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A blank cheque for TNC corruption - Editorial

11 December 2013 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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One of the world’s most eminent jurists, prophet of social justice and advocate of multi-religious dialogue Judge C. G. Weeramantry, in a keynote speech to mark World Anti-Corruption day, said corruption all over the world was going on unchecked largely because of a veil of secrecy over multimillion dollar transactions mainly with Transnational Corporations (TNCs). Addressing a meeting organised by Transparency International, he said the lack of transparency and accountability was leading to economic crises especially in deals involving what General Dwight Eisenhower, former United States President and Supreme Elite Commander during the Second World War, described as the military industrial complex. He was referring mainly to transnational arms corporation and allied industries.  

Judge Weeramantry said the lack of transparency and accountability was not only against democratic principles but also against the teachings of all major religions. He said the Noble Eight-fold Path of Buddhism called for right livelihood, right speech and right action, all of which would be violated by lack of transparency. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus Christ called on all people not to hide behind loopholes in the law but to act according to the spirit of the law. Hinduism placed great emphasis on righteousness; all of which are violated by secrecy. Islam in the Holy Quran said that all work is carried on under Allah, thereby indicating that the highest standards of honesty and rectitude were called for.

The Daily Mirror has regularly spotlighted in its editorials how various TNCs are trying to take control of Sri Lanka’s resources through subtle and sophisticated forms of economic neo-colonialism. This is more devastating than the former military colonialism because at that time poor third world countries like Sri Lanka at least knew what was happening to them. Now through economic neo-colonialism the TNCs working in collaboration with the rich countries are plundering our wealth and resources and most people do not even know what is happening. This economic neo-colonialism is made possible largely through the ‘Fifth Column’ in developing countries. In blunt terms this ‘Fifth Column’ comprises mainly of the ruling and rich elite who work out secret multi-million dollar deals involving huge commissions and kickbacks. This corruption continues at the expense of the people with the cloak of secrecy on while the people are not being given proper leadership by the opposition parties to demand transparency, accountability and integrity in transactions involving public money.

The Daily Mirror wishes to spotlight today the ways in which this corruption and neo-colonialism are taking place in two key areas of life—health and food. On Tuesday the Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) comprising about 15,000 doctors called for a probe on about 50 transactions worked out recently by the Cosmetic Drugs and Devices Regulatory Chairman Hemantha Beneragama. The GMOA claimed that in these transactions involving tens of millions of rupees for the import of vital drugs including those for cancer, the chairman had not followed the proper procedure in the tender transactions and therefore, questions were raised about the quality, safety and the effectiveness of these drugs. Dr. Beneragama denies these charges but the GMOA has called on the government to carry out an independent probe because the lives of thousands of people may be in danger.

For several years the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients (PMRP) and other Health Action groups have been urging the government to regulate and monitor the transactions of transnational drug companies, but little or nothing has been done. This monitoring would be possible if the government introduces legislation to implement the National Medicinal Drugs Policy based on Professor Senaka Bibile’s essential medicines concept, but for mysterious reasons this also has been delayed. The Health Ministry and the Legal Draftsman’s Department are accusing each other of delaying the draft or making it disappear, but the truth is not known because of the lack of transparency.

When it comes to food, people are compelled to eat a little bit of poison at every meal as transnational companies are allowed to import agro-chemicals.  Thus a bit of toxic element invariably tends to be included in the food we eat.  Such practices must come to an end right now because lives of hundreds if not thousands of people are in danger due to the lack of transparency and corruption at high levels.
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  Comments - 1

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  • Christy Rajasuriar Thursday, 12 December 2013 07:16 AM

    There is no transparency for making a "QUICK-BUCK'!


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