25 September, 2020

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New Year Kokis To Luxury Permits

By Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

Asanga Abeygoonasekera

Asanga Abeygoonasekera

The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for” ~ Hemingway

The Kokis eaten on our traditional New Year didn’t have much time to digest when the news broke that the luxury vehicle permits worth US$ 62500 was issued to all 225 Members of the Parliament of Sri Lanka which they can sell for close to Rs 20m each permit.

What is the change we voted for? Is this the culture we want to take forward? According to the Daily News editorial 25th November 2015 “Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake mentioned during his long Budget speech that the Government would abolish all kinds of vehicle permits, including those given to Members of Parliament.”

There was not much of noise for permits as I assume everyone has accepted and probably already taken home. Apart from this, each Minister will receive Rs35m for a Ministry vehicle and a Deputy Minister Rs28m. This is the grand new year gift for the common people of our nation. In contrast to the political elite, the office assistant in Government gets paid only Rs28,000 with close to 100 hours overtime payment as the monthly salary and has to look after his children, family and buy presents for the family to celebrate new year with the rising cost of living. The situation has not changed much for the forgotten assistant for the last ten years.

With this exorbitant spending we are going with a begging bowl to IMF asking for financial assistance to solve our financial crisis. Sri Lanka is requesting financial assistance in the next few weeks of around US$ 1 billion to US$ 2 billion from the IMF to sail over the current economic tide. To create a cabinet close to 100 Ministers was not the struggle the public or this author joined during the last election supporting the central theme Good Governance. The Sunday Times on the 17th of April carried that around Rs5m a month is the cost to maintain one individual Minister. While the politicians are asking the public to support their policies they are robbing the public in day light.

The cost of many products will rise with the increase of Value Added Tax VAT to 15% from 2nd May and again the common man has to add this addition burden to his life style. According to Economists the main conditions for the loan from IMF are to reduce the nations budget deficit, raise revenues and bolster its foreign exchange reserves. If the country is facing such economic situation, why is it that the politicians are accepting luxury permits and getting separate permits for Ministries.

Ideally, the State should be reducing permits and some members should not accept or go for affordable electric vehicles as pledged by President Sirisena in COP21, to create a better environment to reduce carbon foot print. Many speak of these good values but implementation is not evident in our society. According to Central Bank reports, by 2020 Sri Lanka aims to reach a per capita of $7000 which is in another four years. Now we are at $3500 and such unfruitful lavish financial spending one should question the direction of the country’s leader’s actions.

The media should educate the people on these shortcomings and support the public to create a better culture and environment. The minister who does not accept or brings an electric car should be on the front page for others to follow. There was a reason some journalists gave their lives in the past to report the truth, they reported with unbowed and unbiased slogan. This has to be at the forefront in Good Governance pointing out the errors before it leads to a total mess.

I can only refer to George Orwell’s 1945 political satire the Animal Farm which is a good example of today’s political climate. When the animals decided to rebel against and restore a new and better order, they eventually understand nothing much had changed- just the name tag. The initial commandments for a better order had to be secretly revised to clear themselves of accusations of law-breaking. After animals take over they eventually get into a bigger mess and start missing the old ways. The farm which was called Manor Farm was renamed as Animal farm, which couldn’t sustain, eventually it was renamed back again as Manor Farm.

Hope still exists that the new Government will rectify these issues and stick to the promises they made. The country we live is a fine place and worth fighting for. The State must restore a better order, and at the end its worth fighting because “there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience” said one of the greatest journalists we ever had in this Island.

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Latest comments

  • 16
    1

    Asanga A

    A very good eye opener for decent minded intelligent citizens of SL.
    The missing Link is from the top to bottom are GREEDY! Have you heard anyone saying ” I have got enough , a thank you but give it to the poor and needy”

    This is the biggest fault of our Nation. “. Give me , Give me , Give me more”

    Another story comes to my mind ,the woman who is shaking in her pants over the Bangaladesh Bank scandal !
    Now Bangladesh investigators have come up with names of approx 20 from Phillipines and Our SL !! Yes our Bodi SLankans involved.
    The names will be released eventually but they have given a clue , that is “. Not the Hackers or Bangladeshi Bank at Fault , “BUT THE RECEIVERS ” are the culprits.
    That puts my Analytical mind to very active and come to one conclusion and one alone!!

    While our crooked Police Investigators and the Media and the company called Shaliya ?? Who says that they involved in building Houses for POOR ? Poor ! Really??
    Is it a kind of MONEY LAUNDERING SRILANKAN DIRTY MONEY FROM MEDAMULANA CONNECTION??

