So Much for the Historic Package


Sometimes it’s not what you say that’s quite as important as how you say it. That’s why it is ironic that the prime minister’s speech about the historic Rs120 billion relief package for the country’s struggling working classes ended up grabbing the headlines because another increase in petroleum prices was also mentioned in it. Surely his speech writers should have realized that the opposition would pounce upon such things and concentrated his speech on the matter at hand. The speech should have been both better written and better presented. It was clearly not structured in a manner that highlighted the degree of relief it is going to bring, and its flow was compromised right from the beginning. PTV didn’t help with its editing either and diluted the impact of what was truly an unprecedented policy announcement. It would also help, in future, if the prime minister kept a list of important announcements to be made during landmark speeches, especially if a lot of figures and numbers are involved, and read from the script for the benefit of the people as well as his speechwriters.
Now who’s to blame for giving the opposition a field day? It is quite understandable that they were up in arms just as soon as the speech was over and took to social media platforms to attack what is, at the end of the day, an openly pro-people policy. The government needs to be careful with the subsides it doles out, though, because not only will they run into trouble with the IMF, but they will also increase the supply of money in the economy. And, if uncontrolled, a policy measure to counter inflation could well end up stoking it.
The biggest takeaway from all this is that targeted programs need to be communicated efficiently and effectively to the people that they are intended for. Otherwise they just end up providing unnecessary cannon fodder to the opposition. The PM’s speechwriters do a very crucial job. For even the best policies will fail to achieve desired results if people do not understand them properly. Those responsible for such lapses should be sorted out before they waste more of the government’s precious time.