1 November, 2020

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Fooling All The People All The Time

By Sanjeewa Jayaweera

Sanjeewa Jayaweera

With every passing day, the two primary Presidential candidates are vying with each other to offer greater inducements to the electorate. They include free fertilizer to farmers and free meals with two sets of uniforms to schoolchildren. Also on offer is the reduction of Value-Added Tax (VAT), elimination of income tax under Pay As You Earn (PAYE), and an increase in daily wage of plantation workers. 

Given the precarious position of the national economy, the offer of all the mentioned incentives by both Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Sajith Premadasa (SP) are utterly irresponsible and reprehensible. It is not known if the significant impact on the national economy in terms of reducing state revenue and increasing government expenditure has been assessed. Or else, are both candidates shooting from the hip is anybody’s guess.

I recollect being captivated by an electoral promise made by Mrs.Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1970 as an impressionable eleven-year-old. She promised to bring rice even from the moon to fulfill her electoral promise of two measures of rice per household.

The promise to bring rice from the moon resonated well with me. Given that only a few months earlier,1969, to be precise, I, along with millions of others, had listened to the radio broadcast of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon. Nevertheless, before long, I realized promises made by Sri Lankan politicians are never to be taken seriously.

The Colombo based middle-class believe a significant percentage of Sri Lankan adults in rural areas are gullible and naive. They supposedly accept meaningless promises made by contestants leading up to any election.

I have not come across any research to support this theory. Nevertheless, it is a distinct possibility. Thousands of such adults turning up at public rallies of these two contestants lend credence to this theory. The two major parties they represent have ruled and ruined this country in the last 70 years. 

It is possible, a particular segment of the population does accept inducements ranging from a free lunch packet to a bottle of liquor. They brave the scorching sun or pelting rain to listen and cheer these false promises. I just can’t imagine they would otherwise attend these rallies to listen to all the falsehoods uttered at meetings. 

As I recollect, GR stole a march on SP recently. He announced at a public rally, “Mahinda called me this morning and told me, if elected, we should give free fertilizer to the paddy farmers.”  I have read in the newspapers that if this promise is to be implemented, the incremental cost would be around Rs. 45 billion. 

Not to be outdone, SP responded with a counter promise. He announced he would give free fertilizer to not only the paddy farmer but to all farmers, including those cultivating vegetables, fruits, tea, etc. if elected. Another promise made by SP was that he would give a free midday meal along with two sets of free school uniforms to children in all schools.  

As far as I am aware, GR has not announced a counter offer!  

GR has also announced that if elected, he would reduce the VAT rate from 15% to 8%. This promise, if implemented, will have a significant impact on state revenue. According to the Annual Report of the Ministry of Finance for 2018, the revenue collected from VAT was Rs. 462 billion. If we are to estimate a 5% increase on year on year basis, the projected VAT revenue for the year 2020 would be approximately Rs. 510 billion. By more or less halving the VAT rate, the government revenue would decrease by almost Rs. 240 billion.

To state matters in perspective, the budget deficit in 2018 was around Rs. 770 billion. In terms of tax revenue, VAT and Excise Duty contribute in near equal share. Therefore, the question to be addressed is as to how this revenue decline will be compensated? Will Corporate and Income taxes be raised substantially, or will Excise Duty be raised?. Whichever tool is utilized, it would negatively impact a large segment of the population significantly. 

Obviously, GR could say, recurrent government expenditure would be reduced in equal measure. However, that seems highly unlikely given that salary increments granted to public servants from January 2020 is expected to cost an additional Rs. 120 billion, not forgetting the extra Rs. 45 billion to be incurred in giving free fertilizer to the paddy farmers!

GR announced that he would increase the daily wage of a plantation worker to Rs. 1,000. This has been countered by SP offering to increase it to Rs.1,500. The fact of the matter is that nearly all plantations are now privately owned. I wonder as to how this increase is to be enforced as most of the plantation companies are currently posting losses and they unlike the state are unable to print money!.   

A few days back, Parliament approved the Vote on Account for four months from January to April 2020 without a vote being taken!. The Vote on Account presented by the Finance Minister sought approval to spend Rs. 1,470 billion for recurrent and capital expenditure and debt repayments while the projected revenue for the four months is only Rs. 745 billion. The resultant deficit of Rs. 725 billion is to be funded by debt. 

