20 May, 2022

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The Fuel Price Hike: Repositioning Transport & Logistics Sector To Lead Economic Recovery In Sri Lanka

By Amal S. Kumarage

Prof. Amal S. Kumarage

Introduction

The current economic crisis cannot be taken lightly. Early warning signs that all was not well, over the decades were ignored. We have simply lived beyond our means. We just have not worked smart or hard enough to support our lifestyle, we have taken for granted – accompanied by the unrestrained imports and the ever-increasing dole-outs, expanded public service and subsidies. The transport sector was no different. When corrupt leaders took poor investment decisions without heeding professional advice, but supported by those who have prostituted their professions, it has not taken long for the pillars of our economic and social well-being to crumble.

The Challenge

The journey of denial of the reality and the mistaken belief that Sri Lanka can bounce back happily from any mismanagement, is over. The political ideology of living today and paying for it tomorrow and its proponents must urgently reform or be removed. A new journey must begin using hard economics and the science of what we do and how we do them. A new ethical standard and way of managing institutions must be established at all levels of leadership and governance binding them to policy, process, established management methods and data-based decision making. This is a prerequisite for the recovery of the transport sector and with it the economy.

Transport & Logistics as a contributor to the Economic Crisis

The transport and logistic sector as have many other sectors such as education, agriculture and industry contributed significantly to this current debacle. Transport & logistics has failed to deliver its true potential for the economic endeavour of the nation and in fact, has currently become one of its biggest burdens. This paper dwells on identifying what we need to do, both in the short-term to get over the immediate crisis and simultaneously work towards developing the transport and logistics sector to be positioned as a driver for Sri Lanka’s economic revival and long-term regeneration to reach its fullest potential.

Transport & Logistics as a Driver of Sri Lanka’s Economic Revival

This requires a two-pronged strategy where first we address the immediate problems and then proceed to make those solutions drive Sri Lanka towards a truly sustainable economy in the medium to long-term. The most urgent issue and starting point is to reduce our heavy dollar expenditure on transport- especially road transport. Analysing the import bills from 2014 to 2019[1], shows that 8% of Sri Lanka’s import bill is for road vehicles, while a further 10% (at $50 a barrel) is for fuelling this fleet. The foreign outflows for road construction amounts to a further 3-4% of the import bill. In comparison, this is higher than what the country spends on the import of food, beverages, dairy products, pharmaceutical and medical products, all agricultural inputs including fertilizer, mobile phones and all other consumables that have now being banned or are in shortage[2]. Thus, reducing this economic cost to ease the suffering of many people deprived of other imports essential for life and livelihood should become an urgent priority.

The strategy identifies the major issues needing to be addressed to relieve the current situation quickly and affordably.

  • Reduce Consumption of Petroleum Fuel for Transport.
  • Redirect towards a sustainable motor vehicle fleet.
  • Impose an immediate moratorium on expressway construction and instead
  • Invest in modernising the public transport network and improve walking, and cycling,
  • Reduce vehicle use and manage traffic congestion.
  • Promote digital technology and supply chain science in transforming transport & logistics operations and
  • Reform and Restructure Transport & Logistics Supply and Regulation.

A.  Reduce Consumption of Petroleum Fuel for Transport

Around 63% of petroleum imports amounting to $2,065 million has been used for road transport annually[3]. This was when oil was $50-60 per barrel. At current prices of over $100 per barrel, this will increase to 20% of our usual import bill of $20 billion per year. It is possible that oil prices will stay at this level for several years, as in 2008 when it crossed $100, it held for four years. Continuing dependency on oil will make Sri Lanka’s economic recovery well neigh impossible. Private vehicles consume around 80%[4] of this fuel, leaving the entire goods and public transport services consuming just 20%, indicating where the problem lies. It is therefore imperative to urgently reduce personal vehicle use. This can be done in different ways in the short-term:

1. Peg Fuel Prices to global oil price: Pump prices of fuel in Sri Lanka even at the current Rs 300+ per litre are still the lowest in the South Asian region in terms of $/litre[5]. It is also still lower than its inflation-adjusted price in 2008 when global prices exceeded $100 per barrel and the US dollar was only LKR 110. In fact, oil crossed $100 per barrel even in 1981-82 during the Iran-Iraq war when the US dollar was just LKR 20. The popular principle of cushioning the people from the shocks of fuel prices in the long-term no longer works. There is just too much oil consumption, that eventually it is the heavy consumers, the rich and not the poor that benefit from such subsidy. Unlike other goods, fuel imports should not be restricted or rationed as they are necessary inputs for other economic productions, but they should be pegged at market prices with a reasonable tax component that discourages consumption and encourages alternate use. In many countries, this tax is designated to develop and promote less fuel consuming means of alternative mobility to which people can shift without reducing productivity or convenience. Fuel prices may, if allowed, be raised in stages over 2-3 months giving sufficient time for the readying these alternatives which will be discussed below.

