Sri Lanka : The logic of electricity tariffs and spiraling cost of living

Sri Lanka Electricity

– by Shenali Waduge –

Every Government has adopted the policy that having voted them into power it is the public who must foot the bill for their corrupt and luxurious living. The 60% hike in electricity comes with the certainty that everything running on electricity will also see a steep rise – do politicians and political appointees in the public service even care what this would mean to the masses given that they do not pay taxes?

The country has suffered dearly for 30 years. It is no small time and throughout this period it was the public and the armed forces that suffered. The public lived in fear of bomb attacks and had to also meet the colossal expense while the military had to not only suffer loss of life but face multitude of humiliations primarily as a result of Governments tasking portfolios to people who do not care a cent about the nation or its people – the same people continue to be lavished key roles and they continue to be kept despite the warnings given. Then the very ministers who have ruined the ministries given to them continue to be given ministries that will obviously see the same fate whilst others who have in their power to turn around their ministries by implementing formulas approved delay so obviously because of “influences”.

The people know who these traitors are.

The electricity tariff increase will no doubt affect consumers like never before because it will not only be the electricity bill that will increase but all commodities running on electricity will see a steep rise and probably profit-driven businesses would also raise their prices because the state mechanism is not dedicated to ensuring the public are not fleeced.

The people must now demand that the politicians and the public officials show examples of tightening the belt themselves, although given their sizes after coming to power that would be a rather tedious exercise! The politicians and public officials must show to us what their contributions are to be to reduce their wastage and we must be informed through state media in what ways they promise to cut down on their corrupt ways. This is a must.

A country’s burdens cannot be heaped upon the public whilst those that actually contribute to the spiraling costs indulge in wastage after waste of everything that the taxpayer ends up having to pay for. This is now getting a bit overboard and it is time Parliament convenes and seriously set up a list of do’s and don’t’s for every MP – wastage and corruption and mismanagement that is becoming a nightmare must stop. The taxpayers see no reason in bringing down so many luxury vehicles, duty free vehicles that are only heaping the burden on the taxpayer. Do we need so much of imported luxury goods – who exactly can afford to be paying for these items – is it not the same people that live in Colombo? Can the masses afford any of the items that are on displays today at consumerable or non-consumerable levels? Are we knowingly running the country into debt and creating a situation like in Greece. Who is advising the nation on taking so much of loans – how many generations will end up paying for these?

Officials need to be like Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse focused on a program and seeing it through with so much precision, passion and dedication. He may be the brother of the President but no one can deny the characteristic traits that show him apart from all others. We can visibly see the return on investment on all these projects. Unfortunately, our respect for officials who are supposed to be giving advice and guidance has diminished to such an extent that we view them as nothing but “yes, men” no different to the politicians with a handful of countable few exceptions.

Fleecing the public is not the way to go and certainly is nothing that politicians can make a practice of doing. Politicians are servants of the public and its not the other way round. Politicians need to first learn that they become elected members to serve the people and that means they have to ensure that the needs of the people are catered to. They do not run for elections promising this that and the other going to the voters the only time in which they beg for their votes simply to get elected so they can fulfill their desires and goals.

These levels have reached appalling conditions and it is these actions that provide perfect reasons for western nations to use to muster forces for regime change. We do not want to see such an eventuality in Sri Lanka and certainly not for a Government that successfully countered every possible foreign pressure to effectively eliminate LTTE terrorism. But, when the Government keeps the very people that played roles in dividing and proposing legal provisions for separatism of the nation and striking deals with nations that have not made any bones about turning Sri Lanka into one its colonies as well as ignoring the concerns of the voters that voted them into power – the likely scenario is going to be not only will they be dumped by these false friends that they are striking deals with but the voters will brand them traitors to the nation too – these warnings have been given enough what surprises all the nationalists is why are the warnings being ignored. Giving sampur coal power plant to India is just one example of many.

Unfortunately, Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike often laughed as a mere housewife remains the sole head able to not only demand the respect of both the Eastern and Western blocs but she kept the nationality of Sri Lanka at the helm and no one attempted to tinker it.

Policies must be straight forward – it must be clearly articulated and the nation is not a cake to be cut and divided according to the fancy of any who are elected to office for a term. Politicians and Governments are only custodians and they cannot barter the country for benefit. Opposition parties need to also realize that their role is expected to be far more than trying to destabilize the nation or overthrowing the government.