9 December, 2021

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The Vote-Budget

By Malinda Seneviratne – 

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The JVP’s Sunil Handunnetti captured the Opposition’s sentiments with regard to Budget 2015 best. He said ‘අද අය වැය දිනය නෙමෙයි…වඩා හොඳයි මේකට අල්ලස් දිනය කියල කිව්වා නම්’ (this is not Budget Day…it would be more appropriate to call it Bribe Day).  There was at once dismay (at the political impact of the budget) and acknowledgment that at least on the face of it the budget would resonate well with a wide cross section of the population.

There’s something in it for everyone, this is clear. No, it’s not that everyone got all the goodies in their respective wish-lists.  The President is not Santa Clause. Santa Clause is pure fiction; the President has to deal with the real. ‘The real’ is about what’s there to give. It is about who gets how much of what. Or at least, that’s what we are supposed to think.

It was bound to be a goodies-budget, a budget to please everyone. Except the Opposition. That’s a no-brainer when there’s a major election coming up. It’s one of those benefits enjoyed by the incumbent. Nothing illegal about it of course, but the fact remains that the budget was presented not just by the President (in his capacity as Minister of Finance) but a President who in all likelihood would be running for re-election a few months from now. That’s to be expected from a politician and certainly from one who unarguably reads the political equation much better than anyone else around.

This is why the budget pulled the propaganda rug from under the feet of the Opposition. It bested by quite a margin the if-elected pledges that have been doing the rounds. But that’s exactly where the problem lies. Politicians are made of promises. Pledges are easy. The nutshell versions are full of promise because they deal with aggregate numbers and broad categories. The devil is in the details. This is where the Opposition has a responsibility. They have to dig it all up and offer the people a more detailed picture of deliverability.

If one were to check the nutshell versions of previous budgets and weigh the pledges against what actually materialized, one would be cynical of grand promises. The difference this time is that the ‘doing’ has to get off the ground fast. Delays and excuses would only help the Opposition.

This is where the most neglected aspect of the budget comes into play – income. A ‘spending budget’ warms everyone’s heart and this one is warmer than usual.  But one can’t spend that which one does not have. You can’t plan expenditure if you don’t have a reasonable estimate of income. Revenue cannot be conjured.  It’s basic logic. If you don’t have as much money as you need, you have to borrow. That’s debt. The sweet thing about debt as far as the Government is concerned is that it belongs to the public. The other sweet thing about debt is that it is a headache that hits later on.  Think of credit cards. You are essentially spending what you don’t have. But you have to pay. Later. With interest. Pay-day is not a happy day, whichever way you think about it.

But right now, as things stand and with elections coming up, if you want a one-line description of what it was all about, Joe Biden puts it best: ‘Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budged, and I’ll tell you what you value.’

Votes, folks.

In the coming days we’ll have a budget vote on a vote-budget. The Government has the numbers in Parliament. The budget will fix the numbers outside.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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  • 2
    0

    Malinda Seneviratne –

    “The JVP’s Sunil Handunnetti captured the Opposition’s sentiments with regard to Budget 2015 best. He said ‘අද අය වැය දිනය නෙමෙයි…වඩා හොඳයි මේකට අල්ලස් දිනය කියල කිව්වා නම්’ (this is not Budget Day…it would be more appropriate to call it Bribe Day).”

    JVP said it right.He should have added in addition this was bail to haul you like a fish and skin you alive when you eat it.

    Malinda, you shilling and white-washing is very clear.I

    When will you stop shilling and whitewashing.

    Do you think that because the Average I.Q. of the Sri Lankan is 79, you can still get away with such shilling and whitewashing? Can the President Mr. Rajapaksa get away with it too?

    http://www.photius.com/rankings/national_iq_scores_country_ranks.html

    National IQ Scores – Country Rankings

    Rank
    ——– Country
    ———————– %
    ————-
    1 Singapore 108
    2 South Korea 106
    3 Japan 105

    27 Barbados 80
    27 Bhutan 80
    27 El Salvador 80
    27 Kenya 80
    28 Guatemala 79
    28 Sri Lanka 79
    28 Zambia 79
    29 Congo, Democratic Republic of the 78

    • 1
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      Malinda Seneviratna,

      You have competition in your Shilling and Whitewashing Business.

