Let us as Sri Lankans not delude ourselves

Living standards among the people have gone down in the past 10 years. They are not exemplary, and the general attitude of our elected representatives has not helped much.

by Victor Cherubim

Sri Lanka Sinhala and Tamil and Muslim are all going to the polls on 5 August 2020 to elect our representatives to the 16th session of our Parliament.

There is no misgiving that we are heading together for lean times, not just economically, socially, and politically. Something more needs to be done first, in the next 100 days to bring back our sanity, to uplift the poverty of our masses.

“Absolute poverty is the severe deprivation of basic human needs including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and other welfare”.

Wealth on the other hand is distributed among the affluent which includes politicians and elite businessmen.

But much of the population lives on a hand to mouth lifestyle, some more destitute than others.

At the same time, we have a land endowed with natural resources, knowledge, skill sets, and abilities. What we have lacked is proper guidance, or direction by politicians.

As Sri Lankans, we patriotically defend our homeland from being poor, but the fact is living standards remain comparatively low, as nearly 45%live on less than $5.00 per day.

Living standards among the people have gone down in the past 10 years. They are not exemplary, and the general attitude of our elected representatives has not helped much.

Economic activity has been stagnant

Why is living in Sri Lanka so expensive? Although the overall standards of living of the people has increased compared with neighbouring countries, even with the enormous debt, the country has a significant per capita income, wealth distribution among the population is lacking. Taxes are increasing by the day; prices of goods and services are rising, and people are getting “hard up”.

There are all sorts of things that hinder development. Politicians are all the time “sugar coating” their performance, which does not relate to the reality in the land.

Enough is enough when we keep blaming each other for not tackling levels of poverty which has passed the threshold of tolerance. We need to give a fresh startto guarantee that the rich do not get richer, while the poor get poorer. Of course, there have been many poverty alleviation programmes implemented in the meantime including “Janasaviya” (1989), “Samurdhi” (1994). But much more needs immediate action.

Another area of concern is high rates of unemployment

The paradox is that the high rate of unemployment is especially among the educated youth. More than 70% of the large scale industries are confined to the Western Province.
Unless more job opportunities are created in the underdeveloped regions, it would be difficult to reduce the incidence of poverty in deprived areas.

Income Transfer

Properly targeting the destitute poor and the unemployed should be the Number 1 Priority of our new elected representatives.

For this to happen, we need people who will represent the very people who have been most affected by years of destitution. They must be able to plan without raising our expectations, outside of the obvious scope of the next term of the fixed Parliament.They need to lay the groundwork for laying the groundwork now, to pave the way for future poverty alleviation over the next generation.

Further income transfer with amounts of transfer used to provide jobs to at least one member of a poor family will be better than giving financial assistance, which may not be adequate to get them out of poverty.

The drought in the North, the floods in the South

Minister of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development, Chamal Rajapaksa. last week inspected the progress of the drinking water supply project at Chavakachcheri, in the Jaffna Peninsula and the Iranamadhu bund extension development programme.

The greatest need to unite the North and the South is water. Lack of water has been a severe problem for the people of the North for over many decades. Too much water has also been a problem for the people in the South.

Turning the Jaffna Peninsula over to a desert in the years ahead, is not in the best interest of the nation. Likewise,severe floods and landslides must be tackled as a
matter of urgency.

Giving priority of Parliamentary time to these projects considering the urgent necessity of the people in these areas is long overdue and will produce results in due time.

All in all, understanding the needs of the people and acting on these projects which have been neglected over half a century is the need of the hour.

It is the hope that the new Parliament will address all the issues that have been neglected.

Post a Comment