Sun­day Punch 2

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT -

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-

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