How idiotic can a Govt. get?

  • 16 May 2005 13:11:41 GMT

    Your article ponders the contention that the Government should go ahead and privatise the CEB and the CPC if the country is to flourish in its economic management and to relieve the burden of tax payers. It is a fact that all the Government institutions of the day are littered with the henchmen and cronies of the corrupted politicians of the UNP and SLFP over decades to absolutely unmanageable proportions. At the same time, this shouldn`t become the only excuse to sell out state institutions that deliver essential services to the poorest of poor in the country.

    If privatisation is the only answer to rescue the debt-trodden state institutions and the panacea of economic revival in the country at large, then Sri Lanka would have been among the developed lot a long time ago. Even our neighbouring India which is listed a few points behind us in many of the economic indicators have not resorted to privatisation as a mean of economic resurrection.

    To take a leaf from the Sri Lankan experience, privatisation has strengthened the hands of a handful of murderers who call themselves the Omnibus Operators Association and the recent incidents reported in the country has exposed the nakedness of privatisation beyond any doubt. In the guise of privatising the CWE, the entire country witnessed how the so-called exponent of management accounting abused state power to give state property to his friends for a song and when prosecuted, how he manipulated the law enforcement agencies in the country into a laughing stock. The list is endless. These only show `how idiotic can a government get by resorting to privatisation`.

    So long as Sri Lanka takes the advice of unsung economic pundits like yourselves, it makes the task of the plain-clothed imperialistic wolves very easy in disabling the state machinery and looting our valuable resources at the toss of a few dollars, a goal they couldn`t achieve in the days of our forefathers at the point of a gun.

  • 16 May 2005 17:49:46 GMT

    Its PROVEN fact that, no matter which government is in power, government managed institutions are highly corrupt and highly inefficient. This has been proven not only in SL but all over the world, time and time again. Countries in Eastern Europe just collasped like a house of cards. The birth place of socialism and Marxism, Russia has accepted reality.

    In a situation like, a Country like Srilanka, which has been battered by a civil war for over 20 years, has only ONE CHOICE. If we are to keep are heads above water and come out of this crisis we are in, we have no choice everything.

    Liyanage accused the UNP and the SLFP of filling the CWE with there cronies. However, it must be remembered that During the time of Lalith Ahulathmudali, a man by the name of Razik Zarook was the chairman of the CWE and this establishment ran at profit and served its purpose. In addition to that, it must be remembered that its not only the UNP and the SLFP that has filled the government service with their catchers, but also the JVP. With in a very short period of time, the JVP has managed to fill the (already over staffed government sector) with 40,000 thousands graduates who do absolutely NOTHING. Most of these 40,000 are JVP catchers and thats one of the reasons why the JVP pushed so hard for it. These people were not needed and contribute NOTHING of vallue to country.

    In a situation like this where every party that comes to power - weather the UNP, SLFP or the JVP, abuses government resouces for a few votes, the best option is to privatize these institutions. Not only politicians but also Trade union leaders abuse these organization. Organizations like the CPC, CWE, CEB belong to the people of the country not to some `Kalakanni` trade unions. If these organizations are nothing but a burden on society whats the use of it. Get rid of them.

    Its human nature to want more and when you know you will be rewarded for your work, you are willing to work harder. Srilanks are well known to be lazy, good for nothing people in their own country but when they go out side the country they do extremly well - middle east, Euprope or Australia, there are thousands of Srilankan who are prospering. This is because they are motivated and know that if they work hard they will be rewarded but if your lazy you will be punished. This is Human nature and those people who oppose privatization, is going against human nature.

    Former socialist Countries like India, russia and China have accepted reality and have gone in for major economic reforms. If there are any people with breains left in SL, they will do the same. If not we can all sit here and watch while slowly but surely our country disintegrates.

  • 16 May 2005 17:52:07 GMT

    Hello Ajan, While trying to kep away from being involved in an uneducational debate, I would like to ask you a few questions as you seem to be confident that the way forward is the privatisation.

    My first question would be, since the inception of the privatisation in Sri Lanka in 1980`s, how many former-state owned institutions are profit making ventures now?

    How many are contributing in one way or the other to improve investments and to increase employment?

    It is highly unlikely any other state owned institutions, if privatised are going to make money and to improve services. People like you also need to be educated in paralel with the JVP. JVP do not see any light shed upon anything that the government does but the government on the other hand do not need to listen only to the world bank. They should use the local knowledge available and formulate something workable for the country.

