7 December, 2021

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The Question Is Not Who Built More Houses But Whether Houses Should Have Been Built At All Out Of Taxpayers’ Funds

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“Boasting and bragging about who did more is a kids’ game like kan kan booru; Chin chin nono.”

False Question

The Question is not, “who built more houses?” President Ranasinghe Premadasa, his son Minister/Housing Sajith Premadasa or the latest claimant for building houses: Champika Ranawaka. This is the question that has been highlighted as a one-way track issue in the newpapers these days.  Sajith had rebuked Champika’s claim. This is a false question. The real question is whether taxpayer funds should have been expended to build and distribute houses free like this at all.  It is surprising and unfortunate both that Ministers do not ask this question themselves and that the public seems impressed by a government that builds and gives away houses out of the scarce public resources at its disposal. If these parties comprehend the meaning of “opportunity cost,” they would think differently.

Opportunity Cost in Economics

Any schoolboy knows that if he spends $100 in buying a textbook he cannot spend that money on a jaunt with pals. Sri Lankans have seen that if a government spends 800 billion on a war for a year it has so much little to spend on education or health or economic investment projects. The key thing is that any society has scarce resources at its  disposal and that, therefore, it has to make  optimal use and distribution of these resources. It is either this way or that way.  Wherever we face scarce resources we have to make choices, Choices would depend on the competing needs of the different sectors. Prioritising is crucial. 

Free rice scheme

The free rice scheme where every householder was given rice free to be obtained via corporatises is perhaps the most foolish and deceitful government policy followed anywhere in the whole wide world. This is an excellent illustration of the disconcern about opportunity cost. Mrs Bandaranaike, won her election by promising free rice even from th moon. The policy was damaging to the economy and it stands as one of the major policies that put the economic clock back for Sri Lanka. The opportunity cost of that meant lesser money for economic regeneration, lesser money for infrastructure and lesser money to almost any area where the people could have been helped to flourish.We cannot make a dent on the housing  problem this way

Hundreds of houses, thousands of houses and so on cannot make a serious dent on the problem of housage shortage in the country. It is plain nonsense. The expenditure is, therefore, not tending toward solving the problem at hand.This suggests that the way to build the required stock must be looked at elsewhere in the range of optional social and economic policies. In saying so, I am not proposing that the government should not build housing for specially 

disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of our society such as the disabled, the war-injured soldiers and so on. This is another question altogether and that belongs to the area of public social charity. Some reasonable quantum of the state’s resources should be set apart for humanitarian housing of this sort. On the other hand, the general shortage of housing for the population must be tackled in different, more productive and more effective ways than government coming in in such a direct intervention.

Popularity?

Some may point out that this approach would be politically popular. The latter are in fools’ paradise. Since the numbers of those left out of the sheer reality of  would be so much larger than the lucky ones. The chosen may be happy-provided the latter wouldn’t complain and whine over some missing facilities. When it comes to repairs the chosen are going to be alienated anyway since it would be an unsurmountable task for government to attend to millions of repairs work in this way. Hence, this isn’t a politically appealing project either.

Real Way; Hard way

The real solution to housing shortage must come from the people themselves by way of investment. How are they to invest with no money in their hands? Therein lies the way out: governments must have the right policies in process to drastically keep improving the economic capacity of average citizens. Banks must be restructured to meet the housing demands of a more affordable population. Here, in Australia ( and I am sure this is the way of the developed West), when a person gets a job the bank gives a loan to build a house on the security of a mortgage. Banks don’t become too shylock-like as they can sell the property of a defaulting borrower in a rising real estate market. The borrower, too, has the option of selling up, paying the mortgage and moving to a now lesser popular real estate block. 

Fund Entrepreneurs

The money that Sajith or Champika spends on housing would do a better job if  given as loans to individuals who show a desire for being entrepreneurs. This is why I applaud the the new program of ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka,” planned and executed by the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Finance minister, Mangala Samaraweera.

 This seems a hard way. However, it is the most effective and sensible and sustainable way of solving housing shortage. We will not be fooling ourselves in the way the former Prez Premadasa, present Minister Sajith and Megapolis Minister Champika have done. Boasting and bragging about who did more is a kids’ game like kan kan booru; Chin chin noru.

Land and tax policy

Land and tax policies should also be tuned in to enable persons to build either for investment or own use. There ia a large amount of abandoned blocks belonging to the railway etc that could be released for housing. Tax policies must weigh in favour of home owners who live in the homes they build. Those who build for investment can be taxed on an indexed basis. One should not frown at those who build as investment property since these entrepreneurs add to the overall housing stock thereby relieving the general  shortage.

Under Pieter Keuneman, the former Communist leader and former Minister in charge of  housing, a policy of robbing from those who have more than none house and giving away the rest to those ho do not have had been followed. That was stupid since that policy drove away investors in the housing market. Furthermore our renting laws should no more fairly revised in order to discourage  both tenants and landlords who abuse. The laws must provide a fair go for all.

Since Sri Lanka is a small country with a burgeoning population our laws should encourage more high rises as done in Singapore.

 I  suggest our officials be sent to Singapore to study how it all happens over there.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    To the point. I agree

    • 11
      1

      Prem Vaidyaratne

      Champika believes Zero was invented by his ancestors and they spoke Sinhala Language which is much older than Hebrew. In fact according to him the first ape spoke Sinhala and practiced Sinhala/Buddhism well before Buddha was born.

      He is the best future presidential material.
      How blessed this island is.

      • 6
        0

        The first ape spoke Sinhala and we now speak and act likes apes! Ooops, sorry. Apes are more civilized.

        • 1
          0

          Kumaran

          Please note Champika’s contemporary and his long lost cousin Seeman back in his ancestral motherland Tamilnadu believes the first ape spoke Tamil and his beloved Mohan Bhagwat in the North believes the First ape spoke Hindi and practiced Hindutva whatever that may be.

    • 0
      1

      Prem Vaidyaratne,

      Hardly to the point!

