“..did everything to create an economic crisis in the country”
by Saman Indrajith
The Opposition attempted to destabilize the country economically and politically during the COVID-19 pandemic without cooperating with the President and the Prime Minister, Leader of the House, Foreign Affairs Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said yesterday.
Speaking during the second day of the debate on the Vote on Account, Minister Gunawardena said that despite Opposition’s obstructions President Gotabaya Rajapaksa successfully overcame the challenges that emanated from the pandemic situation.
“Sri Lanka was brought back to the world map. Once again Sri Lanka appeared as one of the most successful countries that controlled the COVID-19 pandemic for which, we have to accept, we needed money, funding, so the expenditure had to be incurred by the President’s orders under the Constitution. And we have come today before the House to get the Vote on Account approved for the next few months. The budget shall be presented in November by the Prime Minister,” Minister Gunawardena said.
Minister Gunawardena pointed out that “While Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has presented the Vote on Account for the coming four months, I would like to clarify as to how the Opposition attempted several times to create a financial crisis in the country over the last few months. On February 20, 2020 we as the government requested from the House necessary financial provisions immediately following the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Initially the Opposition said that it will support us, however, we had to withdraw the proposal as at the last moment the Opposition opposed it,” he said.
“Now, the Opposition’s main argument is that there is a legal concern in relation to utilizing funds during the period April to August. The Prime Minister explained that there are billions of unsettled payments due for constructions, development projects, health projects and public needs which were abandoned by the previous government. In February our attempt was to obtain the necessary funding to meet these needs so that the country shall not be dragged into an economic crisis. So the Opposition was taking every opportunity to destabilize the country economically, politically and socially,” Minister Gunawardena said.
Minister Gunawardena said: “Now the Opposition MPs are coming up with all kinds of arguments concerning the period of time that the President could use funds without the approval of the House. President quite correctly dissolved the Parliament so that the election could be held at an appropriate time. However our country as well as the whole world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire countries, economies, airports were closed down due to the pandemic. The world was shocked by the pandemic. Thus the Election Commission took a decision to postpone the poll. If the election was not postponed, we would have been able to elect a new House by the end of April this year. Even to hold the election, the Election Commission requested a larger financial provision to hold it. So the President was challenged to allocate large sums of money to hold the general election and to secure the citizens from the pandemic. President most successfully overcame all these challenges. The public was secured against the pandemic and the economic difficulties. It is important to remember that all the benefits were distributed equally among every community without any discrimination.”
Minister Gunawardena said that the Opposition which should have cooperated with the government during the pandemic did everything to create an economic crisis in the country. “They did not support the President and the Prime Minister during the time of need. The Opposition’s actions and political behavior are unacceptable. The Opposition when in power did not present a budget during their rule, and to quote their own words, they did not expect a defeat in the election. The public of course gave them the answer in the general election.”
Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.
The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.
NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.
Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.
Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.
The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.
MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.
The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.
Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.
The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.
In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.
Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.
Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.
PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs
A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.
Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture
Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.
The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.
FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.
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