Lamborghini-badagini comes home to roost says UNP
■ People’s living standards deteriorating post-war: Harsha
■Highest increase is in food taxes in first quarter compared with last year
■Survey shows household income up by 5.4% since 2009/10; expenditure up by 8.5%
■UNP says Govt.prioritising Lamborghini economics above the poor man’s belly
By Dharisha Bastians
Citing the results of a key official survey, the UNP yesterday attempted to poke holes in the ruling party’s claims of burgeoning economic growth and heaped criticism on the Mahinda Chinthana economic policies, saying it was empowering only cronies while further impoverishing the average citizen.
The Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics in its preliminary report for 2012-2013 has shown the average household’s real expenditure to exceed real income by 3%, despite the economic growth and low inflation rates that the Government was claiming, the main Opposition United National Party charged.
The survey conducted three yearly by the Department surveys some 20,000 households and is a key economic progress report and is widely utilised in public policymaking. The survey shows that household real income in 2009-2010 was Rs. 26,414 and Rs. 27,836 in 2012/2013.
UNP National List Legislator and Economist Dr. Harsha De Silva said that while the nominal mean income of households has increased over the last three years, real income, or income adjusted for inflation, has shown a meagre increase of 5.4% in the post-conflict years.
“These are the wonder of Asia years. But real income has increased only marginally, while real expenditure has gone up by 8.5%. So where are the results of the Government’s claims of single digit inflation?” De Silva told a media conference yesterday.
He said that the Census Department survey had revealed the people’s true living standards in an irrefutable way. De Silva said that while the average person’s purchasing power was severely on the decline, luxury goods were entering the market.
“Meanwhile, an agent for Lamborghini just opened a showroom in Colombo last week. A car is about Rs. 200 million. When I said in Parliament last week that there were Lamborghinis for the 1% while the 99% were badagini, I didn’t realise it was prophetic,” he quipped.
De Silva said that the agent for the luxury sports car in Sri Lanka was Micro, a company that had been provided duty concessions by the Government to import and manufacture cars for the poor man. He said it was ironic that the highest tax increase relative to January-April 2012 this year had been in the Special Commodity Levy that had increased by 39%.
“This is the food tax. Many countries do not tax their food. Sri Lanka does. While the Government prepares to give foreign casino kings a tax holiday, they continue to tax the citizens’ food and essential items,” he charged.
The UNP MP said that people’s living standards were actually deteriorating since the war, despite Government claims to about economic dividends. “The Mahinda Chinthana economic progress is a lie. Where’s the wonder now?” he queried.