The Janatha Vimukthi  Permuna (JVP) requested the Speaker to record their objection to the vote on account. It is reported that Bimal Ratnayake, the JVP MP, has stated, the Government had ample time to present a Budget.  The Vote on Account has brushed aside Parliament’s monetary powers. The only thing that comes out of this Vote on Account is unrestrained allocations. It basically robs people of their monies. All right-thinking people would and should fully endorse his statement.

In my mind, there is no doubt, regardless of who is elected as the President of this country, the national economy will continue to stagnate. 

 Many unpalatable decisions will have to be made to correct wrongs committed over the last 70 years.  However, based on irresponsible electoral promises being currently made by both contenders the much needed policy changes and course correction will not be forthcoming.

Former American President Abraham Lincoln is  known to have said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” 

I am beginning to believe this is no longer the case when applied to the Sri Lankan electorate!.

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Latest comments

  • 13
    1

    Sanjeeva Jayaweera,

    Thanks for your essay on the Sri Lankan Politicos and the voters , mean IQ 79, (measured actual data), who repeatedly elect them. The politicians are promising, what the imbeciles want to hear,

    What would you give cattle and buffaloes? Grass.

    Nobody is promising to do CRISPER DNA transplant technology to improve the intelligence of the imbeciles . Too sad. So, Abraham Lincoln’s statement will not apply to the Sri Lankan electorate.

    • 2
      5

      I read in to-days Tamil paper that Sajit will defend Shavendra to the hilt and keep him as the army chief. If this his attitude what is the difference between Githa and Sajit. Under these circumstances, it will be better to vote for Gotha, if Tamils decide to vote.
      “Oru Panai Sottruku oru Soru patham” meaning, when you boil rice in a pot, one grain of rice is enough to check whether rice has boiled.

      • 3
        1

        K Anaga,

        Remember, the primary competition is to grab a sizable fraction of the Para-Sinhala Buddhist votes, prevent most of it going to Gota, and prevent him going over, 50 percent.
        The greater threat is Gota.

        Many times, the Para-Tamils are very stupid, like their Para counterparts, Para-Sinhala and Para-Tamils, measured mean IQ 79. Those Paras with mean IQ 79 or above and those with common sense, even if their IQs are below 79, should vote for AKD or Sajith and prevent the RACIST Gotha being elected by the imbeciles.

        • 5
          6

          Amarasiri,
          How Native Sinhalayo vote is none of your business.

          Why can’t these descendants of slaves brought from Malabar mind their business without poking their nose into the affairs of Native Sinhalayo.

          • 1
            1

            Eagle CONFUSED Eye,

            “How Native Sinhalayo vote is none of your business”

            Preventing the destruction of the Land of Native Veddah Aethho by the Para-Sinhalayo , as well as the other Paras, fall under Amerisiri’s business.

            Sinhalayo are not Native. They are Paradeshis, Paras in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, just like other Paras based on mitochondrial DNA data. Get a molecular biologist /geneticist to interpret for you.

            https://www.nature.com/articles/jhg2013112

            Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people:

            Through a comparison with the mtDNA HVS-1 and part of HVS-2 of Indian database, both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.

            con·fu·sion:
            :
            1 ) uncertainty
            lack of certainty
            unsureness
            indecision
            hesitation
            hesitancy
            scepticism
            doubt
            ignorance
            dubiety
            incertitude
            Opposite:
            certainty

            2. )the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind about something.
            Eagle Eye read mt-DNA genetics of Para-Sinhalayo in confusion.

          • 1
            0

            Eagle Confused Eye.

            “How Native Sinhalayo vote is none of your business”

            Sinhalayo are not Natiove. However, it is the business of Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka.. to expose cowards and crooks.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA5vzuCd49w

            SLW 284 F M Sarath Fonseka

            • 0
              0

              Amarasiri,
              Can tell the truth to the don-key but cannot force the don-key to accept it.

  • 11
    2

    The election is being held in SL, a so called ‘Democracy’. The rules and regulations governing that election is unique to SL and therefore cannot be compared to other ‘Democracies’ of this world. In most democracies, inducements are offered to the voters during the time of the elections to garner more votes. But there may be some checks and balances (budget honesty requirements) in some more advanced counties to ensure all such offers are properly accounted for by way of funding by costing all such initiatives. But not so in S (I am subject to correction here).

    One has only to question the credibility, integrity and honesty of NGR. If he is not honest, conscientious and decent enough not to cast a vote (in 2005) while being a non citizen of SL, how can we trust him to deliver knowing ALL his past misdeeds and alleged criminalities? On the contrary, SP does not carry such baggage. So it’s a question of who is able to communicate better and convince the voters that he is the better and more believable and trustworthy candidate. One thing is certain. Either SP or NGR will be the winner of this election.

    Voters, please use your franchise wisely so we all can all look forward to a better future under an untainted, young and dynamic leadership of a true ‘Democrat’. Actions speak louder than words!

  • 5
    0

    An excellent analysis which should be published daily in your website until the election day. I appeal to someone who could translate this to Sinhala and Tamil to include this in his facebook page so that the message would reach the ordinary voter.

  • 1
    0

    unless we reduce 80/20 from indirect taxes to direct taxes to 60/40 this country is economicaly doomed

  • 4
    0

    Fooling All The People All The Time. Exactly the new alliance has MR as head of SLPP, Gotha the official candidate and the Chairmen is none other than same MS who was scared of MR, killing him and his family four years ago. It is more and more clear to any sensible person, the role MS was paying, the whole time as President, being elected with the support of UNP and then trying to sabotage the government for his self gain. MR never expected MS to win. But when equations changed he soon made the pact with MS to help them getting back into power. Lankans are utter fools and retards. The rumor is MS is now begging to be nominated as a member to get back into parliament , like MR. Looks like these rogues are addicted and dependent on “getting to power”. PATHETIC.

    • 6
      0

      chiv “Lankans are utter fools and retards.” How true.We think that the bugger wearing the safron robe is the Buddha, when the safron wearing bugger penetrates a childs ass hole the child is at fault, when the safron wearing bugger seduces a woman, even rape, we find the woman guilty.Hell withis joke of a country.
      TRUE RETARDS

  • 4
    0

    universal suffrage has no longer served its purpose
    time we thought of an alternative to suit our unintelligent people

  • 5
    2

    Sinhalese are famous for this..
    they can be easily fooled by MR.
    that has been going for 10 years.
    enough is enough.
    if you give the country back to them it will be end of democracy in Sri Lanka.
    then; army; police; civil servants and all other will have to salute for them..

  • 5
    0

    Again, the country must vote for the lesser of two evils. Only the ignorant and the naive will vote for the tried, tested, and failed lot. Sri Lankans are gluttons for punishment, and they seem to want the clean roads for the white vans to travel on.

  • 6
    0

    The political parasites are playing according to the expectations of the stupid voters of SL and they will again end up fooling the people.There are not enough people wanting to see if a third party will deliver to them a better country. Yes, all the people are being fooled all the time.

  • 2
    1

    This essay is only referring to an obvious fact known to all all the voters, not just to the urban middle class. As a person who mingle with people daily, I know that not that many voters believe in this promises. Of course, there is a small % of voters who get fired up by this cheap stage talks but, a vast majority understand the cynicism involved in politics. This is a common phenomena all over the world; not just in SL. In rich countries, the list of goodies may be only different – in Britain, it may be BREXIT; in the US it may be immigration bill & gun control.

    I’m curious as to why the writer only talk about two major parties omitting JVP. JVP is also doing the same. Their “goodies” are more expensive & impractical b’cos, expanding Gvt control is the most ineffective way to run a country.

  • 4
    0

    The sad reality is that we have no credible candidates for Presidency. We have a much hyped ‘patriot’ (who has sought greener pastures abroad previously & pledged allegiance to that country) & a claimed London School of Economics graduate, riding on his old man’s popularity among, predominately, the rural folk. The underdog is a candidate put forward by a ‘socialist’ party, responsible for 2 violent uprisings in the past where countless innocent civilians were murdered & the destruction of public property during their reign of terror.