      SJ: //Mrs Bandaranaike, won her election by promising free rice even from the moon. The policy was damaging to the economy and it stands as one of the major policies that put the economic clock back for Sri Lanka. The opportunity cost of that meant lesser money for economic regeneration, lesser money for infrastructure and lesser money to almost any area where the people could have been helped to flourish.We cannot make a dent on the housing problem this way\\

      Mrs Bandaranaike won the elections because the Masses were starving! A decade more of her policies and the country would have slowly but surely built up towards a more meaningful capitalism that would have befitted our colonialism-torn country. The economic clock started churning too quickly when Jayawardena started his free enterprise capitalism on the Western model. It shot the country into economic mayhem, war, torture and suffering of the masses, so as to keep up to the artificial capitalistic standard.

      • 1
        0

        ramona grandma therese fernando

        “Mrs Bandaranaike won the elections because the Masses were starving!”

        The country was starving because of her policies.

        “A decade more of her policies and the country would have slowly but surely built up towards a more meaningful capitalism that would have befitted our colonialism-torn country. “

        Weeping widow ruled for seven years and made the country almost bankrupt. Another three more years would have made the country bleeding without wars. Where were you when Weeping widow bled the country? Believe you were enjoying your muti deck burgers, “Sarge” burger, “The Beast”, “Eddie’s Monsta Burger”, …………………… coke, chewing gum, while in denim jean, …………. listening to Jim Reeves, ………. being part of the cheer leaders drumming away for the patriotic war in Vietnam,… ?

        • 0
          1

          NV. No we were not in the West then. Even now I never heard of these burgers, and hardly eat any. But that”s what people like you were craving for, and pulled down the country with your greed. Idiots like you saw pics of the Vietnam war protests, thought it was cool, and then started a war in Sri Lanka.

          • 0
            0

            Dear theresa, u got to agree that sirimavos rule was gloriously unsuccessful, more than any other group the left has ruined sri lanka.

            • 1
              0

              Elakiri. The terms “gloriously unsuccessful” can only be used if policies are there for around 20 years. 5 years of socialistic policies are not enough to determine it.

              • 0
                0

                I disagree, the SLFP was inept at economic management and often terrorized by made up foreign demons off to get sri lankas assets

                • 0
                  0

                  That sounds more like the current UNP.

      • 0
        1

        Dear madam romona the reason why the people in sri lanka were starving was because of the closed economic policy followed by mrs. B. Sri lanka was very susceptible to poor agriculture yield. Thanks to JRs economic reforms sri lanka does not experience similar shocks now.

        JR did exactly the same thing what Lee kwan yew did in singapore, except in singapore LKY decimated the left, maybe thats why it worked.

        The war was due to the idiotic actions of the slfp and tyrannical nature of india.

        JRs model will work, what sri lanka needs now is small government and more entrepreneurs.

        • 1
          1

          Elakiri

          I am sorry, ramona grandma therese fernando’s scatter brain cannot take facts in. Please do not bother her with facts.

          • 0
            0

            I hear the same arguments from my father in law who also is a colombo university graduate. Strangely, i have noted that only sri lankan uni graduates hold this view, i dont know what kind of indoctrination is going on in there

        • 3
          0

          Elakiri. The reason the agricultural yield was poor was because colonial rule destroyed our agricultural base and chased our ancient farming communities off their lands. Sirimavo was attempting to rebuild the rural scene. In the meantime, city dwellers were craving imported produce like wheat bread, milk powder, chocolates, butter, apples, and the ingredients to make Christmas cake (what the former colonists thrived on). Brown rice, kurrakang, mannokka, tosai, vadai, local fruit, and fresh fish from the sea was too goday for them. JR allowed all of these imports and satisfied the craving. But we know what it all led to in a very short time : mass rebellion by the bourgening peasants and their torture and suppression ; Mass rebellion by the northern working classes (so called low castes) and the beginning of the Eelam war.

          Singapore did not have an agricultural base. The only way it could survive was on rabid capitalism. Nothing wrong with that, for it was correct for their context.

          Small government and more farming enterpeeneurship is the true entreprenual spirit for Sri Lanka. Not too late to restart it again.

          • 0
            0

            Dear romona,
            I think you are over-simplifying nuitritional demand of the sri lankan people. I believe everyone from all spectrums of society deserve to have a wider selection of foods which they want to consume.

            Secondly, sri lanka was actually doing quite well under the british it was one of the more developed nations in asia at the time, with many social reforms taking place during the 1930s and 40s. Sadly, economically sri lanka was better under foreign rule.

            Thirdly, during Dudley and DS time many of the tanks were made or renovated to help sri lanka perform better agriculturally. Mrs. B is only known for stealing private well performing plantations and giving them over to inept government state companies.

            Lastly, agriculture based economy is a poor policy to follow as the profit margins sri lanka can get in the world market is very low, in addition, labour costs in sri lanka are high compared to other developing nations so the profits sri lanka can get are diminished further.

            In singapore, LKY Realized that the only way forward was through manufacturing and transhipment and logistics. He had to deal with a vociferous left, and vocational and student unions. Before going on with his agenda, he knew that he had to destroy these groups and he did. Via this victory he brought stability to singapore. In sri lanka today we still worship socialism eventhough all other developing nations have discarded it.

            • 0
              0

              Elakiri,

              That 1% of the spectrum of Lankan society really ruined Sri Lanka by refusing to eat local produce, didn’t they! It took just that craving-coefficient to topple our whole natural system and place our country at much mayhem and destruction.

              Of course Sri Lanka was doing well under the British! There’s was a vast monetary-network off the backs of hard menial labor of colonized peoples. This monetary-network kept adjusting and readjusting itself so the coefficients remained steady. We never heard the stories of those who displaced off their traditional lands and livelihoods to create the wealth for the colonials. We never heard the stories of displaced people living in shanty towns and hovels of the cities, and whole families begging on doorsteps. We only saw the success from the financial books of the British. The moment the coefficients changed because of WW2, the British graciously gave us our independence and took the next step for them to consolidate their Colonial-Wealth through their gracious Commonwealth schemes, and later through the American New World Order (which was to take over the Middle East oil) and other such things.

