30 November, 2020

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Spread The Gravy Around!

By Arjuna Ranawana

Arjuna Ranawana

Arjuna Ranawana

Prior to the presidential election in Sri Lanka that defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa, a poll by Colombo based Social Indicator showed that the voting public was more concerned about the cost of living than the rallying cry of the opposition, which was the abolition of the Executive Presidential system of governance.

The fact that the opposition won, mainly on the strength of minority and urban voters, would indicate that somehow it had been possible to connect at least some of the electors to their own weak economic situation and to the waste and apparent corruption among the country’s ruling elite, in particular the Rajapaksa’s.

Not that Sri Lankans, or for that matter people in the developing world elsewhere, are not used to their leaders having much more than them. Culturally, Sri Lankans see a man with a bigger belly and soft hands as a person who is privileged and not having to work as hard as the average person.

But the income disparity issue appears to have triggered strong emotions in Sri Lanka this time around.

The long-standing theory of many Western economists who expounded the so-called “trickle-down” theory is discredited today, but its effects linger. The theory, popular during the Reagan-Thatcher days, believed that if the rich were allowed to make lots of money then the poor would have more crumbs off the table to live on. That theory did not work then nor does it now.

A few years ago the so-called “Occupy” movements that protested the excesses of Wall Street initially, brought income disparity in the United States to the forefront. Politicians such as Barak Obama benefited from the debate that ensued, making it possible for Left leaning Democrats to paint the Right as money-grabbers.

Maithripala Jan 27 2015Internationally, however, the discussion on income inequality occupies the top spot today. World leaders, ranging from Pope Francis to economists and civil society activists are advocating a more even distribution of wealth.

Several credible studies made public last week, too focused on this topic. These studies have stripped political hyperbole from the debate and zeroed in on the facts. A survey by the NGO Oxfam titled “Having it all and wanting more” found that the 80 wealthiest people on the planet owned nearly as much as the 3.5 billion of the poorest people in the world.

A major bank in Canada – TD Bank – released a study that found that this income disparity actually stunts economic growth. This was echoed in part by a OECD study, “Focus on Inequality and Growth” which found that globally, the income gap was at a 30-year high.

That is a gap that is very evident in Sri Lanka. Though not many surveys are conducted on the topic, the fact that Sri Lanka’s population has become poorer is obvious even to the occasional visitor. In fact, the hardest hit seems to be the middle income earner!

While buses and trains are jam-packed the country’s super wealthy, a recent phenomena, travel around in some of the most expensive vehicles in the world such Porsche Cayennes, Panameras, Land Rover Evoques. Those stand out as signs of ostentation by the very few economically elite, as against the melee of three-wheelers and Marutis that the middle-class can afford.

There is a distinct difference between the Jayewardene-era where prosperity seemed to be more evenly distributed and no clear indication of a super-rich class than it is now. One could safely state that until the Rajapaksa’s came to power, there was more stable economic power amongst the middle class. It is a no-brainer that the most stable societies in the world are those with a large middle-class.

As more evidence of the apparent excesses of the Rajapaksa regime are discovered, it is clear that the opposition benefitted by income disparity and the impunity with which the country was ruled.

The Nissan NR supercar that was found in a Colombo suburb last week is listed at a price of $115,000 in North America before taxes. That is Rupees 14,375,000, an astronomical sum that only a fraction of Sri Lankans would actually earn in a year.   For most, it would take a lifetime, if at all.

Proof that the subject has caught the attention of the world’s rich came at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, where income disparity was widely discussed. An emerging consensus was that hand outs to the poor and punishing the rich was not going to work. But most economists felt that governments had a bigger role to play in boosting the effectiveness of the public service, rooting out corruption and delivering subsidized services such as healthcare to the citizens.

That is hoped, a lesson that the Sri Lanka’s new government would adhere to. The Rajapaksa regime has been the epitome of corruption and plunder of the nations wealth, at the cost of the average Sri Lankan.

They should have adopted the American saying ‘Spread the gravy around’. That may have reduced the anger that voters expressed at the poll and they may still have been in government.

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    JHU Rathne, Sobitha and Champika , the guardians and the the custodians of the poor, are not be seen or heard , after they delivered the Gravy Train to the Elite , Anglicans, Vellalas and the SLMC Muslims.

    But Sira has already given a big loaf of crusty bread to one his Siblings to soak up the gravy ,early in the piece.

    How many loaves the Elite , Anglicans , Vellalas , Hakeem, Bathdeen, and Assath Sally have given their mates and families are not in the open.

    Because JVP is busy trying to fix Yositha for joining the Navy during the War.