2. Tax Readjustment of Vehicle Imports and Revenue License Fees to improve fuel economy: According to import statistics from 2014-19[6], over half a million motor vehicles are imported annually to Sri Lanka. Of this, 60% are motorcycles and 10% are three-wheelers and less than 10% are goods and passenger transport vehicles including buses. The 50,000 motor cars, which make up 10% of all vehicles imported, cost around $800 million annually which is one half of the total CIF cost of all vehicles imported. In other words, the 10% of car owners spend 50% of foreign exchange as opposed to the 90% of other vehicle importers who use their vehicles for both private and commercial purposes. While this is a social impediment in itself, it is further aggravated by the concessionary permit system which enables around 10,000 vehicles, mostly cars and SUVs to be imported annually at minimal taxes. The loss from this concession has been calculated to be LKR 94 billion per year. This is almost equal to the total tax of LKR 97 billion the treasury has gathered from all car imports annually. This has effectively reduced the average tax on large cars/SUVs over 1,500 cc to only 99%, whereas three wheelers have paid 132% tax, while motorcycles paid 96%. The concessionary permit scheme is an economic disaster as most people buy the most expensive vehicle available so that they get the highest benefit in terms of resale value. Moreover, such vehicles are heavy consumers of fuel thus creating more economic issues. Thus, it is imperative that the permit scheme be scrapped forthwith. This alone will clearly not be adequate to reduce importation of such expensive and fuel inefficient vehicles. As such the vehicle import tax structure needs to be readjusted urgently considering the fuel economy of vehicles. If any concession is to be offered, it should be for electric vehicles, for which a long-term incentive structure and policy framework should be developed simultaneously.

3. Moratorium on Expressway Building: Expressway building has contributed significantly to the intolerable debt accumulation. Moreover, the ones completed evidently have not contributed adequately to the economy to avert this crisis. The cost of the Southern Highway up to Galle completed in 2011 was only $7 million per km. But the construction cost of the Central Expressway-3 that is being hurriedly awarded now, is estimated at $42 per km. The total cost of the spending on expressways since 2001 is around $7 billion[7]. It is not hard to imagine an overspend of at least $3 billion in building expressways which are most carry 2-3% of the country’s traffic. This shows the scale of corruption and waste that has taken place. The road tolls being collected are barely adequate to recover their cost of operation and maintenance, let alone repay the loans. This highway robbery should be immediately halted by imposing a short-term moratorium for new road infrastructure until the planning and procurement process that has been systematically corrupted can be reverted.

4. Invest on Public Transport, Walking and Cycling Infrastructure: For decades public transport has been denied any significant funding. Even when it was finally decided in the last few years, the attention has been on expensive metros, LRTs that Sri Lanka neither needs, nor can afford at present. The current line of funding from the ADB for railway electrification should be expedited instead of pursing more road projects. The Sahasara Bus modernization program[8] cost $500, for which low interest finance is readily available cost less than 1/3rd of the $1,872 million the government is prepared to commit to building the 20 km Central Expressway-3, has been stopped by Cabinet recently. This can modernise all the 25,000 buses in the country, connect them to an IT-platform, implement a different business model of paying bus owners for the km-operated together with digital passenger information systems providing real time information and integrated mobility solutions from first/last mile modes made available from a single platform. It can improve the quality of at least 50% of all trips. Concessionary funding for climate change can also be sought urgently to modernize the entire bus service to what is enjoyed in many developed countries in just a short time thereby reducing the use of private vehicles and reducing emission of buses. This can then be integrated to the railway network and the same mobility eco-system through modern IT-systems. A car-free day celebrated in over 1,500 cities worldwide[9] should be implemented as a symbol of policy change. The public transport in cities such as Colombo, Kandy, and Galle should be developed to convert these cities to global mobility standards and transit-oriented development strategies to create liveable and green urban spaces that are in demand globally as high-end value adding locations.

5. Improve facilities for Walking and Cycling: For health reasons, more and more urban dwellers look for active mobility opportunities such as cycling and walking. Around 22% of all motorised trips in the Western Province are less than 2km in length and are thus walkable or cyclable if the correct infrastructure is provided[10]. However, our roads are not provided with such space or safety facilities. We should begin to assign space to foot or cycle users as an immediate policy change at least where space can be provided. This will also be a cost-effective way to improve access to rail and bus transport which can expand to park and ride operations using cycles, particularly for semi-urban and rural areas. Developing sidewalks, pedestrian crossings to be followed by cycle lanes and walkways will only cost 1-2% of the annual spending on expressways and yet be used by many more people. Moreover, many countries open selected roads only for cycles and pedestrians on holidays and evenings, which has revived the local economy and created lively public environments. Short-distance food and other deliveries now handled by motorcycle should be incentivised to be moved to the bicycle or electric-cycles.