    The ‘patriot’ talks of maintaining friendly relations with other countries but has failed, so far, to face allegations of war crimes by the International community. He wants us to forget the past & ask him about the future under his leadership. So, all the allegations of massive scale corruption, misuse & abuse of power, murder & disappearances of those who displeased him are to be shoved under the proverbial carpet & take his word for a prosperous, technology oriented, business friendly, low tax, rosy (but unsustainable?) future under his leadership. His opponent paints a similar unrealistic future, & as for his LSE education & his White House ‘apprenticeship’, he doesn’t seem to have learnt much. His old man, uneducated as he was, had a flawed, short term vision for SL, wasting public funds on useless projects like ‘gamudawa’, building monuments that were of no use. The son is no better, following the same strategy. I would expect better from an economics graduate on solutions to burning issues like the foreign debt, economic & social reforms, racial harmony & safeguarding the environment, not free fertiliser, school uniforms & more temples,.
    His lack of understanding that, in simple terms, sorting the big problems will automatically sort the little things, doesn’t say much about his integrity, not to mention, his intelligence.

    • 2
      9

      “So, all the allegations of massive scale corruption, misuse & abuse of power, murder & disappearances of those who displeased him….”

      Who was it that displeased him? A few journalists and some LTTE. Less than 0.5% of the population. We don’t know exactly who was responsible for what happened to the journalists, but he sent the LTTE packing, making the country a much safer place and setting the ground for development. Why should he waste his time with war crimes… ask Bush, Blair, and Trump to set the example.

    • 3
      0

      Raj,
      As I mentioned just above, you are also repeating a perennial issue in SL politics. Everybody talk about the problem of lack of qualified candidates but only a few seems to be trying to do something about it. I think that the real obstacle for the emergence of talented candidates was clearly ex[posed by Sajith’s efforts win the nomination: SL political parties simply don’t have a democratic system to chose candidates. Do you believe whether Obama could have become a US president had not for the open selection system?

      This is the reason I was trying to emphasize the importance of open selection process a one of the top campaign issue beginning at least with this election cycle. It didn’t happen. Instead, as this essay points out, this election campaign also turned out to be a recycling of the same old tactic of pretending to be the best Santa Claus. I strongly believe that a large portion of ills including corruption in our political system can be eliminated if we can force parties to adopt an open selection system.

      I think that the biggest weakness of this essay is treating rural poor as dumb voters. It is wrong to think that visiting political rallies is a sign of stupidity. Rather, this is the rural people behave b’cos, for them, it is another rare item of entertainment. Politics is not the main expectation in visiting rallies; entertaining music, enjoying silly jokes from speakers, taking time off from the dull daily routine (women in particular) or even finding a “mate”. I’ve seen some visiting all rallies irrespective of the party and compare the entertainment of each.

      Speaking of catching election fever, why ridicule rural poor only? Why are these essayists spending time/energy to write read & to respond if not for the election fever? Only difference is that some others are expressing their enthusiasm in means available to them.

  • 5
    1

    if you want to see a widespread corruption, fraud, money laundering, public money looting, and more drugs in street, vote for Gota, if you want to see ideological politics, honesty, and rule of law in Sri Lanka vote for JVP or UNP.

    • 5
      1

      Don’t vote for SLPP, JVP or UNP. All 225+1 should be rejected. We need a total cleanup of the Augean stables or else we’ll be stuck with endless mediocrity and abject suffering forever. Indian bootlickers who want to ruin this country and Indianise it as a poor backward third rate third world country should be rejected at elections.

  • 5
    2

    A superb article.

    As Lee Kuan Yew said, elections in Ceylon/Sri Lanka became an “auction of non existent resources”. We have become a nation of slaves to these Indian bootlicking fools who actually treat us with utter contempt, from “rice from the moon!” to the 2019 election gimmicks. We need a total clean up of the Augean stables. The cost of government is far too high. Scrap this entire wretched system of 225+1, Provincial Councils etc. Replace it with a system like we had at independence and get competent worldly people who have a sense of economics and that “money doesn’t grow on trees” and who think building an airport like Changi and a Japanese high speed train line is better than buying Indian buses and trains for the people. I hope that all of our people are not fooled forever. Enough is enough. GR and SP are more of the same nonsense of the last 50+ years. Change must come to Sri Lanka or our country will be on a constant road to nowhere.