      Sri Lanka revisited: The whitewashing of a war crime by corporate lobbyists

      The UN is preparing to condemn Sri Lanka’s brutal crushing of the Tamil rebels – unless an army of corporate lobbyists can convince it otherwise

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/sri-lanka-revisited-the-whitewashing-of-a-war-crime-by-corporate-lobbyists-9817106.html

      “Sri Lanka’s government certainly suffers from an image problem abroad,” he said. “In many Washington circles, it doesn’t take long for discussions about Colombo to lead to allegations of nepotism, corruption, and rights abuses.”

      Want to read more? If so, Read, below.

      ********

      The Sri Lankan government is hurriedly trying to boost the country’s image by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire corporate lobbyists as it awaits a UN report into alleged war crimes.

      A report in the US says Sri Lanka has recently agreed a contract with its eighth lobbying firm this year to change the way the country is perceived internationally. It also wants the companies to improve contact between Sri Lankan officials and members of the US government.

      Five years after the bloody and controversial end of a civil war that resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians, the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa says it is incorrectly portrayed in the West. It wants the lobbyists to reach out to “US media, opinion leaders and possibly US officials concerning issues of importance”.

      The development comes as Sri Lanka is being investigated by a UN team into whether both the government and Tamil rebels committed war crimes during the final stages of the conflict that stretched in total over three decades. More than 100,000 people are believed to have been killed.

      The report by the team appointed by UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay is due to be completed by the time the UN Human Rights Council meets next March. Sri Lanka has refused to co-operate with the inquiry and declined to provide visas to the investigators.

      A report in The Hill newspaper said the semi-autonomous Central Bank of Sri Lanka had recently agreed a contract with the Liberty Group, a Washington‑based lobbying organisation owned by a former Congressman from Florida. The year-long deal is worth $760,000 (£472,000) and as part of the arrangement, a second lobbying firm, Levick, has also been brought in. Levick charges $60,000 a month as a retainer. Neither the Liberty Group nor Levick responded to calls but in a statement to The Hill, Levick’s president, Mark Irion, said: “Levick’s mission is to utilise communications-supported advocacy to tell Sri Lanka’s amazing story of recovery after a decades-long civil war against a brutal terrorist organisation, as well as to assist the Central Bank in communicating opportunities for trade and investment between our two nations.”

      The lobbying groups have claimed their work is valid because the “current international media focus on Sri Lanka is unbalanced”. They add: “It is necessary to have a recalibration of US policy, based on a wider and fairer information base, leading to a multi-dimensional and more balanced engagement with Sri Lanka.”

      In the spring of 2009, the Sri Lankan military crushed the final remnants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militant group, which had fought for a homeland for ethnic Tamils. The group had used suicide bombings against school buses, child recruitment and murder as part of its campaign and was controlling several hundred thousands of civilians as its fighters retreated to a small patch of land next to the coast in north-east Sri Lanka.

      An initial inquiry by the UN found that many thousands of civilians were killed in the final stages of the war and there was evidence that suggested both the rebels and government forces may have been responsible for war crimes. It said government troops had fired at makeshift clinics contained with a so-called no-fire zone.

      Sri Lanka has always denied the allegations and resisted demands for an independent inquiry. A report by the authorities in Colombo cleared the military of any wrongdoing. At international forums, Sri Lanka has worked tirelessly to build support against any form of sanction and promoted itself as the victim of Western hypocrisy.

      Yet earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish an independent inquiry to examine both the role of the Sri Lankan military and the LTTE. Twenty-three countries voted in favour of the resolution, 12 against and 12 abstained from voting.

      Following the vote in Geneva, Ravinath Ariyasinghe, Sri Lanka’s UN envoy, “categorically and reservedly” rejected the resolution. “The resolution will not only constitute a serious breach of international law but also sets a precedence on the sovereignty of nations,” he said.

      Levick is apparently the eighth lobbying firm to be hired by Sri Lanka this year. Other firms that have been retained reportedly include R&R Partners, Madison Group and Beltway Government Strategies. It appears different parts of the Sri Lankan government have contracted with different lobbyists, with some being retained directly by the foreign ministry, others by the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington. Neither the Sri Lankan Embassy nor the Sri Lankan government spokesman responded to inquiries.

      Fred Carver, of the Sri Lanka Campaign, which works on human rights issues in Sri Lanka, said it was strange eight different firms had been retained.

      Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Wilson Centre, a Washington think-thank, said it was not unusual for foreign countries to retain lobbyists in the capital, though the number hired by Sri Lanka was striking.