6. Reduce Vehicle Use and Manage Congestion: Even with all the above, those who have got used to private vehicles and have means of passing off higher fuel prices to others, will continue using their vehicles. However, this causes huge external losses when urban areas get congested especially during peak times. The Government should implement a multi-pronged approach to mitigate congestion, with measures such as imposing peak-period minimum passenger occupancy in selected traffic attracting areas such as Fort, Battaramulla and Nawam Mawatha, introduce bus priority lanes on major corridors, incentivising company transport services and ensure that all major roads are kept flowing-free throughout the day using modern traffic management technology. It should seek the help of the environmental conscious younger generations to drive this initiative and move Sri Lanka to attain its optimum balance between vehicle use, land availability and the environmental sustainability. In addition, work-from-home and compressed work weeks for others who physically report will be encouraged to reduce commuting trips. More reliable online services to be provided to eliminate unproductive physical travel. Goods deliveries will be limited to night-time along major corridors and congested urban streets. Speeds would be monitored to ensure minimum mobility levels are maintained and restrictions revised accordingly on monthly basis.

B – Position Sri Lanka as a Modern Transport & Logistics Hub to fast-track economic recovery

The current economic crisis is an opportunity to break the many barriers that have long prevented Sri Lanka attaining its fullest economic potential. In the transport & logistics sector, Sri Lanka has stagnated under archaic regulations, inefficient suppliers, outdated delivery methods and technologies and lack of professionalism in management and leadership. Though most transport infrastructure in under capacity, Sri Lanka now has excess capacity in underutilised expressways, and some ports and airports. There should be a strategy to speedily use these for economic activities so that they convert from being liabilities to opportunities of economic recovery by using modern management, regulation, and operations methods, supported by modern smart technology and analytics. Short-term initiatives include:

7. Promote Digital Transformation in Transport, Logistics & Supply Chain Management: The advance in smart technology is being used effectively in revolutionising the way passengers and goods move around the world and within cities. Industry 4.0/5.0 applications such as robotics, AI, big data analytics, deep learning algorithms together with optimization sciences can be applied in stages to ensure that major cities in Sri Lanka and our distribution networks and supply chains become efficient. Targeted funding should be provided for the urgent development of these technologies for Sri Lanka to become a leading tech-based mobility solution provider. The fast-developing field of operations science would be encouraged and applied to integrate the domestic and international supply chains to fully exploit the advantages of Sri Lanka’s geographical locations, which has become irrelevant. Only with such leap-frog initiatives in technology can Sri Lanka become a regional logistics hub, a dream that has eluded Sri Lanka for decades. This parallel development of goods and personal mobility will have spin offs on many dollar earning industries such as tourism, manufacturing, financial services, and tech-based services. This will initiate a long-term economic development strategy in improving Sri Lanka’s supply chain efficiency in both domestic and international trade.

8. Reform and Restructure Transport Supply and Regulation: All of the above requires the urgent modernisation of transport suppliers and the reform of regulatory agencies to become industry reformers from being gatekeepers and beneficiaries of the status capable of navigating the modern-day business environment. They should be led by proven sector experts. The focus should be on quality service provision, reduced carbon footprint and increasing fuel efficiency so that Sri Lanka moves specifically towards being able to certify its manufacturing industry well ahead of 2050 when global carbon neutral compliances is sought by western countries[11]. Tech-driven innovations should be encouraged and rewarded through competitions and contracts and assisted to become bankable business models. Regulation should be made to synergise the market forces and the civil society enthusiasm in developing lasting win-win solutions. Transport planning and investment should be made law be integrated it to energy policy and urban development plans and each urban area, transport infrastructure and service provider should be made responsible for ensuring targeted efficiency levels in providing mobility and energy efficiency. Regular monitoring should be in place to identify good practices and to reward and replicate them across the country.

[1] Sri Lanka Customs, Import Data, 2022

[2] Sri Lanka Customs, Import Data, 2022

[3] Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority, Sri Lanka Energy Balance 2019.

[4] Janaka, Weerawardena estimates of fuel consumption 2009

[5] Advocata Institute, Sri Lanka Fuel Price Analysis, June 2021

[6] Sri Lanka Customs, Vehicle Import Data, 2022

[7] Author calculations

[8] Ministry of Megapolis and Urban Development, Bus Service Modernization & SAHASARA Reforms Project, 2019

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car-Free_Days

[10] JICA, Colombo Metropolitan Region Transport Study (CoMTrans), Ministry of Transport, 2015

[11] https://unece.org/climate-change-and-sustainable-transport

*Amal S. Kumarage – University of Moratuwa (based on a lecture delivered to the Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA) on 30th March 2022)

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Latest comments

  • 10
    1

    Amal,
    .
    Got to CT (after checking Lankan news) and the first thing that I see is you having sent this along for publication Thanks. This is an initial response before really studying the “article”.
    .
    For those who don’t know the author, please google, and locate his previous articles on CT. He is THE authority on transportation, he’s down to earth, and does what he says.
    .
    Yesterday, in Bandarawela Town, on the pavement just below the “main roundabout” (shops have changed since you knew them in 1974) there were excellent large carrots, and cabbage of comparable quality being hawked at Rs 80 per kilo. There just is no transport to get them to malnourished Lankans.
    .
    You can afford to talk! Before coming to Bandarawela Central, (where I did some “advanced work” in English with some of you who could cope) you cycled six miles to STC, Gurutalawa, from your parents farm at Bogahakumbura. Despite being stuck in Moratuwa you probably know that the road from Boralanda to Keppetipola is now perfectly carpeted.

