SB's agricultural shot
S.B. Dissanayake's 'harak' reference to Treasury officials may be a bull in the China shop attitude even though who is bullying whom is not quite clear to a very confused public. All newspaper accounts have it that there is some sort of inertia in the Treasury, and when this is manifest in a key area such as funding for agricultural development, we need to question the attitude of these public officials.

The fight between S.B. Dissanayake and the Treasury has left the public and the press guessing what exactly the problem is, or what actually has happened. It only makes them guess that the Treasury has not released the necessary funds to the Ministry, thus resulting in the clash.

When the LTTE is being disbursed funds by a government that is willing to do most anything to please the LTTE's sudden lust for development, it is not very surprising that a Minister in the "South" is complaining that he is being given the step-brotherly treatment.

If the government can say "as you please" to the LTTE, at least it is fair to ask the Treasury to be more flexible when it comes to key Ministries which have an impact on the economy of the entire nation.

Minister Dissanayake's 'harak'' talk, on the other hand, is utter boorishness, bordering on village bully tactics. Mr. Dissanayake does not have to bring down the level of the political discourse to bovine levels, though he may be justly aggrieved. The public, which is on the one hand being sold short by the Treasury's sluggishness, is on the other hand treated to a Minister's tart-tongued talk. All of which is a bit too much.

What's important however, and what's lost on all concerned in the midst of it, is the fact that the agricultural sector cannot be pushed to the back burner in the list of national priorities. Various experts may think otherwise, but neglecting agriculture goes against the grain of the national economy, which has always considered agriculture a national priority. The Sri Lankan national ethos is an agricultural one -- we could say there is no Sri Lankan identity without an agricultural economic base.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his party boys were displaying green shirts and sarongs in the rice bowl of Polonnaruwa, canvassing votes. And at the same time the UNF Government is seemingly neglecting rice production on the basis that importing rice is cheaper than growing it.

Treasury yuppies may not care for these home truths, but whatever designs they may have on the Ministry of Agriculture and its future, at least they should let the Minister operate without any let or hindrance. This is the least that can be asked for, if the LTTE is being allowed a good deal of leeway by the same officials when it comes to their projects - - be they agricultural or otherwise.

The Mayor is shot
The latest from the Mafia world of political skulduggery is that there has been an attempt on the life of the Mayor of Dehiwela Mount Lavinia. The Mayor says that this comes as his reward for getting rid of unauthorized constructions, and going after drug barons.

We do not know whether going after drug barons is the prerogative of the Mayor or the police, but if he is trying to clean up the borough, then there is no question that he is a public official who needs to be looked after by the system.

But, while the Prime Minister says that he is perturbed about LTTE killings in the North and the East, it cannot still be open season for elected officials and other vulnerable individuals in the South.

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