              Dudley’s time was about building tanks to increase the cash crop wealth so the Lankan 1% could continue the merry colonial lifestyle. Sirimavo’s state corporations gave sustenance to many a farming community for self-sufficiency. Naturally the 1% started crying because they couldn’t celebrate Christmas anymore in true colonial style. (On top of that, horrors upon horrors, they all had to learn the Sinhalese their servants spoke)

            • 0
              0

              And Elakiri,

              Profits markets via world markets is something we should have moved away from the very beginning. If we had done that, we would have need able to more with more dignity into the world markets by now. But, it has been seen that the world markets are now craving for non-Monsanto and non-GMO produce. What a fantastic opportunity for our traditional farming community!

              Singapore, (with no traditional farmland, and with millions of immigrants fleeing the mayhem caused by colonialism in China), had no other options but to go the ultra-capitalist way. If they had not succeeded, they would have merged with Malaysia and the whole area would have been socialized. They only succeeded because of the oil and gas wealth of the region.

              • 0
                0

                Correction : If we had done that, we would have *been* able to *move* with more dignity into the world markets by now.

  • 8
    0

    Shyamon I thought this is what is called Socialism????? Taking hard earned money and distributing as you wish , for votes.(In India these schemes are still popular only because the corrupted politicians get their cut from these mega schemes.) Then blame the western world, IMF, EU, World Bank (as Laksiri did just today in his piece) for all the economic malaise Lanka is facing now. Socialism my foot. The countries where these concept originated are not practicing what they preached any more. China, Russia and the former communist countries are the new capitalist. Others who pretend to practice like Venezuela and Cuba have gone bankrupt. Looks like by the title Lanka seems to be the one left out. “Socialist republic country like no other.” What a BS .

    • 0
      0

      Yes. It is socialism pure and simple.

      The country has not been destroyed sufficiently by it.

      When the Rupee hyperinflates and people starve for lack of food perhaps, but even then our politicians may persist in their nonsense.

      The only good news is that the veneer of dignity and authority they possess keeps getting ridiculed, and that is a good thing, for it will save us when times are rough.

      • 0
        0

        Buddhist believe most of the poor people are born like this because of bad Karma.In srilanka Such people are given free houses. Are we to believe if next birth to get a free house no need to do good karma.?

    • 0
      0

      chiv,

      Over 2 to 5 million pay/paid for their so called “free-housing” by bringing in 4-billion dollars annually from their menial labor jobs in the Middle East. In just one year, all public-funded housing was paid for by maid and other menial labor in the ME. Building contractors made big bucks from tenement houses built for cold-country design, whilst original land of The People was used to for cash crop cultivation so as to create capital for capitalism.
      _
      Socialism and Capitalism can never be never fixed ideologies. Places like China and Russia first installed socialism. When all the money was equitably distributed, they installed socialized capitalism. They were did not stay fixated in any one ideology, but were clever and humble enough to adjust according to the needs of their people. And don’t even bring in India with any global monetary concept. Their caste-system abrogates all human decency and monetary adjustments for The People.

      Cuba did well very well with their Socialism. They can now enter the capitalistic phase. Venezuela on the other hand, with all of its oil wealth, lived mostly on oil wealth and hardly on local produce and self-sufficiency. They relied entirely on foreign investment rather than local enterprise. They attempted to create and US-type system of livelihood on their oil-dollars. It took a bit of a tweak by the West on oil-prices, before the whole system came toppling down. By the time they tried to work the local industry through the socialistic technique, it was too late. And they don’t have the Middle East equivalent for their struggling masses to fall back on.

      • 0
        0

        ramona

        i believe your faith in the chinese system is misplaced.The best way of measuring the distribution of the wealth of a country is through the Gini coefficient.The lesser the coefficient,the better the distribution of the wealth in a country.The world bank measure of gini for china is 42.2 for 2012.All that glitters is not gold as commentator who is a resident of singapore rizwan below showed us flaws in singapore.Blindly copying countries is not good.first we have to do some deep research.Then we must cherry pick and copy.A country i like is france which has a gini co efficient of 32.3 for 2014 or even better germany which is 31.4 for 2013.

        Closer to home south korea is also a good model to follow with a gini of 31.6 for 2012.Poland is a good model from eastern europe with a gini of 32.1 for 2014.

        Your other favourite russia is a bad model to follow at 37.7 for 2015,though better than china.Look at poland which was communist just like russia before changing to free market economy and has distributed the wealth much better.

        singapore and HK are very bad at 46.4 and 53.7 respectively and we should never follow their capitalist models of economic management.S Africa is the worst at 63.4.The skin colour does not matter,all humans are exploiters.Colonials exploited us and now our own buggers are exploiting us .BTW sri lanka is 39.6 in 2016.

        rohan and sinhala man had given some beautiful descriptions of malaysia in their comments below,but i find that the gini coefficient is 46.2 for 2009 which is worse than srilanka,but 2009 is a bit outdated.Again all that glitters is not gold.The backlash at the elections on najib must have been for the corruption and how the rich became richer and the increasing gulf between people in their wealth.

        • 0
          0

          shankar.

          This Gini coefficient cannot be look at in just one year, or even in a decade. It must be look at chronologically, and for about 100 years. All those high Ginis for China and Russia were because their coefficients were very very low for several decades before they sprouted into capitalism. Hopefully they are able to adjust to easier coefficients at this time without going into war. Poland did some kind of socialist solidarity movement in the 80′ s and have stayed with that ever since.

          France is in flames now, and Macron is about to be kicked out. Germany has super-high taxation and the people struggle, even if their book numbers look good. Trouble is, if the book numbers coefficients are adjusted even by a point-percentage to benifit the people, their whole system will come toppling down and so will any remaining Euro stability.

          Don’t know much about South Africa except that it will take about a century before they adjust after their centuries of exploitation and abuse by the white man.

