I was looking around Google Earth for funsies. I’ve never been to Gordon Garden’s – the 4 acres of park in the center of Colombo Fort. It’s been closed to the public since 1980, when it became part of the President’s House. Where no one lives, cause it’s haunted or something. I always wanted to look inside, hence Google Earth.
What I saw was quite surprising. It’s full of
ghosts cars. What should be a park is instead a parking lot.
By a rough count I counted over 125 cars parked there. I presume those are Mahinda’s cars (the satellite footage is from March 2015 and they look like they’ve been there a while). Maybe those cars were from the 128 vehicles that ‘went missing’. Or maybe it was just some other set of cars. Mahinda’s crew was importing as much as 2,000 cars a year. Politicians could sell them when they needed cash.
Mahinda is gone now, but it’s not like this new government is going to say no. Cause politicians love cars. As much as drug dealers or rappers. So our UNP government has given Ministries to 40% of the whole Parliament, and those ‘jobs’ come with two or three cars [at least, it can honestly go way way higher].
89 Ministers x 3 cars (an average) = 267 cars
10,000,000 (your average dope car price) x 267 = 2.6 billion worth of cars
That’s enough to buy 520 really nice buses, at 5 million each. Those buses could serve 150,000 people a day.
Politicians are greedy. Hell we all are, some of us just don’t get the opportunity. Greed is a very human sin, but at some point you’re taking the piss. Parliamentarians need to be with the people and recognize that we don’t live in a rich country. We need to save money, and we need to spend it on stuff that matters. We still have a ton of poor people here, and it’s not fair.
All the time I see Sri Lankans babies, unprotected, on motorbikes. Because their parents can’t afford a basic car. It’s unfair. Minister get cars, Provincial Councillors get cars, government departments get cars. But average people have to pay a ridiculous tax. So we get babies on bikes, and 90% of women getting harassed on Soviet-Era buses.
Pay Parliamentarians More
The counter-intuitive solution is to pay our politicians more. If you don’t pay people fairly, they will steal from you. Their salary of Rs. 100,000 a month is not fair. A politician should be paid more like a director of a bank, cause they handle more money.
Until we pay Parliamentarians an actual salary (at least Rs. 1 million per month) they’re going to get it somewhere. We’re not actually a cheap city and these guys have kids in University plus dependents in their villages. $85,000 a year is just getting by.
Pay them well, and if they still steal – jail.
At the same time, we have to give money back to the people. In the new budget we need a sane tax policy on cars.
A Sane Tax Policy On Cars
Families need access to safe transport.
The government should audit, find and sell all unnecessary vehicles.
Electric cars should be tax-free, especially the small ones, and charging stations (which local company CodeGen manufacturers) should be a public good. With the right tax structure (ie, zero or even incentives) Sri Lanka could move to an all-electric fleet in a generation.
The government should also fix the archaic public transport system, which most people sweat on every day. They imported nice city buses but I’ve never seen any in the city. They should import more good, ACed buses and run more trains.
The state of public transit should be a public emergency.
Gordon Garden’s Should Be Open To The Public
Somewhat unrelated, but we should moves those cars and get our park back. It’s be nice to have a park in Fort again. They should rename it Mahajana Park or something and let us in.
That’s all I can think of right now. If you have your own budget suggestions you can mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I mailed my notes here just now.