The blue-green Bud­get pre­sented

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

My dear Man­gala, I thought I must write to you be­cause you are in the news these days after de­liv­er­ing your ‘man­gala’- or maiden - bud­get this week. I’m sure there will be enough pun­dits who will an­a­lyse the pros and cons of the Bud­get in the days to come, but con­grat­u­la­tions any­way for do­ing what is a thank­less job.

Man­gala, it must have felt great to fol­low in the foot­steps of peo­ple like JR, NM and Ron­nie although there have been some less il­lus­tri­ous pre­de­ces­sors of late as well. Who would have thought a fash­ion de­signer would one day fash­ion our econ­omy, try­ing to tai­lor it to fit the needs of the mod­ern age?

You looked smart in your suit and tie which had both blue and green stripes on it. Is it be­cause you still have some ties to the Blue party although you left it ten years ago and are now tied to the Green party? And, be­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter seems to have taken its toll on what was once a full head of hair!

It is in­ter­est­ing that you also called your bud­get a ‘blue green’ bud­get. We know that, like you, the gov­ern­ment has both blue and green shades to it. But I should warn you, Man­gala, right now, with not a lot of money in their pock­ets and no petrol in the tank most peo­ple feel they are ma­rooned!

I was in­trigued by some of the price re­duc­tions you had or­dered in the Bud­get. The prices of sprats, dried fish, pota­toes and parippu have been re­duced. This is what we will have to eat now - then we have to drown our sor­rows in canned beer - be­cause that is only other item with a price re­duc­tion!

I have a sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that you knew about the petrol short­age when you pre­pared the Bud­get, Man­gala. Why else would you place all that em­pha­sis on elec­tric cars, elec­tric three-wheel­ers and elec­tric buses, re­duc­ing taxes on them and want­ing all ve­hi­cles to be pow­ered by elec­tric­ity by 2040?

We are all fed up and frus­trated these days, hav­ing to stay in queues for petrol, so elec­tric cars sound like a good op­tion. How­ever, I hope you know what to do when there is a drought, the reser­voirs dry up and there are power cuts. If we have only elec­tric cars, we will be go­ing nowhere then, would we? I was happy that you had slapped a 25 cents charge on text mes­sages sent in bulk, but I am not sure whether your friends in high places will be pleased. Re­mem­ber those mes­sages that Mahinda maama and Maithri send, wish­ing us for the New Year? I guess they will have to pay more for them now.

You have also im­posed a tax of 20 cents on ev­ery 1,000 ru­pee bank trans­ac­tion. You said it was to re­cover the debts taken dur­ing Mahinda maama’s time and called it the ‘Medamu­lana tax’. Then, how about im­pos­ing a tax to re­cover monies lost from the bond scam? You could call it the ‘Ravi tax’!

I am sur­prised that you want to spend bil­lions of ru­pees to set up three more medical fac­ul­ties. Have you not learnt a les­son from re­cent events, Man­gala? Do you se­ri­ously want more medical stu­dents block­ing our roads, boy­cotting lec­tures and stag­ing fasts and be­com­ing mem­bers of the GMOA?

You have come a long way after los­ing your ‘In­no­cence’ as a fash­ion de­signer. We first knew you as Satel­lite’s man man­ag­ing the me­dia. That was when you fa­mously said that jour­nal­ists can be bought for a bot­tle of ar­rack. Well, you will have to pay more then, be­cause you have raised taxes on that!

We thought you would re­main with Satel­lite for­ever but you knew which way the wind was blow­ing, which is why you switched loy­al­ties to Mahinda maama, so much so that you were once his cam­paign man­ager. That hon­ey­moon didn’t last long and, after a few years you ended up with the Greens.

Old habits die hard, so even when you were with the Greens you were ac­cused of ob­struct­ing a protest march in Matara that was be­ing staged against the Green Man. Now, you must be a happy man be­cause your two men­tors, Satel­lite and the Green Man seem to see eye to eye on most mat­ters!

Since then, you have gone from strength to strength and per­haps mel­lowed with age too. So, Man­gala, while you bask in the glory of your first bud­get I hope you can spare a thought for Ravi too - who paid the price for stay­ing in an apart­ment which his wife had rented with­out know­ing who its owner was! Yours truly, Punchi Putha PS: It was sad to see Mahinda maama and a few hang­ers-on cy­cle to Par­lia­ment to protest the fuel short­age. Sure, he looked fight­ing fit and like Ra­jinikanth in his hey­day with his jet black hair and sun­glasses, but if he was protest­ing a fuel short­age, what was his mo­tor­cade do­ing, fol­low­ing him?

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