How Amunugama nearly missed the bus

Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama nearly missed presenting the 2006 budget today after his staff got the time wrong and forced him to an inauspicious start. Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama nearly missed presenting the 2006 budget today after his staff got the time wrong and forced him to an inauspicious start. Official invitations sent out by the Ministry of Finance to heads of diplomatic missions and other dignitaries said the budget speech would start at 2.30 p.m, when in fact the cabinet had decided it will be at 2.00 p.m.

A parliamentary official noticed the cock-up and alerted the Finance Ministry to get their act together even if it meant the minister would have to forgo his “auspicious” time and address empty public galleries.

As the speech was being broadcast live on national television, parliamentary staff dressed in lounge suit filled seats in the Speaker’s Gallery while dozens of ushers were asked to take seats instead of showing them to guests.

There was extra-ordinary security at the parliament as well as in the neighbourhood, but hardly anyone turned up.

At the customary tea party hosted by the Finance Minister, there were empty seats unlike on previous occasions.

On earlier budget days there were scrambles just to get into the vast dining hall overlooking the Diyawanna.

This time food languished and only the ice coffee was warm.

-LBO Newsdesk: LBOEmail@vanguardlk.com