SLFP’s dilemma
Posted on July 21st, 2016

EDITORIAL Courtesy The Island

The SLFP finds itself in a peculiar position. Politically speaking, it is neither fish nor fowl. It is part of the incumbent government and at the same time it tries to act as an Opposition party. One may call this political cross-dressing, which, however, is not of recent origin. Individual politicians have practised it since Independence and the last government was full of them. But, it was only after the 2015 general election that a mainstream party adopted it as a policy. This can lead to serious problems like the one the SLFP is experiencing at present. It is unable to make its stand on the highly unpopular tax increases known to the public because it wants to oppose the government while being part thereof.

The SLFP, or, to be exact, the Maithri-Chandrika faction has been running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. It is on the same page as the UNP when the latter happens to do something popular and promptly shares the credit for that, but when the government decisions irk the public, it pretends to remain neutral or side with the masses. Thus, it seeks to get the best of both worlds.

It is laughable that the SLFP has appointed a committee to study the controversial tax revisions. It should have done so before its Cabinet ministers accepted them. It has, true to form, put the cart before the horse.

The Cabinet, usurping the powers and functions of Parliament, approved the upward tax revision at issue allegedly at the behest of the IMF and the SLFPers who are ministers are bound by collective ministerial responsibility. They are without any moral right to oppose severally what they have endorsed collectively. Their opposition to VAT and NBT hikes is tantamount to an admission that they did something wrong when they agreed to the tax increases at the Cabinet level.

The government is likely to adopt a ruse. It knows more than one way to shoe a horse. It may reduce VAT on some goods and services to pacify the irate public and traders on the warpath and increase some other taxes to recover the loss. The lending agencies only want the government revenue increased and they won’t mind VAT and NBT reductions or exemptions so long as more funds keep flowing into the state coffers by way of taxes.

The government says it has respected the Supreme Court decision on VAT and NBT unlike the Rajapaksa administration which refused to bring down fuel prices in defiance of a Supreme Court order. As for the ‘fuel price judgment’ the apex court overstepped its limits however salutary its decision was. Interestingly Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is screaming blue murder about a judicial coup against the legislature during the tenure of the controversial Chief Justice who gave the so-called fuel ruling!

The Rajapaksa government should have reduced fuel prices of its own volition in view of plummeting crude oil prices in the world market. Had it done so besides taking action to reduce the cost of living perhaps it would have been able to avoid the painful pratfalls at the presidential and parliamentary polls last year. That is the fate which befalls regimes that succumb to the arrogance of power and refuse to heed public grievances. (Ironically, the Chief Justice whose order the Rajapaksa government refused to obey as regards petroleum prices is now backing the Rajapaksas to the hilt!)

It may be recalled that no sooner had the Supreme Court ordered the suspension of the tax increases than the Prime Minister issued a media statement that they would be ratified by parliament and declared that the government had the required numbers in the House for that purpose. The government has chosen to respect the court order at issue obviously under duress vis-à-vis public protests; it has only made a virtue of necessity. What the government has done is like a cornered pickpocket choosing to return a stolen wallet to its owner for fear of being clobbered by his pursuers.

3 Responses to “SLFP’s dilemma”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    Even if the constitution will be changed since this idiotic government follows whatever instructions the US, UK, EU, Norway, Canada, Sweden, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists tell it to do, we must ensure that the unitary status of the country is not compromised in any way whatsoever. The clause in the 13th amendment which says that ‘the North and the East is the homeland of the Tamil speaking people’ must be deleted since it is totally false when looking at the history of the island. This clause must be replaced with the clause ‘the entire island is the homeland of all its peoples’. The provision which allows for the merger between two provinces should be deleted. As much subjects from the concurrent list should be included in the national list. Under no circumstances should land, police or fiscal powers be given to provincial councils. All of us need to ensure that the above happens since if the system reverts back to a parliamentary system and the presidential system is scrapped, the only way to ensure the unitary status of the country is the make sure that the provincial councils do not get any more powers than they have at present. The Public Security Ordinance should not be amended in anyway as well. If any provincial councils acts out of line, the head of government should dissolved such a provincial council and direct rule by the head of government should be enforced under those circumstances.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    Sri Lanka should tell the US that Sri Lanka cannot abide by the UNHRC resolution. The Sri Lankan Army did not commit any war crimes. It is the LTTE terrorists who committed war crimes throughout 26 years of war. No country with an ounce of self respect will place their army in harms way to be tried by a court domestic or hybrid of war crimes the army did not commit in anyway. If individual soldiers committed any crimes, a complaint can be placed in a court of law in Sri Lanka. Why is there a need for special judicial procedures? This government is a puppet of the US, EU, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India and is so subservient to US interests that it is ready to try its own armed forces for crimes that the armed forces did not commit. All the while, the LTTE terrorists who committed war crimes are being shown as totally innocent. Using the ploy of wanting a new constitution which almost all Sri Lankans don’t want, this treacherous government is trying to create a separate state in the guise of a federal state as the TNA separatist terrorists and the US, EU, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India wants. Sri Lanka should tell the US that Sri Lanka cannot abide by the UNHRC resolution. The worst that the US, UK, EU, Sweden, Norway and India can do is impose sanctions on Sri Lanka. So what? Sri Lanka can trade with all the countries of Asia and the rest of the world even if the US, UK, EU, Norway, Sweden and India imposes sanctions. Sri Lanka can grow rice, we have jack fruit, bananas, bread fruit and plenty of water too. So we will not starve just because the US, UK, EU, Sweden, Norway and India imposes sanctions. Also since we can trade with the powerful economies of Asia which includes the Middle East, South East Asia, South Asia, the Far East and Central Asia as well as the rest of the world, actually, we may be OK economically too despite any sanctions imposed by the US, EU, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India. However by avoiding implementing the unjust UNHRC resolution, Sri Lanka will safeguard its independence and freedom which is the most important thing for the next thousands of years as we have safeguarded our independence and freedom for at least the last 2600 years and avoid the creation of a separate state or eelam in the guise of a federal state. So Sri Lanka must very urgently tell the US that we will not abide by the unjust UNHRC resolution but carry out our own domestic process of reconciliation as we see fit. Let the imperialist US impose sanctions. Nothing much will happen to our economy since we can trade with the powerful economies of Asia and the rest of the world instead but Sri Lanka would have preserved its independence and freedom for the next thousands of years and avoid the partition of the country and the creation of a separate state which will be Sri Lanka’s end.

  3. NAK Says:

    Rajapakse government too adhered to the court orders in Town and country planing bill and The Divineguma bill.
    Most people think Shirani Bandaranayake was hounded for the latter decision but there were many reasons behind that including her husbands involvement in fraud.

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