Sunday Punch 2
What a cosy couple they make -- an item so to speak -- the nation’s Finance Minister Mangala nee Innocence Samaraweera and his permanent Man Friday at the Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. R.S.H. Samaratunga adding the finishing flourish to the nation’s lean, green but not mean designer budget in the backdrop of impressive tomes neatly stacked in Mangala’s home library. Only a cackling fireside and a tumbler of cognac were missing to make replete the picture of warmth pervading the ambiance in the Minister’s study.
It almost brought to mind Longfellow’s poem ‘The Ladder of St. Augustine’ and to burst into verse, and and in one’s own words, say: The taxes ministers imposed and kept Were not aimed to ease the poor’s plight For they while the nation’s citizens slept Were upward toiling to screw them right The highest mounts, the choppi- est seas Were to be crossed by tax levies And what though the masses’ vote be lost E’en lotus eaters must know its cost Thus did the wise men of Lanka’s fate Burn the midnight oil till it was late Knowing full well the masses outrage Will with sins’ wages visit poll’s stage And like the charge of the Light Brigade Did he, in innocence, Hades invade? By wooing Bacchus to rule the roost To save Lanka from cooking her goose?
Alas, did Mangala cook his own goose in his budget proposal on how to bridge the deficit by announcing a levy on liquor from April Fool’s Day next year as a Nation Building Tax? Most certainly it wouldn’t have been sauce for the presidential gan-