The solution for poverty is not wealth but justice. This reality is seen in the world today where more wealth is being generated but with the horrifying fact where one percent of the people, most of them billionaires, own upto 50 percent of the wealth and resources.
After about 40 years of the globalised capitalist market economic system, the latest figures given by world rating agencies show that the monstrous gap between the rich and the poor is growing to alarming levels. The so-called trickle down process of the world’s financial institutions has apparently not worked and in most countries it is largely a case of the poor getting the crumbs that fall from the banquet tables of the rich and ruling elite.
It is in the aftermath of an unjust, tragic and dangerous economic crisis that President Mahinda Rajapaksa today presents the 2015 Budget, advanced by more than two weeks apparently because an early presidential election is likely to be held in January next year.
Opposition leaders, trade union activists and most independent economic analysts say the 2015 Budget will be election-oriented with a host of relief measures, though valid questions are being asked as to how long these election bonuses will last.
With President Rajapaksa and Opposition leaders making drastically conflicting claims as to what would happen at the early presidential election, the main opposition United National Party said on Wednesday it would present an alternative Budget after the President presented his Budget today.
Addressing a news conference the UNP’s Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake said the party believed the President would give a salary increase of Rs. 5000 a month to public servants and also other unrealistic relief measures apparently aimed at regaining public confidence after the UPFA suffered a humiliating victory at the Uwa Provincial Council elections last month.
Mr. Karnanayake, the only chartered accountant in Parliament, said a future UNP Government would increase the salaries of public servants by Rs.10,000 a month, pensions by Rs.2,500 a month, reduce the price of petrol by Rs.50 a litre and diesel by Rs.15 a litre with the intention of bringing down transport fares by 20 per cent. He also assured a UNP Government would give farmers a guaranteed price of Rs.50 a kilo for paddy, Rs.80 a kilo for potatoes and onions and allocate six per cent of the Budget for higher education and 4.5 per cent for general education.
The UNP Assistant Leader said these and other concessions would be given by stopping the waste of hundreds of millions of dollars to keep SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka flying like pies in the sky.
Our policy would be to come up with realistic relief measures unlike this Government which puts Rs.100 into the people’s pocket and takes away Rs.1,000 from the other, he assured.
Whatever the assurances and promises by the Rajapaksa Government or opposition parties, most people have apparently lost faith in party politics and politicians, most of whom have turned out to be merely promise givers but not promise keepers. A huge credibility crisis has been created because of the lies, the damn lies, the statistics and the half truths, hypocrisy and deception practised by most politicians. We hope that whatever comes or does not come in the Rajapaksa budget or the UNP budget, millions of people will get some relief from new leaders who work with integrity and social responsibility, politicians who come to serve the people and give to the country instead of deceiving the people and grabbing the wealth of the country.