          Singapore and Malaysia are in a reigion with oil and gas wealth. Any variances in oil prices and they have the backing of associative richer neighbors like Brunei to make the adjustments. Malaysia also cut down most of her ancient forests for the oil palm industry to adjust for the ever increasing capitalistic build-up. They will survive. (It didn’t hit them pathologically- being Islamic, the Arabic desert is more appealing than forests…….we pray that Buddhist Sri Lanka will preserve her natural and ancient forests). Naturally then, there was plenty of credit capital to flow around to house displaced people in M’sia and S’pore.

          Hong Kong, like Singapore, are always high Gini-coeficiented. They are tiny places that was created out of wealth running away from communist China. They cannot survive any other way except through ulata-capitalism. They are a model that no one else can model.

          • 0
            0

            ….didn’t hit them psychologically*

          • 0
            0

            ramona

            the gini is not perfect,but so far it is the best indicator we have of the gap between the rich and poor.The fact that china gini is a bit more than sri lanka is i believe because of the sharp contrast between the living standards of the urban and rural sectors.In sri lanka also there is a big gap,but in china an even bigger one because of the restrictions placed on labour movement from rural to urban areas(hukou system).This has been relaxed now but it was never like that in sri lanka.Another reason is the fruits of the economic boom in china was never equitably distributed because the ruling party could have easily done it but did not because many of the top leaders hugely benefited from the business activities.The average chinese can’t protest or vote out the government.

            In russia in the early 1990’s the economy changed too hastily from communism to capitalism.It should have been done more gradually.The botched privatisation schemes created a wealthy class of people who acquired state assets at cheap prices.At the same time hyperinflation took place due to the sudden transformation of the economy and ordinary russians savings were wiped out.Salaries did not keep up with the inflation and came down by more than a third in real terms.For the average russian capitalism was a disaster.

            Even after 2000 we have not seen much improvement in reducing the gap.

            As for france,macron hiked the fuel taxes and said he is going to use that money for environmental friendly policies to reduce carbon emissions.he miscalculated badly the effect it would have on the working classes aand has had to backtrack quickly.not very good leadership on his part.However this does not negate the fact that wealth is more equitably distributed in france.

            • 0
              0

              Well, i mean shankar………what we have to do is to follow China’s former policy of socialism and increase the our agricultural and other traditional industries bases.

              Trouble is, China and Russia were always trying to show-case their communist policy vis-a-vis the Western capitalistic policy; they wanted the fruits of the modern capitalistic system to be created by their communist systems and show them that there’s was the better way.

              It couldn’t work because the capitalistic wealth generation (which was on the forced control and servitude of lesser nations), just couldn’t emerge from egalitarian socialism. Now if more countries were allowed to get together and form that Socialist monetary network, socialist entrepreneurship would have been achievable. Instead, countries like Vietnam who were trying to subscribe to the system, were razed to the ground by the US. US only pulled out after Vietnam coming to the agreement with US to stay closed within itself. There was no hum from Burma after that. You know what happened to Sri Lanka. If BRIC is still there to jump-start the system it will be a good thing. In fact, it will complement the ultra-capitalistic places like the US and Singapore very nicely.

              So, China decided to experiment with the Capitalistic thing in a last-ditch effort to bring in the wealth of the global-capitalistic network into the socialist scheme of things. Unfortunately capitalism can only beget more capitalism; ancient forests, farms and traditional livelihood keep constantly being razed to the ground for the capitalistic city-structure. Guess that if China can have their shipping routes via places like Sri Lanka, their Socialist structure via traditional breathable enterprise will be only too easily implementable. And Donald Trump will look at it and put his thumbs up.

      • 1
        1

        Capitalism was established in china and russia when the governments in those countries realized that socialism and communism were failed ideologies, china was starving in maos time, then den xiao ping came along realized that things need to change.

        In the case of cuba, it was solely living off the charity oil money from venezuala during hugo chavezs time, now that venezuala is bankrupt because of socialism, cuba is forced to open up.

        • 0
          0

          Oh no Elakiri…..Capitalism was introduced into China and Russia in an effort to tap into the Capitalistic monetary network in order to further re-jump-start their Socialist system. Previously, China and Russia were constantly blocked by the military-mighted Western powers from ever liaisoning with each other in trying to create their alternate Socialistic monetary network. Now with the Brand New World Order by Donald Trump, both systems can complement each other if allowed to (with the Capitalistic system gradually flowing into the Socialist Egalitarian way).

          Ps. All Cuba ever got was a few Havana cigars from Venezuela and other black-market activities so people could indulge in their colonial times. They got the taste of it, and are now gingerly opening up. They remain solidly Socialist all the same. Venezuela is now bankrupt because their didn’t diversify their economy into their traditional industry and lifestyle, and general self-sufficiency for its masses – they were attempting to build up into the American system.

  • 10
    1

    The doyen of Sri Lankan English journalism Shyamon Jayasinghe has dropped a bombshell again. This time a real big one.

  • 5
    1

    There is too much of inequality in wealth for free market forces to solve the problem.Government has to be proactive and see that every citizen has a decent roof above their heads.premedasa’s time the housing authority built the flats and then they gave to the people,but they had to pay back to the housing authority monthly.If he had not done that so many would not have a proper dwelling.

    • 0
      0

      shankar,

      Yes. Housing authority got paid back above and beyond as all the housing recipients went to the Middle East for menial labor, and brought in the much needed cash.

  • 8
    1

    gee Shyamon how you’ve got so much confidence to write such truth?

  • 4
    0

    Social welfare measures are criminal wastage of scarce resources.

    You create dependency and end up with dependency syndrome.

    Do not shed crocodile tears towards the poor

    It is a vicious circle..

    The dignity of man is compromised

    You create dependency and end up with dependency syndrome.It is a vicious circle..

    The dignity of man is compromised

    It is not socialism..

    It is capitalism masquerading as socialism . cheating the poor and to hide the evils of capitalism by calling it socialism.