      “Sri Lanka’s government certainly suffers from an image problem abroad,” he said. “In many Washington circles, it doesn’t take long for discussions about Colombo to lead to allegations of nepotism, corruption, and rights abuses.”

    • 1
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      Malinda Seneviratne –

      Malinda, your shilling and white-washing is very clear.I When will you stop shilling and whitewashing,

      Budget is a fraud – State sector gets 3124 while private sector gets 375 – nothing for estates!
      FRIDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2014 21:42

      http://www.lankatruth.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7704:budget-is-a-fraud-state-sector-gets-3124-while-private-sector-gets-375-nothing-for-estates&catid=42:smartphones&Itemid=74

      If interested, read more below.

      The demands of the working people have been completely ignored in the budget proposals presented to Parliament today (24th) by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the Minister of Finance, despite bragging that the working masses have been given a massive increase in their salaries says the President of National Trade Union Center (NTUC) K.D. Lal Kantha.

      Releasing a communiqué on behalf of the NTUC Mr. Lal Kantha says the state sector salaries have been increased by Rs.3124 but the increase for the private sector is only Rs.375. However, the estate sector has been completely ignored says Mr. Lal Kanatha.

      The NTUC carried out a campaign before the budget was presented demanding that all allowances of state sector employees should be added to the salaries, the salaries should be increased by Rs.10,000 and laws should be adopted to increase the salaries of the private sector remind Mr. Lal Kantha in his communiqué.

      However, the President has given from the budget only an allowance of Rs.2200 and a salary increase of Rs.924 pointed out the President of NTUC adding that the total increase for state sector employee is only Rs.3124. He said it is a complete deception of the working masses and added that this cannot even meet the arrears of the living allowance of Rs.15302 that has been accumulated since Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power.

      Despite state employees demanding that all allowances that have been given should be added to the salary, only Rs.2346, which is only 20% of the Rs.10146, has been given. When the demand was for a minimum of Rs.10,000 increase to the salary the President has given only Rs.924.

      Despite demanding laws to be adopted to increase the salaries of the private sector employees the President has proposed a minimum salary of Rs. 10,000 which increases the salaries only by Rs.375 pointed out Mr. Lal Kantha. It is not what the estate sector employees expected. There is nothing mentioned regarding salaries of estate sector employees.

      The demands of the working masses have been completely ignored said Mr. Lal Kantha and said that by adding Rs.3123 as salary and allowance for the state sector the President has played a numbers game which is a big fraud.

      He said the NTUC would never accept the proposals and added that the only path left for working masses is to commence a massive trade union action. He called upon the working masses to be prepared for a massive struggle to win their just demands.

  • 2
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    His wife has said King has introduced a long list of reliefs in the Budget. She is going to vote for King. After all she is teacher.

    These are the type of the teachers produced and are teaching in Lanka after Badiudeen Mahmud become as Minister of Education. Like the free rice produced looters, these are the products of free certificate.

    He needs an urgent divorce. Because she is a Sinhala Buddhist(under term of Sinhala Intellectual). He is a JVP Lumumba communist. A very bad mismatch.

  • 3
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    Malinda Seneviratne

    “In the coming days we’ll have a budget vote on a vote-budget. The Government has the numbers in Parliament. The budget will fix the numbers outside.”

    It is not the budget and bribes stupid.

    Its about change vs more of the same stupid

    Don’t forget the rule of law, corruption, misuse of power, nepotism, crony capitalism, war crimes and crime against humanity, dignity of the people, less power to the people, ……. etc.

  • 1
    1

    It is a State Terrorism oriented budget, as far as religious and racial minorities are concerned – as evident by the largest chunk of the national wealth demarcated for the armed forces and police under “defence”.
    It is not to defend sri lanka, but to suppress rights and freedoms and the arbitrary right of the police state to arrest and incarcerate anyone under the PTA – the most obnoxious piece of legislation in any nation.
    White Elephants called “state enterprises” with unqualified misfits in charge,are allocated more funds to squander.
    This “budget” has not pulled any rug from under anyone’s feet – this ‘budget’ was expected.
    An illegal presidential election to be called two years too soon, is the excuse.

    • 1
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      Why are you so angry about his budget? Aney Aney, this is only a family budget. Royal families…..

      Did you see the Lankave’s Budget? Did you? Neeeee….

      King’s, Brother prince’s, Junior Brother prince’s, Son Prince’s car race….

      You know what I mean.

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