Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Secrets of success of the 2015 November Budget

In my considered opinion, the real jonah in the pack is the question of whether the Revenue Estimates and Assumptions thereon will pan out. As only time will tell, and there are so many what ifs that it is hard to predict. I cannot see this happen unless the economy expands and I don’t see anything in the budget that will encourage expansion on productive areas.

We must be cognizant of the fact that there will be a change in Global Interest Rates, that put pressure on the Rupee, if there is money outflows! We also must know of the implications of exchange devaluation, which is most likely to average in the Rs150 to US$ in 2016, and make all assumptions there on.

It is advisable NOT to make any further reductions in the price of fuel, even if the world market falls to US$20, but to tie SL into a forward exchange contract as forward as practical at that rate to guarantee a foreign exchange saving even if prices rise. This can save up to 25% of the import bill, so is a significant point that is not considered, but which can save the Govt.’s bacon!

Then there is the HOPE that there will be a drastic FALL in the import of vehicles, which will make a significant impact on foreign exchange outflows which will help to reduce the exchange rate pressure that will arise upon the increase in Global interest rate rises.

There is a huge shortage of skilled labor to increase both productivity and productions of Industry. It is NOT clear from the new education policies if that will be solved in the medium term, and I suspect NOT at the moment. So it is imperative upon the Govt. to review State Employment, with a view of NOT recruiting for a period of years, so that the private sector can absorb the new entrants into the labor market, together with skills development programs, in a public private partnership to ensure the workforce has the skills needed.

Another important point not mentioned is that the Govt. will lose Billions in NOT receiving duties on vehicles NOT imported! Amounting to Rs30B per annum. Increasing the rates of duties WILL NOT mean there will be a surge in car imports as the slowing economy will have an impact on leasing deals where NON PERFORMING leases will rise to such a large extent banks will HAVE to write off many loans!

This will flood the market with second hand cars that cannot be sold but at a loss!  This is a time bomb waiting to happen as the blame MUST be on banks that lent 100% on value of cars as collateral and NOT assisted industry in expansion by giving concessionary loans that would NOT result in default!
Another area is the glaring omission of NOT introducing a unique ID number for all receipts and payments over Rs100K so that those not complying with the reporting of income above 2.5M a year, will be caught. This will without much difficulty reign in a minimum 100,000 new tax payers, who currently don’t pay any tax, with many in the provinces, who are either car dealers or hardware merchants who have increased their wealth thousand fold as they have NOT been paying any tax. In my proposal they could easily have been identified and brought into the TAX FOLD! This would yield at least Rs100B, enabling the PM to go to the 40:60 goals, which this budget fails to do.

Similarly, completely computerizing the customs importing mechanism where there will be NO face to face with ANY customs officials will prevent corruption on imports which is still rampant. All products fall into a code, scanners will check if the products imported conform to the code, and duty will be assessed on the CODE. Any miscoding errors will be penalized so hard, that no one will attempt this and with NO customs officials to officiate in this will raise another close on Rs50B that currently leaks into the hands of the unscrupulous.

There was very little talk on immediately upgrading public transport, where for the MEGAPOLIS MUST move to LNG or electric buses without delay, to reduce the pollution, along with the banning of three wheelers to only electric ones, as their pollution levels are unacceptable. There was really nothing on it, and that is a tragic failure of the budget along with the little emphasis on RAILWAY structural improvements, to get as much passenger and goods traffic into the rail.

I am willing to give the Finance Minister till next year to sort this out. The proposed entry charge to Colombo is long overdue, and will prevent too many vehicles coming in, if a minimum of 4 are permitted without a charge. However before next year’s budget concrete steps MUST be taken to implement transport improvements to speed the movement of people from the outskirts into Colombo.

I will also recommend that the move to Capital City is neither here nor there where land prices will be Rs10M a perch. The MOST important will be the move of the Capital to somewhere like Polonnaruwa, as otherwise having unproductive Govt. servants anywhere near the Megapolis area is a recipe for disaster. This move needs courage, but swift action now will prevent congestion of useless jokers wasting the time of useful jokers in the development race of Sri Lanka.

Time again for considered evaluation of the dream for a new Sri Lanka!  

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Budget – those who are debating in Parliament understand it the least!

All 128 pages long (English Version – see link – is more than most can fathom) http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/bgtspeech2016E.pdf

is a complete change of philosophy, that hardly any member of parliament can comprehend, which made ex-president Rajapaksa, the reader of 10 budgets incredulous! I believe parliament will take a whole month to debate it, but the only point they will understand and maybe want to change is the removal of duty free status of their vehicles!

This is an extremely complicated set of rules that will take a long time to completely sink in, and no doubt during the next month, we will be fed little tit bits, as to what it really means to most of us. As regards to changes necessary for implementation, that will take a long time to formulate, once the Bill becomes law.

Put simply it aims at having the same tax rate for Income, Corporate and VAT, with as few deductions as possible, after exempting the first 200,000 a month of income plus company perks that are currently not valued, that will be added to get to the 200,000.

It is hoped that by this exercise there will be more compliance, and I trust means are used by the Inland Revenue to easily identify those who neither have a tax file, or are paying any tax, but have an extraordinary expenditure level, that they cannot explain. The latter is the secret of getting another 100,000 tax payers into the net within the year, who most likely would NOT mind paying the 15% tax rate!

There are a lot of new ideas floating around, but how it will incentivize businesses to grow and prosper is another story, as that depends on the opportunities the Govt. and private sector give for a fair and unbiased playing field in which ti prosper, without having to pay protection money, or similar barriers to running and growing a business no matter what good intentions the govt. presents.