    The institutions that were privatised, such as the CTB, Flour and Gas are a disgrace to any decent private institution and to the general public`s intelligence. There are alternative ways of dealing with things and it would only be a matter of willingness to work with everybody not only the imported-knowledge.

  • 16 May 2005 18:41:53 GMT

    Liyanage: `it makes the task of the plain-clothed imperialistic wolves very easy in disabling the state machinery and looting our valuable resources at the toss of a few dollars,`

    That is what happens if foreign capitalists own our companies. If locals are the owners then profits are not going out of the country. Am I correct? But the problem with private sector is that they only care about profits and not about the poor people. Therefore state regulation of prices and subsidies is a must in service sector even if the ownership is private.

  • 16 May 2005 18:44:36 GMT

    It?s useless responding to anizam?s monotonous points, but I am burning to do it.

    It is not only state owned institutions; even private sector is corrupt too. Pramuka bank was an example and if you want a list, send me your email address. I have a friend visiting me from Colombo these days who happens to be an executive in the private sector there. He says he is willing to spend Rs.50million for his son?s dental degree in the UK. Knowing his background and the way he was 20 years ago, I am amazed that he says these things now. Also, considering the bad financial state of his company in Sri Lanka, I am surprised the poor public?s money is being spent out of the country this way by these guys, who I?d hate to be called friends but he really is.

    There are ways of isolating state owned enterprises from corrupt politicians and their influence. The commissions can easily do that. Privatising only makes things worse. It only creates a tier system in the society. I?ll take your point with regard to the principals of those national schools. They were corrupt because they run state owned institutions. Do you want those schools to be privatised as well? The government itself showed a way to track them by setting up special unit and that is fair enough.

    That is one way for that problem to be solved and there are other ways to sort out any other corrupt situation. It needs local solutions and there are ways.

    You talk about what happened in Eastern Europe. I seriously guess, you need a break and read little bit more. Russia is engulfed with mafia related problems, which was a result of the introduction of democracy there. Countries like Slovenia are doing much better than any other country in the world. Yes there are other countries who depended heavily on the rest of Soviet union who suffer but that shouldn?t have happened. The distribution of democracy didn?t work in everybody?s favour. Because it was done under the US influence and an idiotic Soviet leader, there was no fair deal there. Some countries reserved what they didn?t have and the others some white elephants.

    We have plenty of choices, but it needs careful implementation. It must not be done under the World Bank?s pressure or the JVP?s thrust. The government seriously need to build up a dialogue between all concerned including the World Bank. There is no such consultation going on at the moment.

    It is funny you say under Athulathmudali the CWE did well, was it not a state enterprise then? So obviously there is a better way.

    To say that 40000 graduates are JVPers, I don?t think you are serious enough or I presume, you are your way to your doctor. It is obvious the 40000 aren?t JVPers, but the JVP?s belief is that by employing them, they will be able to trap the grads in their vote bank, which obviously will not work for a great extent.

    There are so many graduates who reap the benefits of the state education system but never look at the country once they are out of the country. At least these guys will contribute a little, to their potential if employed in the state or private sector. They need jobs as well. There are university lecturers who work only a few hours a week but get paid 100 times than these poor graduates. It?s a tough issue to be discussed like ANIZAM does in one line. It only shows once ignorance in internal affairs of a country like Sri Lanka.

    The Telecom privatisation was done when it was making profits. Why? Because that was the advice from the efficient mechanism called foreign donors. Now, an ordinary person can hardly bare the cost of a phone line or a bill. Gas was privatised and the expansion has stopped where it was. If the services are not being expanded, then where is the development? Now those who have gas cylinders can only use them as dust bins. Nobody can afford gas anymore. What is new is that these companies are now charging people more and paying the fortunate bunch of directors a lot more than they deserve.

    If somebody thinks, that?s the way to develop a country, he lacks knowledge and common sense. Prima flour was privatised and the government is struggling as the price doesn?t have to be that high.

    If we keep privatising all what we have on the advice of the donors, and stop subsidising farmers, one day we will be an empty balloon. The Western countries can then export their subsidised farming products to our countries and when the market is established, these countries can easily stop subsidising their farmers. This is called New-Colonisation.

    It is gross ignorance of a person to say the Sri Lankans are lazy workers. It is the lazy system that has made them so if it is the case. All the systems needs restructing not on somebody else?s like World Bank?s advices but on the lines of the development of the country. There are so many very very hard working people in Sri lanka, it is a disgrace to say things like that. I went to a school where teachers worked harder than one could think. Even if the reforms are done on somebody else?s advice, we will only have to wait and see the fate of the country. It is the duty of the government of the day to start dialogues with the community groups, the civil servants, educationists and the business leaders to formulate a baseline plan for a country like ours.

