Fifth Column

11th March 2001

Budget is not promising enough

5th Column

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"Thaaththa," Bindu Udagedera asked, "what do you think of the Budget?"

"I thought they said there is something for everyone in it."

"But thaaththa," Bindu protested, "there is no salary increase."

"Who said that there will be one?" Percy wanted to know.

"Why thaaththa, Satellite said she will take steps to reduce the cost of living."

"Yes," Percy said, "but she has promised that there will be a salary increase before the end of this year."

"But thaaththa, will that also end up like her previous promises?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why, thaaththa, she promised to abolish the Executive Presidency."

"She did have a few problems with that." Percy agreed.

"And she also promised to give bread at three rupees and fifty cents."

"Don't worry, Bindu," Percy assured, "Satellite will keep this promise."

"How can you say that?"

"Why, she is always late, isn't she?"

"So, you think that instead of granting a salary increase now, she will give it later."

"That's what the Professor said when he presented the Budget."

"But thaaththa, why did they then announce all the other changes with immediate effect?" Bindu wanted to know.

"What were those changes?" Percy queried.

"Why, they have increased the Defence Levy by one per cent."

"That is to find money for the war, Bindu." Percy tried to explain.

"But if they are so sincere about that, thaaththa," Bindu suggested, "they can also stop all these other expenses until they give us that salary increase."

"What are those expenses, Bindu?" Percy wanted to know.

"Why, the money spent on building a new residence for Satellite."

"Well," Percy argued, "they have stopped duty free vehicles for politicians."

"But most of them have already got their permits, haven't they?"

"They may have," Percy agreed, "but it is a step in the right direction."

"Of course it is a step in the right direction for the politicians." Bindu said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, those who have got their permits can now sell them in the black market easily and make a few millions."

"But Bindu," Percy said, "I don't think the people will protest about this budget anyway."

"Why do you say that?"

"Why there is a cricket match being played and that is more important to them." Percy pointed out.

"And even if they make a fuss, cricket can be used to stop all that." Bindu suggested.

"How is that?" Percy wanted to know.

"Why, all Satellite has to do is to inform Reggie and I think we all know what will happen next..."

Percy thought he knew too.

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