“..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.”
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
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