Warnings of the Cost of Crooked Politics
Posted on October 27th, 2017

By Lucien Rajakarunanayake Courtesy The Island

Rising cost of living would make it difficult to face elections – President

Does the government really want to face elections?

The record of the past two years would show the government is, in fact, running away from elections, than wanting to face and contest them. This is true of both Local Government and Provincial Council polls. We will certainly have to wait and see if it wants to face another Presidential Poll and, more importantly, the next General Election.

A Presidential Poll, may not be needed if the Executive Presidency is abolished; but the General Election – could there be new legislation to delay it by some devious and errant means, as we saw happen for the Provincial Council polls? Will there be a new category of voters with rights to parliamentary representation? Why not have representatives of Sri Lankans living abroad elected? I’m sure the Poll Delay Minister Faiszer Musthapha will have a package ready for it.

Because the President’s worry was about the Cost of Living, let’s look at the Costs of Government that have contributed to rising living costs, in case the Yahapalanaya President does not know of these.

How much have political vehicles – luxury cars for MPs, Ministers, and senior officials, contributed to the budget deficit – that lead to the cost of living? The many millions in foreign exchange are not readily counted. They are brought for MPs and Ministers to serve their voters – to win the next poll; is that true?

Attached to this import of luxury travel, is the cost of the duty waiver on these vehicles, not just once in a term of government, but many times over, with the politicians and other official beneficiaries, raking millions through the sale of Duty Free permits. This is certainly a cost of corruption that will be in the minds of future voters at any election.

How much does each voter have to pay to maintain the MPs who will seek re-election, or their parties – through the Rs. 100,000 provided each month to 225 MPs to manage the political offices in their electoral districts? Did the public ever call for such a parliamentary bribe to its honourable members? Very costly, indeed!

How much do the house and office costs of MP and Ministers add to the cost of living that has to be borne by the voter? Does the President not know how much of this staggering cost, is for the long unoccupied Ministry of Agriculture – headed by the General Secretary of the SLFP? That is hardly the stuff of election-winning politics.

Talking of what is so common today – the cost of Bond Scams. How much would the Treasury Bond Scams have added to the Cost of Living? We are not talking about the cost of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry; the people would readily meet such costs. But the massive crooked activity that has been exposed – by Treasury bond dealers and also the manipulators in the Central Bank, Finance Ministry, several State Banks and the Employees’ Provident Fund. Surely this staggering amount – many billions of rupees, about which the Prime Minister of Yahapalanaya, too, must have much to explain– would also contribute to the Cost of Living that is beginning to frighten the President.

The President’s concerns about the Cost of Living posing a threat to the next election – obviously to those who hold the reins of power has much of political reality today. But there are bigger concerns that could very well shake up whatever confidence the people had in electing this Yahapalanaya Team, which has now turned out to be a team for their own crooked power, and not the service of the people.

While the rising Cost of Living will hang in the rear, there are bigger issues much more in focus that will affect any and every coming poll – whenever they are held. These include how much has been achieved in the promised fight against corruption in government – the theme of the Yahapalanaya Campaign, and the pledge of the Common Candidate – the President himself.

How can the people be convinced that a genuine fight against corruption is taking place when many who were suspected of corrupt deals in the past are now in the governmental embrace?

Also, whenever the next election that matters comes along, can the government show that it was genuinely interested in Sri Lanka having a New Constitution, and not the watered down farce that is most likely to be presented to the people: or even worse, no new constitution at all, being frightened by the so-called religious chants against it, as well as the bomb threats and warnings of the killings of those who call for such political change.

Yes, the next election is a poser – not only to the President but to all Sri Lankans.

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