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Just and fair society essential for progress - Editorial

15 June 2012 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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During the past year the cost of living has gone up by an unprecedented and unbearable 50%, while salaries of public servants have been raised by only five per cent. Millions of people are finding it difficult if not impossible to survive the month with the cost of healthcare also increasing because prices of medicinal drugs have risen by about 30% during the past few weeks as the value of the rupee is dropping daily though top Government officials appear to be hoping against hope that the rupee will stabilise at 125 for a US$.

Last Wednesday’s attempted bank robbery at Battaramulla and a spate of other robberies including gold chain snatching also appear to the linked to the cost of living crisis, though such crimes cannot be justified in any way.

As a long-term solution the Rajapaksa regime needs to look at effective ways to bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. At present about 15% of the people comprising the rich and ruling elite have control of more than 85% of the country’s wealth and resources. Those who have are getting or plundering more, while from those who do not have even the little they have is being taken away. If a just and fair society is not set up as a foundation, then lasting peace and sustainable development will be like sand castles. To help create a just and fair society, two measures could be taken immediately – effective steps to curb bribery and corruption and a decision by political leaders to give up extravagance or luxuries and enter into a simple and humble lifestyle or alpechchathavaya.



With local and international pressure rising, the President must go back to the Seventeenth Amendment and appoint, through the constitutional council, an independent commission to probe bribery and corruption. UNP economist and parliamentarian Eran Wickremeratne, in an enlightened and prophetic speech in parliament last week, outlined the magnitude of the bribery and corruption crisis and what should be done to cure this cancer. Recently the residence of a state company chairman with VIP connections was broken into and the burglars reportedly got away with foreign currency worth five million rupees and a Rolex watch worth three millions rupees. It is illegal or a crime for any one to have so much in foreign currency. If an official has so much, we wonder how much leading politicians have in ill-gotten wealth and resources plundered from the country. It must be running into billions of rupees. How could they do this?

To have hundreds of millions and plunder more when millions of people are suffering is a clear sign that the conscience is dead and the proclamations of patriotism and sacrificial service to the people are hypocritical or deceptive.
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