United States Virginia change
Sri Lanka Breaking News
Sri Lanka parliament
vivalankaSri Lanka newsSri Lanka businessSri Lanka sportsSri Lanka technologySri Lanka travelSri Lanka videosSri Lanka eventssinhala newstamil newsSri Lanka business directory
vivalanka advertising
Stay Connected
Popular Searches
T20 World Cup
Sponsored Links
Sri Lanka Explorer

Corrupt politicians and officials cannot control cost of living

Dec 21, 2010 6:58:54 PM- transcurrents.com

By Chakaravarthy

"Four hundred rupees” said he. I was shocked. I could remember the days he charged twenty five rupees decades ago and later hundred rupees for a long time. So I wondered whether the money has lost value or the cost of living has gone so high for this native doctor who attends to bone fracture and other related ailments at Darley Road, Maradana.

I am a sort of a princely type of guy who does not look at the price or the expiry date of articles I intend to buy with my little shopping here or abroad as I value time more than money. That part is left to my “woman boss”.

On expiry date, there is no problem in the West as the seller takes care of it for the authorities are strict. In Lanka even big importers were caught doctoring expiry dates. But they got away easy through their contacts as their funding is indispensable for the electioneering of corrupt politicians.

Can corrupt politicians and officials who sing for their supper control cost of living? No cannot. Lanka’s cost of living is astronomical. There is no effective price control in anything. In this god blessed fertile land with abundance of coconut trees, there is a shortage of nuts.

Today the picture of distribution of coconuts is qualified to appear in the front page of news papers as both a kilo of rice and piece of coconut fetch Rs.55. Never in the history of this wonder land that is still wandering direction less. Under Madam Srimao’s rule, a pound of bread was more cherished than a bar of gold

The media says, to meet the festive season, coconuts were imported from Kerala to whom Lanka was exporting coconuts until recently. .As said by politicians, the country is on the fast track of development, but in news papers only.

Many basic salary employees who leave behind their families in their villages and work in Colombo are giving up the city job and returning back home as high priced food in the city takes a major part of their salary. At the same time the poor of Colombo are being pushed away losing their abodes for so called city developments. In time to come there will be a shortage of employees to do minor jobs in the factories.

Proposed electricity power hike of 8% is widely resented by the consumers. Look at a news item in a Sunday paper under the headline;

CoL to shoot up with electricity rate hike

“Government is poised to raise electricity rates by 8 to 10 per cent and consumers are up in arms. They point out such an increase would result in a further rise in the cost of living. A cross section of people including shop-keepers and members of the general public, said the measure was extremely unfair.

A retired engineer currently operating his own timber mill questioned as to why the hydropower generation advantage was not being passed on to the people. “During the last few weeks we have seen pictures of the main reservoirs reaching spill level. This means hydro power generation could be increased. Why isn’t the advantage of the rains at least passed on to the consumers,” Amaranath Karunaratna asked.

Sarath Amerasekera said the price hike was unfair, since the burden of losses suffered by the CEB was being simply passed onto the general public. The price of electricity he said was already one of the highest in the Asia region. He said if proper infrastructure was put in place the cost to the CEB could be decreased and the Board would be able to absorb the losses.

Mr. Amarasekera stressed that electricity was a basic public necessity similar to water. For this reason alone the price hike was totally unacceptable, he said.

Passer-by Sarath Fernando said if the rate for 90 units was raised it would cause a considerable burden and said he could not afford to pay more than Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 per month. He added that if the price hike was to affect those consuming only 60 units the measure was even more unfair as these were poor households.

Shop-keeper R. Sajaka said that the general public would have to tolerate the situation for the sake of the development of the country and for better rewards in the future. He said judgement of the new measures could be gauged in only around five year’s time and were necessary for the sake of fiscal stability.

M.F.L Jesley, a shop-owner-cum manager of a jewellery store said the price hike would have an adverse effect on his jewellery business. The first change would be the lights which displayed the jewellery. Spotlights would have to make way for CFL bulbs. He forecast a drop in sales.

Another shop manager Rizwie Rashiwie, manager of an electrical goods store said the price hike would have an effect on the cost of overheads but would not result in a price increase. Fowzie Ismail, the manager of “Abdeen’s” said that sales which had already decreased would drop further due to the price hike. He said he would not be able to bear the cost.

Sampath Perera who manages a shoe shop in Kollupitiya, said sales were expected to drop further as a result of the price hike and the added cost of display.