    Of course the Media and the SL investigators would rather bury it under carpet and let the Woman scot free. Oh our Bodi SL has nothing to do with this crime.

    Same as the Kidney Removal Scandal. The big sharks in SL are protected by THE CROOKED GMOA, the Finace Investigators and of course our Politicians.

    Our country is RIDDLED WITH THIS MENACE OF SWINDLERS ,MURDERERS AND THIEVES DUE TO THE PROTECTION GIVEN TO ABOVE CRIMES AND CRIMINALS BY THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY IN THE GAME AND IN THE GAME OF SWEEPING THE CRIMES UNDER THE CARPET.

    Does anyone believe that Hiding crimes and protecting criminals a good thing for our country???
    Same as you not punishing your own child during his/her childhood , when the child becomes the biggest criminal of the country ,its too late for the Parents to correct their child., A disgrace to the country internationally.
    Sounds similar??

    Bad for the Family Bad for the country!!!

    • 5
      0

      Good one Asanga, Keep it up!

      Under Sira-Ranil Ayahapalanaya govt. the corrupt and unqualified insider trader at the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran is on a BORROWING AND SPENDING SPREE without any plan to reduce the national debt and stop the crash of the rupee.

      Sri Lanka will soon be in a Greece like Situation. It is appalling that Dr. Harsha De Silva and Eran Wickramaratne are also keeping their mouths shut on the corruption and stupidity at the Central Bank. Arjuna Mehndran should be fired and then investigated, along with his crooked son-in-law Aloysius. Mahendran is an ECONOMIC HIT MAN; a corrupt insider trader, who is using the previous regime’s corruption to mask his own. So too, was NIvard Cabraal – who was MR’s economic hit man.

      Both Mahendran and Cabraal played the same dirty game to please their CORRUPT political masters and must be held accountable . Mahendran is a derivatives and stock dealer and dose NOT have the qualifications to be Central Bank Governor. Neither did Cabraal. Sri Lanka is headed for economic disaster with this fellow at the CB. Corruption is the root cause of the current economic crisis, and failure to investigate off shore bank accounts of the political cronies who are plundering the national wealth. It the funds looted by Mahinda Jarapaasa, regime and held in off whore accounts are returned to Lanka, the national debt could be payed off.

      But this is not being done due to dependence on IMF and World Bank which have legalized corruption and looting of third world by political elites and corrupt global banking financial system. This is clearly evident from the Panama Papers.
      Ranil-Sirisena govt. is morally and intellectually bankrupt, have misidentified the problem and distracted the people of Lanka, and people should protest on the streets and ask for the resignation of Mahendran and Ravi K before Sri Lanka faces a bigger economic DEBACLE.

  • 7
    10

    What would you do if you would have been elected to the parliament in last year’s election Mr goonasekara

  • 10
    0

    There are almost 93 ministers now, each with an expensive office, many assistants, and perks like telephone/rent/travelling allowances.

    All MPs – and their staff – get a “pension” after only five years, whereas public servants are eligible for a full pension only after forty years of service.

    There is a Pensions Department in parliament which is not mentioned in budget estimates.

  • 3
    0

    I request the readers attention to the following (extract taken from the Petition (Revision Application) now pending in the Supreme Court), which demonstrates as to why Sri Lanka has failed as a ‘Representative Democracy’

    SC (Writ) Application No: 02/2015

    2. The Petitioner states that the question involved in the instant application, relates to the unlawful selling of tax-free permits issued to the Parliamentarians and the Cabinet of Ministers by the Minister of Finance in the public interest, in terms of Section 19A of the Customs Ordinance, which was a punishable offence in terms of the Section 70 of the Bribery Act, a matter of which has been reported to the Respondents (Corruption Commission), in terms of the Section 4 of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption Act, to initiate a credible investigation in terms of Section 3 of the said Act, which the Respondents have refused citing that any loss caused to government by this abuse has been resulted due to implementation of the Government Policy.

    3. The Petitioner states that on 06th Aug 2015, the three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court refused to issue Notice on the Respondents since the government had withdrawn the Conditions imposed prohibiting sale of such permits, in the course of implementation of the government policy and therefore the sale of such permits does not attract the provisions of Section 70 of the Bribery Act and that Respondents are not legally bound to conduct a proper inquiry into the complaint made by the Petitioner against the abuse of the tax-free permits by the Lawmakers and the Cabinet of Ministers.

