Economic rights guaranteed | Daily News

Economic rights guaranteed

The new Emergency Regulations targeted at maintaining reasonable prices for essentials have come in for flak among the crowd of non-Governmental busybodies and others of that ilk. They are the same persons that give sensational interviews to foreign correspondents saying there are queues for basic essentials in the country. Such interviews make mountains out of molehills.

The Government stepped in at the right moment to ensure that any shortages are mitigated. However, the very people who are making tear-jerking statements to international television crews, are the first to say that Emergency Regulations are a threat to basic freedoms and are therefore uncalled for.

It is not difficult to understand why they would rather have the queues. They can use the spectacle of long lines to spin yards about a “dysfunctional” country. There are no real shortages – what is apparent are artificial lines created by hoarders and black-marketeers trying to make a killing when supply channels are stretched during the pandemic.

But the so-called NGO opinion makers are eager to close ranks with these culprits while castigating the Government for enacting “stifling emergency regulations”. They say fundamental rights would be in suspension but do not spare a thought for the ordinary folk that would have to ensure shortages because of a few rapacious traders.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and it is amazing to see these so-called social sentinels behave as if there is no disruption caused by the pandemic. The entire planet has been disrupted, and taking a few necessary measures to ensure that the man on the street gets his sugar and onions without a hassle is the least of people’s worries in these testing times.

The efforts by some international media to portray a situation of scarcity and disruption in the country have come a cropper very fast because the Government has intervened. They probably want things to deteriorate as they did in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks. But that era of indifferent and bewildered governance is over. The people recall how the Easter Sunday attacks created a nightmare of recriminations, etc., in which people were treated to a spectacle of the governing elite pointing fingers at each other, while the security situation on the ground deteriorated fast.

The NGOs at that time had no sympathy for ordinary people who harboured serious security related anxieties for the first time after the war ended in 2009. These so-called watchdogs seemed to enjoy and defend the chaos while pretending that everything was as close to normal as they could be.

There is no charade of that sort this time with the situation brought on by the pandemic. The authorities are not in denial, and they decided to take the bull by its horns and fight the rapacious profiteering elements with tough laws. But the chaos-lovers in the NGO brigade are the first to be disturbed.

Some say that certain provisions in the Constitutional enactments regarding fundamental rights are in suspension when Emergency Regulations are in force, but they do not say a word about the economic rights of the people. This is what happens when the activists have no clue about the recent jurisprudence on rights and rights related constitutional provisions all over the world.

Economic rights and the right to a life above the poverty line are now considered as important as any regarding the freedom of expression and the freedom from arbitrary detention and arrest, etc. This is what the social contract is all about. When certain elements in society seek to ride roughshod over the fundamental right of the people to live an un-impoverished life with access to basic essentials, the State has to step in and ensure that such entitlements are not denied to citizens who are free to make a decent living.

That is exactly what the authorities have done by regulating the price of certain essentials during the pandemic. This type of redress cannot be guaranteed by resorting to regular consumer protection laws.

 Emergency Regulations are required during times of terrorism. They are also required when there is economic terrorism unleashed by unscrupulous elements. The world sees the footage of protests in Australia and many other democracies against the curtailment of regular freedoms usually taken for granted. The Emergency Regulations enacted by the Government here are in the interests of basic food security. In one sense they take a page from Australia’s book.

There can be no romanticized fealty to liberal values when the basics that the people are entitled to are denied. In any event, the notion that Emergency Regulations in place are a serious intrusion into the rights and freedoms of persons is a fallacy. The Courts of Law are not prevented from granting redress under fundamental rights provisions to ordinary people.

It is the miscreants who took to hoarding and other unscrupulous activities who have to beware. What is wrong with that? The people have endured enough due to the pandemic without having to be kicked around by black-marketeers. They would certainly applaud the new Emergency measures, even though the NGO-rights crowd may miss the chaos.

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