By Kushani De Silva –
Due to the lack of fuel situation generated by the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the government has decided to give the day off every Friday for next three months. At a time when employers and citizens should put extra effort to help build the economy, the government has decided to give a day off to every government worker during an upcoming pivotal time. What the government plan to achieve by yet another tap-dancing around a problem is not quite graspable to my mind. Some of the Sri Lankan media assumes the day off is given to do garden cultivation as if it cannot be done any other time. Do they want to shut down the working-class bit by bit depending on the fuel they can afford? What is their plan within these three months to bring back people to work full-time?
The schools are closed every Friday as well and teachers are complaining they can’t complete the syllabus. Isn’t it possible to transition to online teaching once a week or do extra two hours a day to cover a day off? When do rulers realize the impact of the hit in the education sector in the long term? Since a future does not exist for Sri Lankan politicians or government heads, it is understandable that this is not a problem for them, but only for us. If we can take this opportunity to develop our country, this would be the perfect time to improve public transportation to facilitate both working class and school children that would benefit the country by (1) reducing the fuel demand (2) reducing the export expenses on fuel and use that money for cooking gas (3) saving the foreign remittance and finally (4) reduce carbon-dioxide emission.
Since the pandemic, there has been lock-downs and other ways that promoted laziness of people and they got comfortable with it because Sri Lankans prefer to have the time of their lives assuming the government takes responsibility for every matter. Now the economic crisis is hitting us and again the government is pushing people toward laziness. Putting people out of their work push them more into the spiral of depression. The government’s decision-making quite demonstrates the lack of a long-term plan for the future of the country – better yet next two weeks of the survival of people. When the government aware that people are looking up to the government than trying to rely on themselves, which is unfortunate by the way, they should be able to make wise moves to get the best of the people. When we cannot find food in the near future, they might release a gazette asking people to sleep for 24 hours without wasting energy, so we do not need to eat. Is their ultimate solution to put the country into a halt?
The biggest question is who makes these decisions and who approves them? Aren’t leaders supposed to have a long-term vision? This economic crisis polarizes the power play in our country whether we like it or not. That would result in more corruption in the higher hierarchy of power and civil war among the rest of the people who try to survive. Isn’t it what we see partially today? Can people stop this? Certainly, politicians do not want to stop this because, without this, they are dragged to the streets. What can you do as an individual? In an officially declared bankrupt country what is most needed is an executable long-term plan. This is the only way we can earn credibility as a country to get help from anyone else. Hasn’t this crossed the minds of the people? Instead, they try to survive day-to-day basis in ad-hoc ways. How long we can survive like this?
*Dr Kushani De Silva, Senior Lecturer Grade – Department of Mathematics, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka