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December 2010

Having read through the Progress Report of the Ministry of Defence, and listened to remarks of the Opposition, in Committee Stage and earlier, it occurred to me that it was with regard to this Ministry that there is the greatest inconsistency as to the several arguments the Opposition, in its collective wisdom, advances to criticize this budget. Given the wide range of new initiatives undertaken by the Ministry, with very little additional expenditure, it is easiest to defend the financial policies of this government with regard to the Ministry of Defence, even though trying to attack it has been the favourite pursuit of the collective opposition over the last couple of weeks.

Most entertaining amongst the other recurrent themes in the speeches we have heard was the tremendous concern expressed for the toiling masses, as the UNP in its latest neo-Marxist incarnation calls the people of Sri Lanka. Such concern is understandable in the JVP, but to hear this from the UNP and the TNA suggests what might be termed crocodile tears.

These tears are accompanied by much confusion. Mr Sumanthiran, normally very erudite, complained that a percentage increase in wages for public servants would not help with poverty alleviation. It seems he does not understand what actual poverty means, given the statistical tools used to define poverty so as to focus government intervention on the worst off. In comparison with them, all public servants earn a decent wage, the lowest paid for instance earning about 4 dollars a day now.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

December 2010
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