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DEW urges Sri Lanka to deviate from neo-liberal economic strategy

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Former General Secretary of the Communist Party D.E.W. Gunasekera, has said the current economic crisis couldn’t be resolved unless Sri Lanka deviates from the neo-liberal strategy.

The former lawmaker said so at the opening of the 22nd National Congress of the Sri Lanka Communist Party recently. “44 years of experience is more than enough. We must embark upon a strategy of planning – market – state intervention. The strategy of Import and Consumption should make way for export-oriented, domestic production and national savings strategy. Our exports need diversification. Human resource development is the best guarantee for mixed foreign remittances. We must make our country the best tourist destination in the world. We must stop borrowing forthwith money from the international money market. We must go in for concessionary loans from our friendly countries. We must make best use of the new Silk Road Economic Project.

The most important element needed is national unity and religious harmony. This is the best guarantee for foreign capital. We missed the great opportunity offered to us by termination of anti-terrorist war.

The only way to ensure a new economic strategy is the unity of left, radical, nationalist forces. There is no other alternative.”

Excerpts of the speech: “National Congresses of our Party has always been eventful, colourful, and fruitful. It has immensely contributed towards raising political consciousness, enhancing political thinking, and formulating policies. Our Party, formed in 1943, in the midst of World War II, is the second oldest Party in the country.

At the outset, I wish to remember with great respect, honour, and gratitude the six founding leaders of our Party namely, Dr. Sugeeshwara Wickremasinghe, Pieter Keuneman, M.G. Mendis, Ven. Udakandewela Sri Saranankara, A. Vayithyalingam, and P. Kandaiah.

“The 22nd National Congress is being held at a time of a deep, profound, and decisive economic crisis. We had to postpone this Congress several times owing to the Corona Pandemic. Even today, we are holding it amidst health restrictions.

“We have presented a political thesis incorporating all aspects of the crisis for discussion and debate. We are now in the process of formulating economic policy and programme for the Country, taking into account the global developments, decisive changes, and also taking into account the successes and failures of our past Policies.

“Our last economic policy document, adopted by the 5th National Congress, was a long-term strategy and policies presented by the then General Secretary Dr. S.A. Wickremasinghe. It was the first and last Policy presented and ever introduced to the Country by a Political Party. It is still relevant which has now become a Study Course used by the Universities. New Economic Policy will be presented to the people in due course, after approval by a Special Congress.

“First, I would like to touch on the current international situation: We entered the 21st Century, with a new changing world economic order and also a changing new balance of power with a rise of the Asian economy. There is no longer a unipolar or bipolar world.

“There have emerged new regional economic centres – North American, EU, Asian, African Union, Latin American CELAC, emerging new Euro Asia, East Asia, North Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East, etc. This is an unprecedented development in economic history. The National Liberation Movement, Economic Globalisation, Scientific and Technological Revolution have brought about this reality.

“The second feature of world development is the decline of imperialism. The birth of modern imperialism took place in and around 1880, according to historian142 years have elapsed. The leadership changed from Great Britain to the US with World War II. With neo-liberalism in crisis, imperialism is passing through a period of decay and decline on all fronts after China became the second economic power as from 2010.

China has made two landmark achievements, namely alleviation of abject poverty and the new Silk Road Economic Project or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) comprising 140 odd countries. Argentina is the latest partner in the BRI.

“Imperialism is today left with three options. i.e., confrontation, competition, and corporation with 10 nuclear nations. Imperialism cannot again choose world war as a political solution to an economic crisis. That is why China and Russia appeal to the US, choosing competition or co-operation, preferably co-operation.

“We have to formulate our Economic Strategy in this world context.

“Thirdly, of late we are facing a geopolitical challenge here in the Indo-Pacific Zone relevant to Sri Lanka and South Asia.

“In my view, South Asia is more united and peaceful than ever before. We must strengthen this trend. We must continue with our non-aligned policy of dynamic neutrality. That is our appeal to all South Asian States. The emergence of two military organisations as “QUAD” and white Imperialist AUKUS. NATO has entered the Indo-Pacific Zone. It is making a similar attempt with the Ukrainian crisis expanding the frontiers to Eastern Europe. This is in line with the choice of “Confrontation Policy”. Our Congress condemned this attempt with all vehemence. We appeal to India to come back to its traditional policy of non-alignment.”



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Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.

Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.

“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.

Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.

The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.

“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.

About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.

Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.

“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.

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JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.

“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.

He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.

“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.

Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.

“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.

When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.

He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.

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Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code

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by Ifham Nizam

Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.

The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.

It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.

The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.

However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.

Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.

The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.

The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.

PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.

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