Monday 26 June 2017

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

26 June 2017                                          

Private or Public/Local or Global?

Our  youngest daughter who is in a senior management position in Legal Aid, said recently  that she was constrained trying to balance her  post-renovation budget which was to her more challenging than would be for her siblings working in private sector. I listened without judging or relating one directly with the other. Seen from the outside - they are all in large institutions and in senior management positions.   But when taken individually they are diverse in their makeup at that level. As a parent, I need to be receptive to all three of them and to the extent of their diversity on one to one basis – helping them feel that they are right. That is the approach I take with victims of war in Sri Lanka. If I use the common measure – without bringing all three of them individually into me – one or the other would feel let down and rightly so. Hence to the extent they are diverse – we need to listen to them separately – as if they are the only ones needing our services. Within me, I am satisfied that they are all enjoying the returns of their own contributions to their positions in those institutions. The Commonness contribution is their membership with those large institutions – the largest of them being Public Service.  To my mind, our above mentioned Legal Aid senior manager enjoys higher status than the other two and hence it is understandable that she gets relatively less money than her siblings.

With this ‘value’ as the base, I read this morning, the response headed ‘Brighter or Darker skies over SriLankan Airlines?’ by Mr. Rajeewa Jayaweera – also a staff investor in the National Carrier. Of particular importance to me is the following passage:

[2016/17 Performance
Traffic Revenue has reportedly dropped by 6.1% to USD 790 million in 2016/17 from USD 842 million in 2015/16. Passenger Revenue is down by 6.5% to USD 685 million from USD 725 million and Cargo Revenue down by 7% to USD 80 from USD 87 million.
Key contributory factors have been a 2% reduction in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) in 2016/17 from previous year (RPK is calculated by multiplying the number of revenue-paying passengers on board a flight by the distance traveled), a 3% reduction in Passenger Yields and 11% reduction in Cargo Yields from previous year. It has negated a 3% increase in number of passengers carried from previous year.
One of the reasons attributed to the "weakening of the balance sheet" in the media release was the non- recovery of "drop in ticket prices" as a result of "fuel price reduction in 2015". Nevertheless, a reliable source stated "average fuel price paid by the airline in US cents per gallon in 2016/17 was 3% less than average price paid in 2015/16".
Drop in ticket prices need be addressed with innovative and dynamic sales, pricing and marketing strategies, by the commercial division, besides stringent controlling of costs by all concerned, top down.
Drop in ticket prices is a universal phenomenon and not limited to the Sri Lankan market and SriLankan Airlines. Qatar Airways CEO announced last week, a 20% growth in profits of USD 541 million and a 22% growth in passengers carried on year on year basis.]

There are many reasons for my special focus on this passage. The main one is the Revenue Passenger Kilometers. My mind sought and found the parallel structure in my work at the University of NSW – where as the consultant for the small but active Commercial Unit – Sports Medicine – I learnt to use the parallel of EFTSU – Effective Full Time Student Units presented  as follows by the University of Sydney:

[Fee paying

If you’re a domestic student on a full-fee-paying place, it means your place receives no financial contribution from the government and you are required to pay the full cost of the course.
If you’re an international student, you are required to pay the full international fee for your course.
While some postgraduate courses offer Commonwealth supported places for domestic students, most are offered as full fee paying.
Tuition fees for full-fee-paying places are based on an annual course fee that is reviewed each year.
Annual fees are based on an equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL) of 24 credit points per semester or 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL) per year. If your study load in any calendar year is more or less than 1.0 EFTSL your tuition fee will differ.]

I used the EFTSU calculations in determining the viability of a particular Course within the Sports Medicine structure. That was like the project within the larger programme of Medicine.
Sri Lankan Airlines needs to be the leader in taking Sri Lankan Public Service towards Democratic Management – starting with its Financial Management.