    And the Media scrum are busy with the crumbs, Fonseka, Samraaweera, Kiriella, Karunanayaka throw at them about Rajapaks’s mega coup to kill My Three and his family.

    And promoting the new anti corruption crusaders Dr Mervn and , the latest addition, ex IGP Vass Gunawardena..

    • 0
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      Oh! Sumaney, Sumaney, I feel I almost know you. The truth must be hurting. Don’t worry you’ll get over it. Mahinda Rajapakse did indeed “Spread the gravy around” but only amongst his relatives and possibly close friends such as yourself who defended his blatant corruptions and still making excuses.

  • 3
    4

    Arjuna,

    You say, “That is hoped, a lesson that the Sri Lanka’s new government would adhere to. The Rajapaksa regime has been the epitome of corruption and plunder of the nations wealth, at the cost of the average Sri Lankan.”

    Unfortunately the MS government is taking its cues more from the former regime than otherwise. MS’s brother has been appointed to a cushy job. MS is found worshipping a tree just as MARA did to hoodwink the gullible. Media freedom already been infringed upon by Rajitha Senaratna. Former corrupt CJ Mohan Peiris still been mollycoddled. Clear conflict of interest in appointing Ravi Karunanayake to Ministry of Finance. The independence of the Central Bank being tampered with by Ranil.

    Sad but true, when the few powerful snouts are in the gravy train not much will be left to spread around.

  • 5
    4

    Suck it up,MR puppet.

    Your back is exposed!

    MS’s brother is qualified more than all of MR family members put together.Worshipping a tree, as you call it, is not confined to MR, it is the right and privilege of ALL Buddhists.(you can too,…hmmm then again,probably not you, since you are a Balu Bala Sena goone). As for media freedom, which you know nothing about, “freedom comes with responsibility”. Freedom doesn’t mean that one can disseminate information at will, without adhering to a hierarchy. Removing a CJ is an easy task for MR thugs, but not when you do it according to the law and proper procedure, which your mole brain can hardly fathom. Appointing RK to Finance and taking away the crown was a brilliant move by RW, which brings to clear view the transparency and openness of good governance.

    GO back and tell this to your Buddhist Taliban comrades.

    • 3
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      Hehe Puranappu,

      The Israeli’s believe that Sri Lankans have just come down from the trees. Is this why we worship trees??

      Your RK has a fraud case pending and he is scheduled to appear on the 29th of this month. But he has opted to present the mini budget on the same day. As per the law in Sri Lanka the court has to give leave of absense in agreement with the agrieved party and a new court date agreed upon by all parties. No evidence of this having happened. I wonder if RK will be charged for contempt of court?

      Open your eyes Appuhami and see what MS is getting up to. Not too much different to his former boss, MARA.

      • 0
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        These buggers are in a dream world thinking that Ravi Karunanayake has got himself involved in a money scam. Little they know the funds were channeled legally and RK has not committed any offence. There is sweet nothing anyone could do, not even MR. Otherwise catch MR waiting for ten years to fix RK? The same matter was taken up in Court before but dismissed as there was no violation of regulations. Thereafter MR got another case filed just to harass RK. Wait and see what happens and your wishful thinking will be all in vain.

        • 0
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          Gamini,

          I am not hoping for anything great to come about via the court system in Sri Lanka. I am sure you know the layers of corruption that exists within our legal system and the legal fraternity.

          Anyway conflict of interest is conflict of interest. Why RK chose the 29th of January to present mini budget when he had a court hearing on the same date is not too difficult to guess.

          I am aware that MARA was a master at political vendetta.

          However after the initial euphoria and a great sense of releaf at the ousting of the MARA Mafia the indications are that the Common Candidate Coalition are going down on the same path – sadly.

  • 0
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    The widening gap between the rich and the poor are signs of our times.
    Then, anocracy’s too are the signs of our times.

    History shows, societies have a way of sorting inequality via peoples uprisings. In Arjuna’s Canada, if you are still there my chum, the first nations people ( aka original inhabitants ) have begun their push back, with their ” Idle no more movement “. Canada is on notice.

    In the USA, the occupy movement isn’t dead, they just had a trial run.

    I don’t expect any distribution of wealth to happen under the current regime. Should they try, they will be stopped by greater powers who want the disparity to continue, for they benefit the most.

    Here’s an introduction to them. The Bilderberg Group.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/29/bilderberg-60-inside-worlds-most-secretive-conference

    It is the signs of our times.

    May I say, If Rajapaksa spread the gravy without holding it back for himself, he would still be SL’s President.

    Onwards and Upwards to my Motherland.

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  • 0
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    No change, aney….. Executive Presidency will not be changed…. MY3 will be “Executiv Pres” for 5 yrs….. LMAO

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