When one goes through the detail in the budget, it will be clear that the MPs are the least likely citizens of this country to understand a word of what is proposed, and for them to debate like peacocks preening NOT knowing what they are talking about is a complete waste of a month long period in parliament where many more important Acts are awaiting passage.

I would encourage the Govt. and opposition to pass the budget without delay! 

How nice it will be to be in the Rs25M tax-paying league!

The Budget has a pleasant surprise for the Super Rich of Sri Lanka who will be paying taxes of Rs25M to the Government per annum. In order to get to that level one would have to have a taxable income of Rs 167 Million ( A little over US$1M). What is your guess as to how many will make it for the 2016/2017 Tax year? I would say, 1000 would like to get there!

That means both the President and the Prime Minister will have to find time to meet them ONE ON ONE, and then of course the VIP treatment at airports, hospitals and I am sure a whole list that the Govt. will make up to entice people currently not reporting their income, to get to the league of the Super Rich.

In ever so status conscious Sri Lanka, this was an innovative move by the Finance Minister, I dare say he consulted the PM and Pres, as they will have to meet them ALL! People will now want to be in that elite league. If you don’t enter that league you are nobody! The Govt. needs to study this subject a little more to increase the perks that will attract others to become tax payers

I am sure that there will be many who wish to enter this league and want to hob nob as part of this elite! They can sleep tight, as they will no longer have to worry about being caught out. Their deposits will be legitimate, and they will be complying with all regulations. So those currently loan sharking and those highly paid tuition masters, who don’t pay any tax, will most likely want to come in from the Cold, and become legitimate! All those with FDs in the billions will also have to disclose and the Govt. will already know who they are, that got the 10% withholding in the past.

It might suddenly become quite fashionable to pay taxes, as now it is fashionable NOT to even have a tax file, which is part of the problem, Inland Revenue is grappling with.

Please remember that Interest Income was taxed at 10% withholding, and did not come into the overall income tax return. Now there is NO withholding tax, but it will be part of your income on which you will have to pay 15%.

The best move would be for the Wealthy with loads of cash, to take it from under their mattresses, lend it to their companies, pay down the bank debt at higher rates, and lend a lot more to them at higher rates. The company can then reduce its profits by the interest paid to the lender (owner) who will pay tax at 15% on that and on his deemed dividend suffer the double tax, of the company first at 15% and then his at another 15% of the net he receives, as the Finance Bill as currently drafted does not give relief for the dividend income received.

Elephant Complex – best describes the psyche – “huna mind”

It was with amusement that I read that a new travel book on Sri Lanka, by a British Author, John Gimlette was called ELEPHANT COMPLEX. 

This is more apt than the oft used by line to describe the Sinhala as a “Majority with a minority complex” In fact to be the Elephant Complex applies to ALL who live on the Island, no matter what race or mix one hails from. Mindset is no different!

I with a thousand or pages of goading in this blog, try to explain, what this mind set is and it is time to change that, so we all who live in SL can put our differences behind and work on a common goal, for all to live in peace and harmony, in this God given Isle, that has NO parallel on earth, but may perhaps be akin to Paradise, in any way we wish to describe it.

I vote with my feet firmly on terra ferma, NOT having left this ground for over 10 years, but having lived most of my life till then in the many Countries of the Western world, where I could live, any of them as a matter of fact even today.

My ambition is to give something back, to unite this sense of belonging, to this UNIQUE place on earth, and to be proud to be citizens, and offer Citizenship to all who have renounced citizenship, as well as to the children of Sri Lanka born, to create a world of Sri Lankans in all parts of the world, who can vouch, wherever they may live, or choose to live due to one’s own personal circumstances, that Sri Lanka is forever the land of their heritage and heart!

Now isn’t that a worthy ambition? I don’t want to be greedy, holding onto citizenship, just for those who live here, but ALSO allow those who have had to renounce it (and their offspring) to regain it, at cost of passports, so that with their identification as Sri Lankans is NOT just a token in the mind, but a state of FACT.

Just think the 2Million extra citizens, will bring a minimum of US$20B investment to SL for all purposes. We WILL NOT have to attract a penny in FDI from jokers who can chose to invest anywhere! We will have it ONLY from our genuine BLOODSTOCK!

I guarantee that within 10 years will be a US$10,000 GNP per capita Country, and the Govt. has ONLY to ensure the distribution of this wealth is spread more equitably, and ensure that there is NO erosion of the Environment, preserve the beauty, increase forest cover, preserve our Common Fundamental Rights.    

With this kind of fund transfer to buy land, buildings, businesses and expenditure, we don't need Government to worry about debt servicing, 

All they need to do is reduce waste in the public service, Ensure all investments conform to strict ecological guidelines, and strict preservation of our natural beauty for ALL, as it will be a win win situation.

The 2 Million Diaspora I refer to currently have a combined income of 5 times the Country's GNP. I am only assuming 2.5% of that will be brought to SL in one form or another to make the US$20B, which when added to the SL Citizen Diaspora remittances of US$10B is a mammoth inward freeby, that will avoid the need for export lead growth or any other painful alternative!

Don't forget in keeping with the environmental pledge every three wheeler (all 500K) will have to be destroyed as they contribute 80% of air pollution. These drivers will do far more remunerative and productive work. This is giving one practical example of what the Govt. will be tasked to do. Prioritize in saving the environment to preserve PARADISE.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How can your future be determined by BIG BROTHER at age 9?

