THE BIG PICTURE
A STATE OF CHAOS
Sri Lankans must surely wonder when the political circus will end
The countdown to Budget 2019 has been topsy-turvy to say the least. Apparently budget-like announcements of random price hikes have been the order of the day and to the man on the street at least, they’re seemingly cast on us with gay abandon.
COLLISION COURSE At the same time, the citizenry has been asked to tighten the belt on spending and those who can afford it have been told to think twice about booking that Alaskan cruise – in the interest of going slow on forex spending.
All right, we’re well aware that there’s turmoil on the global economic landscape and a US instigated trade war is ripping through the economic heart of regions such as ours.
There’s also the rise of the greenback, which is partly why currencies such as the Sri Lankan Rupee have plummeted in value in recent months. And then there are local bugbears including the ongoing spectre of corruption in high places, an irritably inconsistent policy regime and extreme political instability, all of which have sent the barometer of business confidence crashing to postwar lows in the last two months.
DOUBLE STANDARDS However, what the man on the street wants to know is why the double standards our politicians are known for continue regardless.
In recent weeks, while Sri Lankans have had to absorb a series of price shocks, the two men who head the so-called ‘yahapalanaya’ administration have spent a chunk of their time on foreign soil – at the taxpayer’s expense, of course.
The ‘world tour’ began (with a reported entourage of more than 60 ‘dignitaries,’ mind you) with a stopover in the Big Apple for the UN General Assembly, which was followed by visits to as far afield as Norway, the Seychelles, the UK, Poland and India.
This largesse has been the talk of the town in recent weeks, albeit behind closed doors or off the record, for fear of reprisal – yes, the white van of old has it seems been replaced by a big stick, which comes with a sticker that reads: ‘Mind your own business if you want state business.’ This extravagance spreads beyond the two highest seats in the land with all and sundry enjoying untold luxuries while the public stands in the firing line when it comes to spending – even on essentials, in fact.
POLITICAL SUICIDE Whether the incumbent powers that be are aware that they are committing political harakiri is the burning question of the day – there’s an election in the year ahead, after all.
The time has come for the coalition government to restore public confidence in its ability to steer the ship out of troubled waters. In this sink or swim scenario, it risks being ejected from the seat of power it won three years ago.
As the former president found out, even a famous war victory wasn’t sufficient to guarantee a return to power when that power was abused.
At the end of the day, the power of the ballot will prevail.