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Govt. earning unconscionable profits through petrol

(January 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The government is concerned only about the income from taxation, and not about exploring avenues of reducing expenditure to set off the loss of revenue and reduce petrol prices to provide relief to the masses. The government has taken the position that selling petrol at Rs. 100 will adversely affect the income of the government compelling it to withdraw the subsidies on certain products and reduce purchasing of war equipment and that the Court decision is a result of foreign secret manipulations engineered by local political opponents.

Even the uneducated villager is not gullible to fall for such propaganda. A government that cannot think of ways to earn the ‘loss’ of Rs. 22 is simply not fit to govern. At every road junction there are owners of businesses not paying tax, and if a free hand is given to the assessors they could assess the income and impose a tax.

The President in an address to some officials had said that a mere 4% of people are using cars and that it did not affect over 90% of the people and that the state charges 300% duty on cigarettes and arrack, 450% on whisky and 500% on imported luxury cars.

The President should not depend on his aging advisors, as considering the cars on all roads in all parts of the country, motorbikes, scooters and trishaws the 4% figure is more the other way around. The most affected are the three-wheeler drivers and the persons travelling in three-wheelers and the monthly wage earners owning cars.

People will not protest, even if the ‘luxury items’ such as liquor and cigarettes are taxed 800% or more as more than 50% of the population are females and at least 95% percent of the Sri Lankan females are not in the habit of smoking and consuming alcohol.

Thus the loss of Rs. 22 could have been earned with a Gazette notification increasing the duties on ‘luxury items’ and thus avoiding a confrontation with the judiciary as the reduction would benefit the general public. The order to sell petrol at Rs. 100 was when the oil price was about $ 45 but at the time of the announcement, the world oil price was about $ 40.

Thus the government should have announced that considering world prices, petrol would be sold at Rs. 95 or Rs. 97 and not below that even if the world prices fall below $ 40. Then, with an increase in the world price the local price could have been increased.

Even if only 4% of the people are using cars some key roads need to be widened with six or more lanes taking into account other vehicular traffic. For the widening of the road from Horana through Piliyandala, houses of persons who have been living in them for generations on either side of the road are being demolished. The peak hours for traffic on this road are from early morning to 9 a.m. and for about three hours after 4.30 p.m in the evening.

Hence acquisition of four to five feet of land on either side would be adequate. The surplus money earmarked for paying compensation to the house owners as well as owners of business places could be used for the development of village roads. It has to be pointed out that when some of these houses are demolished the residents of those houses will be forced to take up residence many miles away from their present place of residence affecting their children’s schooling.

In 1920, referring to the British administration in India, Nehru wrote in his autobiography "Governments are notorious bases of violence, not only the open violence of the armed forces, but far more dangerous violence, more subtly exercised, of spies, informers, agents, provocateurs, false propaganda, direct and indirect."

In our country the armed forces are not involved in violence but the rest applies to all governments which have run this country for the last three decades.

from Amor Patriae
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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