Feature Article

Sinhala Nation, refusing to share national wealth- Taraki

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 May 2005, 11:46 GMT]
Liberation Tigers' demand for an independent administrative arrangement and funds to rehabilitate and rebuild the infrastructure of the Tamil homeland is rooted on the fact that for the past 56 years the Sinhala Nation has resolutely exercised its monopoly power on island's national wealth and refused to accept Tamil's right to a fair share of the wealth, argues late Dharmeratnam Sivaram, in a column which appeared in Virakesari of 21 November 2004. This feature provides an English translation.

Man competes with fellow men to have access to world’s finite resources. This competition is the root cause of political struggles and major wars. Societal discord and conflicts are caused by this super fight for resources. Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict can also be viewed in this framework.

The first national budget of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was submitted in parliament last Thursday (18 November 2004). Tamil members of Parliament denounced the budget as providing little benefit to Tamils. What is a budget? A budget determines how the accumulated national wealth is to be spent.

Section 148 of Sri Lanka Constitution bestows full authority for disbursing or allocating national wealth collected through taxes, duties or other levies on Sri Lanka’s parliament. Irrespective of what political party is in power, parliamentary majority will always be in the hands of Sinhala parliamentarians.

What do we infer from this? Parliament will strive to expend the national wealth to benefit Sinhala people. Although Tamils generate a share of national wealth they are denied the right to determine how it can be spent to benefit their community. From the time of British rule this has been the root cause of problems plaguing the Tamil people.

When the British established a unitary system of government they expected the Sinhala and Tamil ruling class to co-operate in the governance of the nation and to manage the national wealth without any racial bias. Since some Tamil leaders too shared this ideology, they failed to oppose the supreme monopoly power afforded to the parliament over nation’s wealth. A few lonely voices of Tamil law makers and intellecutals who raised their concerns that in a Sinhala majoritarian polity, Sinhalese will control the Parliament, and therefore would have monopoly over the national wealth, went unheeded.

World political history has taught us that those who enjoy monopoly power over national wealth will be reluctant to also surrender their political powers. Some analysts opined that if Britain had made constitutional provisions to ensure equitable distribution of accumulated wealth, and had organized administrative structures for expending national wealth, the ethnic discord would not have reached the current alarming proportions. There is little benefit now in analyzing the past.

Past calamities faced by Tamils and conflicts between Muslims and Tamils can be explained on the basis of Sinhala nation’s monopoly of Sri Lanka’s resources. Since significant portion of national wealth was being used to develop Sinhala nation and large tracts of lands belonging to Tamils and Muslims were being annexed by the State to build irrigation schemes to assist colonized Sinhala peasentry, rivalry and regional discords within the Tamil homeland began to surface.

During the past 15 years Sri Lankan Government allocated no financial resources to any of the districts of the NorthEast province except to Amparai and Trincomalee districts where significant fraction of the population is Sinhalese. The Government Agent of Jaffna recently made a pertinent remark that ‘the Sri Lankan Government has not allocated even a single cent for the development of Jaffna district.’ In most of the districts of NorthEast, the Urban Development Councils, Water distribution and Drainage Boards did not receive any budgetary allocations and remained dormant existing only in name.

Even after three years of peace no funds have been allocated to promote small and medium scale businesses nor do these businesses have access to loans in the NorthEast. Foreign capital investment for large industries is non-existant in NorthEast. Rampant poverty and unemployment plague Tamil homeland. Rs.50 lakhs is earmarked in diversified budgetary allocations for each Tamil parliamentarian by Sinhala rulers to buy our parliamentarians silence on budgetary issues.

Tamil politicians spend time pondering effective ways to expend their allocations for use in temples and sports clubs to retain electoral support. Habit of saving money is imbibed in Tamil culture and Director of National Savings banks once said even during difficult periods during war Tamils have saved substantial sums in State banks.

Bank savings help to finance loans for development and assist small businesses in the South. Government depends on these savings to borrow money to finance the budget deficits Indeed, it is a sad irony that the very savings of Tamils and the tax rupees were used to finance Government’s war on Tamils. Realization has not sunk in many Tamils mind how we have been fooled and continuing to be fooled by the Sinhala ruling class.

Cognizant of the destruction and misery caused by 56 years of Sinhala Nation’s monopoly on National wealth, Liberation Tigers demanded an independent administrative arrangement and funds to rehabilitate and rebuild the infrastructure of the Tamil homeland. Tigers demand an administrative framework where Tamils can determine for themselves how to spend atleast part of the fraction of the National wealth that is rightfully theirs.

Sinhala politicians rejected this demand as unconstitutional since section 148 of the Sri Lankan Constitution, empowers the parliament to control the national resources. This firmly established that Sinhala rulers were not prepared to consider giving away even an inch to Tamils right to expend the wealth generated by the Tamils.

Sinhala rulers posed similar opposition when Varatharaja Perumal headed the Provincial Council. Thirteenth amendment to the Constitution required a Financial Commission to be setup to distribute National wealth to Provincial Councils. Perumal expected to obtain a fair share of funds due to Tamils through this provision. He soon found that it was not possible. Finally he fled to India after unilaterally declaring an independent TamilEelam.

Sixteen years have passed since the setting up of Provincial Councils and Sinhala rulers are yet to discuss forming Financial Commissions. A proper Provincial-based Federalism should contain administrative structures for equitably distributing National wealth.

In countries affected by civil war, often disagreements on distribution of national wealth are a root cause of the conflict. Equitable sharing the revenue from oil and Arabic gum in Sudan was a key aspect of the negotiations that have been taking place to bring an end to the conflict that started in 1983.

Nigeria has rich resource of oil. When the republic was formed in 1963 uniting several tribes, Federal Constitution was architected to include key provisions that detailed on how to share the National Wealth.

Sinhala Nation which earned several millions of dollars exporting ilmenite, an important natural resource of Tamil Homeland, waves the articles of constitution when rejecting Tamils demand a small portion of the revenue.

A Financial Commission functions under the Indian Constitution to ensure equitable distribution of National wealth to different states. The South Indian States have long accused the Central Government of unfairly favoring Hindi speaking Northern states in distributing national wealth. Absence of a fully federal arrangement in India is the cause of this problem. However, India has accepted that as a national policy nation’s wealth should be equitably distributed among the states.

Sinhala nation refuses to open any discussion on this matter. Further, the Sinhala Nation is resolute in its stand that it has the monopoly power on the island’s national resources and the generated national wealth. Do not dream that this position can be changed.


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