Sri Lanka has not one, but two, government-owned TV channels. They tend to be used for propaganda, but there are occasions when they act like normal news channels, serving the public interest in understanding what is going on. Last week, for example, I was happy to be on a talk show in the midst of a breakdown of fuel supplies debating the issues with a leader of a trade union combine that is trying its hardest to roll back even the current nominal liberalization and restore some kind of retrograde state monopoly.
This week, I was invited to come on the show again to discuss the budget. I am generally supportive of the thrust of the 2018 budget proposals, which may be why they invited me. However, I was also able to explain the incredible ignorance and prejudice underlying the proposal to impose a punitive levy on mobile towers. This was in the course of explaining how the Ministry of Finance draws on subject expertise in order to come up with creative and practical budget proposals.
I was asked whether any of the comments and corrections that were offered during the debate and in platforms such as talk shows had any effect. In response I talked about how our research had been tabled in Parliament last year by Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva and how his statement about the need to roll back the excessive levy imposed on data had been implemented a few months later.