I have advocated for years to abolish the Grade 5 exam, as inconsequential and meaningless in the context of the end result of a child’s growth, and more likely that not to be a negative factor, and therefore to be abolished.

The link here is further evidence to the likely harmful effects on at least 50%. http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=135602  

It is therefore worth returning to this topic again, bringing this back on the front burner. The facts are that in order to get into your selected school only 5% of the students get the minimum mark and from that number, only about 500 actually are taken into the school of their choice from this mark, completely negating the value, and so 95% of children who go to classes and burn the midnight oil don’t benefit from this at all.

My contention is that in the end, results also have proved, the passing of the minimum mark at this exam is NOT an indicator of if you are more or less likely to enter University. That is obvious from human psychology. Some kids develop later than others.

The proof of the pudding is that if we abolish this exam, we begin to see the overall performance of children IMPROVING. Then what is the allegation. It was a human rights violation on the part of the State to even have such by rote exams for children at such a young age, when exam competition and feeling of inadequacy if poorly performed, can have devastating and lasting effects on children.

Time yet again to take stock of this and decide on an alternative tack, but included as part of the overall education reform plan that is long overdue, so we are able to maximize on a student’s capability that may be unique to that student and NOT common to all.

Just as I had recommended, we need reform of the Montessori system as that is the critical age, where enthusiasm and learning are developed, and the mental capacity of a child is tested. IF we put the emphasis of training good teachers for Montessori and pay them well and try to encourage creativity from our students, that will hopefully be followed up with a similar forward looking push at Primary level, laying the foundation for a good education and learning process for later in life.

We must put pressure on our leaders to lead from the head of our youth!

Friday, November 20, 2015

I find this an outrageous statement – People in the Private Sector are still not paying enough tax to keep pace with the salary increments paid to state works.

Get a life. They are mutually exclusive and NOT related. Yes, the private businessmen in Sri Lanka pay a very low proportion of their income in taxes. It is very easy to find who, and collect taxes, as pointed out in numerous papers by the Central Bank, where a unique number is attached to a person, (NI is OK) to record all purchases and sales, to know who they are, and then see how their purchases of trips or product above a minimum value (say Rs100,000) are financed. The reason this is NOT done, is that the lawmakers are the biggest tax dodgers. Most of whom have even pocketed some of the funds received for their election campaigns.

As a separate issue, the huge cost of public sector pay and pensions will drag this economy down for the next 50 years, UNLESS some drastic action is taken immediately.

The article says that in 2016, the salaries and perks of state workers could top Rs700B is such a preposterous figure, when much of it does not help the economy in ANY WAY.

The first exercise is to look at who is on that list, and why that person is paid that, even if it is a pension, and estimate whether the Country can afford that payment. Then the first step is to try and get some productivity out of that payment if it is wasted. This can be done by re training in fields that are desperately needed, such as the Mental Health Sector which is grossly underfunded and understaffed! 

A re allocation of resources in the State Sector as suggested in many of my blog entries will help the economy both grow, preserve our resources, natural and renewable, and reduce waste. On immediate need as I have mentioned before is using he Armed Forces to guard and preserve some of the 250,000 sights of archeological value, that are currently not only pen to the elements, they are also open to treasure hunters with new ground scanning technology.

So let us look at the most effective and fair means of raising revenue for the Govt. whilst at the same time trying to ensure that the money spent on public sector wages is used productively to assist the public in more ways than one where the word “Servant” of the State and Public is front and center!      

“The problem with your Politicians is that they are just too arrogant!”

This was just told to me a few minutes ago from a respected foreign investor, who said that either due to some chip on their shoulder, or receiving too much adulation from the public, they are unable to realize the limitation to their knowledge, that everyone has!

They refuse to be introduced into new ideas and training programs. After all one is a student all one’s life, but probably not our Politicians who know it all!

Well funny he told me this, as I think ignorance and the lack of people understanding how ignorant they are is a national trait, and NOT specifically reserved for politicians. They are the most obvious illustrations of the problem, due to their bombastic behavior borne out of habit, and so to someone really in the know, sounds like a complete ass!

In the incident today, I painstakingly showed a person what I wanted done, by even showing how the page should be stapled and which side was right and wrong! Surprise surprise despite all that effort he got the whole thing back to front and he is not dyslexic. At least he was humble enough to admit the error and corrected it next time, and I hope he does not repeat this error in a somewhat repetitive task that was given him.

I think humility is the trait we all must show, and that should NOT seem as a weak sign, However any in Sri Lanka assume that it is a sign of weakness, and to counter that perception, replace it with arrogance. Very un Buddhist.

In Sri Lanka’s context when we are seeking foreign investment, we must be clear what we want, and why, and why we believe that the Investor will be best to come to Sri Lanka to invest, when he has the whole world to choose from.

It is that latter fact that we fail to understand. When someone has the choice of many Countries, the reason to choose Sri Lanka must be very persuasive to make the cut. The factors in that are many, and include many issues like Good Governance, I have referred to earlier. We believe it is favorable tax rates, and I am one to note that it is way down the line of reasons.

I have come across just too many investors who have had their fingers burnt by dishonest local partners, that I am hesitant to recommend going into partnership with most of them, as their credibility is questionable. If our top business leaders have that moniker attached to them, who can I send them to?

In a budget aimed at FDIs we must answer these questions satisfactorily first!

The Prime Minister needs a full time Chief of Staff to run the SHOW!

