| by I. S. Senguttuvan
( February 13, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Everyone knew it was coming – when and at what levels were the only questions.
In today’s world, even a 3rd world country like Sri Lanka, needs to have fuel to power its economy. Lots and lots of it. And its lower strata of society needs Koresene for its daily use. In a country where electricity-cover is claimed to be over 80% gradual and incessant increase of energy bills can create mass dissension.
Just about everyone in the country, except perhaps those holding the reins of power, knew somebody, at sometime, will be called to pay for all the sheer wastage the public has been watching silently. They know what can happen if the people get into the street – either through popular protest or through trade union and working class joint action. They know an army of over 200,000 and a servile Police force of 100,000 totally irrelevant in times of peace which the widely respected Economist Magazine (UK) sarcastically commented this week tongue in cheek as “just what is required for a democracy?” .
The list of billions sent down the drain – by this struggling, near-bankrupt country to massage the ego of a very few – is staggering – the jumbo Tamasha trips here, there and everywhere carrying friends, sycophants, cronies, girl friends of sons of the privileged; a regular loss making airline whose usefulness has always been question but which, anyway, gobbles up billions every year merely to serve the ego of just two men huge losses of the losing Hambantota Port and other unnecessary White Elephant projects, highly inflated government purchases with questionable foreign Contractors, the huge wastage of a non-performing jumbo Cabinet, a bevy of so-called “Senior Ministers” – a group of former senior ministers who have lost their bite. It is said some of them are consigned to the same room and at least one in protest comes to office in shorts. Today, no Minister, no influential government MP wants to go on the road if he has the slightest excuse not to. It is nothing but helicopter rides for them and the family. Even molly-coddled officials prefer to fly for minor functions that could easily be accomplished by their super-limos..
This begs the question who will pay for all this criminal waste – totally unsanctioned by Parliament. Since we are in a form of government by the people and for the people it naturally follows this PEOPLE will have to foot the bill – whether they like it or not. And the way to do that is the rob the people while keeping them drugged with palliatives of having “slayed the dragon” – something that happened 3 years ago. To ensure they do not rise up, false fears of a “deadly diaspora” the possibility of “a second coming of the LTTE” and “an unfriendly, belligerent West” are always regularly doled out. – and duly swallowed by a public regularly suckered.
Paying time is here – and that comes in the form of hefty rises in the price of petrol and kerosene. Petrol goes to nearly Rs.150/litre which UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake, an Accountant – claims costs only around Rs.70 (Landed Cost) to the State. The hike on Kerosene – used mostly by the poor – suggests the desperation of the regime to find money to finance the running of the government. The regime is fully conscious the increase of nearly 50% on Kerosene will further alienate the government from the poorer mass of voters and still they go ahead. Presumably, the government’s financial advisors and the regime are trying to recover the huge losses by their irresponsible wastage by increasing the price of Petrol, Kerosene, Gas and Electricity far above the rises for these in supply ends abroad. The story does not end there. Price of Cooking Gas has to be raised. That will be followed by a rise in the price of electricity. Despite the loose assurances of the regime’s Economy Czars Nivard Cabral and Dr. P. B. Jayasundera the IMF dictate of devaluing the rupee by around 20% is taking place – creating further confusion in the Import-Export sectors and the financial market. An inconsequential Stock market falsely put forward as the “best performing in the world” is now more closed than open for it is said to be “the 2nd worst performing Bourse in the world”
The nearly 60% of the voters who went against Mahinda Rajapakse in the 2006 General Elections were convinced what was presented as Mahinda Chinthana was a list of fiction that will take the country to disaster. They were not entirely wrong.