    • 6
      0

      SM,
      .
      such carpeted road development projects and all other jogging tracks etc the manner they brought them discounts make them wealthier while the poor of the poor are thrown that deep.
      :
      Please check what Lasil and another Prof as economist have got to say about the ground realities of our god punished motherland.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-eAHHoFYHg

      • 2
        0

        Thanks, LM.
        .
        This programme effectively reveals to us the way in which this country has been looted to the detriment of the people living here.
        .
        This is realised by all of us who have sat through 45 minutes of this, and listened attentively in Sinhalese. We now know what has happened and few indeed of those who write articles here (very few compared with the total population of the country) need any more exposure to this.
        .
        Then there are the readers of the articles. Let’s face it. The majority skim through the main article, and don’t bother to see who has commented. They don’t read the comments. Very few would have clicked on that YouTube link to listen to all this. For Chamuditha Samarawickrema adopting this aggressive style has brought him many fans, fame, and a degree of prosperity. and he runs risks – he’s been attacked. More or less the same for the other two.
        .
        I know that you’re amazingly sincere in doing all this.
        .
        Our problem is this: our audience is so limited. We are doing what we can, but we don’t know how to get through to the millions of other citizens, who turn into voters at elections, so as to get them to THINK.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe

  • 9
    1

    PART TWO
    .
    You left the Central School in Bandarawela, and entered STC Mt Lavinia only because your father died; and your mother had no option but sell that impossibly remote farm and move to “civilised climes”.
    .
    I’ve been writing about the indolence of the STC Board of Governors; you know it! You were on it for two years, and then resigned because it was just a “social club”; yes, you’ve been doing more useful work, but again you run into politics!
    .
    Me? An hour ago, I rang the Office of the Anglican Bishop in Colombo (yet again!), then called Bishop Dushantha on his mobile phone. It rang, no response. Sent him an sms, saying forget the past; can he set S. Thomas’ administration right by March 2024?
    .
    Will say more.
    .
    Power cuts here, although that’s a little more under control. I know that phone calls could disrupt your work, but will start with your home phone and then your mobile, and of course alert you via email and other means of communication.
    .
    Far too few people like you around!
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe
    (483111444V)

    • 12
      1

      I have always respected Dr Kumarage as a real expert, unswayed by sectarian politics or corruption. I did Google to make sure he stayed clear of the despicable fake intellectuals of Viyathmaga.
      “Expressway building has contributed significantly to the intolerable debt accumulation”….”The political ideology of living today and paying for it tomorrow and its proponents must urgently reform or be removed. A new journey must begin using hard economics and the science of what we do and how we do them.”
      This is the crux of the matter. It is not just the politicians, but the people themselves are responsible for this mess. Prospective car owners in this 3rd world country buy the flashiest wheels. Humble Marutis are for yokels. There ought to be a Singapore style auction system and restricted urban access for private vehicles. Pickme and Uber type services can serve inside cities for those who prefer private cars. The ridiculous plans for introducing electric vehicles must be dropped for now. The real cost of ownership of an electric car is around 3 times that of a normal one, never mind the fact that the electricity ultimately comes from fossil fuelled power stations. For a country like ours, the rational way for now is small, low- emission vehicles.
      Very good article, but I fear Dr. Kumarage is a voice in the wilderness.

      • 9
        0

        Thanks, oc,
        .
        What for? For Googling before committing yourself to fulsome praise of Dr Amal Kumarage.
        .
        You’re right to point out that electricity is currently being produced using fossil fuels, and that even before electricity rates have gone up, the “real cost” of owning and using electric vehicles is so high that what Amal is suggesting is “ridiculous” – for now. Amal would welcome such honest criticism to being a ‘voice in the wilderness”. What we have to do is not going to be easy!
        .
        Contacting today Amal has not proved easy.