The PM is undoubtedly the Chairman of the Board, with the overall vision of what it is that is required. He needs a full time Chief of Staff to effectively implement his edicts and desires. This is somewhat in the way that Gamini Senerath did for Mahinda Rajapakse, but Gamini Senerath was a rogue putting self before Country, though he no doubt had the capacity to implement.

His thievery may have been predicated by the daylight robberies carried out with Presidential consent by Sajin Vaas, but nevertheless he missed a great opportunity to carry out a strong leaders good ideas as it pertains to improving the livelihood of the masses of people in the long run, which is all I care about personally, as I have flogged to its conclusion in my blog. Read all thousand pages, and you will be clear that I have a suggestion for improving every aspect of our lives.

So it is with that object in mind, and NOT to belittle the Gentleman that is Sagala Ratnayake, who already has two portfolios which in my opinion is two too many, to deal with the Law and Order and Southern Development!

There is SO MUCH work to be done, and no one willing to take responsibility to do it. This job should be done by a NON Political person, with perhaps an MBA type background and all round experience in every aspect of our society, who will know how to prioritize, and separate the political part of the job with the productive part of the job, that sometimes clashes in this situation.

He will then be able to handle those people who are to be assisted due to 25 years of political victimization, and those who have assisted the UNP Govt. to be elected, few of whom after one year, have been helped, and are now at the end of the tether, all ready to leave the party and vote against it at the next polls!

At the same time the 100s of projects that require implementation, that no one is willing to do, for all sorts of reasons, including passing the buck, as most don’t know what their purview is and so he would give a task list to the Ministries, on priorities and essentials and monitor progress. At present few if any Minister knows how to manage his ministry nor does he know what it is he needs to do, a sad reflection of the incompetence of the people holding these jobs!  

The Chief of Staff will be able to tell these BABIES what they need to do. Too much time has been wasted and too much water has already flown and we don’t have time to waste, as the urgency of the action is desperate to say the least, and none in Govt. seem to realize the impending clouds in the horizon, that will completely overshadow any implementation in future, if there is any more delay     

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unemployed Graduates – You are unemployed because you are not employable!

I have dealt with unemployed graduates extensively, because they have asked me to do what I can to find them suitable employment and in the process interviewed them as to the skills they have and their attitude to work.

There is a common denominator amongst them. They are work shy. In an economy of 250,000 vacancies, it is quite unforgivable and in fact unacceptable bordering on treachery that they had a free education and have not found employment!

It is this fact fo free education that has kept them from finding work, and worse feeling that somehow society or government owes them a job. The Country has spent nearly Rs500,000 on their education, and they have NOT been able to convert that into a remunerative job. Whose fault is that? Not the state’s surely!

It is time they understand reality. Most of them, have done some odd jobs and so are not really unemployed in the strict sense of the word. It is just that they are waiting for a highly paid job that they believe that they are entitled to form the govt. and I am sure that is why they are demonstrating in Colombo blocking the traffic and basically making a nuisance of themselves,

Frankly, I can tell you that they have NO sympathy from the private sector employers and if they have not worked in a decent job, are unlikely now to be hired, as they would be considered to be lazy. Can you blame a private sector employer for questioning their real motives!

It is time that someone had the guts to challenge them head on, and tell them that they are living in a different non-existent world, that they need to return to the real world and start doing something with their lives. 

No intelligent person, would waste their time doing nothing. A person who have been empowered will never wait for a job, and will do what is necessary to find one. So what is this group? Are they just a radicalized, with feelings of ENTITLEMENT, causing a nuisance to society, by their actions, but are unable to understand they live in 2015.

The sooner the Govt. tells them that there are jobs for them to apply and if they are suitable they will be hired, and that no one can promise them employment as their attitude to the job they receive cannot be relied upon to be sincere. I know they will not like it, but society must be clear. If you get a state university degree, the state’s freebie stops there. Its your privilege to do what you want.  

YAHAPALANAYA – Will happen if we follow these steps (Part Three)

I covered the Police and the Attorney Generals Department, in the two previous blog posts, but it must be said that this also should have included the office of the Bribery Commissioner, who also needs the resources to their job, as they are presented with complaints, that they need a proper mechanism to quickly investigate and pass of small incidents to the magistrates courts for persecution without delay, and for more complicated, and cases involving large frauds, the Commission can do the needful before presenting the case to the AGs office for prosecution.

I note that the Bribery Commissioner wanted more staff, and resources, and whilst not saying to give into all these demands, a unit set up to evaluate the requests and try to improve the efficiency of the department, where the potential problem is graded, and low grade bribery dealt with at least cost, by arbitration and accepting guilt!  

The subject here is of the Judiciary. This is a hopelessly paid set of people compared to what lawyers can earn. If a magistrate is selected from a lawyer who has been in practice for 6 years, why would a person join the judiciary if he was any good? A decent provincial lawyer in practice 6 years would have built his own practice and take home Rs500,000 a month!

With apologies to the good magistrates, we have too many incompetent magistrates in our system, and some of the lawyers who defend clients with these magistrates sitting on the bench are aghast at the judgments made by them, which can have serious consequences in cases.

There are recent cases where Avante Garde prosecutions have had a set back due to the incompetence of magistrates ruling against the Govt. stance, due to their ignorance of the case, and lack of common sense in knowing what questions to ask of the prosecuting and defense attorneys. We do not have any proof if their independence was compromised.

