Top Sri Lanka official says freezing prices an economic crime

May 29, 2008 (LBO) – A top official of a government body said freezing prices of government output was an ‘economic crime’ because the popular concept of ‘government bearing the burden’ had no factual basis. “Suppressing prices and freezing them is an economic crime,” head of Sri Lanka Railways Lalithasiri Gunaruwan told reporters.

“It is not raising prices that cause an economic crisis.”

Gunaruwan says the railways lost 7.5 billion rupees last year, which was topped up by the Treasury, saying the government was bearing the burden.

This year it is set to increase by a further 900 million with the latest increase in fuel prices. Only 5.0 percent of the traveling public used trains.

“We say, ‘The government is bearing the cost. We will not charge the passenger’,” he said.

“There is nothing called the government bearing the cost. This whole expenditure is borne on behalf of the train passengers by the whole country.

“A poor villager in Angunakolapalassa who does not even step on a train bears the burden of this 8.5 billion rupees.

“A beggar on the road pays this with the vat on his bun the cost of maintaining the railways.”

The same applied to buses or other governm