        It is not always easy to know where to look, oc. There’s no sign of your having seen this article, oc; but how relevant.
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/chelvanayakams-124th-birthday-the-need-to-honour-him-with-transparent-cms-administration/
        .
        Complete your explorations with this!
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-bishop-cms-fiddle-while-st-johns-college-jaffna-burns/
        .
        I’ve now studied Amal’s entire article. I hope that others, too, will realise that seemingly unconnected factors do add up. Amal had begun his schooling at STPS, Kollupitiya. The only Thomian School that he didn’t attend was the one that is just below my Bandarawela house; but to make up for that, I taught him in the Central school here.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe

      • 7
        0

        OC,
        Morning.
        I agree with you that Amal S Kumarage (ASK) is an edifice of the Moratuwa/Katubedda University transportation engineering division!
        He is outstanding and his rationalist thinking and outlook is unmatched by any other in sri Lanka!
        His words of wisdom was ignored by the Messiah and his stooges, because their focus was Lucre!!
        The messiah’s aggrandisement to satisfy his ego to be in the inner circle of the ‘RICH’ in Sri Lanka, progressed to the ‘sought after in this whole world’, put a stop to his listening to ASK.
        Because the views expressed, by ASK would not have allowed the Messiah to amass such wealth quickly to enrich the family, immediate relatives and ‘Hangers On’ (Henchaiyas)!!
        Sad story!!
        Nevertheless, interestingly, the Messiah has not ‘given up hopes’, after all, but insistent I her to ensure that the 19th amendment be enable to empower the PM to be more powerful than President!
        There is an ‘open’ tussle going on with PM sounding his supporters in parliament to enable 19th amendment reincarnation, so that he becomes more powerful!!
        Greed has no limit in the Human outlook!!!!
        What a world??!!

        • 4
          0

          Mahila,
          So, the Royal Family is like any other Royal Family. The cracks are appearing. But I wonder why that fossilised MR is struggling so much. Does he expect that all those hooniyangs on his hands give him immortality?

          • 4
            0

            Bro Mahila,
            .
            Their shameless acts on looting on and on are no different to that of tomse tribal leaders in Togo, Malawi or the like far poor afro countries.
            :
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-eAHHoFYHg

        • 2
          0

          “There is an ‘open’ tussle going on with PM sounding his supporters in parliament to enable 19th amendment reincarnation, so that he becomes more powerful!!
          Greed has no limit in the Human outlook!!!!”

          It is an another drama played by Rajapaksa family to cheat Sinhalese people again and again. People should be very clear and confidence in their demand. The real master mind is Mahinda Rajapaksa.

      • 5
        0

        We also should introduce the taxi system which operates in many Asian and African countries, where a taxi picks up multiple passengers going in the same direction. This makes it drastically cheaper for all passengers.

        • 6
          0

          old codger

          How about banning private vehicles in Colombo city.
          Let the 3 Wheelers have fun.
          Bicycles should take over the towns and cities.
          Less fumes, healthy exercise, less traffic jams, …
          Politicians should be forced to have their residence/hostels close to parliament at a walking distance. Their mistresses can share their accommodations with their fellow mistresses.

          • 2
            0

            NV,
            That would be an exciting, fun filled village of damsels trying to assert their rightful companions and consorts
            perhaps the year after their may be a request such a fanfare event to be included in the Avurudu celebrations, leading to the Avurudu Kumari contest.
            No MP would travel to their electorates

          • 2
            0

            Native,
            “Their mistresses can share their accommodations with their fellow mistresses.”
            What about the ones with multiple mistresses? And Deepthi Silva is very concerned about the gay ones.

            • 2
              0

              old codger

              “And Deepthi Silva is very concerned about the gay ones.”

              Is she a closet one?

        • 2
          0

          OC,
          Splendid idea!
          Make it easier to transport and distribute drugs very easily too!
          Recently released condemned prisoners, enjoying the chairmanship, of housing development, would welcome the idea!
          All these are not necessary.
          If only the brilliant, 7 brained idiots let the JAICA complete and develop the MRT, without abrogating the program, as there was no Lucre to grab, would have been patriotic, story would have been different.
          accessibility PLUS, PLUS

      • 3
        0

        OC,
        .
        When did they start importing V8 and the like costly unaffordable vehicles into the country ?
        I dont think that Indians import the kind of luxury cars as our fools did. The density of super luxury cars in SL is relatively high. Nimal Lanza – a drug kinpin to that area is said to own over 80 more super luxury vehilces.

        I HEARD INDIANS REPORTING TODAY THAT RAJAPAKSHE GOVT HAS NEVER CONDUCTED AUDITS WHATEVER THEY IMPORTED FROM ANYWHERE:
        .
        So what had our AUDITOR general been doing all along ?

        Btw, I happened to visit Bali island 3 years ago – there I could not notice super luxury vehicles, even if the country is believed to be one of the favourite tourist attraction to the europeans.