Frankly we must pay three times the rates for Magistrates and go all the way up to the Judges of the Supreme Court. We need top judges who can afford to buy a suit for a cocktail party at the US Embassy, rather than be too poor to go out whilst their batch mates have screwed some Multinationals for millions just as appearance fees, and are paying the Judge a bribe to give a future hearing date, so they can charge another appearance fee, which has made foreign investors wary of our legal system. I can tell you personally how heads of legal department of Multinational Mother Country has told me that our President’s Counsel charge the highest fees in the world and don’t give a breakdown!
Until we somehow narrow this gap between the pay of Private Lawyers who scandalously overcharge their clients mainly here in Sri Lanka, and the Judges who hear these cases who are scandalously underpaid, we are going to have weaknesses in our Judiciary.

I recommend a system where in order that the State increases their compensation by more than double, they must be held responsible to request that the cases be cleared up much quicker and find less reason to keep postponing due to minor issues, due to sickness of this one or that some of it which is manufactured!

Any lawyer reading this blog will recognizer yourself in one or other of the situations and I plead with you to act first as a citizen of the Country and not in your capacity as wanting to have your cake and eat it and don’t get into any compromising situations of having to break the code of Good Governance your self in order that we as a country are able to start our good governance crusade from the legal system.

So more judges and magistrate courts being tasked with clearing up minor cases to reduce the load on high court cases. Then we should tackle the aspect of pay in the way I had proposed, and better working conditions, especially for outstation work, as now people are less keen on moving house due to children’s education etc. which was not the case in the past, where kids were sent to boarding schools!

The competence performance and ability to speed cases must be evaluated by the Justice Ministry that pays them. The Judiciary MUST know that the single most important area for FDI into Sri Lanka is a reliable and speedy Justice system, where a civil or for that matter a criminal case is fairly and efficiently dealt with independent of influence peddling!

To recap the three continuous blog entries were an attempt to high light the importance of the Law Enforcement, and Justice System in setting the foundation for a nation, to progress on Good Governance. All the rest of development foreign investment and growth in Sri Lanka simply falls into place if this is done properly and I trust the GOSL to take these pointers in this series to implement a system of urgent action points to deal with the aforesaid and lay the foundation for a permanent state of Good Governance that can be the envy of the world.

It is clear from the foregoing that this change in culture will permeate into all of society, making the promises of the government easy to implement and the public wishes fulfilled, all with this simple plan on tackling Law Enforcement

YAHAPALANAYA – Will happen if we follow these steps (Part Two)

My first assault was on the Police Department and the need to strengthen its capacity and integrity, in the previous entry, and resources will have to be given.

Stage two is the Attorney General’s Department. If my recommendations are followed, not only will the short term Yahapalanaya crimes be brought to book, but the whole Judicial System, will come to 21st Century levels of efficiency and productivity, that will encompass crime, prison reform, clearing up society of some endemic problems of drugs and its spread. Leaving no room for religious militancy, in any form, and certainly not having to implement a Jihad against the Jihadists!

Lets start at the top. We need to run the AGs department like a company. A new AG from outside MUST be appointed to clean up the mess. He will need two able PAs with power. They will not be lawyers. Perhaps MBAs or Accountants or administrators tasked with efficiently running the department.

So let’s start with the AG. The current crop of Kapilas, Navaratnas, Suhadas are NOT UP TO THE TASK AT HAND. They will have to put out to pasture, to some foreign mission, as their presence WILL undermine the task of the new AG. Effectively the whole second string will be furloughed. This will leave the third string to show their colors under the new rules, new methods of measurement to perform to their utmost with NO POLITICIZATION and backstabbing!

In keeping with some kind of past tradition let us choose a Judge of the Supreme Court. From the list I picked Buweneka Aluvihare. See link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Justices_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_Sri_Lanka
Can anyone tell me why if at all he is not qualified to be the next Attorney General! He will have two competent people to help him change the whole system. I don’t have time to breakdown the areas of authority, but to say that a triumvirate will make his task that much easier as it is otherwise too stressful to carry out effectively on one’s own.

First task is to ask Parliament to give them authority for ONE year to advise the Police (CID, FCID etc.) of how to conduct the investigations, as they are not being sufficiently thorough with evidence and detail in order to prosecute at present, and the Media and Public are taking he AGs office to task at the incompetence of the Police department. Historically the AGs department don’t talk to the press, and so are unable to explain the reasons for this delay.
The next task is to re organize the whole department. Independently evaluate the competence of all senior state counsel and actually ask them for their own opinion on what is wrong, and how they would change the system were they given the task!

A thorough training program of the State Counsel is needed to get them up to speed not necessarily in the law, which they are competent on but in areas where their individual productivity can be greatly improved and if need be assistants given to them to train others to take some of the work, or easy case loads. They are currently overworked, and so are not doing justice to justice!

Then a resource requirement review to give them the tools to do their job, more effectively. That includes transport, computer and stenographer and other tools. Better accommodation to house them, and a thorough review of the 50+ High Court staffing from the AGs department. Case-load, backlog, evidence shortfalls, and training. Then a separate unit should be immediately set up to handle the myriad of ADVICE FILES and that backlog can be cleared, making their task all the more easy. State Counsel having to do this in their spare time is not the way to go as is done at present.

Performance evaluation measures must be put in place so that merit advancement takes place, so competent people can rise up the ladder faster, and not just time servers who are incapable. Recruitment to this department must be handled professionally to get the best, and the reputation of the AGs department will automatically rise, helping all those who will finally move out, to get the best training that will hold them in later life. In that sense the actually pay scales need not be high as the value of training will outweigh any shortage in remuneration.

