ECONOMYNEXT – Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s lavish policy document was launched at a red-carpet ceremony in Colombo, but the event merited Hollywood glitz given the block-buster potential of the manifesto.
Political parties in the early 1970s promised free rice "even from the moon" to starving millions, but no party has dangled this much cash before an election.
An interest-free loan of LKR 200,000 is offered to each couple getting married after the UPFA forms a government, if elected at the August 17 vote.
At least 180,000 marriages are registered annually, but no amount of love and fresh air has made the institution of marriage more attractive than this offer of cheap credit.
The manifesto could also spark a wave of teen marriages.
Each girl or boy reaching the age of 18 years is being promised LKR 50,000 for higher studies or vocational training. If they get married, they get another LKR 200,000 with a comfortable seed capital of LKR 300,000.
Enterprising couples could further benefit from another promise that every three-wheel taxi owner will be offered a duty-free car if the person wants to expand his/her transport business.
In addition, as a three-wheeler owner, they will also be entitled to a credit card with a limit of LKR 100,000 given at concessionary interest rate.
It is likely that this document was leaked long before its launch. That is probably why there is a mad rush to buy three wheelers. Some 10,000 three-wheelers were sold last month alone.
The newly-weds could also join the three-wheel race and buy a second-hand Bajaj as their first vehicle with the seed capital already in hand. That will qualify them to claim a duty-free permit for a car to start their expanded travel business as promised by the manifesto.
Following the example of almost all politicians and public servants, they can hawk their duty-free car permit for about LKR 1.0 million and buy a decent second-hand car, thanks to the manifesto.
As newly-weds, they are also entitled to another loan of LKR 4.0 million given by the state at a preferential interest rate.
It is not clear what the outlay would be for the extremely generous offers contained in the 55-page manifesto, but UPFA sources refused to confirm reports that they have received inquiries to secure exclusive movie rights to the manifesto.
Irrespective of the outcome of next month’s election, the UPFA manifesto contains sensational stuff that only Disney movies are made of. (Colombo/July28/2015