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Sabry says he abhors SL political culture

Former Minister Ali Sabry told Parliament on Friday that when Puttalam District Ali Sabry Raheem’s house was set on fire, some of those in legal circles had been jubilant thinking it was his residence.

“I have not earned from politics. I did not come here for that purpose. I have not stolen, not even a single cent from public money. Put all together with allowances, and benefits, the salary I am now getting is below that 10 percent of income I used to get. Before I accepted this post, I paid Rs 42 million as income tax for five years. I came here because I thought that I would be able to do something for this nation. What we have now is a nation of people who rejoices when someone else’s house is on fire. My question is whether we find answers for our problems when everything is set on fire.

“The rupee has fallen flat creating an economic crisis that torments people. This is not only a political crisis. It is a much bigger economic crisis. That is why I call on all to unite to get out of this problem. If you ask me whether I am scared, yes I am. I did not come here to fight. I know the fears of my children and my parents.  If I do not have an assurance of the future of my children, yes I too have fears, but I do not fear for my life.

“We as a country spend three to four times our income. When the country gained independence in 1948, the ratio of number of persons to public servants was 113 to one. Today this ratio is 13 to one. This is a serious problem. Where does a government get money to maintain the public service? All avenues for forex to come here are shut down. Sri Lanka earned around USD 4.4 billion from tourism in 2018 with 2.3 million arrivals. All such sectors have collapsed. Now there is no point in pointing fingers at each other. We must resurrect this nation – we must rebuild it. For that we must come together. While I was holding the finance ministry portfolio, I was in touch with Dr Harsha de Silva for his insights.

“I hope you understand the true situation. My drivers too spent hours in queues outside fuel stations and returned home without fuel. There is a very popular opinion in the general public that we come here to eat in this canteen. Since the day I came to this parliament, I have gone to that place less than ten times. My family members do not come here to eat at the parliament restaurant. My children have not come here, they have not even come to the ministry.

“I call on people to question not only politicians. Ask others too whether they pay taxes. There are only 225 politicians here. Question those at the Departments of Inland Revenue and the Customs whether they pay taxes.

“Our total income is Rs 1.4 trillion and the expenditure is at Rs 3.4 trillion. This is the question. I do not think street protests with a utopian dream would bring solutions for such questions.  We all must question ourselves whether we do the right thing.”

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