Thursday, 06  March 2003  
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Honesty betrayed

It is extremely disappointing to note that successive governments have granted "tax amnesties" to rouges with no consideration whatsoever to honest tax payers who have parted with their incomes, some close to a quarter of their earnings, to government coffers over the years.

Amnesties encourage more people to continue fiddling tax payments, directing undeclared incomes to nefarious activities, tremendously harmful to society and state. To rectify such undesirable situations the Government has to spend large sums of tax payers money which could be put to far greater desirable projects. Amnesty situations can also lead to corruption of those enforcing tax collections!

At a time when respect for law and order is eroding, general breakdown of values are prevailing, arn't we encouraging a further deterioration of society values and obligations?

One now wonders whether "Honesty really pays".


Colombo 6


Getting to grips with vehicle thefts

The alarming incidence of motor vehicle thefts must surely be a cause of mounting concern to Interior Minister John Amaratunge and the Police, and even more to the unfortunate victims.

Substituting fake chassis and engine numbers to stolen vehicles and disposing of them with equally fake ownership papers seems to be running neck and neck with the legitimate second hand vehicle trade. The Department of the Commissioner of Motor Traffic has a reputation for being a haven for crooks and conmen and never running-short of all manner of shady characters who'll undertake a job for a price. By the very nature of its business the Department is prone to corruption.

Is there really no way to control the lucrative trade in stolen vehicles? What if the Minister concerned were to introduce a system whereby vehicle owners are compelled to register their vehicles with the nearest police station to their place of residence?

For the service the police could levy a once-and-for-all ownership fee, of say a hundred rupees, enter the ownership and vehicle particulars in a register maintained for the purpose and issue a police registration card to the owners. The contents of the register could be fed to a master register maintained at the principal police station in the district.

A prospective buyer of a second-hand vehicle could then call for the police register particulars and satisfy himself that the seller and his ownership of the vehicle are within the law. This will also discourage doctering of papers at CMT's offices by unscrupulous employees.

It's humanly impossible to stop the theft of motor vehicles, though a security alarm system in the vehicle may help, but trading in such stolen vehicles could be averted if some such measure as outlined above is adopted.

Maybe auto crooks will come up with a smarter antidate to this, yet it's worth a try.

L. K. de Alwis, 



Food ads and spurious claims

It was heartening to note that journalists have not forgotten the welfare of the consumers. The editorial under the caption 'Food packs hazards' (DN 19 February) was a step in the right direction. In the current scenario of very unhealthy competition in food merchandising, there are no limits to the extent to which the traders go to pull a fast one over the competitors and also the consumers in the process.

Products with spurious claims such as 'heart friendly', ' goodness of meat', 'cholesterol free', 'pure', 'natural', 'slimming aids', 'vitamin and calcium enriched', 'memory improver', 'enhances mental focus' etc. etc. are flooding the market.

The number of consumers falling prey to these gimmicks and paying out outrageously higher prices than they are actually worth should be seen to be believed.

A recent addition to the market is a malted food drink that is supposed to contain a mysterious formula called "Power Plus" that increases the performance of "Body and Mind". A brain washing campaign is launched in the electronic media to promote this product. A child is depicted as complaining to the mother about her inability to solve a mathematical problem the mother responding with a glass of "Power Malt" and the child immediately solving the problem after consuming the glass of the malt drink.

Are the marketers of this product under the impression that the average consumers in Sri Lanka are that stupid, or in fact are they? In any event, the manner in which these promotional activities are carried out is taking a heavy toll on the consumers.

Consumer Associations in other countries discourage this type of promotion campaigns through various methods. Recently an 'honest food labelling campaign' was launched a programme of "naming and shaming" those companies who market products with misleading labels. The campaign was launched because the food law of the country was not geared to control these malpractices.

There is another set of labels, depicting meat, chicken. fish, prawns etc. by pictorial representations and description like "devilled chicken", "devilled prawns" etc. on the packs whereas they contain only flavoured textured vegetable protein or otherwise known as Soya Meat.

This is a blatant violation of the food laws of this country and why the authorities concerned are turning a blind eye to these going on I have no clue.

Now that the press is taking a serious look at these issues, the consumers can breathe a sigh of relief.




Re-introduction of the Death Penalty

Re-introduction of the death penalty is a crying need in Sri Lanka. If clemency is recommended along with the verdict or at an appeal this may be considered appropriately. The death penalty needs to be enforced otherwise.

The death penalty is accepted to be a deterrent. It drives one to think before taking another's life. Deadly crimes planned well ahead and efficiently executed demonstrate that life sentences are no threats to reprehensible criminals.

Views and ideas of human rights organisations based abroad, indicate unawareness of gangster killings, rapes followed by repulsive murders, contract extermination and drug trafficking that accompany homicides, that awful crimes have grown rampant in a one time relatively calm country.