    .If socialist society could not be created

    Let us have checks and balances to capitalism to eradicate exploitation and provide equal opportunity to all

    • 6
      0

      Shyamon Jayasinghe

      You are absolutely right and correct. For once in CT all 8 commenters have agreed with the writer so completely. Any truth originates in a minority of one. But in FREE LANKA it will gather no traction till everything is given free. There are 2 two others which are 3 score years and 10 or more.
      FREE EDUCATION condemned by only three Ceylonese – 1 Tamil and 1 Sinhalese – to my hearing, with this commenter agreeing. FREE RICE is the third.
      No one has dared touch these 3 UNTOUCHABLES.

    • 3
      1

      The trickle down theory of capitalism does not work in practice because of greed.You can have all the checks and balances but each layer from top to bottom will skim off the wealth created in the economy and the lower layers will have nothing.

      • 0
        0

        shankar,

        Agreed 100%. Wealthy Lankans certainly know how to party around by capitalizing on the essential capital brought in from the menial labor of the Masses in the Middle East.

    • 0
      0

      Sri-Krish,
      _
      Oh no, this syndrome never happened in Sri Lanka. Hard-working masses went to the Middle East for menial labor and paid for all the services doled out to them.

  • 0
    0

    Is Shyamon Jayasinghe the best English writer that Sri Lanka has ever produced after Shenali Waduge?

    • 4
      1

      gopinath

      There has never ever been a person who was born in this country or among English speaking people to match or beat Shenali Waduge’s abilities.
      Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Harold Pinter, ………. dare not compete with her.

  • 5
    0

    After being fed up of writing hosannas about RW, and his circle, you’ve raised a logical question in this article.
    We need to understand these two ministers (Sajitj and Champika) who are just big talkers.
    Sajit builds houses disregarding everything from environment to people’s real needs. A survey done by a Sri Lankan University revealed several years ago, that the ‘houses’ (cages) built by the Premadasas are used by owners to store paddy, firewood, and other knickknack because those cages type houses are not fit for dwelling. The extreme heat in many areas of the country force the dwellers to run back to their original houses of which the roof is made of woven coconut branches, or hey. This issue has not been looked into by the Housing ministry.
    Pa-Cha Ranawake earned his first name ‘pa-cha’ for his constant lying at interviews. Pa-cha means lies. Now he tries to beat Sajith probably on RW’s advice.
    In addition to this bull competition (Gon-poraya), other ministry aspirants are still mumbling and grumbling with no care for the poor taxpayer!
    What all these signs show is that the UNP is on a slippery slope before it gets beaten up again at the next major election.

  • 4
    0

    “I suggest our officials be sent to Singapore to study how it all happens over there.”
    They go all over the world but hardly learn anything good and introduce to their motherland. When they go for training programs or study tours, shopping is their top priority.

  • 3
    0

    Champika Ranawake has recently perfected the art of waking up from pretend-sleep. He started as an extreme Sinhala nationalist. When the Buddhist-Monks-Only JHU was about to fold, following what lawmakers led by Mervyn did to a Monk MP, he took over JHU. He conveniently allowed BBS to secede and lately PHU.
    He is the nominee of MS on the Constitutional Council. Says it all!
    .
    Champika now believes that Sinhala-Buddhist Culture and Megapolis can coexist. The Megapolis will fund itself off casinos, money laundering, sex, drugs and alcohol tourism. Lay-Lankans may go into the Megapolis as cleaners – strictly on shifts.
    .
    It is no surprise Champika claims that he built the most number of dwellings.

  • 1
    0

    this word entrepreneurs is bandied about by all and sundry. the success rate is only 3% in a given society succeed in business 1st year. within 5years 1% will survive. its better to give houses, to Poor people. If a country wants to develop- go for large scale enterprise – like the Garment industry initiative, or like the british did Tea/rubber/coconut. small scale business will succeed only if the person given the funds have the drive and commitment. most people are born lazy .

    • 0
      0

      jehan,

      It is agreed that it is better to give houses to poor people and hopefully jump-start the economy that way (it is terrible to see fellow Lankans displaced from what was their traditional habitats). But how come is it, that these so called “born lazy” people do back-breaking work in the Middle East then? For any small scale businesses to succeed, they must be connected to long-standing heritage. Without that connection, business sense is confusing and unrewarding, especially when the small business scene is only there to network profits for the Lankan 1% which are connected to that elusive and intangible wider global network. Little satisfaction and fulfillment for the Masses.

  • 0
    1

    singapore/dubai/caymans / gibraltar/ hong kong/ jersey and caribian countries all are under British funding. read spiders web. British aristocrats control those countries to trade and keep their wealth . thats the reason the British want out of EU. As Eu laws are a constrain for the British old money. check the largest purchaser of us treasuries last 10 years, answer: cayman islands and other principalities. so singapore is not a good example.

  • 4
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    Shaymon spot on.

    I do not like Sajith cozing too much with Sillysena, MR, Killi Maharaja and Tiran.Alles.
    They are scheming and RW is in snooze mode

  • 8
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    Oh friend, all of them should visit Malaysia to see how they are tackling the housing problem of the poor, it’s not a rocket science but all shoud have the will and desire to do it. Practically, all of them, the entire population of that country have very comfortable houses to live- the well do live in push houses and the poor in normal houses. They build low cost houses and flats in high rises building for the poor, give it on 30 years loan, and the monthly instalment is between RM 250 to 500 per month which is in SL RS. 6500 to 15000, depending on the size and facilities. We have two main problems related to housing construction – labour, and cost of hardware and building materials. They use the foriegn labour – mainly from Indonesians, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. They build a three bed rooms house in 90 to 120 days. The hardware and building materials are damp cheap, one could buy a wall tile, 18×18” for RM2 and in SL RS 88 and a 18LR paint can costs RM75 and in SL RS3300. They have some local production, and the rest they import, mostly from China, Thailand and Indonesia. Why don’t we get ride off or keep it low, the exorbitant taxes on the building materials and that would bring the cost down. This would give a boost to the building industry, and everyone could offered to build a house. The loss of revenue to state could be recoup by way of ripple effects to the economy. The building industry plays a big part in Malaysia’s GDP.

