Politics to push Sri Lanka’s growth
November 27, 2014 (Economynext) Sri Lanka’s stock exchange may have dipped following the mass defection of legislators from the ruling party, but the pole-vaulting by politicians ahead of the snap poll is expected to fuel a growth spurt like never before.
For a simple act of jumping, opposition United National Party’s general-secretary Tissa Attanayake had been offered 500 million rupees, according to web-based news reports.
The amount on offer is equivalent to 416 years of salary of a Sri Lankan MP at current rates.
A UNP woman MP, Chandrani Bandara, had been offered a more modest 200 million rupees, although some websites suggested that she was bundled with Attanayake and came as part of a "buy-one, get-one free" deal.
An emotional Attanayake said he couldn’t be bought for money. However, he did not say how he could be induced or indeed if he could be bribed at all.
He and Bandara were both at a ceremony welcoming presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday at the UNP headquarters which hurriedly called Abans Environmental Services to clear out a huge pile of garbage in its compound. (see picture)
There could be a futures market for MPs, some who may want to change sides closer to the election or thereafter.
While the offered price for a member of parliament was said to be a minimum of 200 million rupees, a coalition partner was said to have been offered 650 million rupees not to change sides.
Even at provincial level, councillors are being offered substantial fees for a circus act that could bring the House, er council, down.
At least four councils — North Central, Eastern, Uva and North Western — have the potential to make their members high net worth individuals. Ministerial portfolios are also being thrown in as extra icing on the cake.
With such huge inducements, money circulation could be boosted to revive consumer spending that is needed for a fresh growth spurt.
The country has only just over 15 million voters, but a political party has already printed 17 million election leaflets only to find an image of a rival candidate had slipped into the propoganda material.
However, at seven rupees a kilo, the pile of unusable leaflets could still be recycled and make the presidential election of 2015 one of the most environmentally friendly campaigns.
Jehan Perera - Executive Director National Peace Council