The Sri Lanka Government is to allocate funding for over 150 special development projects using the carry forward allocations of the earlier 2014 budget, top government sources said.
High level government authorities have issued a directive to immediately allocate Rs.450 million per head as development funds to selected parliamentarians. The sources, who declined to be named, said that the allocation (Rs. 450 million each) would also apply to MPs who cross over to government ranks.
While this emergency allocation is part of the 2014 budget’s unutilised money for around 80 expenditure proposals, the money allocated for these projects have been already utilised for other urgent work and may now have to come from a subsequent, supplementary vote in Parliament next year. Tax revenue has also fallen short of targets adding problems to the 2014 budget allocations.
The sources said that the authorities have been informed to be ‘flexible’ in deciding the special projects in which MPs will use these funds.
According to the Finance Ministry budget progress report, out of 112 proposals made in the (ongoing) 2014 budget, only 32 have been fully implemented so far. 80 proposals are yet to be implemented.
These 80 proposals (and funds allocated) will be carried forward for next year along with 77 new proposals made in the 2015 budget, a senior government official said, adding that under these circumstances allocating money for over 150 special development projects will not be an easy task.
In the 2014 budget a sum of Rs. 96,950 million had been allocated for 59 new projects and now a part of this money could be diverted to implement the proposed development projects that would be devised on the lines of the “Eka Gamakata Eka Vedak” one infrastructure development per village programme being implemented by the Economic Development Ministry.
Treasury officials are grappling with the preparations of 2015 budget circulars, gazette notifications, closing of cash books for the year 2014 and settlement of accounts in accordance with the operations circular as the budget estimates and financial allocations for 27 proposals had been amended during the budget debate in Parliament.
Poverty, unemployment, youth disillusionment, social and Institutional degradation and disintegration, and environmental despoliation continue relentlessly to haunt the world and our country. All this takes place in the back drop of widening gaps between the super-rich and rich, rich and the middle class, and, the middle class and the desperately poor, neglected, lower class. Let’s not be ambiguous and blinkered; we do not live in a world that is economically and socially just and fair, information, knowledge, and ultra modern technologies, notwithstanding.
Unsurprisingly, in the prevailing global socio-economic scenario where the dominating ethos is one of selfish arrogance, self-centeredness, and self-absorption, many countries still flirt about with a never ending cycle of elections, of course, purported to register the voice of the people, the very authenticity of which are seriously questioned and doubted by the public expressing the substance in their hearts and minds.
When calls for honest, clean, and just and fair elections are made and, swell to reach a crescendo, violence gets unleashed. They, the people, get instantaneously “transformed” and, are categorised as “traitors”, “anarchists”, “conspirators” and “terrorists”. They are then crushed and silenced by the “elected” collectives using modern technological devices.
What boggles the minds of the minority of the few, is, the question how long will the vast majority of the people have to wait until the silent majority break the shackles that chain their minds and souls, and, step forward to organise themselves to clinically examine, with intellectual vigour and religious honesty, and, compassion, the current political systems and ruling political cultures. Is there any hopes of the silent majority raising their voices to demand radical changes, where necessary, as their sublime duty towards the vast majority of the poor, in fact, world-wide, who also have a god-given right to the fruits of the riches of this world; now, tightly controlled by the levers of power; political, financial, commercial, banking, and, even, ethnic and religious? Will they dare to salvage and re-enshrine authentic democracy and good governance, the most workable arrangement for ensuring economic and social justice to all human beings? To a minority of informed people, in these confused times, it seems incomprehensible how a world endowed with such advanced connectivity in the 21st century, could remain so insensitive to the utter debasement of the political cultures through the criminalisation of politics and, a rapacious greed for wealth and money by those concerned.
The proclivity of the people in this, and, many other countries to elect celebrities as their representatives, is totally unsuited in a place where the country’s law is evolved, reminiscent of square pegs in round holes, and/or, persons of inferior educational and background qualities, resulting in poor standards of debate and deliberation in the so-called august assemblies.
This is the tip of the iceberg that has led to a rotten, non-functioning façade democracy, where the force of argument has given way to the argument of force. The sum total of the contributions of the occupiers of positions in the political establishments and institutions, do not help in the advancement and evolution of economic and social development, and long term political and social stability.
Laws and regulations are no doubt passed without any incisive analysis and exchanges of differing points of view, while even the best contributions made by an opposition are, more often than not, rejected. The alpha and omega of a ruling caucus is how to use parliamentary majorities to further their own interests, of their extended families, friends, supporters, and, the money changers who help these “representatives” to gain power and retain power. To add to this sad situation is the astounding fact of the servility of professionals, bureaucrats, and public servants, towards those in power. It is time that the leaders of all political parties and, more importantly, the silent majority, self-anesthetized, wake-up and strive towards bringing about drastic changes and reforms to restore authentic democracy and, the integrity of all public institutions before tsunamis of descent emerge and leave waves of destruction. There is much scope and, windows of opportunity, to use hackneyed terms, for sincere and genuine leaders, political, civil, and head of religious organisations, to perform some skillful surgery. There is an amorphous mass of paid politicians and their cohorts in all organs of the state in the exercise of governance, who are only dedicated to goals of enriching themselves. If, this is done, those who have the strength of political purpose will find their names written in letters of gold.
(The writer is a former parliamentarian and a retired senior official at the
Ministry of Plan Implementation during the 1980s)
What is the return the majority of poor citizens get from these costly political outfits? They are human beings trying to survive the ravages of past colonialism and, now, neo-colonialism, the hegemonies of globalisation, and the un-seen hands undermining the levels of production of our own economy, particularly, agriculture that is going on, on a daily basis. It was none other than Jawaharlal Nehru who once said “everything can wait but, not agriculture”. Sadly, we seem to fail to see reality– the fact, that democratic practices, law and order, and plain downright decency in conduct, have become hostages to a manoeuvring of selfish political forces, national and international.
Finally, we may do good in pondering and taking to heart the words of wisdom of a great Indian leader, Rajendra Prasad who warned his country which was raging with economic, political and social conflicts at a crucial time, much like our today.
“Only a blend of honest political leadership and healthy public institutions will ensure the success of democracy in a cacophonic culture such as India.”