Sri Lanka

For a new look New Year

Jan 2, 2018
Yet another year has dawned and all Sri Lankans, no doubt, will enter 2018 with much expectations for an improved performance, all round, by the rulers and a better quality in their lives. There are also the imponderables in the months ahead of the new year. These may be personal or collective, the latter, no doubt, influenced by factors on the political stage. The beginning of 2018 will be marked by an election to the country’s local government bodies, the first poll to be held under the Yahapalanaya government, which, no doubt, has generated much public interest. The cohesion between the country’s arch political rivals, getting together for the first time to form a Unity Government, no doubt, will be ruptured to some degree with the parties going their separate ways to contest the elections. How long this rivalry will continue after the election is anyone’s guess. Will there be a parting of ways or will the Unity Government continue with the marriage or deege, as they say, will be watched with much interest by the public.
 
The election will also be watched with eager anticipation for another reason - the emergence, as a force, by a significant segment of the SLFP led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, into the fray. Hence, the country will be witness to a humdrum on the political stage at the very outset of the new year. The results of the LG poll, no doubt, will provide a clear indicator as to which way the winds are blowing and shape the political mindset of the public.
 
Politics apart, the people, certainly, will be expecting some relief from the rulers on the cost of living front, in the new year. Of course, there were factors that were beyond the control of the government, leading to the high cost of living such as the vagaries of the elements. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has moved in to cushion the CoL burden on the public in a positive way by co-opting the private sector to play a hand. The supermarkets which are patronized, even by the ordinary folk, are now offering essential items at much reduced prices to the great relief of the public. However much needs to be done for the overall picture to change and the new year, it is hoped, will usher in this change, as will be the wish of the vast majority.
 
They will also wish for the government to deliver on its unfulfilled promises made, at both, the Presidential and General elections, in this new year. Of course the public servants received a bonanza of a Rs. 10,000 salary hike as promised by the government, though at great cost to the exchequer. There was also the reduction of fuel prices and the cost of all essential drugs. Most of all a climate of peace prevails in the country with the fear psychosis which was marked under the previous regime a thing of the past. Democracy has been restored to its optimum and the media unshackled, which is event by the frontal attacks launched against the government by certain private media. The judiciary has been freed and the Attorney General’s Department no longer an adjunct of the government, as was demonstrated in the intense grilling of powerful government politicians at the Bond Commission.
 
Still though, there is much disillusionment and disenchantment among the vast majority of the public at the slow pace in which investigations are being carried out against corrupt politicians, which was a major slogan of Yahapalanaya at the elections which they (public) hope will see a change in course within the new year. The President has already read the riot act and has vowed to cleanse public life of all manner of corruption, which augurs well for the new year.
 
There is also the economic front which needs the urgent attention of the administration amidst the mounting challenges. There indeed was a setback, entering into the new year, when Russia decided to ban tea imports from Sri Lanka. But the timely intervention by the President mercifully prevented what would have been an economic catastrophe. The new year, hopefully, would see the settlement of the imbroglio surrounding the loss making national carrier and the infusion of fresh capital to bail out this failed venture that has been a heavy burden on the Treasury. Hopefully the many projects that are already lined up for take off will be seeing the completion in the new year. Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has already stated that the Port City will be completed within this year which will open the doors to a large influx of foreign investors injecting new life into the economy.
 
Be that as it may, 2018, it is hoped, will end the spate of strikes, agitations and street protests which was a regular feature last year, causing much hardship to the general public. It is the wish of all right thinking people that saner counsel prevails and all stakeholders come to an understanding, in a spirit of give and take, to resolve their issues, for the sake of the public.
 
Daily News, January 2, 2018

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