by Saman Indrajith
Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd) Sarath Weerasekera’s recent statements promoting mono-ethnic supremacy have exacerbated communal divisions in the country, says the JVP.
Former JVP MP and Politburo Member Bimal Ratnayake said that people have a constitutional right to speak their minds and support the brand of politics they favour.
“It is not a right they have been given by the president or the government. That right has been upheld by many Supreme Court decisions. But the Public Security Minister is speaking as if it has been given by to the people by the government,” he said.
“It is a right that they too enjoyed while they were in the opposition. He and other ministers describe teacher unionists as Taliban. The Public Security Minister defends any wrong doing of the police.
“Those who engaged in recent protests against selling a terminal of the port and those by petroleum workers were protests to save national assets. But the Public Security Minister is setting the police against them.
“They make speeches setting up people against the unionists. His recent statements speak of a mono-ethnic supremacy which is dangerous to communal harmony.
“The government is in need of another Prabhakaran or Zahran to play the communal card again and create another disaster. Their plan is to cover their failures using such a disaster as a means of diverting public attention from the burning issues of the day.
“We tell those in government and the Minster of Public Security that playing a Cyril Matthew role would not yield anything positive for the country,” Ratnayake said during a press conference held at the party headquarters on Thursday.
He said that the police were being used as a means of coercion against those who do not toe the government line. “CID teams have been sent to the homes of our party members. A group of Frontline Socialist Party leaders are held in detention for more than 60 days. Some of them contracted COVID-19 behind bars.
“It is said that they are held under the laws of public property. Then what action has the government taken against Nirupama Rajapaksa who failed to declare her assets recently published in the Pandora Papers while she was a sitting MP?,” Ratnayake queried.
MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya said that the government was using the police force in a manner that people are deprived of their civil liberties on a daily basis.
“The Public Security Minister calls the teacher unionists terrorists. As we know that police are allowed to shoot below the knee in some instances to bring a volatile situation under control. But the Public Security Minister says that policemen could shoot at the heads of people and he would stand by such policemen. This is an outrageous situation,” she said.
National People’s Power Operational Committee Member Aruna Shantha Nonis also addressed the press.
GL: Suspension of IMF bailout highlights failure to meet anticipated revenue targets
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Top Opposition spokesperson Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (02) said that the government should take full responsibility for the suspension of USD 2.9 bn IMF bailout over Sri Lanka’s failure to achieve the anticipated revenue mobilisation.
The former External Affairs Minister found fault with the government for tax concessions granted to investors and the failure on its part to collect taxes, in spite of reaching an agreement with the IMF in that regard.
Referring to the declaration made by IMF delegation head Peter Breuer that the second tranche of about $330m would be delayed pending Staff-Level Agreement, Prof. Peiris pointed out that Sri Lanka and the lending agency had reached a staff-level agreement in early September last year.
Sri Lanka received the first tranche of USD 330 mn in the third week of March this year in terms of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), spread over a period of four years.
While pointing out that revenue mobilisation had improved, the IMF said revenue was expected to fall short of initial projections by nearly 15 percent by the end of this year.
Addressing the media at the Nawala Office of Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa, Prof. Peiris said that though the government tried to put on a brave face, the consequences of the indefinite delay could be quite catastrophic. He said the suspension of the programme could undermine debt restructuring talks with external creditors, governments, lending agencies and the commercial market.
Prof. Peiris said that the suspension of the programme, just after the release of the first tranche, was a matter for serious concern as the unexpected development could cause further erosion of investors’ confidence in the Sri Lankan economy.
Sri Lanka has obtained IMF assistance on 16 occasions.
Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Economic and Physical Plans Mahindananda Aluthgamage on Sunday told The Island the country was paying a very heavy price for the failure on the part of the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise Department to collect the due taxes. Alleging that unpaid income taxes alone, over the past 15 years, amounted to a staggering Rs 904 bn, whereas revenue collecting authorities so far managed to collect Rs 1,643 bn though they were given a target of Rs. 3,101 bn for this year.
Prof. Peiris said that corruption in the public sector procurement process undermined the economic recovery process. The government defeated the Opposition moved no-confidence motion against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella over corruption in the public health sector, Prof. Peiris said, asserting that the IMF must be aware of how the government encouraged waste, corruption, irregularities and mismanagement.
Prof. Peiris urged the government to take tangible measures to address the concerns of the IMF. Unfortunately, the government sought to deceive the public by claiming that the process was on track and would proceed following staff-level agreement, he said. He asked whether the government wanted the people to believe there would be staff-level agreements before the release of each tranche.
Prof. Peiris said that the government should correctly identify the warning issued by the IMF. It would be the responsibility of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government to take remedial measures without further delay.
LPBOA demands bus fare hike
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) head, Gemunu Wijeratna on Monday (02) said they needed a five percent increase in bus fares following Sunday’s diesel price hike.
On Sunday, CPC, LIOC and Sinopec increased diesel prices by 10 rupees per litre.
Wijeratna said that the private bus owners had not increased bus fares when diesel prices were increased by 35 rupees per litre recently.
“With the latest price increase, short distance buses will lose Rs 1,000 a day. Long distance buses will lose Rs 2,500 a day. We can’t lose money like this. We want at least a five percent bus fare hike,” he said.
School transport providers have decided not to increase their charges.
Discourse on crisis in Lankan health sector at CSR
A discourse on the crisis in Sri Lankan health sector, under the theme ‘What ails the health sector? What solutions?’ is scheduled to be held at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday, 05 October 2023, at the Centre for Society & Religion (CSR) Auditorium, 281, Deans Road, Colombo 10, under the auspices of the Socialist Study Circle. The speakers will be Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Consultant Community Physician, President, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, Consultant Physician, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Ravi Kumudesh President, Academy of Health Professionals. The discourse is open to the public.
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