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      rohan

      the best comment i heard so far.I think premedasa also did like that giving the repayment over 30 years.However you have a good point in using foreign labour.

      • 2
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        Dear shankar,
        .
        Thanks for reading my comments as well.
        .
        I’m happy that you have a good word for Ranasinghe Premadasa. However, there has always been a tendency for such housing to be given mainly to party supporters. They usually had to go crawling to him, but let me mention an exception.
        .
        Have you heard of Susil Sirivardena? (Still writes the occasional article). He’s the guy who went for his Administrative Service interview in an “amu redi National Suit”, carrying documents in a reed bag. The first question asked by the Board was whether he was from Vidyodaya or Vidyalankara. Keeping a straight face, Susil answered, “Oxford University” – all in Sinhala, of course. He’d read English there, and later studied at Harvard as well.
        .
        Susil joined the JVP wile working as Director, Agrarian Research. He quit before the 1971 insurgency, but was put on trial with Wijeweera. He was given a suspended sentence, but during a long limbo period he used to spend much time in Bandrawela, where the family had a fine old “holiday bungalow” – it’s still there. We had long chats.
        .
        Nobody wanted to employ Susil; but Premadasa took him and put him in charge of building houses, which Susil did with great commitment. Susil told me that political mileage was also sought, and the houses had to be sited in very visible places.
        .
        By the way, one of the other things Susil did was to organise translations of Literature between Sinhalese and Tamil. He now lives in Buller’s Lane, I think.
        .
        The point is, that when you have people employed irrespective of their political ideology (provided they were genuine, of course), then valuable work gets done.

        • 1
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          Sinhala Man,

          Susil S is a remarkable, learned, gentleman. I could not detect any form of prejudice in him. He worked for many years with that
          Economist Dr. Pon Wignaraja at his Kynsey Rd office. Gamini Dissanayake discovered the inherent talent in Susil and I believe he gave him a place in his Ministry.

          Kettikaran

        • 1
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          Dear All,
          .
          I’ve just had an e-mail from a mutual friend saying that Susil Sirivardena never really joined the JVP. This is what I’ve been told:
          .
          “My understanding is that though he initially had some contact with the JVP, he never actually joined them. I think he was not happy about their adventurism and once he realised where it was going, distanced himself from them.”
          .
          Emphasis added by me.
          .
          I haven’t met Susil for, perhaps, fifteen years; consequently I don’t have his current contact details.
          .
          The message also says: ” If, indeed, he faced trial, which I cannot remember now.”
          .
          Well, I know that he faced trial with Wijeweera etc. and received a suspended sentence. There was a lot of family politics. Susil’s father was a close relative of SWRD Bandaranaike.
          .
          I hope that what I have said does not contain any inaccuracies which harm the reputation of a truly great and sincere man.

    • 3
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      Rohan,
      .
      I agree absolutely, having spent fifteen days in Malaysia, the first time I was out of Sri Lanka in 24 years.
      .
      What we need is more average (read as non-politicised) people deciding that they will build themselves and their families a house in which they will live for at least a couple of generations. The State should do nothing to discourage this very normal desire. That will be where land is available.
      .
      In highly urbanised areas, there may be a need to go for high-risers, and there the problems are different, and fairly complex legislation is required. Yes, I saw only Kuala Lumpur and Putra Jaya, and I agree that they’ve done extremely well. I didn’t try to annalyse how it was done, but I’m sure that state-co-ordination was necessary.
      .
      Our present policies encourage corruption (very big business is involved in the condominium industry – has to be that way, actually, and I don’t think that our focus is there, is it? My stay in KL was in one of those expensive condos rented by my daughter, but I know that the condo was fully owned by a known person. The provision and maintenance of common amenities requires regular payments).
      .
      Let the upper classes make their own decisions, paying directly for them. Our concern should be with the weaker sections of society; don’t force anybody in society to be servile to the powers that be. Building a few houses with state money and giving them to supporters or bribe-givers, with commissions paid to contractors, appears to be the policy here. The recipient of such housing gets no chance to point out even the most obvious shortcomings. Allow all people to live with dignity.
      .

    • 4
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      Rohan, I also agree with Shyamon, that our supposedly pro-poor policies which favour tenants far too much, have a detrimental effect. At the time Keuneman introduced Ceiling on Housing Property in 1973, it may have helped many slum dwellers, the sort who are trapped by debt. However, the effect today is lots of more expensive housing being under-utilised, and nobody thinks that housing is a good investment.
      .
      Renting premises? The very idea would enter into the head only of a lunatic – be that person an owner or a prospective tenant. There are only leases carefully drawn up by lawyers who also make huge incomes out of it.
      .
      Our policies don’t encourage persons to be happy, honest, independent, and open; instead our people have to be cunning, scheming, and servile.
      .
      Malaysia has long been the model for our Sinhala-Buddhist racists because of their “Bumiputra policies”. I made no attempt to check on all that while in Malaysia, but I do read widely, something that is unusual today – understandably so. I’m sure, Rohan, that you can tellus more about all that – if the topic under discussion were that. The irony there is that many Chinese-origin citizens are Buddhists (taxi drivers had Buddha images in their vehicles), while the favoured majority are Muslims.
      .
      Little communal feeling was evident to me; I think because the hard working minorities are economically well-off.
      .
      And there’s planning. Good public transport – there even are free buses. I actually rode in one verify what was being said. They seem to do circular half hour trips in KL, and the driver (no need for a conductor, after all), was a very cheerful and helpful guy. The taxis that you could hire by phoning were very cheap; not tuk tuks at all (not allowed), no traffic jams because the roads have been well-planned.

      • 3
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        sinhala man

        thank you for sharing this knowledge with us.People here should realise how important it is to see how other countries are sorting out their problems.

