Budget aims to make Sri Lanka a dependency – Part II
Posted on November 14th, 2017

By :A.A.M.NIZAM – MATARA

(continued from Part I.)

Just to digress from the main subject of Budget a bit, the shameless and ungrateful lingerie designer Mangala Samaraweera before commencing hid budget speech has ridiculed the former President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa for coming to Parliament with a group of JO MPs riding in bicycles.  This man who started his own political life by riding in a bicycle has completely forgotten his past.  During 1988, Madam Sirimavo Bandaraanaike (after describing to some people that Anura brought a pirimi vesiyek to her to appoint as SLFP organiser for the Matara electorate”) sent this guy to Matara as the SLFP joint organizer for the Matara electorate under the mentoring of her confidante Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa.  This man by residing in the house of a relative did his electioneering in and around the Matara town in the only vehicle he had, a bicycle.   He depended on Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa to come all the way from Tangalle on a daily basis to take him in Mr. Mahinda’s vehicle to Goigama chieftains in the district and canvass support for him as Mr. Mahinda was profusely loved by the majority of Goigama people in the Matara district and also because his mother was from Matara.  Mr. Mahinda’s support for him was very crucial because Matara district is a highly cast conscious district and his caste durawa’” was a minority caste in the district which was dominated by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Goigama caste, followed by Mr. Mahinda Wijesekara’s Karawe caste and since the election was held on preference votes basis. He still gets less votes than Goigama caste Budhika Pathiranaa despite holding the most powerful ministerial portfolios. If it was not for Mr. Mahinda Raapaksa he would not have entered Parliament in 1989.

  • Karawe caste is majority in Weligama and Devinuwara electorates (coastal belt from Weligama to Dickwella excluding Matara Municipal Council and some Matara Pradeshiya Sabha areas)
  • Durawe caste is the majority only in the Matara electorate.
  • All other electorates in the district are Goigama majority electorates (Akuressa, Deniyaya, Hakmana, and Kamburupitiya electorates)

Now, back to our subject the Budget, analysts point out that for decades the economic policy of the country has been building of a strong Sri Lankan capitalist economy and protecting the Sri Lankan peasantry but this budget attempts to roll back this policy.  They say that the budget hopes to de-industrialize Sri Lanka and shift it to trading and commerce, rather than industrial and agricultural production as well as industrial production based upon agriculture

Opposition to the budget proposals are mounting and that latest to join the Anti-Budget wagon is the Sri Lanka Medical Association.  .The SLMA President Prof. Chandrika Wijeratne has urged all parliamentarians to defeat the efforts to promote alcohol consumption. She has said that the moves to reduce beer prices and introduce a new tax structure for alcohol were “misplaced and dangerous”. She has stated that while the government’s free health service was striving to reduce alcohol consumption and battle alcohol related diseases, the government itself was attempting to introduce a new policy which would increase alcohol consumption.

It must be remembered that with the establishment of the people’s government in 1956 Sri Lanka embarked on a national development policy and encouraged, assisted and induced Sri Lankans to establish manufacturing industries and farms and it was the key guiding principle of Madam Sirimavo Bandaraanaike and Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s governments as well.  Wide implementation of this policy resulted in establishing many manufacturing industries such as Maliban, Dasa, Kelani Tyre, Tulhiriya, Fertilizer, Plywood, Steel, Mineral Sands, Paper, Sugar etc coming into being.  Unfortunately, many of these industries collapsed due to lack of assistance from the intermittent UNP governments and Chandrika’s pseudo populist government or got subjected to privatisations. It was reported in economic circles that when Madame Bandaranaike handed over the country in 1977 there were more than 100 large scale, medium scale and small scales locally owned industrial units in Sri Lanka.  Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa had to re-acquire many of the State Enterprises that had been privatised and handed over to political cronies or foreigners between 1977 and 2004..  They included, Sri Lankan Airlines, Shell Gas, Insurance Corporation, Pelwatte and Sevanagala Sugar plants, Tulhiriya textile mills etc.  Act No. 43 of 2011 relating to acquiring minimum performance enterprises is among the acts intended to be repealed or amended, the UNP Minister Daya Gamage will get the Sevenagala Sugar Factory which vested with the government under reacquisition.