    • 1
      0

      Yes, oc,
      .
      The novels of Thomas Hardy portray fate as always being cruel to human endeavour. He does it repeatedly, from the early “Under the Greenwood Tree”, taught to me as a schoolboy around 1964, to his last novel “Jude the Obscure”, which I studied with his oeuvre, in 1984, in the University. “Jude”, written when Hardy was 45, received such a drubbing that he lived another 42 years without writing another novel, although he wrote good poetry.
      .
      Life is too short to read all that we ought to. In case you’ve not already dipped into Hardy, you’re unlikely to ever do so. I found this just now, but not reading it; whatever I did whilst in the University was done thoroughly!
      .
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326981140_Fate_in_Thomas_Hardy%27s_Poetry
      .
      I hope I’ve succeeded in conveying to “unknown you” all the gratitude in my heart.
      .
      Why has this vitally important article received so little attention? My hunch: the Title of the article doesn’t grab the attention of readers. Most of Amal’s other articles had exceptionally attention-grabbing titles.
      .
      We will never know, but let me leave you with four minutes of delightful singing by Amal:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyZDXasa0kI
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

  • 4
    0

    The ‘Introduction’ bespeaks the patriotism of Prof. Amal S. Kumarage.
    No surprise that he couldn’t get near our President! (I have said elsewhere that no sane person has access to Gota.)
    .
    Native Vedda,
    “Bicycles should take over the towns and cities.”
    What are our expansive highways for. They were designed in anticipation of this fuel crisis. See, our cyclists have the best carpeted roads on earth. How do you miss such an obvious answer to our transportation problems.

    • 2
      2

      Nathan,
      .
      As you say, Amal’s first paragraph perfectly sums up the reason for our present chaos. Amal now knows how to summarise better than I do; but who taught him that skill?
      .
      It was a certain VishramikaGambadaIngirisiIskoleMahaththaya, who is now an UmemployedGraduate, but then was EMPLOYED as a Non-Graduate Trained Teacher at Bandarawela M.V. in 1974. This was the book used:
      .
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Four-Raymond-OMalley/dp/B0000CJZ2O/ref=monarch_sidesheet
      .
      The mark of a good teacher is that he sometimes produces pupils who far outdo him in life.
      .
      “On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”.
      .
      When Rev.ChristopherBalraj first came to the Staff of STC Bandarawela, Sinhala_Man foolishly told him about Amal who had resigned from the BoG,etc. About five years ago, Amal was made the Chief Guest at the Prize-Giving.
      .
      HeadmasterBalraj made sure that “Panini” would not attend the Prize-Giving, where a teacher later told me that it was the best Prize-Giving-Speech-Ever, by”some Professor”. Amal had smuggled a ball in, which, towards the beginning of his Speech he had lobbed into the audience, thereby securing their attention.
      .
      Many politicians in Parliament; some in cassocks.

    • 3
      0

      Nathan

      I didn’t mention anything about highways.
      The way things are we may need good carpeted roads to drive Bullock Carts.

      We may need hand driven dung-plow to clear the roads, collected dung would help Gota to achieve 100% “totally natural, sustainable, and chemical-free” fertilizer.

      • 3
        0

        NV,
        At the time Rajapakse Baby s amok races on land roads were seen lately, I thought some can afford real good vehicles today; even if over 30% of the population struggles for their 3 meals.
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5N-av9O-YM

        If road construction are built properly, why should they have that many unffordable to vehilce imports – the density is relatively higher compared to that of a like minded country I would say.

  • 4
    0

    Really good figures to show the ridiculous numbers of Rajapaksa fantasy economics. Can’t believe they were subsidizing petrol + subsidizing the purchase for the 50,000 cars/year with the money of the hard-work of the masses. How are 7.2 million people now going to pay back their car loans?

    One looking at the country knew instinctively that the country would fall down sooner or later even without Covid and Ukraine. Gosh, here we dare not do in USA what our Lankans are up to in the Motherland.

    R’s had all the chances in the world to put things right. They began with all of their southern infrastructure projects, feeling that the incentive would stimulate the economy…..certainly didn’t happen from the south. Gota was supposed to be the tough guy who would get things together away from the absurdities of the rest of the family. But instead, they tried to make money from thin air (actually thick air off the global monetary system), all the while assuring the people of the vistas of delusion. Naturally all crashed like mad (bitcoins included).

  • 4
    0

    The futuristic IT transport, logistics and supply chain managements hub would have been the best thing for R’s to have installed at that time. It was too complex for them to wrap their heads around , however. It’s too late at this time, but might work in a decade’s time after the country finances have settled a bit. Where are we going to get the money for its installation? Not sure if it can be part of the IMF loans. IMF would prefer that we used existing locomotion to export our goods first to pay for ourselves, after a halting on all superficial and superfluous projects. Best tough and intellectual group to implement this will be the socialist groups, the JVP-NPP. With them at least Lankans will know they are under emergency measures and accept their present lot in life for the sake of their posterity.