  • 4
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    In Hong Kong and Singapore they ear mark an area for redevelopment, the government buys the lands in that area from the owners at market rate, clear the whole site, by auctioning, sell it to the highest bidder for development. The proceedings of this is used for building high rise flats for the middle class and poor in out of town areas. Japan is a land scares country, and their railways was holding huge land areas, by building the platforms vertically in both directions -skywards and underground, they managed to realise these lands and sell it for development. Sri Lanka the railways is holding huge lands by selling for development the government could get huge revenue and solve the land scarcity as well. Also the government could sell all the old wagons and rails for scrap and earn huge sum too.

    • 1
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      Ranjith

      you are right.we have to learn from these countries.Unfortunately when we send someone there to study these things they make a beeline to the massage parlours.

  • 0
    1

    Shyamon Jayasinghe is hitting two birds with the same stone. It is Champika also talking about building houses. That pissed off the agents who wants to privatize Sri lanka and so they have Sri lankan assets that profits them. West has govt or municipalty built houses and they are subsidized. Sri lanka is a poor country. so what ?. Itis simply Politicians investing their foreign earnings in Sri lanka and Real estate agents proftting from those.

  • 3
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    “Building houses like this at the expense of taxpayers will not make a dent on the problem of housing shortage.”
    I am in total agreement. Well said and said fearlessly. Government must call off this bluff

    • 1
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      This man is transforming the serene countryside to Ghettos. If I had access to the financial resources (meaning money belonging to others), I can do it too, in a much better way and pocket a good portion as well.

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  • 1
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    There is a UN charter about housing. IT is a human rights charter to provide adequate housing. How is the housing problem of Australian aborginies. Do, they lived under trees. Why Shyamon’s Pay mateer has double standards. Sri lanka tries to do the maximum, Western countries with Double standards want to exploit poor countries. Why australia is spending tax payer money on Timor-LESTE ?

  • 0
    0

    Re, Recurrent and ongoing unjust situ in SL?!

    Why is no one considering depriving MR & MS of their civic rights as JR’s Govt had done for Sirima? Is there not a long list of crimes listed in some CT articles & comments perpetrated against the many people’s of SL by MR and now in cohort with MS who was chosen by CBK & Co to undo and reduce MR”s damages to the body politic of SL. Did not MR win the presidency through deceit & fraud by bribing the LTTE? Did not his family, clan and relatives handle about 60 to 70 % of the SL’s finances during his horrendous primarily self-serving reign and then claiming undue and fake credit for the defeat of the LTTE which was primarily enabled by the coalition of 20 to 30 countries?

    Won’t this help break up the unholy triangle of MR, MS, & RW and recreate three parallel paths? Until MR & MS too are eventually replaced by others akin to the days of Gamini Dis, Lalith Athu & Rane Preme? The political parties may be different but is not the crux of these problems similar to and with the gaudy triple egos ahead of the people’s interest? Is it not likely to metamorphose with the disadvantage of the unavailability of the LTTE to do the dirty work now in contrast to then?

    Why won’t “Friday Forum” and other intellectuals and many varied activists like Ariyaratne of the Deshodhya movements do something through the highest court in the land as was the case in relation to the “Land rights” of the aboriginal peoples of Australia when both of the two main parties failed them repeatedly for over two centuries? Should not the SC of SL rise to the challenge to recreate and invent more just and appropriate laws at this crucial juncture where the rule of law and democracy is at stake? Are people for the constitution or is the constitution for a select group of greedy, corrupt and deranged politicians?

  • 2
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    As a resident of Singapore I would advise that Sri Lanka does NOT look towards it to determine how housing is done.

    There are two sides to Singapore. There is the productive private sector which includes trading, engineering, retail, finance, services etc. which the government is not too bothered about, leaves alone, and taxes a healthy sum out of. And then there is the unproductive public sector which includes housing (government flats), infrastructure (road and rail), education (school and universities) and so on.

    An analogy could be that the private sector is the engine of a train and it pulls the public sector which is the cargo. While the private sector remains strong and unhindered by the government Singapore may continue to thrive, but since public goods are forever increased in burden (for votes) it is only a matter of time before the engine fails to pull.

    Within the unproductive public sector lie enormous economic bubbles which when popped may well cripple Singapore’s economy. In times gone past recessions are mitigated by the productive private sector, but failure is just a matter of time.

    If Sri Lanka is to learn anything at all it should to copy Singapore in the way it DOES NOT DO things. They do not fiddle with private business very much so wealth can grow. Though they hamper their youth with public education at least they don’t force them into the system – and so many choose alternative options like home schooling. They don’t change laws on a whim. They dispense with justice promptly. They pay their politicians heavy sums to discourage corruption – perhaps this is a good way to keep them minding their own business and letting everyone else live their lives.

    In your article you refer to ‘opportunity cost’. This is beautifully illustrated in Bastiat’s ‘Broken Window’ theory, which you may be interested in looking up.

    • 0
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      rizwan

      thank you for warning us all that glitters is not gold.You are dead right.

  • 1
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    Fantastic post. Saimon has become the best English journalist, certainly on CT. probably as good as his nemesis Emil.

    Keep writing Sapare, we follow you.

  • 1
    1

    I think Shyamon is slightly ahead of Shenali as he has in his disposal more English words than Shenali. But, no one can beat Shenali in hitting hard where it should be hit. What a remarkable duo this little nation has produced.

  • 0
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    “ In saying so, I am not proposing that the government should not build housing for specially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of our society such as the disabled, the war-injured soldiers “
    The Sinhala Intellectual Racist Shaman Jayasinghe is trying to become a Smarty Patriotic Social Democrat like Thero De Silva by proposing to pamper the war criminal (heroes?) side first. These Sinhala Adams Smiths are reinventing economic theories. The War Criminals spent $400B on the war. Then they bulldozed the dead soldiers’ bodies with the murdered Tamils, in Mullaithivu. Swindled in billion and deposited in FBs. Then they reported that solders are missing and not giving even pension to the dead soldiers’ dependents. Sinhala Buddhist Adam Smith, Shaymon Jayasinghe is hiding rottenness behind the back and pretending like all things normal so he wants to build free houses to War Heroes.

