Rising prices, threats of strikes and an anarchic situation

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Whatever else might be said against the government, a positive aspect amidst gathering storm clouds is that COVID-19 numbers are down. Even better, the fatalities are also down.
At the time of writing today, Tuesday’s figure is down to 12 fatalities.

President Rajapaksa and the medical team in charge, need to be congratulated. The role of the armed forces in organizing the vaccination process throughout the country has been nothing short of brilliant. Thanks to them and the team of doctors, nurses and PHIs, the outbreak in the country has to an extent brought the dreaded virus under control. However this does not mean the country can let its guard drop.

Thanks to the efforts of those in the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus or COVID-19 we are slowly but surely stumbling back to normalcy. We the public need to assist those directly involved in bringing the disease under control by heeding to health guidelines.
Tourism has been one of the bigger foreign income earners in the country. The sight of tourists in our streets these days is perhaps a harbinger of better things to come.

Many work places too are functioning even though work from home seems to be the new normal, as we need to follow health guidelines and the public transport system in the country is far from adequate. Despite the price hike in the cost of public transport, the service is worse than it was earlier with lesser buses and trains operating.
The cost of living is skyrocketing and shows no sign of being brought under control. In fact, the reverse is happening even those essential food items that were sold at controlled prices have now been taken off the price control list.

One could not be blamed for wondering ‘what the hell is happening’. As correspondent Javed Yusuf points out, today’s style of governance brings to mind the last days of Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s coalition government with Dr. N.M. Perera as Finance Minister when price changes were raised and lowered by gazette notification. The voters of yesterday have no say in the matter. Often members of the governing party themselves have not had the opportunity to discuss changes or policies whether they be of greater or less importance.

Recently we witnessed the spectacle of a number of cabinet ministers holding public meetings claiming decisions on important matters of state were being taken without any discussion among the Cabinet of Ministers. The Ministers alleged strategic sections of the economy were being handed over to multinational giants.

Today while many workers have been laid off, while others continue working at much reduced wages, prices of basics are being raised. In like manner the sudden halt in the importation of petroleum-based fertilizer, weedicides and pesticides have left the farmers of this country in quandary. The rains are with us and the planting of paddy should have been in full swing. While planting did commence the basic needs for the sprouting seedlings are not available, forcing farmers onto the city streets whereas they should be tending their crops.

The net result of this policy, however good the principle behind it may have been, is that we can be assured of much lower yields come harvest time. This in turn will lead to food shortages and another rise in the cost of living. To the farmer –the primary producer- lower produce will inevitably lead an even lower income, meaning he/she and his/her families will be unable to meet their day–to-day needs.

The drop in people’s income will surely adversely affect the education of the nation’s children. Already over 70% of the children have lost their education for around a year or more due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now their parents will not be in a position to send them to school as they will not have the means to do so. What is worse, we may see a new phenomenon of young children of school-going age forced to take up menial forms of employment at low paying jobs to help keep the home fires burning.
To make matters even worse, teachers may also take to trade union action. Who can blame them when they too face the same high cost of living that is rising by the day?

The workers in the Electricity sector are threatening a blackout if government goes ahead with its deal to hand over the majority shares of the Yugadanavi power plant to a US multinational company.
With the populace at their wits end as to how they can make ends meet and government ministers at logger heads with each other over matters of principle and policy, there is a danger of anarchy breaking out if correct leadership is not provided. 

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Disclaimer: Rising prices, threats of strikes and an anarchic situation - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view

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