Qatar Airways - the example chosen by Mr. Rajeewa Jayaweera is down in Home Relationships. As per recent reports:

[EMIRATES and Etihad Airlines have suspended all flights to and from Qatar as Arab nations sever diplomatic ties to the country, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and backing Iran.]

The Accountability factor of Qatar Airways has been shrunk to local levels and hence its reporting does not qualify to be used in ‘global context’/ as an indicator of Universal Phenomenon.
Qatar Airways – to the extent it is fully owned by the Government and therefore is controlled by the Emir of Qatar would have a hierarchical reporting structure. Sri Lankan Airlines was controlled by the Rajapaksa Monarchy and hence those reports did not qualify in the global context. The current government continued in that pathway to exploit Sri Lankan Airlines through the Weliamuna Report for which money was paid for someone lacking wisdom in Airline operations in general and particular to Sri Lankan Airlines’ structure. The only way this would have helped is through Energy developed through his then workplace – which I understand was Transparency International Sri Lanka. One would expect the key aspect of this institution to be Transparency. Yet, the ‘fee’ paid to Mr. Weliamuna was ‘hidden’.

While my intuitive objection was through the way he reported on the areas covered by me- most of which were established and developed by me under the supervision of Singapore International Airlines, on Commercial basis – others who did not have that inner wisdom – attributed negative value to the Weliamuna report once they found out that Mr. Weliamuna accepted money as fees and was not transparent about it.

Had Mr. Weliamuna been transparent – he would have shown efficiency as a Commercial investigator and his recommendations would have profitable in a financial sense. Given that he was not – he had the duty to decline any money and do it as part of his Service Program and that would have helped improve relationships within the whole structure including but not limited to the Government and the then current Staff. The weaknesses identified would continue to show – as per the root purpose of that Weliamuna report which was to rubbish the previous regime which report has had the effect of bringing in Public Service Monitors into  an organisation which is expected to produce a profit:

-        Line minister had no knowledge on national carrier’s decision to terminate deal with Airbus
-        CID probe underway on the purchase of four Airbus A -350 900 aircraft
-       AG questions legality of Airbus agreement and the need to sign numerous agreements with other parties  - Sunday Times Article ‘ More details emerge on SriLankan’s state of affairs

The way effectiveness of an organization is measured could be through Revenue or Expenditure. Taking the traditional family as an example, the way a homemaker spent the money earned by the breadwinner would complete the picture at that level and elevate the ‘Opportunity level’ of the whole family  to the next higher level. It is for this reason that in Hindu culture – women are known as Shakthi / Energy. The homemaker foregoes personal enjoyment to share in Common. Since they do not get credit for earning money – their contribution turns into Energy which supports all money earners who are family to that homemaker.

In terms of Sri Lankan Airlines structure – where Public Service Support is provided to Commercial Operations – that is Homemaker’s contribution. But when Public Officers use the Airlines to show their own credits – they become Equal  breadwinners and they also need to be as Accountable as the Commercial Operators. Neither is expected to contribute to strengthen ‘relationships’ and one must expect divisions and separations followed by De Facto structures due to ‘freedom’ enjoyed at the lower level.

As we sow, so shall we reap. All genuine investors in the Airline will carry with them the ability to develop self-managing structures –including within the Tourism industry.  I for example am using Airbnb support services which facilitate both sides to review each other. THAT is the Universal measure of Democracy based on Equal Opportunity. This is the Energy I share with all those who respect my structures and take their positions within those structures. To me my AirLanka is a Commercial Operation structured under the leadership of Singapore International Airlines.

On that basis – yesterday when I listened to the Prime Minister of Singapore the Hon Lee Hsien Loong,  about the family conflict which was naturally affecting his Public life, I experienced the enjoyment of Transparency through my own parallel with close relatives in Vaddukoddai. Through myself I identified with the Singapore Prime Minister to be a Democratic leader. Likewise,  with the Australian Tamil Diaspora Leader who shared the speech with me.

I believe that this is what Being Global is all about. 

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