    Shaymon Jayasinghes do not talk these because it would make the War Heroes to be send to Hague. They don’t like it. Now these guys are, ignoring the dead, but shedding crocodile tears for the injured soldiers, only to make them look like Smart Patriotic Racists. India came to build 50,000 houses to war torn families. The dirty Rascal Brother Prince forced India to deposit $270M if it is going to help the war widows. Opportunist Economist Shaymon Jayasinghe is only matching and balancing Thero De Silva on their patriotism.
    The talk of Federalism and Aekiya Rajiya is again has become buzzwords as Sampanthar asked UNP to bring forward his Secret Solution. Sinhala Intellectuals making big deals on that though they have guaranteed that they will never allow Sampanthar have any solution to Tamils. That is why we had written in CT that Singapore has Unitary Government; Swiss has Federal Government. But they both are model democracies to big and small countries in the world whether it is on Economy or on governance.

  • 0
    0

    We wrote here supporting ETCA as Indian economic structure in pretty parallel to Lankawe Markets, but India’s big market by volume will help Lankawe’s companies to produce and export to reach mass production benefits (economy of scale). We opposed SLSPFR because we said it is good only for political & business elites import luxury items cheaper but no useful exports (even the labor in higher quantity like ME workers) export is not possible with Singapore. The only thing Lankawe should import under free trade with Singapore is the canes they use to public flogging, to flog publicly the war, political & economical criminals in Lankawe.
    Why Swiss or Singapore can grow but not Lankawe is because those both countries’ governments are committed to policies placed and implemented to achieve social harmony. So without any difference among Chinese or Malay or Tamil or German or French, they all can grow supporting each other. It was Don Stephen set the policy of making Sinhalese look richer only by destroying the Tamils, but not improving Lankawe industries to make all richer. So he started his Sinhala Intellectual economic policies by destroying the Tamils working in Estates. But that Modaya had never come to know that was the one bringing free rice for rubber, later. When they saw Tamils were educated, instead of educating Sinhalese, they destroyed Tamils school and bared them from entering Universities. This is the kind Economic polices the Sinhala Intellectual Adams Smiths propagate, but do not follow either Singapore or Swiss where all communities are equal. Interestingly, as soon as Brattain captured Kandy, Tamils workers started to come to Lankawe. But the Ceylon Tamils went to establish them in Singapore (or Malaysia) 100 years after Britain established itself in Lankawe. Now the migrated Tamils are one of the Original Singaporeans, but In Lankawe even the Tamils lived for 5000 years has become Kallathonies. This is the difference between the Singapore economy and Lankawe Economy.

  • 0
    0

    There was never socialism existed in Lankawe. Even the Estate laborers refused to support LSSP or CP. Only SWRD’s Pancha Maha Bala Vegaya Socialism existed. It is raw from of Sinhala Buddhist Racism, Modaya nurturing, opposition party voting, Biriyani & Arrack voting……. These are falsely explained as proud following of Cuban Communism by Thero de Silva like Coolie writers. The rest of the crowed is only unscrupulous enterprisers, have no regard for Poor, Country, culture, religion……etc. So Peter robbing from Paul or Nationalizing houses from Paul are not much different from Smart Patriotic Social Democrat Shaymon Jayasinge building houses to War Heroes. All the goons are only seeking names within Sinhala Buddhists.
    Building houses from tax payers’ money is not something never proposed by Economists to revive the sagging economy. When private sector finds no way to create credits, governments initiating capital projects is always advocated by economists for about 75 years. Government infusing money from supply side or demand side is advocated to revive the economy. If government starts to build the houses, builders get the money first. Then they employ workers and buy materials. That is how the government’s funding get into the economy. But Malik or Swami getting the commission and bringing the Chinese labor, materials and knowhow on extra high interest loans and transferring the future income of the country to China as loan servicing is not advocated by any economists. That is only a boost for Chinese economy and for elected politicians Fb deposits.

  • 0
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  • 0
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    don’t worry mate; Australian Tax funds were not used. Housing for the poor is not a bad thing old chap. Cheers for a VB or a Foster’s down under

  • 1
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    Dear Sir

    – The cooperatives were there because this kept our people alive. I used to eat half cooked rationed full of dead worm bread we had to buy standing in a queue in 70’s was normal too. This was part of reducing the debt and encouraging people to farm/cottage industry then……..worked wonders too under late Hon Mrs SWRD.

    – Late Hon Premadasa built many homes for the needy through out the Country.

    -This is what happens when others resource manage us to be toilet washers around the world as I am one of them too in a war ‘sponsored by outsiders’.

    Yes we are missing a Master plan or rather unable to implement one for the Nation since 1970’s for a reason…. when our countries ‘children’ up north and south took up Arms ever since as suppose to becoming patriotic children/adults to serve the Nation to develop. It is far too easy to blame the policy makers when they were forced to deal with issues we could barely touch/ill equipped to address?.

    Just look at the number of houses that are empty belongs to diaspora both Tamil and Sinhala uninhibited for the past 40-50 years……when the war displaced people need home and the soldiers need home?? You see any investigative journalism/reporting on this absurdity??

    Governments do their best to deal with the housing shortage without any productive help/advise from us all from around the world. We are good for fingerpointing is why we all live around the world do nothing for Mother Lanka productively……….we also sponsor Identity politics at the same time????

  • 2
    0

    This is an admirable piece and I totally agree with Shyamon on this matter. While most ordinary people have to take loans to build houses some who live in shanties get free housing. They then rent the new house and go back to the shanty to live. This happened all over and at Dehiwela after the Tsunami the beach dwellers got houses and they have now gone back to shanties in the beach renting their new flats at exorbitant rents. Government has no plan to stop this kind of gross violation.
    Also socialists like Keuneman with his housing act made it nearly impossible to recover a house given on rent to its original owner. I know of one case where the landowner had to purchase a house somewhere to recover his own house. These cases drag on for years when tenants refuse to vacate houses. This kind of archaic laws have to be scrapped and the judiciary should be instructed to move fast with housing cases.

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