New Year resolutions for all parliamentarians
Linda van Schagen, Mt. Lavinia.
All Parliamentarians include President Rajapakse and members of the opposition.
During 2014 and the years thereafter, until all borrowings are repaid, including foreign borrowings, loans from state and private banks, we will practice austerity in all spheres of activity.
We will restrict ourselves to extremely limited overseas travel, with small delegations only on commercial airlines. We will henceforth stop the charter of commercial airline, Sri Lankan and Mihinair, for official travel.
We will handover the management of aforesaid airlines to suitable people with a good track record of honest management and experience in turning around loss- making enterprises to profit-making enterprises. Should the losses continue, we will wind up the operations of such airlines and remove the burden of keeping them flying from the general public, thus saving taxpayers monies.
We will stop the practice of employing relatives of the ruling regime in state enterprises and thus the practice of nepotism which is anathema to good governance in a democratic state; the same applies to political cronies.
We will curtain the Cabinet to a maximum of 20 cabinet members, to cover only areas of importance to the general public – Health, Education Ports & Aviation, Finance, Religious Affairs, Defence, Social Welfare, Public Transport, Commodities Management (Tea, Rubber, Coconut, Fish, Spices), Export & Import, Power & Energy, Foreign Affairs, Women & Childrens Affairs, Disaster Management, Law & Order, and other important areas.
We will introduce and make into law the “Right to Information Bill”, this being of vital importance to the community who are currently kept in the dark about vital matters affecting their day to day lives because of the distinct lack of transparency and accountability.
Drafts of Gazette Notifications to be published in newspapers, discussed and debated in Parliament before officially gazetting them. Matters affecting the lives of the general public should not escape their prior knowledge and their parliamentary representatives should make it their duty as “elected” representatives to oppose gazettes which introduce ad hoc food price increases, indirect taxes, electricity and water tariffs as these seriously erode the meagre incomes of the proletariat and make their lives untenable.
We will investigate the uncontrollable availability of narcotics as it involves certain parliamentarians and all those complicit in not only narcotics smuggling but its distribution network as well. If any Cabinet Minister or parliamentarian is suspect, then he or she is to be immediately suspended until investigations are concluded with the help even of Scotland Yard, Interpol, and all Drug Authorities overseas. All their assets are to be frozen until investigations are complete and all assets questioned as to how they came about to possess such wealth.
The aforesaid should also relate to those involved in Human Trafficking, Smuggling of alcohol, tobacco, ethanol, and all illegal activities.
Members of Parliament are answerable to their constituents, therefore time spent in Parliament should be restricted to two days a week. The rest of the time they should spend in their constituencies listening to their grievances and assisting them in times of distress. Two days in Parliament is more than sufficient as the current system is a waste of time.
Parliamentarians should not become “Aye” or “Nay” men and women to the Executive. They are exclusively beholden to those who elected them – their constituents. The current system of sycophancy is appalling. This is anti-democracy and anti the people.
We will indicate the detailed breakdown of Water and Electricity tariffs on bills presented to householders. There are serious anomalies between what is used and what is charged and several variances which can be proved.
The Rights of animals will be protected and made into law. All roads dissecting forest reserves to be immediately closed. A recent study has revealed the deaths of 552 animals in 48 days on a highway crossing Nilagala Forest Area, including tortoises, serpents, and other amphibians. This is a conservative count as most of these dead animals would have ended up in cooking pots. There should be no incursions into the natural habitats of wildlife by the colonizing of same by people or the building of unnecessary infrastructure as in the case of Mattala and Hambantota where in just a few days, 15 elephants have been killed. Mattala was a bird sanctuary and was infested with elephants. Cruelty to all animals by those in power should be stopped and if violated the violator sent off to prison. These should be jailable offences and no one, not even the Executive should be spared.
– We will undertake to lead simple, austere lives in keeping with the rhetoric of “Poverty Alleviation” and “Inequality”.
– We will rein in our offspring and stop them from misbehaving in public and making a nuisance of themselves.
– We will practice austerity by paying the full price of all parliament food and remove the ugly practice of consuming “subsidised food” and avoid serving luxury items.
– We will remove the unconstitutional practice of waiving duty on cars and thereby the sale of Duty Free Permits on cars. We will not put ourselves above the law as we are the lawmakers and not law-breakers.
– We will pay in full all electricity and water tariffs and stop the practice of paying Rs. 2000/- for electricity and making the general public bear the balance.
– We will henceforth stop the practice of displacing citizens from entire neighbourhoods in which they have resided for generations, to make way for the sale of such properties to foreigners or for unnecessary infrastructure.
– We will place the general public above all.
– We will ensure that all taxes, including VAT and CESS, is removed with immediate effect on basic foods such as rice, wheat flour, lentils, sugar, dry fish, milk products and other essentials. We will ensure the availability of affordable food for all.
– We will undertake to stop ostentatious living in both our personal and government lives and end all wasteful tamashas.