International exposure should be part of the perks earned for competent handling of cases ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY, and judges will also be asked to assess these State Counsel, so that their evaluation will truly be meritocratic.

This resulting overhaul, will create a CULTURE of competence, and pride in the service, and will be the envy of the legal profession in Sri Lanka. Incompetent lawyers who defend their clients, will know the State Prosecutors are top class, working on behalf of the state to bring rascals to book!

The Justice Minister’s intervention must only be on matters or administration and not of managing any single case. This will make for a powerful AG, who will be able to back his department, against any criticism laid against them, and I have no doubt that ALL lawyers will back me in this proposal!    

I also propose a weekly meeting between the Attorney General and IGP, in order to smooth out all prosecutorial issues, so that Justice will speed up, and backlogs will not arise, and misunderstandings kept to a minimum.         

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

YAHAPALANAYA – Can still be a reality if we follow these steps

This is part one of a three part summary of the basic foundations that must be laid, before the very admirable visionary statements of the Prime Minister, as to the way forward, http://www.ft.lk/article/498259/Govt--to-focus-on-economic-and-development-agenda-next--Ranil  can be implemented.

Before we are able to go through the traditional steps of Good Governance as in the proposals of the March 12 declaration that was signed (effectively endorsed) by the New Govt.  http://www.dailymirror.lk/77863/wake-up-with-march-12-declaration-for-a-sound-parliament We must set up the mechanism to satisfy the  voters’ basic desire of catching the criminals and eliminating corruption.

The Foundation to do so, is to guarantee the integrity and independence and also the competence of the Police Department to investigate, and arrest and charge criminals. We must also have faith that the Attorney General’s department has the needed Human and other resources to prosecute, and with it the Bribery Commission which is also woefully short of competent officers to investigate the complaints lodged with them. Finally we must ensure we have a competent Judiciary who are capable of both clearing the backlog of cases, and have the competence to understand and rule on the prosecutions brought before them.

So let us start with the Police Department. Frankly, years of POLITICIZATION with the Rajapakse dictatorship primarily to blame for it, has rendered the competence of the department to be zero! I know the IGP will take issue with me on this allegation, saying he has a superbly trained team of officers. I am not denying that under him are some extremely competent and honest officers dedicated to their job. However due to the excreta in their presence, even with the best will in the world, these officers cannot perform their duties, because some who may be more senior to them, will stop them or lay obstacles in their progress, due to other agendas, including those of protecting criminals.

It is therefore imperative that the IGP ask for resources to quickly raise the standard of the force, sideline incompetent and dishonest officers, and rise to the occasion, to prosecute white collar criminals who have misused public funds, without delay by gathering the needed evidence to prosecute.

As of now the FCID is drowning in incompetence, not knowing even how to gather evidence of the misdeeds even of a common criminal like Sajin Vaas Gunewardene who has a rap sheet, as long as an Anaconda, and they have NOT yet been able to prosecute this case, due to the inadequacy of evidence, due both to investigating officers honesty being compromised, and incompetence to know how to find money that has been put in wives and mother – law accounts!
Just in this blog I am helping the police to direct them where to look for the loot and as they cannot even read English, how would one expect them to search the globe for the accounts held in a raft of names. They have yet to ask the US Govt. for help in tracking accounts, where money has been laundered.

If it means that foreign forensic accountants are engaged then so be it. These are people whose sole motivation in life is to increase their wealth, no matter what, and any feelings for their country don’t even register in their brains.

I was with a friend of 40 years standing, who has a Billion US dollars to disburse from China at low cost, and can’t find anyone in Govt. willing to take it for development purposes, as this Govt. has not properly delegated levels and authority to do so. If it was Sajin, he would have promised to do the needful, as long as half of it was first put into his overseas bank account. At least half would have been put into a project. Now the whole thing is in limbo!

I asked him to contact the PM to tell him of this sad story, but even here, I am told access to him is so tight, that he will not be able to break the armor of the palace guard who don’t want the PM to hear the truth of the incompetence of his administration. They are feeding him with fairy stories to keep him off scent!

Only once we have all these institutions working on the same page, with competent management, will the teams in the CID, FCID, PRESIFAC be able to operate with competence, to bring to book all those who have been referred to them, and investigate the allegations thoroughly, without fear or favor!

Speak to the PRESICIFAC secretary and he will tell you, that his staff are intellectually challenged and need foreign experts to dissect some of the nuances of how funds have been robbed and diverted to strange places through strange channels that require input from other jurisdictions to ensure, a through cast iron investigations are done to bring the perpetrators to book.

While I have just picked on anecdotal examples these are inherent problems that require solutions and no one is able to bring to the notice of those who can effect change to give them the resources to do their work properly.

I just hope someone in Govt. will at least read this and understand that unless the basics are covered they don’t have a cat in hell's chance of prosecuting and satisfying the public’s desire to bring to book, those who robbed the country!

I just got the news that the Cabinet has just approved the Presidents intention of abolishing the Executive Presidency, and changing the Electoral system, whilst appointing a committee headed by the PM to follow through to implementation. Frankly I am sure I would be more able to do that, in a shorter time, and with fewer hiccups than the members appointed, as their competence in even comprehending the task ahead is questionable.   

It is this BUSINESS AS USUAL stance that has to stop!

The Sri Lankan voter simply voted for Yahapalanaya, as the only redemption for 7 decades of corruption and nepotism. What have we got in return? Business as usual with the same behavior. Shocking!

