Loving the Nation While Screwing its People
The Sri Lankan PM Ratnasiri Wickramanayake said yesterday that anyone who opposed taxation didn’t love the country. He went on to explain that taxation brought in revenue for the state coffers, and therefore any attempt to reduce that was unpatriotic. He was talking to a gathering of families of dead servicemen at a ceremony to award scholarships to the children of aforementioned servicemen, but the PM was obviously taking a dig at the Supreme Court’s ruling on fuel price reduction.
The Supreme Court ruled on December 17th that the price of a litre of 90 Octane petrol be brought down to Rs100 from its current price of Rs122 in line with falling global crude. 95 Octane is priced Rs15 higher than 90, and the SC ordered that this margin be reduced as well. The SC ordered the GoSL to implement the ruling by midnight. So far the GoSL hasn’t. Why? Because no one’s told the buggers, apparently. Yesterday, Parliament decided to postpone passing the SC ruling into law as they hadn’t received notification of the said ruling in writing.
Now, I’m not sure what the procedure is of the SC informing Parliament of important rulings, but I’m sure it goes beyond Sarath Silva sending Mahinda an SMS: “Machang, change de law by 2night, K?” I would assume there’s a documentation process that goes into action, and that it has. Which means that Parliament is stalling and hiding behind the red tape.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I and thousands of automobile owners queued for hours to get enough petrol to make it back home to our beds. Sitting in my car on Havelock Road, I heard horns blaring, shouts and racing engines and watched a black limousine escorted by several military vehicles barge through traffic, heading south. No petrol shortage there. The sheep in the queue watched the wolves, and I wondered whether the escorting commandos were really there to keep the Tigers back.
You see, ol’ Ratnay forgot to mention that a nation is made up of its citizens, and it’s the responsibility of the state to care for those citizens. Burdening them with unnecessary taxes is hardly the way to do it. Unnecessary? I hear you retort. What about the war? It needs money to protect the nation from terrorism. Sure, I agree. OK, so how about we use those billions budgeted for Mihin Air this year to buy more bombs, guns, napalm, etc and really bring down the rain? You see the high tax on petrol maybe partly to finance the war, but it’s also to keep an empty Airbus sitting on the Katu runway, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a week in rent; it’s also to send Boggles around the world every few days — he’s in Bali right now (I’ve been there, it’s nice). Meantime, the Road Development Authority can’t pave a road that’ll last more than two weeks. There’s a bridge close to Pepiliyana that’s been under construction for five years. During the SAARC summit we needed the Army to pave the roads so that the foreign leaders wouldn’t know that Sri Lankans can’t maintain a road in the capital city.
So there’s no fucking petrol to be had this morning. The sheds won’t buy any because they know they’ve got to buy it at Rs122 a litre, and they’re worried that if they do, Parliament will pass the law and they’ll have to sell it to me at Rs100. Meantime, Parliament won’t pass the law because they’re sitting on a few million barrels of petrol that they want to turn a profit on. Or at least not lose money on, since some of it would’ve been bought before world prices dropped. And ‘cos no one’s told ’em in writing, of course. So we wait and wonder who’ll blink first. I personally don’t care too much about the 22 bucks. Who cares what it costs if you can’t bloody get it anyway?
What I don’t understand is why the GoSL doesn’t sell the juice via the CEYPETCO sheds. Stall on the law if you must, but don’t deprive the people. If the privately owned sheds won’t buy, that’s their business, but keep the petrol supply flowing.
On the other hand, the Parliament is acting like a fishmongers’ collective rather than a government. They’re not here to turn a profit (God knows they’ve fucked that up royally too), so why try now. They need to bite the bullet and abide by the SC ruling. Instead, they’ve decided to drive off home on their tax-payer supplied unlimited fuel allowances and wait ’til the 23rd of December to make a decision. Hopefully, the postman or andaberakaraya, or whoever Parliament is expecting to deliver the SC ruling to them, will have visited by then. Since neither of them uses petrol, there shouldn’t be a bloody problem, no?