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Monday, 10 December 2012

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Banks and pawning

The contents of S. Wanasinghe's letter on the above caption which appeared in 'Letters to the Editor' column of another daily newspaper, seem absolutely accurate going by the way the Banks are clamouring to grab the pawning business, offering higher percentages of value of gold as loan quantum limits backed by a lot of advertising and publicity with competitive but exorbitant interest rates, on one hand.

On the other hand, the Auction notices appearing all over the papers and banners displayed at almost all Bank branches are ample evidence for the lucrative business banks are enjoying at the expense of the poor masses. Moreover, it is surprising to hear from the banking circles that some banks are resorting to highly unethical practice of auctioning the pawned articles when borrowers delay payments, even before the debts are classified as per Central Bank's minimum classification requirements. The Banks usually are or are expected to be reasonable in handling the recovery of debts falling into arrears. Under normal circumstances, we hear that Banks resort to liquidation of security only as a last resort and that too when debts fall into the category of 'Doubtful or Loss' that is when they are in arrears by a minimum of six months. This is the norm in Banks, we are told.

However, for the poor down-trodden masses of our society there is a different standard, a standard to their disadvantage. No waiting till debts become really overdue or bad. When they are just one or two months in arrears the security is put to auction i.e. the gold items, small jewellery articles of spouses and children pawned due to abject poverty are sold by public auction. Surely the Central Bank can check on this. No doubt soon they will and penalize the offending banks.

The recommendations to remedy this situation in Wanasinghe's letter are commendable. The Central Bank should amend the Capital adequacy computation parameters and the Finance Ministry should improve the taxation regulations to penalize these unconscionable profit making institutions. They should not be allowed to bleed the poorest of the poor of our society in their quest for higher returns.

The down trodden masses of this country will hail the Central Bankers, Finance Authorities and the government for such corrective action to save them and their livelihoods from this profit oriented Banking Mudalalis.


RDA’s notice to motor vehicle users

This refers to a Public Notice which appeared in the Daily News published on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 by the Road Development Authority of the Ports and Highways Ministry. The aforesaid Notice displays allowable Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) for various types of vehicles categorized thereto, in conformity with Gazette Notification No. 1380/14 of 16th February 2005 published seven years ago, at which time most of the roadways were constructed according to the then prevailing standards, which did not conform to the bearing capacity of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). However, currently most of the roadways have been rehabilitated carefully and improved further, taking advantage of the modern technology to ensure durability and longer life span, utilizing a large amount of Public Funds to facilitate the life of the people of the country and movement of heavy sophisticated vehicles freely.

I was of the opinion that with the resuscitation of roadways, the allowable GVW Kg would be taken into consideration, keeping in line with the improved bearing capacity of the roadway. But to my dismay the allowable GVW Kg granted in the year 2005 has been re-introduced in 2012 as well, despite all improvements and developments carried out at heavy costs.

It is noted that under S/No. 06 the categorization of vehicle (sample) is stated as “Articulated or combination vehicle with two-wheeled front axle and four wheeled rear axle driving unit and dual axle eight-wheeled trailer”. This type of vehicle is being used mostly for transport of fuel and the payload capacity of such vehicle is 33MT whilst the Tare Weight of the Driving Unit is 8.3 MT and the trailer is 7.6MT giving a total of 48.9 MT whereas the GVW Kg allowed is only 27.5 MT, equivalent to 56.23% of the capacity of the vehicle. Fleets of such vehicles are commonly used for transport of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation fuel and implementation of this will result in an increase of the selling price of petroleum products at local outlets and not mentioning the requirements of increase in tariff by CEB in due time.

In the event the above requirement is adhered to, I am afraid that all transport costs on fuel would be doubled and thereby the price of fuel too would be jacked up accordingly, as the vehicles will have to do two trips to cover the capacity of the vehicles. Thus the public will be taxed and burdened further, despite their valuable contribution towards the development of the country's and road networks.

In view of the urgency of this matter the Chairman of the Road Development Authority, is requested to kindly reconsider the above decision and to grant redress by allowing the payload capacity of the vehicles, including the tare weight of Prime Mover and Trailer (GVW) Kg, which I am confident would help improve the economy of the public in particular and the nation in general.


Atapirikara is a requisite for Buddhist monks

In his letter of 19.11.12 R.M.A.B. Dissanayake has stated that the offering of Atapirikara is a popular custom. It is not a custom but a requisite of Buddhist monks for their living. The only possessions that the Buddha had were the clothes he wore and the begging bowl.

He left a princely life and resorted to living in the tranquility of a forest. He had laid down that these were the bare necessities of a monk’s life. In the days of old the bowl was used not only for going in search of food but also for collecting coconut oil for lighting purposes. The bowl was part and parcel of a monk. It could be dispensed with only when on a journey and that too for 24 hours. On a longer journey monks carried the bowl. Dissanayake advocates separate sets of bedding etc. When the robe could no longer be worn, it was to be used as a bed sheet and when still not usable as a bed sheet, it had to be used as a door mat to wipe the feet. That was conservation!

The Dhammapada says, “Thummehi kichchang atappan aktatharo Thathagatha.” The Buddha only shows the way. It is for you to follow it. There is only one way to Nirwana and that is the hard way.


Allowance and insurance scheme for senior citizens

It was reported in the Daily News of 19.10.2012 under the caption ‘Insurance planned for over 70s’ that the government is planning a new insurance scheme for senior citizens who are above 70 years.

This is a matter for appreciation. However, only senior citizens over 70 years getting a monthly allowance of Rs. 1,000 will be entitled to this new insurance scheme. At present only those who are in receipt of a charity or Samurdhi allowance will be eligible to receive this payment. There are many senior citizens over 70 years who are at present not having a fixed income or a pension. I therefore, wish to request the Social Services Minister to consider paying the allowance of Rs. 1,000 to them as well, so that apart from getting an income they too will get the benefit of the proposed insurance scheme.


Open the Maligawa Road

The closure of a part of the traditional road from Kandy to Ampara, Mahiyangana, Digana etc. between the Kandy town and Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha must have cost our country billions of rupees in foreign exchange, much more to the people of Sri Lanka, especially those in the Kandy District, millions of valuable man-hours and millions of litres of petrol and diesel.

The road was used by vehicles prior to terrorist attacks on the Sri Dalada Maligawa without any problem. Hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the east of Kandy travelled from the Queen’s Hotel area to Madduma Bandara Mawatha junction in about a minute and since the closure of the road, they are forced to travel about 5km round the lake, sometimes wasting about half an hour or more. The pollution due to the closure of the road would have included the emission of millions of litres of toxic gases.


Unauthorized financial institutions

The Central Bank is repeatedly warning the public through the electronic media not to make investments with unauthorized Financial Institutions. Though this advice is very good it will not reach all the people of this country. So there is a great possibility for people, specially the illiterate, to invest in such bogus institutions.

Further, an investor will not know whether it is an authorized or unauthorized establishment.

A bogus or genuine financial institution cannot attract investors without displaying advertisements in newspapers or making announcements through radio or television. Therefore, the Central Bank has the bounden duty of checking the legitimacy of such institutions and taking action not only for running them without the Central Banks approval but also to close them down immediately.

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