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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

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Government Gazette

The plastic crates issue

The impartial observer could not be faulted for being baffled by the sight of vegetable vendors and transporters protesting at some trading locations over a decision by the government to enforce an earlier agreed-upon requirement that vegetables and fruits be transported in plastic crates.

There seems to have been needless 'theatricals' over the issue with some vendors spewing their merchandise over the length and breadth of highways and some others even resorting to unruly tactics, such as, setting tyres and tubes alight. Our front page news report yesterday on these bizarre developments quoted Cooperatives and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando as saying that the plastic crates rule was no sudden decision by the state but one for which the consent of the vegetable vendors and other relevant parties was obtained some time back.

He said - and he was absolutely right - that the government would not be going back on its decision, particularly in view of the fact that it serves the public interest fully well.

It is quite some time since solid scientific research revealed that a monumental amount of vegetables and other produce suffer spoilage as a result of being transported long distances without being suitably packed and stored. All of this translates into billions of rupees lost annually to the country and, equally significantly, the consumer's best interests being compromised because he ends up with vegetables and fruits which are hardly suitable for consumption.

Accordingly, the state is doing right by insisting that plastic crates be used and the state has no choice but to do what is right and judicious. If the public interest is being served by these measures, then, it stands to reason that the government must go right ahead with the requirement that vegetables and fruits be transported in the most appropriate, consumer-friendly fashion.

However, we urge that the state continues to dialogue with the relevant parties with a view to convincing them of the virtues of the new mode of transportation of the goods in question.

There are numerous parties to this issue and any one or several of them may be up in arms against the new scheme. Apparently, the interests of some prominent quarters in the operation are being affected. Nevertheless, the common good cannot be compromised and the state is duty-bound to protect it.

The state would also need to be alert to the fact that the protests were quite numerous and unexpectedly unruly.

The question needs to be asked whether they were organized by those who want to hurt the public interest very grievously. These and many more issues should be investigated by the state and the relevant measures taken to bring any wrong-doers to justice.

The goods, once purchased from the farmer, pass through numerous intermediaries before they finally arrive at the local market place or retail sales outlet. It is common knowledge that the farmer ends up with a pittance at the end of the day, once his produce passes through the hands of these intermediaries, who, of course, get 'a cut' from the sale of the produce.

It would not be realistic to expect those who, thus, profit from the sale of the produce to see eye-to-eye with the government. But the state is required to uphold the public interest and this is the reason why the state should not only go ahead with the new mode of transport but get state organizations, such as, the numerous Sathosa outlets in the country, to purchase produce directly from the farmer and to stock them for the purpose of selling directly to the consumer.

Among other things, this will ensure a satisfactory price for the farmer who is the only party in this supply chain who lives from 'the sweat of his brow.'

Developments such as these, which are characterized by unusual shows of public anger, should be taken cognizance of by the authorities. At first blush, it could be said that they are not spontaneous. It needs to be probed whether they are sparked by those who have a vested interest in destructive public unrest.

Govt to stick by PSC decision on NE issues - Minister Douglas Devananda

The government’s opinion is that problems must be solved by discussing with all parties. The government decided to form a Parliamentary Select Committee because of this. The reason that the TNA is still waiting to decide whether or not to participate in the PSC is just for their political survival, not for any other reason,

Full Story

The Humana Dimension

What taking a break truly means...

Human bodies are not meant to be abused the way they are being abused right now. We are not cut out for 24/7 work or partying. We are not meant to go on binges of drinking, eating or not exercising. We are expected to rest our bodies, our souls and take a break once in a while. If we don't, then the next stage will bring complications that are both serious and even life-threatening,

Full Story

Duty of Ananda College after 125 years

This article has been written to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ananda College. Sri Lanka is enjoying the dividends of peace after many decades. We as a country are moving forward in economic development. Every week we are creating history. Last week it was reported that National Geographic Traveler magazine has named Sri Lanka as being among its top six destinations for world travellers in 2012,

Full Story

 

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