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Harin says President’s policy statement gave him a real scare

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By Saman Indrajith

The content of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement to Parliament last week signifies the beginning of a Sri Lanka’s journey towards a dictatorship. SJB National List MP Harin Fernando told Parliament on Friday.

Participating in the debate on the Presidential policy statement, MP Fernando said that the statement contained matters which were frightening. “When I read the headlines in the newspapers which said one country one law, my knees started to tremble in fear. He (the President) said that he would bring one law for all people, but I don’t want that to be the Rajapaksa law. If the law being promised is here the same that imprisoned former CID Director Shani Abeysekera, then I don’t want that law.”

Fernando warned that the course of action proposed by the President would lead the country to a dictatorship.

“I saw the Facebook page of the former President Maithripala Sirisena today. There is a post in which he says that after accomplishing a task with great effort it is now time to quietly watch the process in motion. But we can’t do that; we cannot be quiet and watch what this government is doing because people have given them two third majority with the hope of getting what they had been promised. We are not going to be silent when the government is doing otherwise.”

Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella said that government had shown an indecent haste to abolish the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

He said that almost all seniors sitting in the government ranks now had voted in favour of the 19th Amendment in 2015.

“We introduced the 19A to reduce the powers of the executive President and at the time the UNP had only 45 seats even though in government but we got the requisite two-thirds majority in the House to pass this Amendment.”

Kiriella said that the government had not disclosed whether it was planning to retain the independent commissions. “Tell the country how 19 A is going to be amended. Is it being done for the benefit of the people or to serve some other secret agenda?”

Kiriella said that the ‘one country, one law’ concept was not realistic. “There are many customary laws in this country. There are the Kandyan laws, the Thesawalami law, the Muslim laws etc. It is difficult to change these laws which are hundreds of years old,” he said.

Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that 19A had left the country in a mess and had to be changed.

“The President was elected in November last year but he could not dissolve Parliament because of 19A. He had to wait for the end of four and a half years of its term to be completed. Because of this Parliament was dissolved in March and elections had to be postponed twice due to COVID-19. This amendment has tied the President’s hands and left the country in a mess.”



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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