The link above explains in a nutshell, why so, and whilst not offering a solution, alerts the reader to the real state of affairs, that needs good leadership to overturn, if we are ever to return to the PROMISED LAND.

We the hapless voter, the long suffering citizen, who toils all day to make the wheels of the Economy turn, so we have an improved economy, providing for our citizens, see all this effort in vain, due to uneducated people who have grabbed or held on to power for so long, NOT changing their ways in keeping with the promises to the voters at the Elections.

This story is NOTHING new, but at least we thought that the revolution of January 8 2015 would be a real revolution and NOT A MIRAGE or something in our imagination!

We can still overturn this business as usual if both the PM and President put aside their differences and take control of the situation and ensure that all these acts of bastardization are stopped, and people involved severely punished.

Mahinda Rakapakse used his power, but for a wrong purpose, his own ascendancy. Ranil Wickremesinghe has not used his power at all, and we are awaiting the commencement! Come on RW time you wake up and wield the axe, sword or even laser guided missile all at your disposal to eviscerate these jokers from our midst. ALL TRAITORS of the Nation.

It looks like you are the only person currently with no mud stuck on you! So Prime Minister, it is an all or nothing chance, that history will give you credit for no matter the present is still littered with excreta in Parliament.

Start by holding to account everyone who has been appointed to a Ministry to ensure that they carry out their duties without fear or favor in the NATION’S INTEREST. Tell them punishment for not doing so will be severe.

I will show in the next few blog entries what is needed to begin enforcing YAHAPALANAYA which has come to a halt at the moment due to the above abuse of authority, and if you follow it you will definitely come out on top.  

Who is trying to kid whom – on Avante Garde?

If only the Govt. acted on my expose earlier in the year on the AG scandal, then all this would not have come to a head now. It is simply a matter of complete incompetence and idiocy on the part of the members of the Ranil Wickremasinghe that this scandal has been allowed to go this far.

Frankly none of the parties seem to even understand this business, and how if not overseen and managed properly, can lead to terrible repercussions for Sri Lanka in the international sphere for promoting terrorism.

Surely we should have learned this lesson from the LTTE episode, on how they procured arms, and how they trained their carders and how it was financed. We don’t seem to have learned a thing! Why?

Put simply, we don’t have anyone in Govt. who actually has the intellectual capacity to understand simple problems, and provide solutions that will be in the long term interest of this Country. After that is why they are elected!

Just through all the Avante Garde related articles, and I have explained the business and further given a solution on how all the issues can be solved.

The revelations that AG is somehow involved with BOKO HARAM in Nigeria is a further cause for concern as reported in the leaked tapes article in today’s FT. see link: http://www.ft.lk/article/498247/Leaked-audio-tapes-intensify-Avant-Garde-scandal

It is important that the Govt. no longer look like complete idiots and stop being taken in my people who are cleverer than any of our MPs, giving him a chance to paint him white, when he is so black that it is not even funny.

Permitting even a Press Conference to garner public sympathy as shown above is evidence of incompetence, as when uncorroborated lies are put out in a media with a gullible audience, the credibility of the Govt. trying to clean up a mess, is also called into question. Media ethics as I have painfully tried to point out in this blog, does not seem to have any basis in Sri Lanka, and until we are able to match a responsible and educated, and NOT SENSATIONAL media, we hand our lawmakers on a plate to be villlified.

It time to take a TIME OUT. Media should desist from reporting on this matter anymore, and let AG continue their investigations, with appropriate resources!     

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

AGs Department playing politics about who is to be appointed next AG!

It is a crying shame that the AGs department is busy trying to impress the leadership on one’s merits for promotion to AG whilst they should all be pulled up for dereliction of duty! Who is to pull them up? The current AG wants to quietly retire without rocking the boat and get some other sinecure that helps him schmooze at a level beyond his pay grade!

The Minister of Justice is trying to hold on to his job by using all sorts of side shows to distract people from the real problem of his Tax Fraud. Millions of unpaid income taxes from fees he has received from all manner of dubious persons! He thinks the people who have paid him fees have not reported it to the authorities as they needed a tax deduction from their profits, for over charged legal fees. These fees in turn have NOT been recorded as income.

In the meantime the AGs department is grossly undermanned, under resourced and underfunded being tasked with some of the most important affairs of state, and the blame all falls on the Government. I fault the Minister for not bringing his request front and center at Cabinet, instead of taking pot shots at the other Jonah in the pack, called the Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senarathna, who has a penchant for lying through his nether regions.

In the end due to the fault of the AGs department, the Govt. of the day could fall, back into the hands of MARA! Is this the plan hatched by the Minister of Justice? We will know soon enough, as RW has already pulled him up!  

All these games are very well, if not for the fact that they are playing with the lives of 20 million Sri Lankans and their future.

It is time the PM intervened, get the Justice Minister fired, and beef up the AGs department, by giving them all the resources necessary to bring to book all those who have broken the law in the cases currently being handled, but who have hitherto been unable to gather sufficient evidence to convict.

The true colors of a Country of Good Governance will only be shown, when the law is followed to convict those who have committed massive frauds and crimes against the state, depriving millions of people of Sri Lanka from their livelihood   

In the context of Citizens going to Syria to join IS and return to their homelands

The world is now wondering what to do with people using the freedom of movement, who go to countries and are either radicalized or are trained in terror, and then return to their Country of birth.

