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Budget 2021 presents same old, failed neoliberal policies in new words: Harini

NPP MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya

ECONOMYNEXT – Budget 2021 presents the same old, failed neoliberal economic policies couched in new words and will only benefit a privileged few, National People’s Power (NPP) parliamentarian Dr Harini Amarasuriya said.

The MP told parliament today that the various proposals in the budget for a national economy, a production economy and for strengthening the public service contain no real solutions for the crisis brought about by the capitalist system itself and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Solutions for the crisis, she said, cannot be found in band-aid proposals, empty rhetoric or statistical gimmickry.

When looking at how the proposals contained in Budget 2021 may be implemented, Amarasuriya said, a lot of it turns out to be mere words.

“What we need is a structural change. it doesn’t look like we’re going for such a change,” she said.

The MP further said that the same old ideas have been presented in new words. For example, she said, the proposed tax reforms in Budget 2021 will only serve to benefit an elite business community that emerged out of capitalism facilitated by neoliberal economic policy and not the small and medium entrepreneurs of this country.

“We see that they are again going to rely on that hackneyed idea of trickle-down economics, a principle of neoliberal capitalism. Over the decades, we have seen that this trickle-down system does not work. it is a failure,” she said.

Amarasuriya said successive governments have for years been playing with macroeconomic indicators to paint a different picture of the state of the economy.

“How do we decide that an economic policy is working? The best metric for this is to look at how it affects the lives of ordinary people. The policies and statistics we debate here are different from the ground reality we see when we step outside of parliament,” she said.

For example, she said, despite a budget proposal to increase estate workers’ daily wage to Rs 1,000, tea estate owners have expressed their opposition to such a move.

Amarasuriya also challenged the proposal to allow public sector workers to engage in additional employment of their choice after work hours.

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“Is this an acceptance that one job is not enough for a person to get by? What will result from these policies? How will it affect family life? What will happen to their relationships when they’re compelled to work all day?” she said. (Colombo/Nov18/2020)

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