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Eran: Ranil has no practical solutions to problems facing country

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The President’s policy statement talks of policies, but no practical solutions to burning issues, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Eran Wickramaratne said yesterday in a statement.The SJB Parliamentarian said the President is trying to portray himself as a doctor ready to cure Sri Lanka’s dire economic disease.

“However, the people understand that he and his associates have been in active politics for over 40 years, and that they cannot cure these economic diseases,” he said.

President Wickremesinghe has been the Minister and Prime Minister many times for 40 years, the SJB MP said.

“Mahinda Rajapaksa was the first citizen of this country twice in addition to holding the portfolios of the Prime Minister and various other ministerial posts for more than 40 years,” he said.

Referring to the Policy statement made by the President this week, Wickramaratne said the President spoke about increasing the income but did not mention the rationalization of state expenditure. “Ever since he became the President, he has acted like the spokesperson of the crisis and has not offered any solutions to it. The main problem of the country is lack of dollars and a Budget deficit. There is no proposal for rationalisation of expenditure other than to increase the income. He made proposals for making the public service more efficient. There is no word about the expenditure on defence,” Wickramaratne said.

He questioned whether this government is going to solve the country’s problems only by increasing tax revenues.

“The President’s policy statement does not contain any practical solutions on how to reduce the Budget deficit which is at 8.15 percent of GDP? How to create a primary balance in the Budget,” he asked

Even though the President said that the government lost 800 billion rupees from state owned enterprises (SoEs) this year alone, as always, there contained no solutions in his statement, the SJB MP said.

“SoEs are supervised by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, which is under the purview of the President. Senior Treasury officials act as board members of all state enterprises so it is incumbent upon them to see that they are managed efficiently without furthering the burden on the taxpayers,” he said. The SJB MP went on to say that the President promised he would bring anti-corruption laws. Corruption is a question of action rather than a question of law in the country.

“But, unfortunately, this government does not have any necessary solutions for the country. If there is a real desire, on the part of the government, to eliminate corruption, the Bribery Commission should be made independent from the government. Then, instead of appointing the officials by the government, the Commission itself can appoint. By appointing the police and government officials complicit in the corruption to the Commission, can it be expected that the investigations against government ministers and higher officials will be carried out independently?” he asked.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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