  • 2
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    The writer has shared good proposals but I highly doubt whether this government will pay heed.
    The Lanka Indian Oil Corporation has arbitrarily increased oil prices in high amounts. This is the third time. Why is the government silent? The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has accepted LIOC’s oligarchy without question and increased local oil prices accordingly. This is totally unfair. Who signed the agreement with the LIOC and under what terms? LIOC’s latest price increase prompted renewed protests on the streets. Closing down Sapugaskanda oil refinery is also a conspiracy.
    In order to reduce exorbitant oil prices and also to tackle LIOC’s arbitrary price increases, Sri Lanka should buy discounted oil from Russia. On the battlefront, Russia has launched the world’s most powerful ICBM, Sarmat (Satan-II) which can attack multiple countries simultaneously. I don’t know about others but I take it as a dangerous signal for a war against the West. Russia has already threatened the US in writing against the latter pumping arms to Ukraine. Will there be an air attack on the Russian forces in Mariupol? Sometimes I overthink. I don’t know when things will escalate, but I think the Sri Lankan government should resolve the oil crisis asap.

    • 0
      1

      The government should warn the LIOC against increasing oil prices again and direct the CPC to explore all possibilities to get heavily discounted Russian oil while it could. I follow the situation in Ukraine closely. Given the US & NATO’s direct involvement in the conflict in Donbass and some European leaders even calling it a “war”, Russia may change its open terrain conventional warfare and turn to modern warfare, mainly to prevent being easy targets and also to avoid transferring ground forces from Mariupol to Donbass. I don’t know whether a bucket full of switchblade missiles and ghost missiles can help Ukraine to retain Donbass, the region where Ukraine forces and Azov Nazis committed genocide against ethnic Russians and Russophones which started in 2014 and still ongoing. I urge Russia to warn civilians beforehand either to leave Donbass immediately or stay in underground bunkers. At the same time, I most sincerely urge President Putin to not turn to nuclear or chemical weapons.

    • 3
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      Dear Champa,
      .
      Although there has been a seeming stale-mate for the last two days, all sorts of reports of what happened earlier have begun to emerge during the past day. Here’s one, only the the latest of many:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBf1tN8HhE8
      .
      That’s a 48 minute documentary by CNN – on extremist Buddhism in Lanka and in Myanmar.
      .
      Please think carefully before responding. This must be distressful for you to see. As I keep reiterating, I take you seriously, and you are truthful, except for all sorts of provocative statements that you make about History in pre-recorded times.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

      • 1
        1

        Dear Sinhala_Man
        First of all, there is no extremism in Buddhism. The issue is about one Buddhist monk whose fighting spirit clashes with Lord Buddha’s teachings.
        How could revealing our Rawana Yakkha history be provocative? I started writing a book on our history last year. As it is too long, last month, I decided to write a series of small books based on one topic.
        CNA is selective. The US-led NATO military block comprised of Christians is responsible for genocide and war crimes in the West Asia and Afghanistan. Then, there are mass killings of indigenous children in Catholic residential schools in Canada. Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, who has excellent rapport with the Canadian Indegenous Community, demanded an apology from the Catholic Church. At a time when the Pope takes the responsibility and apologizes for the mass killings of indigenous children in Canada, I am touched by the compassion and humanity shown by President Vladimir Putin at the victory of Mariupol.

        • 2
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          Champa,
          .
          I’m not recommending the CNN view to you. Of course, they are selective! Does that mean that we should also be selective?
          .
          Doesn’t it worry you that this article that calls upon us to be realistic, has not attracted the attention of many, and those few also have migrated to other articles where readers (and the few who make comments) can get vicarious pleasure by attacking somebody else, without realising that our own responses leave much to be called for.
          .
          Your tracing a history that is essentially speculative, is also escaping the need to make our outlook totally different from what we have had hitherto. Your justifying your own escapism shows that you haven’t understood my appeal!
          .
          Think some more!!

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            Sinhala_Man
            Two countries that are predominantly Eastern Orthodox are fighting against each other, while Western Christian countries happily add fuel to the conflict.
            It is not my business, I am a Buddhist, and I have no interest in Christianity, but what Ukraine should understand is that, out of all Christian countries (including all sects), there are only 12 Eastern Orthodx countries including Russia and Ukraine. I think, Ukraine’s best bet is to have a cordial relationship with Russia to preserve its history and unique culture. President Vladimir Putin can proudly stand next to “Vladimir the Great, the Grand Prince of Kiev and all Russia”. Can President Volodymyr Zelensky do the same?
            Sinhala_Man, do you follow world news? I remember you were interested in Maldivian elections. What do you think about the Presidential election in France? German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is the “ONLY SENSIBLE HEAD OF STATE IN THE WORLD”. I wish he had taken an active role in ending the Russia-NATO conflict.

