RESOURCE CURSE

4 April 2016 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In India, Mahathma Gandhi did never contest a seat in the legislature. All what he did had been to dedicatedly serve that the country to gain independence and help the Nation. Gandhi had that aid those who took up politics without love, compassion and wisdom had no character and they can only spell disaster instead of prosperity. He had believed politics should be deemed a noble religious duty and practised with honour, dignity and sincerity. Gandhi had also said “that it should be cleansed of those hypocritical, self-seekers of evil character and that it should be the work of virtuous and magnanimous people”. A majority of our own rulers since independence have been utterly hideous, dishonest, self-centred and immoral.

They seem to have dragged our beloved motherland to the position of some countries in the African continent, where they killed each other with untold savagery; and extortion; they rob the country and had pushed the masses to extreme poverty; instances of rape and ruthless murders take place almost daily in an

 

unprecedented manner; appropriate law officers pretend that as if they do not know who breaks the law and those who violate laws escape due to corrupt politicians and public officers; most importantly due to lawlessness anything illegal including broad day-light murder could be committed and culprits escape without any problem! How about our country? All these undermine the trust and shared values that make a society work. People pay taxes and offer allegiance to the Government expecting in return security and essential public services.

However, when politicians and public servants began using Government resources for their personal benefit and to enjoy numerous luxuries, at Government expense, the services started to collapse and deterioration crept in. Since 1970s politics has never been a place for the uncompromisingly honest and they are fully responsible for our plight today! Gabon is a so called democracy devastated by President Ali Bongo Odimba. Since their independence in 1960, owing to Odimba’s refusal to allow any democratic change and due to systematic manipulations, which had strengthened the hands of Odimba, having enacted a law to remain in power for a life time, the country had ultimately gone into bankruptcy and ruin.

The citizens have no credibility in Government Institutions because the entire machinery has been set up in order to benefit the loyalists of Odimba. It has been reported that the actions, methods, and practices of the Gabonese Government are contrary to the international norms and standards of democracy! In Gabon too independent journalists have been murdered, threatened, and even imprisoned when they exposed corruption, anti-democratic practices and accused politicians or members of the President Odimba’s family of corruption. In a letter sent to US President Obama by Gabonese Civil Activists had stated: “Nobody wants to live in a country where the rule of law gives way to law of the jungle and to corruption.

This is not democracy. This is tyranny and even if we hold elections, they are rigged; it is time for this type of Government disappear. You only need a country based on democratic principles and democratic institutions for the benefit of the citizens and not the politicians. To ensure impartial democratic elections and to take steps to adopt institutional reforms proposed by the civil society to strengthen democracy to meet international standards of responsible governance specific to democratic systems” was a dire need. Countries like Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are rich in Diamonds. Some countries have oil and other resources too. These resources have been misused for fuelling some of the worst armed conflicts in these countries.

Most of these countries have suffered irreparable damage and have caused immense hardships to the citizens. Their corrupt leaders have waged violent campaigns to control lucrative diamond fields. Diamonds are often used to perpetuate corruption and deprive the States of much needed revenue. It is unfortunate that nothing meaningful has been done in those countries for the development of the highly potential diamond industry. Experts believe that the diamond trade could also be transformed in to something similar to the petroleum business in the middle-eastern countries. Nevertheless, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong with virtually no exportable natural resources have achieved growth and economic success.

In Sri Lanka too our Gem Industry has also not been developed for the benefit of the country and the people. We produce all the varieties of gems found in the world except for diamond and turquoise. Previous Governments did not do what is needed was to stop illegal gem mining. The fraudulent export of gems had deprived large sums of money to the Treasury. Unlike petroleum products in the Middle East, Diamonds in Africa and Gems in Sri Lanka could be fraudulently smuggled out of the country easily, where systems are corrupt, because they are light-weight, valuable, easy to mine. Shouldn’t we do the needful to reap the benefits of precious gems found in all parts of the country, a lucrative industry now being abused for petty personal benefit of a few corrupt individuals? As we know two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in countries rich in natural resources. In most of these countries, however, there is an inverse relationship between the wealth of such resources and public welfare.

It so appears that the links among resource, wealth, poverty, conflict and corruption serve to fuel the so called “Resource Curse”. Our President has stressed the need to strengthen public information and public accountability since it is the only way to guarantee the country’s resource wealth which could be translated in to providing lasting benefits for the citizens. Congo has to-date failed to free itself from wide corruption, fraud, violation of human rights, disappearances and violence.

They have also not been successful in tracing or tracking gold smugglers. The rulers do not want to find out who is financing armed groups involved in exploiting miners and causing loss of revenue when gold is smuggled out of the country illegally. It is therefore important that adoption of revenue transparency standards should be made applicable in Sri Lanka too like in developed countries. It could then create a level playing field for the benefit of the citizens of resourcerich Sri Lanka. Revenue transparency increases the likelihood that resource revenue will strengthen the Treasury for the public good. It is believed that there is oil and gas too in Sri Lanka. If we can be truly transparent, if and when we start mining, crooked politicians in collusion with the mining companies should not be permitted to siphon proceeds in to their own pockets. If so, these incomes will provide ample resources to strengthen the public utilities which are now being reduced or restricted.

If we go back in to a few more millennia, there is enough evidence in history books, that even Europeans had committed murder with fascinating savagery and lived like beasts, when most of their counterparts in Asia then were not like them. We should strive now to re-establish the glorious past because the President and the Prime Minister are compassionate, loving, and dear to the people. In this case, the leadership has already set an example to everybody, particularly all those entrusted with the responsibility of guiding and implementing public policy and services to do things right without “cheating the system”. It must be remembered that leadership commitment – the political will, is essential to achieve these challenges. The citizens no doubt should also keep an hawk’s eye on our legislators because most of them are corrupt. People have already elected the President and the Prime Minister to manage the affairs of the country and both of them have a Herculean task! If we are to go forward, we would be lucky if our elected representatives have the power to see a little farther, to imagine a little better life for the people than at present. In order that this vision is achieved, we need a vast army of men and women too, who can give courage and strength to the two leaders. Shouldn’t we be doing it intelligently because they could no doubt otherwise fail!

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