Why fantastic is not the word - Sri Lanka Guardian

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why fantastic is not the word

by Rajpal Abeynayake

(August 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Azim Premji, India’s second richest man said last week that he deplores the ‘splurge of money’ that has been going into India hosting the Commonwealth Games. The budget for the games is 17 times of what was originally estimated - a staggering 6 billion dollars when 1 billion of India’s people live on less than 1.25 $ a day.

But now cut to Sri Lanka, where the cabinet of ministers yesterday approved Sri Lanka’s bid for the Commonwealth games in 2018, to be held in Hambanthota, if the games are indeed awarded to this recovering country.

I for one would put my hand right up and say loud and clear that I am hoping and praying and doing my utmost to ensure that the games are not awarded to Sri Lanka, irrespective of what the host city is going to be.

If our Big Brother across the shores with nuclear power and the monstrous financial clout that could take the country into the G 20 league cannot afford them, we cannot afford them, beyond any reasonable doubt.

The hubris is preposterous, so preposterous that I hardly want to talk about it.

Total national expenditure

Upwards of US $ 6 billion which India is spending on the games can be compared with the 11.3 billion dollars which we spent as total national expenditure as reflected in the year 2010 budget.

So there we have it.

We want to spend more than half of what we are spending for an entire year on current estimates, to host the Commonwealth Games eight years from now.
It will be an optimistic estimate to think that the revenue position will improve so much by the year 2014 (by which time we will have to start spending to host the games in 2018) that we will be spending significantly less than half our annual current budgetary expenditure on the games.

Listen up folks — in other words we are poised to spend at least half of all the money we will spend is, sadly more than a quarter of it even by the most conservative estimate, to hold a two-week orgy of athletics which we no doubt will be told would be hugely profitable for Sri Lanka in terms of publicity gained —- and by extension therefore in terms of future investment prospects.

Mind-numbing

The audacity of it all is mind-numbing. Here we are on an IMF bailout loan of US $ 2.6 billion having also recently negotiated a 100 million USD loan from Libya.
Now we are trying to spend in four years time, much more than twice the amount of our current IMF borrowings to host the Commonwealth Games —- at a time when our education budget is a step motherly wretched 5.7 million USD.

We are estimating to start spending roughly 12,000 times the money spent on education now, in four years time, to host two weeks of games on behalf of a club of nations we have to keep reminding ourselves we are a member of.

The good thing here is that the awarding institution will laugh off our bid for the games when considering our economy, and our current budgetary expenditure as a country, even with potential for an average 6.0 growth factored in for each year from now, until the year we would start spending money on the games.

The awarding body would consider that this country is poised to spend around half of what it currently spends, to host these games in four years, and would therefore arrive at the correct conclusion that this is a nation that is rather curiously albeit hilariously trying to bite off much more than she could chew for putting on a hefty tamasha.

We are not getting the games, and that is a certainty, and thank God for whichever deity you pray to, for that.

No argument on this

There is no argument on this. Anybody who knows the basics of mathematics and that means the four-year old child on the street, would understand this.

The numbers speak for themselves — and anybody who says the picture is going to change drastically in four years time would be in the league of Mano Tittawella who said immediately after the tsunami that the then government would build upwards of 200,000 houses in two years, a target he missed by a mammoth 98% even though he told this writer at a press conference, when challenged, that his ‘mathematics is not linear’ as mine is.

Tittawella qualified for the double-boor award for his idiotic obduracy before what stared him in the face, coupled with the audacity to disparage the person who pointed out the obvious nature of the facts to him.

It has given me the satisfaction of being the person who laughed the last and the longest ... still laughing after six years.

This then is the extent of the hubris in bidding for the Commonwealth Games.

Schools are crumbling, hospitals are little more than cattle sheds, but it looks as if people will just not have enough to eat if we get the games।

I just think somebody up there has a great sense of humour.

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