  • 16 May 2005 18:54:53 GMT

    Response to Julius,

    Former loss making Ceramics corporations became profitable since privatization.

    In fact they are now listed in the stock exchange. May be Lanka Ceramics made losses on and off but its subsidiaries (Lanka tiles and Wall tiles both) remained very profitable.

    Some plantation companies (despite major labour unrests) reported profits since privatization. Prior to that under the Plantation department they were making massive losses.

    Privatization has a lots of advantages. It is not the privatization that is at fault. It is the govt`s inability to find the right partner (or new owner) for privatized entities that cause problems.

  • 16 May 2005 18:59:26 GMT

    Julius,

    I am not as educated as you are. But I know one or two things about Russia then and Russia now. Do you know who are the mafia people in russia? they are the former secret service people.

    Russia and all fallen socialist countries teach us a good lesson about socialism. They could hold on to them by crushing opposition and killing dissidents. Not because of any strength in the Maxist doctrine. Once they let them go, the real face of socialism comes in.

    I have done enough for the country and I have enough patriotism for SL not to even think of a socialist regime there. We would be backward like the former Soviet Union.

  • 16 May 2005 19:02:58 GMT

    I forgot few other privatized companies that made profit. Ceylon Glass, Ceyon Oxygen, etc are some other examples.

  • 16 May 2005 19:04:53 GMT

    In case you guys wonder how I know about those companies, since my early retirement and using the little money I was given byu the govt. (and my meagre pension) I have been investing in the Sri lankan stock market.

    Dont laugh at me guys, they are not in thousands of shares. Mostly 100 - 200 shares!

  • 17 May 2005 00:42:16 GMT

    Although he had good points on certain issues I wander why ANZIM cannot remove his green sun glasses and read rational arguments others post. Unreservedly praising UNP and private sector you are undermining all your good points on other issues too. This is a friendly comment.

    Look what Liyange, Amara, and Julius say about the private sector. They have very solid arguments compared with your monotonous points.

    I agree with you the government sector institutions are inefficient and add to that do no respect the customer. But they are not corrupt institutions by nature.

    The bureaucracy appointed to manage them as well as the employees do not own them and their main objective is to get the benefit as much as possible. Politicians appoint the top management and all of them coexist. Employees join then government affiliated unions and become a bunch of privileged among them and very same people will change the colour time to come. Most of these institutions were run profitably not because of efficiency factor but due to monopolistic situation they enjoyed. In long run it will become a liability as it happened.

    But don?t believe the private sector is panacea. Private sector is more corrupt. In Sri Lankan context the most influential private sector is the bunch of government contractors in construction industry, supplying services to the government sector and commission brokers and arm dealers.. They will have top bureaucrats and politicians in their pay role as drug dealers have the top cops in their pay role. It is not a true privates sector operating in a level playing ground. When there is contracts pending awards lots of maneuvering in different nature can be witnessed. The party in political power always created their own private sector giving undue favours to them. We have highly authoritative-autocratic bureaucracy coexisting with the politicians so that decisions are made by a few and there is more room for any types of manoeuvring.

    Telecom, after privatization you get the same bunch of people who used to undervalue the customer still occupy the same tables. Has very high tariff rates. Although competition is allowed telecoms keep many string to undermine competitors. The most dynamic vehicle for the futuristic development COMMUNICATION is out of reach for the ordinary mass. Those who are affordable may like this because they have a additional leverage to undermine the others. Most bureaucrats and politicians get official telephones at home and office. Their children have access to the modern communication. Do they like to give this chance to ordinary people and be par with them in communication. At last nothing has changed whether it is private or public those institutions which are controlled by the bureaucrats and private investors have their vested interest contrary to the that of general public who is at the receiving end.

    Take example of Russia how Yukovsky former Energy Deputy Minister became a billionaire, but a darling of USA democracy. Is that a private sector development. When USSR collapsed there was no system to regulate the private sector and previous dictators became private investors.

    What we need is a system to regulate. Then both public sector as well as private sector can flourish. Those who are in developed democracies might have seen how systems work.

    Government does not have a decisiveness to do any reforms if that is done both politicians, bureaucrats and the crony private sector will loose their privileges. Handing over government monopoly to private sector is not privatization.