I. P. C. MENDIS – island.lk
The Organic Fertiliser imported from China recently, the howering of the vessel in Sri Lankan waters for an extended period, the seemingly ex-parte tests in Singapore and the tame settlement in Court, is now old hat. The mountain roared and brought forth a mouse! What is still kept under wraps is inter alia – (a) the undue haste in which the Letter of Credit was opened (b) whether provision was made in the Agreement to make the consignment subject to tests by the relevant Sri Lankan Authority (c) whether if either party is dis-satisfied wth such finding, a Singaporean or other independent test was possible (d) the resultant procedure in respect of the consignment in case of an independent test elsewhere. After all the fuss, bother, bark, and to put it in a nut-shell ” all fart and no shit” the country was treated to an anti-climax with the Attorney General telling Court about a settlement and withdrawing the impending Court action. The confusion is made worse confounded with clouded statements pertaining to a further shipment of “due quality”, whle it is anybody’s guess as to whether the payment of US $ 6 million odd now paid was for the rejected consignment or would apply to the replacement. If it applies to the rejected consignment, how would a replacement of due quality arise when the shipper had not accepted his liability and why should he accept liability when he has been cleared by the Singporean test? If, he had accepted liablility, payment for such consignment would not arise. And indeed, if the Singaporean authority had cleared the first consignment as non-contaminated, all the “jazz” would be irrelelevant. And, so would be the need for replacement of “due quality”. It seems quite obvious, therefore, that the US$ 6 million odd would be compensation for the rejection and we would have to pay for the replacement as well which liability could be much more now. The country is well within its rights to ask the government to spit out the full details particularly in the hour of extreme financial crisis.
Throwing Good Money after Bad
The rejection of the shipment was based on the report furnished by our own National Plant Protection Authority. The government by agreeing to tests by the Singaporean Authority has undermined the status of its own Authority which would be detrimental to the standing of the Authority as well as the government in all its dealings with future relevant shippers and this decision has virtually obliterated the National Plant Protection Authority from the relevant map which is a serious issue. Be that as it may, what purpose would it serve by persisting in importing organic fertiliser from China again? Farmers have rightly or wrongly, a well built in prejudice and bias against fertiliser from China despite any strong assurances of good or due quality. They cannot be compelled to use it even if given free or under any attractive incentive or even “blackmail” of any kind. The consequence will be much more than the present where the Maha harvest is predicted to be very much less than usual. The government would be left with another huge liability without utilising the fertiliser, dumping it elsewhere with possilbe adverse effects to the soil and environment with other complications which are beyond prediction, while commission agents would be laughing all the way. Where, Oh, where will this “Mid-summer madness” and “tom-foolery “end?