  • 6
    0

    We were told by MS that there was a surplus of vehicles imported by the Corrupt MR Regime. Why cant these be allocated to MP’s for their use. Also the backup vehicles that are now redundant?

    Sickening, the way these Politikkas are feathering their nests whilst heaping burdens on the public. What price Yahapalana. Sobhitha Himi must be wishing to be reborn an expose these scoundrels.

  • 3
    20

    Mr.Abeygunasekara mind ur own business what if you get an MP post you will first buy a Mercedes Benz instead of looking at the poor people get out and get lost we don’t need bullshit stories from you tell the country’s president to look after the needy and poor people then the rest.

    • 7
      1

      @moiez Are you one of those ministers who got a vehicle permit ? Sounds like one though .. Pathetic to see how some people just slipped away from the ugly truth !!!

    • 3
      1

      Typical UNP voter!

  • 9
    1

    Superb effort by Asanga A to remind Mr. Maithripala Sirisena of the promises he made, when he asked for the mandate of the people on 8th January 2015. He took the reins as the Prez of this country on that day categorically promising the majority of the people who are poor,to give them better living standards.

    What happened now Mr. Prez, you are answerable to us, we did not look at Ranil W or any other then, we, the people of this country, voted looking at you, we saw a streak of genuineness in you and trusted you to deliver the goods. It’s not too late yet, Mr. Prez, we hope you’d look into the grave misdeeds explained here by this writer, he’s stated the facts so clearly here, and we, the public, wait for you to intervene and stop this misuse of public funds, which is a heinous crime in the eyes of us, the general public, we, who have a better regard for this country than those in your cabinet today, a pack of greedy men and women with no respect for self nor for the country!

  • 1
    0

    Superb effort by Asanga A to remind Mr. Maithripala Sirisena of the promises he made, when he asked for the mandate of the people on 8th January 2015. He took the reins as the Prez of this country on that day, categorically promising the people, the majority who are poor, to give them better living standards.

    What happened now Mr. Prez, you are answerable to us, we did not look at Ranil W or any other then, and we, the people of this country, voted looking at you, we saw a streak of genuineness in you and trusted you to deliver the goods. And now we see you are failing in doing that, not too late though,
    Mr. Prez, we hope you’d look into the grave misdeeds explained here by this writer, he’s stated the facts so clearly here, and we, the public, wait for you to intervene and stop this misuse of public funds, which is a heinous crime in the eyes of us, the general public. And we, the majority here, have a better regard for this country than those in your cabinet today, a pack of greedy men and women with no respect for themselves nor for the country!

  • 6
    0

    Asanga has finally realized that he is one of the animals in the animal farm. Hmm too late I guess. Now it is media’s problem to educate. Media today is not there to educate, it is there to inform MY3 of things happening in the government. Like he got to know about the VAT increase from media.

  • 3
    0

    Finaly only tax payers permit stopped ,Other puppets got their share,only the honest people got effected who is going to vote next ellection.>>>>>>

  • 1
    0

    This is Sri Lanka, where we discriminate everyone else on their ill behavior and the corrupt life except on ourselves. We the condemning few are a clean slate, we have paid our taxes on the dot and have practiced philanthropy our whole lifetime. We do not envy the rich whether they excel genuinely or took a crooked approach. We are Sri Lankans.

  • 0
    0

    How very telling to know, that we just changed pillows for a headache.

  • 5
    0

    Aiyoooo Aiyooo what a drama

    Known provincial minister sold his permit for 9 million . He can develop 9 villages in his province for that fund .

    Black money owners they buy that permit and import a Range Rover or Land cruiser V8 . Or merc or something and send another 15 million to Japan or Germany

    But Govt will loose sorry country’s treasury will loose more than 20 million * 225 and increase 15% vat and get citizens’ hardly earned money

    Aiyooo Aiyooo Aiyooo

  • 2
    0

    I thought Ravi K had the guts to stop the unfair permit system but sadly he has done a U turn, as politicians usually do, by bowing down to the pressure of his own colleagues & the powerful GMOA, who has been holding successive Govts. for ransom for decades with their demands. Why is it only a selected professions are allowed these privileges? Despite the perks given to Doctors, the average citizen in Sri Lanka still has to pay for non available drugs in Govt. hospitals, as well as, an exorbitant fee to ‘channel’ a doctor who, in most cases, would not spend more than 5 minutes with a patient.

