Of Pfizer, underwear, sugar and rice | Daily News

Of Pfizer, underwear, sugar and rice

Hoarded sugar being loaded onto a Sathosa truck at one of the warehouses.
Hoarded sugar being loaded onto a Sathosa truck at one of the warehouses.

After ending the 30 years long terrorism and the war, the Sri Lankan media did not have much to report on until the arrival of COVID-19. In the past, a few hot news items were reported over Sri Lankan media such as the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attack series, the victory of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and then came COVID-19. Thanks to COVID-19, Sri Lankan media and International media have an adequate amount of hot news now, especially the number of cases and deaths.

When it comes to Sri Lanka, always popular trend of the media is reporting the negative side of everything while once in a while reporting some positive news. After the arrival of COVID-19, media outlets started to chase after every type of negative news. Positive news is never given priority. Sri Lanka has already set a world record by vaccinating the population at the highest speed defeating all the other countries in the world. But even the State media has not given due publicity to this world record. All the publicity is given to all types of negative incidents. In one way it is natural because people like to hear, watch and read negative things rather than positive things.

Fastest vaccination programme

Rice stocks have been hoarded by unscrupulous traders. 

Sri Lanka set a world record by becoming the nation with the fastest vaccination drive against COVID-19 but Sri Lanka does not produce any vaccine against COVID-19. There are many countries in the world which did not receive even a single dose of vaccines against COVID-19. But the Sri Lankan Government very successfully imported all required vaccines from foreign countries and commenced the world’s fastest vaccination drive. The vaccine is the only hope that exists by now against COVID-19. What many Sri Lankan media saw was offering the Pfizer vaccine to Hambantota district and not this world record. Media was deaf and blind when the same vaccine was given to Mannar and Puttalam districts some time back when the first stock was received.

The Sri Lankan Government freely distributed all imported Pfizer vaccines to Mannar and Puttalam districts at the commencement of the vaccination drive with the arrival of the very first stock of Pfizer vaccine but no one said anything for or against this move. All Sri Lankans, especially the Opposition kept their mouths tightly shut when lakhs of Pfizer vaccine doses reached the Mannar and Puttalam districts. The majority of the citizens are Sinhalese in Sri Lanka and a small number of Sinhalese people live in Mannar. The Puttalam district is also populated mostly by non-Sinhalese. But not a single citizen, organisation or political party spoke about the Pfizer vaccine which was given to Mannar and Puttalam districts. Then Sputnik-V vaccine was given to Kandy. The entire anti-Government battalion was deaf and blind at that time.

All big mouths were opened when the Pfizer vaccine reached the Hambantota district. There is only one reason for this. The Rajapaksa family represents and lives in the Hambantota district. There is no other reason to oppose giving the Pfizer vaccine to the Hambantota district. This shows the evil minds and wickedness of certain opposition politicians. They are waiting to grab power in Sri Lanka even over the deaths of thousands of innocent poor people. The Government or the health authorities do not need to give an explanation in connection with giving the Pfizer vaccine to the Hambantota district because no one questioned when it was given to Mannar and Puttalam districts.

Last week the Central Bank increased the cash deposit margin to 100 per cent of the total import value in opening Letters of Credit for around 600 imported items. This step has been taken by the Central Bank to discourage importing such items as a measure for the reduction of pressure on the balance of payment and foreign exchange. There is no reason for any price hike in imported items subjected to the 100 per cent cash deposit margin requirements according to economic experts as it is not an import tax or duty.

Promote local production

But by now the ‘laptop army’ of the Opposition has been using this step in order to sling mud on the Government and mislead the Sri Lankan public through social media. The most worrying factor for the Opposition is not having imported underwear at low prices. This will indirectly influence the traders to increase the prices of those goods. Some Opposition politicians were saying that this move will lead to a similar situation that existed in Sri Lanka before 1977. Before 1977, the then Government restricted imports in order to promote local production but the problem was imported items were freely available only for the Government politicians and their henchmen while the ordinary people had to suffer even without locally made stuff. But the current Government has taken a temporary measure only to discourage non-essential items.

However, including mobile phones and even laptops in the list is a little bit questionable because almost all people, especially schoolchildren use mobile phones and the Internet for work and study all the time due to COVID-19. Most of them use cheap mobile phones. The mobile phone is thus an essential item. The other items in the list of 623 are not essential per se. World famous underwear brands are produced here in Sri Lanka and not in the US, UK or anywhere else in the world. Those well developed countries buy our products. Unfortunately there is no one to tell this in social media because slinging mud is not something familiar to this patriotic and democratic Government which came into power with landslide election victories. This Government does not have a ‘laptop army’ to sling mud at the Opposition.

Illegal warehouses

The Pfizer vaccine was first given in Mannar and Puttalam.

The responsibility of the public is providing all available information and evidence on hidden stocks of sugar, paddy, rice and anything else to the Government authorities by simply calling 119 / 1977 or 011-7755456/7. Large stocks cannot be hidden inside small rooms. Anyone can very clearly notice if there is a large storage area around. Therefore it is very easy to detect such illegal warehouses. This opportunity should not be used to take revenge from individuals for personal reasons.

On the other hand the relevant authorities should raid real huge stores and not small stores where innocent people store their hard-earned harvests. Some television channels showed officials raiding small private stores kept by poor farmers who own paddy lands. We all know that illegal stores kept by crooks are large and the owners do not have paddy lands for themselves because most of them are middlemen. Relevant authorities should be careful enough to clearly categorize information they receive into two files - the real information and the information given to take revenge from or harass individuals.

Sri Lankans can very clearly notice that some individuals have clear hidden agendas when they open their mouths and say something, especially when they depart from their portfolios. This trend started only after this Government came into power last year. This trend was not there during the Yahapalana regime because soon after coming into power on January 08 in 2015, the Yahapalana regime chased away all individuals who held posts by that time no matter who they were and what they were doing. Because of this, there were no post holders during the Yahapalana regime to resign, retire or step down.

When we carefully examine this trend, we can very clearly see that all of them tell something that raises suspicion in the minds of the people. What all of them do is not telling whatever very clearly or in an understandable manner. Their main objective is raising suspicions in the minds of the people about the current Government.

Outgoing officials

One key outgoing State official said the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attack series is a conspiracy. But he did nothing while holding the position to uncover this so-called ‘conspiracy’. He should have told what this conspiracy is before his retirement. A few days ago another top official who retired a few weeks earlier than he planned said Sri Lanka is idling as a developing country while other countries walk forward passing Sri Lanka. What he did not tell the people is that all Governments that ruled Sri Lanka from 1948 are responsible for this situation. Even a kindergarten child can understand this. But he purposely avoided mentioning it. What do those outgoing officials really want? Is it the well-being of the people or tarnishing the good image of the Government?

All are shining because of their portfolios and no portofolio shines because of an individual, especially here in Sri Lanka. But the most pathetic situation is while educated and hardworking ordinary public servants in Sri Lanka are being forced to go home as soon as they turn 60 no matter whether they can run 100 metres better than Usain Bolt while some others retire at the age of 80 or 90 and even that comes only if they wish to retire.

Sri Lanka produces world class garments.

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