are afalling sans taxes
The Sunday Times features section last week, and its news desk,
a few weeks earlier, spalshed accounts of the rape of the southern
forests, so that timber can be fed to the north, where the LTTE
has placed a ban on the felling of ' their' trees. But, how many
are bothered by the news?
of satin, teak and palu, felled from Moneragala, Ampara, Badulla,
Anuradhapura and Puttalam areas wend their way to the north.The
timber merchants are no doubt, armed with 'permits'.
logging mafia cannot operate without the knowledge of the authorities.
The authorities include not just the forest officials, but the government
officials and politicians who are behind the issue of permits, and
the police, the security forces who do the checking of plying vehicles.
the green cover of the country, or at least the 'south' of the country,
is systematically destroyed, the timber lorries roll along the A-9
through Omanthai to the Wanni, or boats surreptitiously carry logs
to the north along the coast. The LTTE -- knowingly exploits the
craving of those who will do anything for a buck in the 'south'.
They, while routinely imposing their own 'taxes' on anything and
everything 'imported' from the 'south', have abolished the 'tax'
on timber from the 'south'.
unchecked, and unabated mass-scale deforestation has its own impressions
on the country's eco-system. Deforestation causes floods, droughts,
landslides and erosion, which in turn leave many people dead, injured,
homeless and destitute. Rupees by the millions have to be spent
on relief and reconstruction. The loss of life can never be compensated.
all this, so that a few can make some money, at the expense of the
many. The ban on timber felling in the 'north', and the demand for
timber there has fuelled this massacre of our forests. While the
smoke-screen debate is on whether it should be federalism or ISGA,
or whatever, the woodcutters keep afelling, and the logs are afalling
and the logs are afalling. Until one falls on our collective heads,
it seems, we will not awaken to this disaster.
behaviour while abroad
In our front page last week, we reported a Presidential
directive to Cabinet Ministers and Chief Ministers on how they must
conduct themselves when dealing with foreign trips, foreign contracts
and attending diplomatic receptions.This week, our front page photograph
depicts how the directive has been brazenly flouted by some of her
Political Editor referred last week to a Cabinet Minister decamping
from a hotel overseas without settling his bills. He had cooly told
the reception that Sri Lanka's High Commission which made the booking
would settle the bill. He was lucky to be let off, but only because
the hotel does business with the High Commission. The High Commission
later refused to pay saying they only made the booking. We still
do not know how the matter was settled, if it was settled at all.
That's how some of our Ministers behave overseas for you.
Ministers, past and present, when overseas borrow the Embassy car
for an official function and only return it two days later after
the wife has done her shopping with it. A ' my car; my petrol' approach
to which they have got accustomed back home with Government vehicles.
salutary the new directives are, though, the proof of their effectiveness
is in the implementation. It was just after the April elections
this year that the President issued a Code of Ethics for her new
Ministers. Among the provisions of this code was the maximum number
of trips overseas a Minister could make for a year - four.
were to be no exceptions. But the rule has already been broken making
a mockery of the code. No effort has been made to make any adjustments
to the code, possibly for the fear that the code would become the
subject of ridicule for its hasty drafting. Instead, there is this
Presidential Code of Ethics which not only has been broken, but
continues to be broken, with gay abandon by her Ministers making
a mockery of it all.
much later comes this new Presidential directive. A welcome move
as far as we see it. Clearly, by this week's conduct, it shows that
the President's Ministers don't care a damn for her directives.
The same fate of the Presidential Code of Ethics has befallen these
directives - and so soon. This very week, close to half a dozen
Cabinet Ministers were overseas. Many others are packing their bags
and booking their tickets. Of course, all of them are on very important
official business. And now, the JVP, which insisted on the original
Code of Ethics, says that it doesn't matter how many ' private trips
', a Minister does overseas.
governance may start with Codes of Ethics and Presidential directives,
but it obviously does not end there. It seems these Presidential
Codes and directives are not even worth the paper they are written