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Karu ready to lead UNP

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Former Speaker and UNP stalwart Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said he was ready to lead the UNP. In a statement issued to media, Jayasuriya said that he had decided to inform the incumbent UNP leadership and seniors of his willingness to consider a large number of requests from various parties for him to accept the UNP leadership for the sake of the party and the country.

“I am ready to render all my service and take up the responsibilities of the party for the benefit of the motherland,” Jayasuriya said.

“The UNP founded by DS Senanayake led a successful struggle to achieve the country’s independence. The UNP has the expertise, talent and international recognition needed to face the challenges of the 21st century.

“However the present plight of the party is a cause of frustration for members and the public who seek national progress. Many patriotic forces approached me following the defeat the UNP suffered at the last general election and requested me to accept the party leadership, to steer away the UNP from its current crisis and make it a formidable force once again. Among those who approached me were the members of all religions including the Maha Sangha, former Ministers and MPs of the UNP, intellectuals and well-wishers of the party, leaders of other parties that worked with the UNP in the recent past, representatives of people at provincial council and local government bodies, leaders of the trade unions supporting the UNP and members of civil organizations working for the democratic values.

“All those who met me pointed out that we had arrived at a critical point which would decide whether the party would go down or regain its former self. I too believe that if we manage to identify the people’s aspirations and heed their concerns then we may be able to introduce reforms and transform the party into a formidable force.

“I obtained UNP membership in 1994, when Ranil Wickremesinghe accepted the party leadership. Since then I have rendered service as the party Chairman, Deputy Leader and as President of the party Leadership Council and helped improve the UNP’s electoral performance at the 2014 Uva Provincial Council election.

“It is no secret that I worked to make the 17th Amendment to the Constitution a reality and introduce the Right to Information to uphold democratic values in our country. I dedicated myself to introducing party reforms since 1995.”



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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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