Supporting/establishing of local industries and growing our own essential food items is the inherent policy of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.  As such no one calling himself/herself as SLFP and in the government has a moral right to support this budget which is all out to demolish local industries and make the country totally dependent on food imports.  Those in the government and calling themselves as SLFPers should be ashamed to call Gal Arakku John, Wig Nimal Siripala, Conductor Amaraweera, Amuda Duminda, Joker SB, Dilan Perera and Mutguhettigama who have praised the budget as their colleagues SLFPers.. It is this government’s abandoning of the highly successful self reliant Divi Neguma programme that has contributed to today’s sky rocketing vegetable prices as excess production under the programme used to be supplied to the nearby market outlets

A hidden factor evident in the budget is that the Tamil slavish Mangala has not forgotten to present some special proposals exclusively favouring the Tamil community.  These include

  • Establish a modern economic center in Jaffna which will be connected to the Dambulla Economic Center and Colombo, creating an economic triangle
  • Improveme`t to Myladi Fisheries Harbour will be improved.
  • Allocation of Rs. one billion to support small industries in the Northern Province
  • A Low interest loan scheme for those in debt in the North and North Central Provinces.
  • Allocation of Rs. 2.7 billion to construct 50,000 brick and mortar type houses to be built in the North and East for differently abled women in the North and the East.
  • Allocation of Rs. 2,000 million to construct 25,000 housing units for those in line houses.
  • Allocation of Rs. 3,000 million to construct housing units in the North and East provinces.

While appreciating this generosity being shown to the Tail people,  it warrants to ask why an economic centre is to be established only in Jaffna, and why no such centres are to be established in other local produce supply areas such as Embilipitiya, Welimada and Ampara,  Why no consideration is being given for construction of houses for landslide victims in Aranaayake, Meetotamulla, Saalawa, and other landslide hit areas where the people who lost their houses in these areas are languishing in tents, houses of relatives and in rented houses?

The veteran journalist C.A.Chandraprma in his weekly Sunday Island Political Column dated 12th November states that this is a budget designed to milk the people dry.   He says that apart from a huge increase in revenue expected from income tax, the government also hopes to increase revenue from indirect taxes on goods and services, import duties payable on cars and vehicles, widening of the VAT net, tax on mobile phone relay towers, tax on SMS advertising, and from the duty revision on liquor and from the proposed tax of 20 cents for every Rs. 1000 bank transactions called the ‘debt repayment levy’. He says that these over-ambitious revenue targets have been given just to keep the IMF happy.

In an another foreign servile move, the budget also proposes to establish VAT refund centres at airports and sea ports to refund VAT payments made by foreign visitors during their stay in the country..  If the government can manage without the VAT payments of foreigners why no arrangement can be made to completely waive the horrendous VAT charges which drastically affect the people of this country? What happened to the promise made last year saying that VAT will only be a short term measure?

The Island editorial of 13h November flaying the budget for many of its follies criticised the widening of VAT net to include sale of apartments as well and said that this move runs counter to the very principles of VAT. The Chairman of the Colombo Stock Brokers Association Mr. Ravi Abesuriya has also criticised VAT imposition on apartment sales.  He has told the Financial Times that the removal of 15% VAT exemption on the sale of condominium housing units is a regressive policy.”  He has pointed out that VAT, which is a service tax, is not charged on property transactions in almost all the countries, except a few,” and the new m0ve will have an impact on future developments as well as on the idea of promoting vertical living.

Former Media Minister Mr. Keheliya Rambukwella sarcastically states that this inept government has submitted 4 budgets and these budgets have presented about 400 promises but only about 26 promises have been fulfilled so far.  For instance one such false promise made in the last budget was providing Tabs to Advanced Level students. The former Minister said that what Mangala Samaraweera has presented is a basket full of fairy tales.

The budget speech also failed to mention about the prices increases of many items which included plants, plastic beads, woolen clothes, timber and timber products, dye, home appliances, cameras, projectors, wristwatches, and spectacles.

While the budget in general was criticised by all and sundry it has received much appreciation from Mangala’s Northern relatives.  A North website commenting on the budget writes even though many expected the Government to come up with an ‘election budget’, the maiden Budget of Minister Samaraweera had focused mainly on policy implementations. While many view the Budget 2018 as set of proposals that promises nothing major to anyone, yet implementing taxes for almost everything, there are some carefully drafted po licy measures, which any other government would have otherwise not paid much attention to. For instance, it had paid attention to the trap of micro credit entities, where rural people, especially those in the North and the East, fall prey to.”

The Website adds that The Government will support, by way of the provision of grants and the introduction of a low interest loan scheme, to facilitate those indebted and to move out the debt trap through co-operative rural banks and the thrift and credit co-operative societies. This will be implemented on a pilot basis in the Northern and the North Central Provinces and Rs 1,000 million has been allocated in this regard.”

Mangala’s terrorist Grandpa Sambandan has hailed the budget proposals.  He has commended Mangala for allocating Rs. 140 million for the welfare of LTTE cadres who had been rehabilitated. Another TNA MP Sivashakthi Anandan deviating from the budget debate has told the Parliament the importance of devolution for North and East and has said that Tamils should be appointed as District Secretaries in Tamil majority areas.  (niz)

 

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