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Editorial - Austerity and a simple lifestyle

31 July 2012 09:04 pm - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Central Bank has confessed that export earnings have dropped drastically. Our expenditure on imports is double the amount we earn from exports. This means we are spending twice as much as we are earning, and surviving on loans.

This cannot go on. There must be a turnaround. We need to reduce in imports, encourage national production and give more incentives to exporters. The number of motor vehicles imported increased heavily last year. This led to a drain of millions of dollars in foreign exchange, heavy increase in fuel imports and worst of all, a major increase in environmental pollution, so much so that as many as 60% of the people in cities and urban areas are known to be suffering from respiratory ailments.

The huge amount spent on importing agrochemicals has had a multitude of disastrous consequences with most of the food we eat being polluted or poisoned due to the excessive use of chemical fertilizers, weedicides and pesticides. Against this background it is nothing unusual to find most of us falling sick often and private hospitals are like market places.

For instance if we could arrange an effective school bus service, we could have 20 school buses instead of 200 school vans, thus saving fuel, reducing traffic congestion and most importantly reducing environmental pollution.

If we could take to bio-farming on a large scale, and home gardening at a family level, we could have nourishing food at a low cost, save foreign exchange and enjoy better health. The Government also needs to review the thousands of non-essential drugs being imported under highly-expensive brand names and save hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange while making available quality drugs to the people at affordable prices. The import of huge quantities of food and so-called nutritional supplements also needs to be reviewed. After 1977 we have been importing shiploads of non-essential food, processed rubbish and even some varieties of food that are unfit for human consumption.

With these and other import restrictions we also need an austerity package and must return to the hallowed tradition of alpechchathawaya or a simple and humble lifestyle. This means to be content with our basic needs and without a desire for luxuries or extravagant lifestyles. To enter into this simple and self-sufficient way of living, the example must come from our political leaders, who must give up their extravagant lifestyles and the abuse of millions of rupees in public funds.

If they cannot or do not give up this scandalous extravagance, they must be forced to do so as otherwise they are leading the country into economic bankruptcy.
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  Comments - 5

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  • Mangalika Wednesday, 01 August 2012 01:45 AM

    Well said, The government should put a lid to unnecessary imports. However since the biggest culprits are those in government and their supporters this is not likely to happen.

    Moven Thursday, 02 August 2012 11:55 AM

    Why can't we improve agri. production by giving farmers incentives and WATER rather than making big hotels and parks in Colombo.

    Calistus Jayatilleke Wednesday, 01 August 2012 07:53 AM

    Just like they say that Charity begins at home, the example for simple living must come from the rulers. When the politicians who control the government are clamouring for more and more luxury cars, salary increases, back-up vehicles and all other luxuries for the "services" they are supposed to be performing, there is no way that general public can be motivated for a simple way of living.

    Bird Eye Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:08 AM

    That means, somebody is spending stolen money...

    lioen Jayatunge Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:39 AM

    Ha! H!

    Central bank genius alarming about the economy ? What about vehicle imports to politicians, Greece bonds ?


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