  • 0
    1

    We can get along with the subject matter of the essay, but reluctant with the heading. More relevant title would be “All Are Being Modayas For All Past 70 Years” but not “fooling all, all times”
    We have written here a Tamil saying “what the way the King is that is the way his subjects are!” But for modern day democratic government the inverse is only true, not the saying. i.e. “Which is the path of the citizens is that is the path their governments go.” Doesn’t the lid have to match the jar? If not, is that a lid? How can a 3’ woman bear a 6’ basketball player? The government of Wildlife Sanctuary is only the inhabitant of the SinhaLE. If the Modayas have not learned for the 90 years about what is Universal Franchise is, then they are a unique species of Modayas. Their IQ 79 is coded on their DNA rather than anybody fooling somebody.

  • 0
    2

    So UNP Candidate is offering more Manure to our inhabitants
    How Cool !!!

    Wonder whether those “Colombo Middle Class” is also in charge of Keselwatta Kid’s Election Strategy?..-

  • 0
    0

    Dear Sanjeeva

    Thank you for the article.

    I think we are in the same age group and recall queuing up for the co-op assistance in my local co-op store for all the standard state assistance that was given out to all our people by various governments historically. I also remember every day queuing up for the a loaf of bred (limited to one) full of worms and half cooked. The same story with the biscuits that we ate at school..some time nice and mostly rotten.

    This was the result of budgetary controls/import controls/encouraging the local green revolution and our education syllabus reflected this respective government policies up until the 1977 elations the dooms day scenario that imposed even the box of matches to the Nation.

    Yes our needs were then like that in a Non Aligned developing Nation trying to find our way through the mine fields that would avoid loosing sovereignty whilst we got some kind of equity/equality to all our segments of the society. The 1970 government even brought in acts to eradicate caste systems specially where I grew up too.

    It is not wrong that we promise things in our manifestos for the needy/state help to attract (can also be viewed as addressing the rural needs) votes but we should have budgeted manifesto as a bare minimum will help us make more educated decisions as to who should be elected. If we put this condition as a minimum then this would remove all the identity political parties in our mists too.

    I like Staney’s comments earlier sums up the state of affairs.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Sanjeeva

    We need people who will explain their National economic policies at town hall meetings village after village in every space of the village. We need technocrats who ever selected for candidacy based on their credentials to send and speak their case anywhere in the Country. This can not be done by identical political parties at the moment is what has caused all the problems historically. If we can have candidates from legal parties who need to go and make their case through out the country will identify the local issues away from this ghetto politics currently………….instead making. a case to do this minority parties too played into the same divisional political masters ploy in the past. There is no Citizen in SL who is a Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu/Christine/Sinhalese/Tamil/Malays…………..future discussions are all about who has the ability to give a National development plan….one Sri Lanka with. minimum administrative spendings/elections on a fast track basis.

    This emphasis/expectation should remove all from promising the earth just like Federalism/Separate state/no I never said separate state now I am back to Federalism/Yes I lost all my peoples life through my blunder and made sure they never not vote for me because I had gun in my hands and the likes will have to be removed from the scene/never the tax payers money will pay these invalids lifestyle.

  • 2
    0

    Thanks Sanjeewa for the article. It explains where SL is sitting in terms of debt. Both 2 main parties are not telling the truth of the economy but promising a lot of gifts to people. They do not have any practical solutions for all these. But both parties collectively approved 240 million rupees for next 4 months for the presidents’ expenses.
    The only political front who comes up with a proper plan based on statistics and research is the NPP. The people in the front are well educated and not involved in corruption. They actually have a genuine ambition to implement them to develop the country.

    If you look at the stage of the 2 main parties you might be thinking that most of those should be in the jail.

    I wish Sri Lankans will realise this and get together to change this political culture in the next parliament election.

  • 0
    0

    I have to agree with Mallai,s statement “fooling all the people all the time for more than 70 years”. Here is one more , see what is MS is up to. He re-introduced death penalty for SB votes, but on the other hand giving presidential pardon to proven murders ( now considering for Royal Park Murderer), criminals rogues , Ganasara, people involved in corruption and anti nationals. This is what I call F – – – – – G Lankan hypocrisy. The same shithead himself is now proven responsible for hundreds of death on Easter.

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