inisters of this Government also have started to insult the intelligence of the people as happened during all other regimes in the past. The latest slur on the people was the remark made by Minister John Amaratunga about the price increase of the vehicles, especially the cars. He, while speaking to the media recently said that the Government had increased the prices of cars through increasing the VAT on them in order to prevent the “unwanted people” from buying cars.
Another bigwig in the yahapalanaya Government, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, was questioned during an interview with a television about the UNP’s promise given during the last Presidential and General Elections to create a situation, where everybody would be able to own a vehicle.
He promptly said that the promise had already been fulfilled as anybody could buy at least a bicycle, which was also a vehicle.
These Ministers seem to think that they had put forward brilliant arguments in justifying the recent VAT increase and the consequences of it. But, what they cannot or do not want to understand is that people, who reposed their total trust on them and voted them to office feel that they had been deceived and let down with their irresponsible and arrogant remarks.
Minister Amaratunga who contends that the prices of cars were increased to prevent “unwanted people” from buying cars did not explain as to who those “unwanted” people are. One might remember that in one of the UNP’s election advertisements during the last Presidential as well as the General Elections an ordinary man who is now considered to be an “unwanted man” by Amaratunga was saying another ordinary man to wait till the UNP comes to power to buy a car.
Millions of such “unwanted men and women” must now be feeling ashamed to have been deceived and for having voted for the UNP.
On the other hand, Ravi Karunanayake’s argument too was humiliating the masses. By promising to create a situation where everybody would be able to own a vehicle, if the UNP leaders had meant people owning at least a bicycle, that promise itself was ridiculous, since such a situation had prevailed at the time of the election as well.
Karunanayake’s remark reminds us of a similar statement by his mentor, former National Security Minister the late Lalith Athulathmudali. After the 1977 Parliamentary elections at which the UNP had promised to provide eight pounds of lentils for a week, if they were elected to office instead of the two measures of rice that had already been provided.
A few months after the election, when he was questioned by a journalist about that promise, he said that had been already fulfilled in the form of four pounds (Two measures) of rice (That had been provided during the time of the election) and four pounds of flour, which included ground lentils (Which could also be bought in the open market).
Both yahapalanaya Ministers argue, as a reason for the VAT increase on vehicles, that there are an excessive number of vehicles on the roads as a result of which huge traffic snarls are created almost every day, which is true.
But the question remains as to whether they had not realised this situation, when the promise about people owning vehicles, was given some 18 months ago.
Also they argue that these price hikes are a temporary measure, which would last about six months. In other words within six months the “unwanted people” would become “wanted people” and the traffic problem would be solved in six months, according to them.
All in all, these Ministers seem to have taken the people, who voted them into office as stupid. That hurts the people more severely than the price hike.
It would be respectable and cultured politics on the part of them to admit their failure to fulfill their promise, rather than attempting to hoodwink the masses, which is futile.