Some day child, all of this will not be yours.
Sarvi has a brilliant piece on the budget in The Daily Mirror. Seriously, read the whole thing, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry. I’ve highlighted some of the bon mots here.
Racing Toys For The Kids
I’ll get to the strangling control the first family has over the budget anon, but the most galling example is that playthings the kids want are now being written into the national budget. The kids are into sports and car racing, so that stuff is now national policy. I’m not opposed to sports at all, but the ad hoc way that the Rajapaksas promote what they like while allowing institutions like Sri Lanka cricket to founder is appalling. They simply have no sense of balance or prioritizing concerns. They’re running the country like a handiya kade and buying baubles for their kids.
The Government also envisages developing a “sports economy” in the country in order to satisfy the pastimes of the sporty off-springs of the first family through exemption of the importation of “specially designed racing vehicles” from the Special Excise Provision Act and other such extravaganzas (probably another poverty alleviation programme)? This is yet another example of the consumption and urban bias in the budget. (The Daily Mirror)
The State As Family Business
The brothers – Mahinda, Basil and Gotabhaya – are controlling over two-thirds of the national budget.
Over half the national budget will be spent on public debt repayments as the allocation for the Ministry of Finance and Planning reveals. The ministries under the purview of the three Rajapaksa brothers appropriated 72% of the national budget earmarked for 2013; Ministry of Defence and Urban Development 290 billion rupees, Ministry of Economic Development 89 billion rupees, Ministry of Finance and Planning 1,319 billion rupees (including public debt repayments), and Ministry of Ports and Highways 132 billion rupees out of 2,532 billion rupees of the total public expenditures anticipated. (The Daily Mirror)
Not A Very Profitable Business (For Us)
And the brothers aren’t even very good at managing an economy. All of the things they’ve renationalized incur losses, which they cynically explain away saying “…the evaluation of state enterprises purely from the point of view of commercial profit is not justifiable considering their contribution to economic and social welfare, by expanding the bank branch network all island, by providing electricity and water to all etc.”
You have to evaluate enterprises in commercial terms, especially because these aren’t private enterprises and other people are paying for their losses via taxes.
All the re-nationalised state-owned enterprises such as the Lanka Hospitals, Hilton Hotel, Lak Sathosa, Litro Gas, and Sri Lankan Airlines during the past five-years have been incurring huge losses ever since such re-nationalisation took place. The foregoing the state-owned enterprises add to the perpetually loss-making erstwhile state-owned commercial enterprises such as the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Sri Lanka Railways, and Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB). On top of the foregoing, the newly-established state-owned commercial enterprise – the Mihin Air – is yet another drain on the public purse.
The “Act to provide for the vesting in the Government-identified underperforming enterprises and under-utilised assets” of 2011 in fact should be applied to the state-owned enterprises in the first place. (The Daily Mirror)
Heh. Last line is a good one.