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Mangala says govt. has failed, calls for unity



Former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday said that the country’s national income had declined by about LKR 600 billion, the lowest revenue recorded in the last seven decades, was recorded in 2020.

Addressing the media at the Freedom Hub in Colombo yesterday to launch a new organisation called ‘True Patriots’, the ex-Finance Minister said that the largest budget deficit since 1988 had been recorded in 2020.

“Last year, the Central Bank had to print the largest amount of money in a single year to cover the growing budget deficit. In addition, the amount of new loans obtained by the government for the year 2020 alone has increased by another Lankan Rs 2 trillion,” he said.

“We welcome you today to the first ever media conference hosted by the ‘True Patriots’ at the Freedom Hub.

“We decided to hold this inaugural media discussion on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of the Black July pogrom, considered to be the darkest days in Sri Lanka’s history. Black July is yet another turning point that led to the catastrophe we are facing as a country today.

“When we gained Independence in 1948, we were considered one of the most developed countries in Asia. Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, described Sri Lanka as a model country in the Commonwealth.

“But, as many countries in the world today, including those that were considered poorer than Sri Lanka back then, are moving towards an era of Bitcoin- Block Chain-NFT-Artificial intelligence, we have fallen into bankruptcy.

“We are becoming a failed state isolated from the world.

“Before July 27, we must repay a billion dollars for a loan taken in 2011. In addition, around USD 1.3 billion in Sri Lankan Development Bonds will have to be paid in December this year.

“When I took over as Finance Minister in 2019, the foreign exchange reserves in the Treasury, which stood at USD 7.6 billion, after July 27 will fall to a record low of USD 1.6 billion, the lowest level in the country’s history.

“Our national income has declined by about LKR 600 billion, the lowest revenue recorded in the last seven decades was recorded in 2020.

“Last year, the Sri Lanka Central Bank had to print the largest amount of money printed in a single year to cover the growing budget deficit. In addition, the amount of new loans obtained by the government for the year 2020 alone has increased by another LKR 2 trillion.

“Because of this, in this situation, there is a severe shortage of fertiliser in the country. Also, there is a serious shortage of imported medicines. With about USD 1.2 billion in fuel costs still due, a fuel shortage is likely to occur very soon. Through all this the hunger of the common people is increasing day by day.

“We must all acknowledge that our country has fallen into this state today because of decades of politics through the sale of so called patriotism, the voters who were continuously deceived by these so called patriots and an Opposition that interfered with the government’s attempts to do what is right in the name of patriotism.

“In fact, everyone else involved in governance, including myself, is to some extent responsible for the current situation.

“The hypocritical mentality of the majority created in the name of the Five Great Forces in 1956 and its cunning culmination in the last election are primarily responsible for this devastation.

“Today, it is said everywhere that ‘Sir has failed’. But it is not President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has really failed today. It is the religious, majoritarian and outdated socialist ideologies he represents that have failed.

“Today, it is the government that promised a solitary Sinhala government that has failed.

“Who has failed today is the present Opposition which has gone beyond ‘Sir’ in proposing an ideology containing racism and majoritarianism as a solution.

“What has failed today is the socialist mentality based on religiosity and narrow racism that has fascinated the voters of this country since 1956.

“What the country needs today is an alternative, not a substitute. If we are to better this country’s future and to lay the foundation for a future where the youth of today can live freely let us now identify exactly what true patriotism is. Let’s start a conversation about that.

“As true patriots let us discuss how to take the country forward economically and politically. Moreover, let’s free ourselves from the frog in the well mentality and plan how to conquer the world for the sake of the children of our country.

“Let us talk not only about the development, security and sovereignty of our country, but also about the appearance of the country that our children will inherit in the future.

“This is the moment to discuss how Sri Lanka can move forward hand in hand with the world without being isolated from it. We must begin this conversation, not tomorrow, not next year, not at the next elections. We must begin this conversation today, right at this moment without avoiding it any further.

“Today, those with different ideologies are attempting to create alliances based solely on anti-Rajapaksa sentiments. However, what is really needed is an alternative based on policies and plans, not a substitute based merely on opposition.

“That option must be a patriotic one, not limited to one race, religion, caste, party, group or family.

“At this critical juncture, our country needs an alternative ideology based on democracy, freedom, brotherhood and unity based on justice and the rule of law. We need an ideology that protects the environment, plants and animals.

“The principle, ‘let all animals be without sorrow, healthy and healed” requires an ideology that is not limited to memorisation but is actually put into action.

“Although we gained Independence in 1948, the failure to lay the foundation for a new independent state was the cause of the catastrophe.

“Every government has tried to build a palace called Sri Lanka on land without a foundation. That is why we have been building only palaces in the sky for 73 years.

“Therefore, let us now move towards a true patriotic ideology based on liberal democracy.

“The Freedom Hub space is active as a center for all those who want to radically advocate the middle path or liberal democracy.

“We invite all true patriots to join us through social media.

“This difficult situation is the moment when we as true patriots must truly stand strong”.



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President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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