Lucky Pigs
Posted on September 2nd, 2019

Editorial Courtesy The Island 

A government move to accelerate the Gamperaliya programme by granting more funds to the UNF MPs has irked the Joint Opposition (JO) beyond measure. That the UNF is desperate to boost its plummeting approval ratings with only a few more months to go for the presidential election is blindingly obvious.

The JO says the UNF MPs are to be given as much as Rs. 100 mn each, and their Opposition counterparts will get nothing, at all. Claiming that the government has discriminated against the Opposition MPs, the JO has threatened legal action against the Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who is reported to have obtained Cabinet approval for the controversial fund allocation. Whether the government will take the JO’s threat seriously and act with restraint remains to be seen.

Funds that governments have at their disposal belong to the people, and there is no provision for the disbursement thereof for political purposes. Large scale fund allocations have to be approved by Parliament. But politicians in power always find ways and means of circumventing legal barriers and utilising public funds for electioneering, etc., on the pretext of carrying out development and social welfare programmes. This has been the practice adopted by successive governments during the last several decades.

The ongoing Gamperaliya programme is part of the UNF’s unofficial election campaign, which was launched following the government’s shellacking at last year’s local government polls. Colossal amounts of funds are being used to grant loans, etc., very liberally, to the people, who are being bribed with their own money. Publicity for development projects and ceremonies to mark the launching thereof cost Citizen Perera an arm and a leg. This is the name of the game in Sri Lankan politics.

The Opposition is right in saying that the act of making funds available only for the government MPs for development activities is tantamount to discrimination against other lawmakers.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others, as the declaration by the crafty Pigs, in Orwell’s Animal Farms, goes. In 2015, the present bunch of rulers promised us a utopia, but we are still living in the same old dystopia, where the tradition continues, and the ruling pigs consider themselves more equal than all others and have all the luck.

No amount of money can save a sinking government. The Rajapaksa administration spent billions of rupees to bribe the electorate, in 2014, but lost the presidential election, in Jan. 2015. The incumbent dispensation is making a similar effort to retain power at the expense of the taxpayer. But whether it will succeed in its endeavour is in doubt. What it is experiencing at present can be described as the political version of the dengue shock.

Before making the public shell out any more funds for the Gamperaliya project, the government ought to review its progress and inform the taxpayers what they have got in return for their money and whether the money so far allocated for that programme has been properly utilised. Development projects are characterised by corruption, and the people have a right to know how their money is being spent.

Accountability is sadly lacking on the part of the government, which has failed to be different from its predecessors in spite of its rhetoric, if the serious financial irregularities in some of its programmes are anything to go by. The scheme of importing high-yielding milch cows from Australia is a case in point. Many of the cows already brought down are sick and pose a danger to other bovines. Worse, the government has paid the Australian company concerned billions of rupees for more cows, none of which have arrived! Where has the money gone? Has part of it found its way back into the deep pockets of some yahapalana politicians?

The government has also, in response to a query in Parliament, asked for six months to count the number of vehicles its ministers are using. One may ask whether the public can expect a government which is not capable of counting a few hundred vehicles to account for their funds.

One Response to “Lucky Pigs”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Strange that those who filed a case for the violation of 13A of the Constitution over the Ruhunu Economic Development Corporation are silent when Rs. 100 million each is given to UNP MPs to do “development” work!

    Too many federalists in patriotic clothing.

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