    Apparently, the cost to keep a Minister with all these perks, is, not surprisingly, Rs 5m a month & there are over 90 of them, not to mention other MPs & Provincial Councillors. Yet they are unable to control inefficiency & corruption, & the poor citizens have to pay for their luxury lifestyle with an increase in VAT & other stealth taxes. The biggest attraction for the uneducated yobs who come into politics is the tax free vehicle permit & if it is taken away, we may see some genuine people coming forward to take this country forward.

    I have been planing to return to Sri Lanka upon my retirement & spend time with my family & friends in the final stage of my life. Due to the unreasonably high import duty on vehicles, I hoped to bring my 5 year old car which I had owned from new but now I understand that if I do so, I will have to pay duty to the value of an equivalent current model. Obviously this is to discourage used car imports but I am not surprised if the decision was made to please the franchise dealer cartel who would like to monopolize the brand by preventing ‘gray’ imports. If I sell my car, I would get about 30% of what I paid for it due to depreciation, even though it has a low mileage & in excellent condition, but I will not be able to buy even an inferior, used Asian model of similar age with the proceeds in Sri Lanka. A similar car would cost me about Rs 10m which is a considerable chunk off my retirement fund, so I think I will have to forget about retiring in Sri Lanka & maybe think of Spain or Portugal where its sunny & property is cheap. I will also be able to enjoy state benefits, such as, free health care, that is if UK remains in the EU. A returning expatriate like me would be bring his life savings to Sri Lanka in much needed foreign exchange but in the current situation, will have to buy a cheap used car imported with dwindling FOREX reserves. I am prepared to pay fair import duty based on the depreciated value of the car, so is that unreasonable?
    I was in Sri Lanka last month & while I was at friend’s used car showroom, in the course of one afternoon, 2 MPs sold their permits in my presence to my friend at Rs 20m each. The permit sales were pre-arranged by 2 brokers who were paid Rs 50,000 each for facilitating the sale & the MPs were paid in cash. The same afternoon, a representative of a Buddhist monk who had imported a 4×4 2 years ago on a permit, handed over the documents & the vehicle to my friend to be sold through his car sale. Apparently, the monk had permission to sell his vehicle prematurely. All this is perfectly legal & done openly, yet an ordinary person who has toiled hard all his life is not allowed the privilege of importing his own car at a reasonable duty when returning to his country of birth.

    As for the current Finance Minister, I can’t understand his logic. Apparently, electric cars have a relatively lower duty but why encourage electric cars when the electricity generated, mostly by environment polluting coal fired power plants, is barely adequate for household consumption. So what is this ‘reducing the carbon footprint’ theory of the President? If I am correct, the duty on ‘fuel cell’ (Hydrogen) vehicles have only a 10% duty but such vehicles are being marketed recently in limited quantities and only by Hyundai & Toyota as they are still in the development stage with each vehicle costing over £50,000. Even if some rich person wishes to import a fuel cell vehicle, are their any Hydrogen refueling stations in Sri Lanka? For that matter, how many public charging points are there for electric vehicles? I am sure there must be a Budgetary Committee to advise the Finance Minister but I have lost faith in Ravi K as an able Finance Minister. Sadly, the future of Sri Lanka does not seem to be getting any better under the ‘Yahapalanya’ regime, at least for the average citizen.

  • 1
    0

    You put it very clear and straight. Suggest publishing this in Sinhala in national newspapers. Probably forwarding copies to PM and President may be a kind of an eye opener.

  • 2
    0

    Kudos to you Asanga A. Job very well done we need more fearless people like you in this country! all i can say is all politicians are the same.

  • 4
    0

    Well said Asanga. So will you resign from the political appointment president Sirisena appointed you into? Or do you believe that Sirisena is a clueless saint while its only Ranil that is ripping off the common man?

  • 1
    0

    “Kathawa Dolawen Gaman Paiin” kiyala kiwwe kata kahanawat nowei

  • 3
    1

    Didn’t you get appointed as Chairman due to political connections during the last govt. You too enjoyed many privileges during that time. Don’t complain now!!!

  • 3
    0

    Decent citizens must vote all present parliamentarians out for good at the next election. Next election must see the exodus of UNP and SLFP from local government election and then at the parliamentary election. Dont trust RW and MS any more.

  • 1
    0

    Rulers must be just. They must disburse state resources wisely and with responsibility. To give vehicles to the MPs to be sold in the open market at fabulous profit is thieving. These MPs are supposed to be model citizens who will give leadership to the ordinary people. By enriching themselves at the expense of common people they are demeaning themselves. Unsurprisingly, both the government and opposition MPs are hand in hand when it comes to dipping the honey pot.

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