Monstrous deeds like kidnapping the young to be sent to the Middle East and forced into slavery and camel riding satisfy only the lust of the unscrupulous money seekers. The death penalty alone can stifle horrendous crimes which merit no other condign penalty. I am not intolerant of other views. Idealists no doubt shout down the re-imposition of the death penalty.

Those like the Amnesty International remain distant from the repulsive reality in current Sri Lanka.Ordinary people who comprise the core and mass of this island use public transport, especially sordid private buses. They recognise how disgraceful is the total lack of discipline and the prevalence of utter disregard and disrespect for human life.

Most of these human right organisations are insulated from the actual depressing and miserable state of law and order in our island.

Considering ever spiralling crime and overwhelming incidence of dastardly murders the gallows are an imperative need. They should be used and not be in disuse.

Ninety nine percent of the people may yearn for peace and harmony and condemn violence and premeditated heinous crime. They expect Government to protect their children and them and their hard-earned property from various menacing murder's and homicidal maniacs. It is indeed time the death penalty be re-introduced. There should not be any delay. Now is the worst of times.

The Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and the Government will receive the gratitude of almost all particularly of the poor honest, for this timely and firm action to stern the horrible crime.

All will certainly give positive support in encouraging the creation of a crime-reduced environment.

In conclusion all peace loving citizens would regard who oppose the re-introduction of the death penalty as those misguided who condone and encourage murderers.




Mystery of ETF advice

I refer to reader Nazly Cassim's letter (DN. Feb 22) under the above caption. The backlogged transactions in member accounts since 1998 and in some cases since 1981 had snagged as stated in my numerous articles during 2002, the reconciliation of Member accounts and consequently Annual Member Statements (AMS) could not be posted to many. This had been compounded by a dysfunctional Member Administration software system. Mr. Cassim can rest assured we are fully equipped to deal with this somewhat unusual challenges.

We did in fact start updating AMS from July 2002 at the rate of 160,000 statements per month, which has now been improved to 250,000 per month. The sheer volume of the backlog over 30 million transactions had posed an initial problem. In the meantime we have been successful in out sourcing part of this backlog to a Vendor who is helping us to overcome this short term problem.

We are hopeful that by end August 2003, most of the monthly / six monthly returns which were backlogged would be brought up to date. Mr. Cassim can be assured that most if not all AMS would be posted on a current basis from then on.


ETF Board Colombo 5


'Carnival (NEWS) at 9'

I do not know whose big idea it was to have the English news telecast of all the TV channels all at the same time viz. at 9.00 clock in the night.

If you tune into any of these channels with the idea of listening to the day's news at 10.00 p.m. you are in for a rude shock because there is a complete blackout of news in all the channels at this time. If anything of news-worthy happens after 9.00 p.m. in the night, you can only get that news on the next day. Like many others I am addicted to watching the news on TV and I like to listen to the news telecast by all the channels so that you do not miss the different view points.

Is it due to cut throat competition among the TV stations that they are preventing the viewers from watching each other's news. I do not see any other reason. Are they really catering to the consumers or catering to themselves without any consideration for the viewers. The Rupavahini, ITN, MTV & TNL all have their English news at 9 in the night. The news readers repeatedly say 'don't go away, please stay with us for more news'.

They know very well that we are not staying with them. We are continuously switching channels to get a glimpse of the finger points of what other channels are saying.

I suggest the following time slots for the various channels which should be strictly adhered to for the larger benefit of vast number of viewers like myself. TNL - 8.45 p.m., MTV - 9.00 p.m., ITN - 9.15 p.m., and Rupavahini - 9.30 p.m.

Will the Media Minister please look into this.




Notarial system

The present notarial system by which deeds and documents are executed in triplicate will die a natural death once the more modern, sophisticated and computerised Title Registration System is introduced to the country.

The present notarial system as where documents are executed in triplicate copies is unique to Sri Lanka. No other country in the world follows this system. This system is not found in countries like U.K. or India. Now it will be interesting to look back and reminisce how this system came to be introduced in Sri Lanka or who introduce this system. Was it the British or Dutch.

If it was introduced by the British why is it that it is not followed in their own country.Another interesting and connected topic that should catch the attention of any researcher was how the concept of private ownership of Land evolved in Sri Lanka. We all know that during the feudal system, under the Kings all lands were owned by the crown. The same system continued under Potugese and Dutch rule if I am not mistaken. Subsequently large parcels of Land were given as State grants to persons who served the State loyally and thus the private ownership of land evolved in Sri Lanka.

Will some erudite scholar or researcher or a learned lawyer enlighten us more on above two topics.

P. V .S. R,


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