Housewife Amara Vithanage said the price hike would add a further burden to the high cost of living. “We are already paying a high price for food. I cannot imagine how we can cope with the increased cost of electricity,” she said.

To make things worse the gas price is also to be increased. See the news in another Sunday paper;

LAUGFS Asks Rs. 200 Increase, Powdered Milk Follows

X’mas Shocker

LAUGFS Gas, Sri Lanka’s private cooking gas operator, has asked the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) a price increase of a little over Rs. 200 on a 12.5 kilo Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder due to high LPG prices in the world market, it’s learnt.

LAUGFS’ 12.5 LPG cylinders are currently sold through its dealers at Rs. 1,520 a unit to the consumer.

LAUGFS has a 30% market share. LPG prices in the global market have gone up recently due to the rising demand in the Western Hemisphere with the advent of winter. LPG prices are revised once in two months based on a price formula overseen by the Government owned Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA), with the new price revision due next month.

LAUGFS’ competitor, Government owned Litro Gas, retails its LPG cylinders at a price which is Rs. 132 more than the private gas operator, at Rs. 1,652 a cylinder. LAUGFS has the advantage of buying 30% of its requirements of LPG, produced as a byproduct by the state owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s (CPCs) Sapugaskande oil refinery, thereby obtaining a saving in affreightment costs on such volumes. Sri Lanka imports its petroleum requirements as it doesn’t have a local production base. LPG is a petroleum byproduct.

Meanwhile Litro CEO P.Kudabalage said that they will be submitting their papers for a price revision to the CAA shortly. He was not in a position to immediately say what sort of price increase that they would be asking for, from the authorities.

CAA Chairman Rumi Marzook was tightlipped as to what sort of price increase that LAUGFS was requesting for.

Cooking gas price increases, like President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recently proposed 8% electricity hike, also to be effective from next month, has a cascading effect on the economy, with other dependent sectors of LPG, such as the bakery sector, being impacted by the rise in cooking gas prices.

The rise in bread prices in the city, is in part attributed to the cost of LPG, of which however the periphery is immune, due to the availability of the cheaper firewood as an alternative to LPG for cooking purposes.

Hard on the heels of LAUGFS asking for a price increase, it’s also learnt that the country’s milk powder manufacturers too have had asked for a price increase from the CAA due to the rise in milk prices in the global market. Sri Lanka’s milk food market, because of the poor production of liquefied milk locally, is heavily dependent on imported milk foods to fill in the demand requirements for milk foods. Marzook refused to comment on what sort of price increase the local milk food suppliers were agitating for, from the CAA.

For your information, read a Letter to the Editor;

High Prices ‘On The Way Home’

“This is the season when we look forward to a bit of fun and good cheer for the family and friends. Of course for the hard pressed bread winners December is also an expensive month. But now that the “war”, the eternal excuse for our economic hardships is over, and also the rupee is quite strong against the all important US dollar, we expected a good festive season which we can enjoy without financial hangovers.

But on a visit to the supermarket promoted as a good place to go ‘on the way home’ I discovered to my shock, things like imported chocolates and nibbles like cashew-nuts and even peanuts have gone up by nearly 20% this month!.

A small bar of imported Cadburys (the not so good Indian version) which is marked 40 Indian Rupees is sold at Rs. 180 here ! A 500 gram cashew bottle previously sold for Rs. 1050 is now Rs.1250 !

This is a local product. Obviously these supermarkets are confident that while being in the festive mood, the consumer will not raise objections too loudly. Such an attitude leaves a bad taste in us, the faithful customers of these supermarket chains”.

What the reader said is true. On my personal hunt from shop to shop to find a power cord extension for my Laptop, to my surprise I was quoted different prices in different places.

A known guy in a Hardware shop asked Rs. 925 against the marked price of Rs.950. The shops in the so called “Computer City” that is opposite to the supermarket quoted above as, promoted as a good place to go ‘on the way home,’ price varied between Rs.1100 to Rs.1250.

To my shock, in another Super market situated in the Hyde Park [not in London] the same power cord was marked Rs.1650. Isn’t it a day light robbery? {they close at 9 pm}. Wal-Mart’s declared profit is 5 to 10% only. Here some traders have 100%.

When people’s stomach is burning [bada gini] Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus is fiddling. Is National Anthem the priority at this time more than people’s hunger?