escalation of world market prices and the depreciation of the rupee , the impact in rupee terms in year 2022, if we are to import the same quantities, would be much greater as estimated. The Governor of the Central Bank has quite rightly stated that

Sri Lanka will have to manage with available dollar inflows, not bridging finance: CB Governor

By Economy Next • Issue #391

However, the attempt by the government appears to be determined to continue this practice at whatever cost and detriment to the economy, to perpetuate a practice foisted on the people by unscrupulous officials, and thereby try and pretend that the gas queues are over. This has been achieved for the present, thanks to a further loan of $ 70 Million from the World Bank, to import 30,000 tons of LPG recently. Perhaps the daily visuals of the gas queues, that the electronic media took pleasure in broadcasting, may also have pushed the government to this short sighted move.

The other side of the coin is that, before the arrival of this load of LPG, while the empty cylinders remained in the queues, the people were absent. No doubt they sought and found alternative means of cooking their meals, albeit with less convenience than using gas. Obviously they would also have been helped in this by the intrepid efforts of many Sri Lankan entrepreneurs who designed and manufactured cooking stoves to use either fuel wood or charcoal, which do not require any dollars.

The novel stoves are yet to be available in adequate numbers in the market, although the manufacturers are running long waiting lists. As such some consumers may have been forced to revert to direct use of fire wood, accepting the disadvantage of smoke and soot. But Sri Lanka has already introduced most acceptable models of cooking stoves to use wood and wood charcoal, devoid of any smoke and soot. These have proved to be acceptable alternatives to the use of gas stoves for the daily cooking needs, even in high rise apartments.

The reality is that the consumers have recognized the fact that the government or the officials cannot be relied upon to provide their essential needs, and their salvation lies in seeking indigenous alternative solutions themselves which have proven to be equally effective.

But shouldn’t this positive change have been noted by the authorities and fostered with the same vigour with which the use of the imported LPG was promoted? What about the media? They diverted their cameras to the petrol and diesel queues, obviously the emerging negative scene of news value.

The officials of the Litro gas company are heard to give assurances of continued supply of LPG in the future, while they admit the loan received is adequate for supplies up to October only. According to their web page their customer base exceeds 4,000,000. The consumption in 2020 was 437,000 tons, purchased at a cost of $ 236 Million. By now it would exceed 450,000 tons annually. How far would the $ 70 Million loan go at present day gas prices? What happens next? Are they hoping to get yet another loan, when the Ministry of Power and Energy is forced to restrict the issue of essential transport fuels to a minimum, due to lack of dollars? Isn’t this a willful deception of the consumers?

Therefore, the discerning consumers are well advised to consider the following points in their decision making for the future.

  • = The import of LPG is possible only through loans which will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren
  • = Continued dependence on LPG is a never ending problem and will need more and more loans with no chance of the LPG used leading to any foreign exchange earnings
  • = The loans taken have to be repaid by the entire country ,while the benefit is enjoyed by only a limited section of the society, which is morally unacceptable
  • = For those fortunate to get even a cylinder of LPG, adopting the already available options of stoves using either charcoal or wood , for the cooking of the main meals , would substantially reduce the monthly expenditure as shown below. This would preserve the LPG cylinder bought with difficulty, to be available for any limited usage in between and for any emergencies for many months
  • = The consumers can be the drivers of the change which would reduce the demand for LPG and thus save the country millions of dollars year after year
  • = This would create a significant indigenous industry whereby the millions of dollars sent out would flow to the local industrialists and rural communities supplying the charcoal and wood. Even a 50% reduction of the imports could result in a local industry worth over Rs 80 Billion annually.

These are indeed practical and worthwhile contributions to resolve a national problem. Are each of us ready to commit to extend the use of our LPG cylinder to last several months, thereby reducing the demand to 50% or even to 25% in the coming year? This should be considered a national duty by all of us.

Just to assuage any fears of deforestation, contrary to popular belief, Sri Lanka already has adequate renewable and sustainable biomass resources formally counted as over 12,000,000 tons annually, contributing to 50% of the total primary energy demand. Simultaneously, a practical program of social reforestation has to be encouraged where the user of charcoal, plants wherever he can, plants trees to compensate for the charcoal he uses. In this way the next generation will also be assured of their own sustainable supply with absolutely no impact on the forest cover. A plant that can be recommended is Gliricidia Sepium among others, which can be harvested in two years, and thereafter every eight months.

(The writer is past president of the Bio Energy Association of Sri Lanka www.bioenergysrilanka.lk
Email: parajayasinghe@gmail.com)

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