We in Sri Lanka dealt with this issue, not very satisfactorily either, when some of our citizens went to other Countries to be trained in guerrilla warfare or terrorism. In most cases we did not know who they were, what kind of training they received, and how they re entered society, and why, remaining as sleeper cells to be woken up when needed for a suicide bombing, or other atrocity.

Europe, and United States is grappling with this problem, as they are now not sure who has gone, and where they are. Once your citizen leaves his Country, where they go is not always easy to follow or keep tabs on. So when I see the numbers published, I ask myself is this the totality or merely an estimate, and wouldn’t a hardened terrorist returning to a sleeper cell, make sure his tracks are covered, and show little evidence upon returning of his past in the foreign country.

In 2015 world this is a severe problem. The only practical way to track this is to use new technology now in existence to be able to track human beings based on a distinguishable footprint, from as far as a satellite, to know where they have gone, or where they are at any one time, and it is only computers that can do this tracking and only inform by way of data reporting answers to questions put to these super computers.

For example, you ask the computer to let you know all US Citizens currently in Syria, and then you weed out those who are there for legitimate reasons, until you come up with the list of those, whose presence there is questionable. As US citizens you can’t just incarcerate them, when they return, as that is a FR problem, you have to take appropriate legal steps to either ensure they are monitored on arrival or are put under a electronic tag to monitor their movements.  

No doubt Sri Lankan authorities maybe able to give some suggestions, on how they monitored suspected LTTE carders in our mist in Colombo, as there were terror cells responsible for both suicide and other bombings.

It is also reported that there are Sri Lankan citizens who have also joined IS, as foreign recruits are recommended, and now they will want to terrorize world with their brand of atrocity, by using foreigners, to return to their homelands and commit atrocities on demand from their handlers via social media etc.         

Media has a role to play in balance or in reporting excessive use of force!

The Batagoda commission will shortly report on the incidents of a few weeks back, where the Media showed, excessive use of force on seemingly unarmed and innocent female undergraduates!

As I reported at length in this blog, what is portrayed by the media, for their own agenda, is NOT what is the real story, and people MUST always, view media reports, especially in Sri Lanka with a lot of skepticism.

We remember we got used to towards the end of the Rakapakse regime, NOT to believe anything that came out of the Govt. media, as we believed it was heavily biased. We must continue to hold that level of skepticism, as the Media will not change overnight, and until the quality of journalism rises to a certain level, we will continue to be fed a load of Trollope!

The Batagoda Report will have called all the evidence of the event. NOT just what the media showed us. You will be told, that the media had selective amnesia.  I hope the video of undergraduates, in Buddhist robes, claiming to be Budddhist priests, beating innocent policemen mercilessly with poles and their bear hands will also be shown. WHY WERE THEY NOT SHOWN? Because the media angle will then be completely annulled!

Shame on our uneducated youth, who showed and shared the infamous two photos on FB, without showing the other 98 that give a different picture! When will our youth become really educated if at all? I am actually ashamed (lajjai!) at the complete idiocy of our young people who behave like a herd of donkeys, when they should try and ascertain the truth, or at least take some information with a pinch of salt knowing the whole story is NOT being shown.

Until the General Public take it into their ownership, the view that the Media needs to be transformed into something less than sensational, and more on informing on the facts, allowing different sides of the story to be told side by side, there is NO future for directing people to make up their minds on the true picture. This is NOT a problem limited to Sri Lanka, as the Media coverage of the Paris carnage also shows, it is that the populations in those countries are less gullible than ours in thinking for themselves, and have different angles from which a situation can be presented to them, something that is still lacking here. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A 30 year struggle taught us resilience – We can help France cope with theirs

No matter what one says there are similarities in how one mentally copes with the threat of terrorism, that we in Sri Lanka managed to deal with for 30 years and Parisians and people of Europe have to learn to cope with until they get the all clear.

It is clear there is no way to extinguish this problem in days or months and it will take about 5 years to clear out IS forever, if the reaction is handled using the head and not the heart.

It is NO time for anti-Islam feelings that are being stoked by people for political opportunism, just in the way it was done in Sri Lanka, that exacerbated an anti Tamil feeling amongst some of our people. THAT IS THE WRONG WAY.

At present it is not for us to ask why the Islamic community in France is NOT parading in solidarity with the French, just like the Tamil community did not join with the Sinhala community to march against the LTTE.

It is PURE INTELLIGENCE to work out the radicalized individuals in a society and pick on them ONLY, and not Muslim ghettoes or Muslim prison population in France that is 70% of the convicted prison population. Don’t forget it is not the wealth you are born to or the opportunities you are NOT given that make you radicalized, it is the people who influence you, and sometimes the educated can be radicalized, when a warped mind comes in between destabilize a young mind that is impressionable.

The secret is in determining who is most prone to be radicalized, and neutralizing those people who are doing the radicalization. That is the single most effective way to prevent terrorism. The problem also is in cross border human movement to know how to spot a radicalized person when they come within your jurisdiction.

It is up to the media to reduce the noise level of this event, to only that of careful observation, of any untoward activity, and nurturing patriotism, by NOT picking up on the Muslim population as being against the French or unpatriotic.

Just as we have still failed to encompass all the Tamil people within Sri Lankan society, due to continuing divisive policies and action, the same is true of the Muslim population in France, not helped by the banning of the Hijab, though it must be understood that in order to assimilate, they must try and do away with visible differences that tend to put people into boxes as a natural human failure. Don’t forget in the great melting pot that is the USA, the point of integration is common interests!