Achieving post-election tasks

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Most of the problems, we Sri Lankans have now have not been caused by us. What we are burdened with today we have inherited and were caused a very long time ago. The efforts made in the past to address them had always been too hasty as the true causes were never properly understood.

For the first time in our history an extraordinary Leader who was instrumental in achieving peace in a country that was bleeding, was rejected in spite of the fact that it was his commitment that brought in this stability we all enjoy right now, throughout this land by all the communities.

The War was over five years ago and we still try to preserve its painful memories, knowing very well that we shall never regain what was lost. In our country we have one people divided by two main cultures only and it looks as a segregation based on the two main languages, Sinhalese and Tamil. It can also be identified as Sinhala speaking and non- Sinhala speaking which includes Muslims who try to identify themselves as a separate community because of their religion. We are all human beings and we can live together.

From the time of independence Governments were formed mainly by the Sinhala community as it is the largest amounting to over 70%. It was this background that prevented Sri Lankan politics becoming more realistic by opening doors to non-Sinhalese to take part in governance. As a result of that, all the political parties, except for the socialists tried to manage things by themselves, and solicited help from the Muslim Minority to have an edge over the other. In the past UNP fought alone while SLFP always had some kind of alliance which would total up to a larger number against UNP.

The latest election became an entirely a different one as it was a contest between the ruling party and all the others who wished it to be removed. It became the rallying call for all and the difference was made when the Tamil voters came forward this time. All must understand the historic significance of this development. Tamil voters have become an active factor in electing a government. Whether it was an intended outcome or not is not the issue. The fact that it has happened is what is important. Now, it is up to the two main parties to win and preserve the gained trust. There is no doubt that it was the enthusiasm of all the voters that decided the outcome and it became possible only due to the commitment and the enthusiasm of the campaigners who caused this outcome.

Now having achieved the main objective, the same enthusiasm should prevail but with more discipline and professionalism as it should never turn into an all out witch-hunting sparking the small fires that would end up as infernos capable of destroying the last chance this nation has got to have more people to come together for a better future.

Anticorruption moves are fine as long as they do not end up little short of kangaroo courts. When the whole nation is watching, those who have taken up responsibilities also should act with a very high level of restrain rather than becoming emotional. Anticorruption moves must be continued very seriously and vigorously but it should be by the agencies and agents of Law and Order and not by individuals with more ‘goonish’ qualities and tendencies.

There are more issues to address than those. In 1960, a pound-loaf of bread was Rs.0/25 cts and a quarter of a loaf was the poor man’s breakfast. That means it cost only Rs.0/07 cts and with a curry it could not have gone beyond Rs.0/15 cts. Today, the same loaf is Rs.50/- and a Quarter would cost Rs.12.50.It is a 200 times increase. A measure (About one kilograme)  of Rice used to be Rs.0/25. The lowest price now is Rs.50/- Kg and it is also a 200 times increase. Take the costs of essentials , including medicines. What really has happened is the steady devaluation of the Sri Lankan Rupee. It is because, we do not generate enough value within the country. As a result we pay more rupees for a dollar. Naturally, when we pay more rupees for importing ‘Petroleum’ and machinery with technical know-how we increase the costs of every input within this country.

We have to borrow not only for infra-structure development but also for day to day needs. Due to our inefficiency in regulating rice marketing, we allow hoarding and spend valuable foreign exchange to import rice from outside to give at Rs.50/- per Kg. Who is fooling whom ? These are the issues.

Conserving Foreign exchange can be done only by two methods, one is to increase exports earnings and the other is to reduce spending foreign exchange by ‘substitution’.

Those who have been appointed to be responsible should concentrate, with discipline, on matters that would make our nation richer economically, as the first step towards good governance.

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