Editorial - Corruption and Vulgar Luxuries

29 October 2013 08:06 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Like a political cancer, corruption and hypocrisy appear to be afflicting many areas of society ranging from party politics to business and sport, the latest scandal in the widely popular field of cricket is the huge debt of some 3.2 billion rupees that the crisis-ridden or corruption-ridden Sri Lanka cricket owes to the State for the construction of what many analysts believe were two non-essential stadiums in Hambantota and Pallekele and the major renovation of the Kettarama stadium. SLC says the Finance Ministry has agreed to write-off this debt owed to the State Engineering Corporation and other public institutions.

The Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundare can write-off any debt, but what it means is that he and the high-spending SLC executives are heaping this debt on millions of innocent people including farmers and fisherfolk who are struggling for survival. Other acts of irresponsibility, if not reckless arrogance and plunder of public money, are taking place unchecked because accountability and transparency cannot be a part of the growing authoritarianism in Sri Lanka.
The Colombo-Katunayake Expressway – declared open last Sunday with wide publicity – is another showpiece of the lack of accountability. According to the Sunday Times, the 25.8 kilometre Colombo-Katunayake Expressway has cost Sri Lanka US $ 14 million or Rs. 1.8 billion a kilometre – around double the cost of the completed 95-km stretch from Kottawa to Pinnaduwa - known as the Southern Expressway.

" There is little by way of accountability or transparency in China and it seems something similar is happening in Sri Lanka also and no one knows who got how much for these roads"

The construction of the airport expressway and part of the southern highway was handled largely by the Chinese with loans on commercial interest rates from Chinese banks. There is little by way of accountability or transparency in China and it seems something similar is happening in Sri Lanka also and no one knows who got how much for these roads.
The Government has given a tax waiver for the import of 53 latest model super-luxury Benz cars for the Heads of Government coming to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth summit. A gazette notification announcing the tax waiver said the cars would cost Rs. 875.42 million. If taxes were paid, the cars would have cost Rs. 1.63 billion. All with public money. With or without taxes. The gazette notification also says a relatively new company will import the cars but the chairman of the long-standing agency for Benz says he also has a stake in it. All this mystery leads to the question as to who will get the super-luxury cars after the summit.

Earlier reports said ministers of the giant cabinet – which has a notorious record in the Guinness book – have expressed their desire to indulge in this super-luxury in addition to all the other privileges and perks they are getting at public expense. It smacks of deception and hypocrisy though democracy and development are supposed to be going at high speed on the expressways.

  Comments - 1

  • Raju Wednesday, 30 October 2013 05:55 PM

    For sure these maladies were introduced to Sri Lanka by none other than JRJ. The nepotism was the height of the day with introducing Ranil to politics. Anura Baitian and Shrimathi Atulathmudali also part of that ship. Then bringing in thugs to the political administration in the likes of Gonawala Sunil is of UNP making.

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