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      Champa,
      .
      See how few of the regular readers whom we have come to recognise have commented on this article. Far too many comments by me!
      .
      You’ve been able, in this comment, to extend the application of the ideas here.
      .
      However, one point has not registered in your mind; Amal has clearly stated that all of us have been living beyond our means. To do so is enjoyable, but the coming of pay back time is inevitable. When you focus on why the huge fuel price increases were allowed, you show that you have missed the most important point. They were inevitable.
      .
      What was foolish was promising otherwise for decades; then increasing suddenly.
      .
      The solution is to change our life-style completely. Walk!
      .
      I accept that I have to stay at home almost all the time. I’m old; I don’t exercise sufficiently. I must die fairly soon. I have accepted that.

      • 2
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        Dear Sinhala_Man
        No, I wasn’t selective. I can say a lot about the people of other religions too, but, I had to limit words to avoid my comment being cut off at the bottom.
        Fuel has become the lifesource of every society. Therefore, the Sri Lankan government should first resolve the fuel crisis. LIOC uses our territory and our oil tanks and increases prices at their whims and fancies prompting street protests in Sri Lanka. This is what happens when foreign countries pay commissions to crooked politicians to sign agreements that are detrimental to Sri Lanka.
        Only death is inevitable. Everything else is avoidable. May you and everybody else in this world live a long life!

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          Champa,
          “LIOC uses our territory and our oil tanks and increases prices at their whims and fancies prompting street protests”
          Your attitude is what has destroyed this country. You literally want the government to import fuel and sell it cheap. What sort of economics is that? Do you think the world owes us a living ?
          LIOC is NOT making thumping profits. Do you even know that the price of petrol in India is more than 500 LKR?
          Do your research before being stupid in public.

          https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/fuel-price/petrol

  • 2
    2

    Dear Readers,
    .
    PART ONE of 2 Parts
    .
    There are two articles by Professors of Engineering known to me by first name.
    .
    It would be meaningless to ask which is the “better article“. The time now is 21.00 hours (9.00 pm) as I start writing this.
    .
    This article by Professor Amal Kumarage appeared considerably earlier (I don’t want to be proved inaccurate later by saying how many hours, or even days.) Only 28 comments are displayed as of now.
    .
    This is the other article by Professor RatneJEEVAN Hoole; it appeared later. It has got 58 comments so far; eight of them by me (which doesn’t help my argument!):
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-public-letter-to-the-imf-india/
    .
    This Kumarage article (eight comments by me, which helps my argument – the numbers are as seen on my computer which is logged in by “Sinhala_Man”; I don’t know how many have been approved and therefore visible on the computers of others). This Kumarage article is by far the more significant, and serious.

  • 2
    2

    PART TWO of 2
    *
    *
    MY ARGUMENT is this: Readers everywhere focus on the more easily comprehended article; the one that narrates an incident. Naturally, thinking is never easy! Please read both. But focus on the content of this.
    .
    Don’t worry about me; I haven’t made an enemy of either by making this comment. Both are sincere, honest, and great people.
    .
    Since word processing on my Hard Disk Drive shows this comment spilling into a Second Part, may I suggest something else that is significant, and that people will keep coming back to even fifty years from now:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zV8TBSS8uo&t=256s
    .
    Seventy-five minutes in Sinhalese; but it should be seen even by those who don’t know Sinhalese. The ambience will communicate, even before it is “understood”. Relaxed and soothing; Horagolla Walauwwa. CBK speaking quietly three days ago.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe in Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

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    Dr Kumarage, I read your paper with great pleasure. I hope I’m in time to record my appreciation, & also wonderment, that despite having been a longstanding advisor to govt & served 3 terms as Chairman of the National Transport Commission, insufficient use has been made of your knowledge & expertise.
    Let us hope that, with the mounting demand for a complete overhaul of govt., radical intervention in this field gets underway.

    Even to simple citizens like myself, it has long been evident that drastic measures were necessary regarding vehicular road traffic.
    When I came to settle down here in 1975, after living with road pollution & overcrowding in Europe for years, one of the first things I wrote to the press about was the need to discourage private car ownership & develop public transport. I think I even had an article about this in the People’s Bank new magazine, the “Economic Review”. I wish I could disinter a copy of that now — nearly 50 years later.
    In 1975, Sri Lanka was still far off from the situation prevailing elsewhere, so such concerns were often met with ridicule. What a pity we didnt act to forestall them altogether.
    …/cont.

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    Cont,….
    Regarding another of yr recommendations, the provision of walking paths: may I also urge attention to the “paths” presently available to pedestrians — I’m referring to so-called “pavements”. I only hope the ones I am forced to negotiate arent typical throughout the land — as I grow older they have become veritable death traps, safer to walk along the road!

    P.S. My brother is also Amal…

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    Dr Kumarage, I clicked before finishing my P.S. Not of any relevance to yr paper, or consequence, but such wanderings seem to develop as one gets older (!). My father named our brother after Amal in Tagore’s play “The Post Office”. Wikipedia has an interesting note about that — how the play was taken up by Joyce and performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and later translated by Andre Gide into French, and performed… etc.

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