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SJB MP condemns those who back 20A, having voted for 19A



… predicts disaster if 20A becomes law

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Opposition lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne lambasted the members of parliament who had now thrown their weight behind the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution after having voted for both the 18th and 19th Amendments in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

Education Minister and SLPP Chairman Prof. G. L. Peiris on Monday (7) said that the 20th Amendment would be presented to Parliament in October ahead of Budget 2021.

Addressing a public gathering at Kirimatiyawa, Ukuwela, Kaviratne, who represents the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) questioned the credibility of those who routinely changed their stand on vital matters.

Alleging that those who were now backing the 20th Amendment moved by the SLPP after having voted for the 19th Amendment, she said were nothing but opportunists, who sought political favors at the expense of democratic institutions.

State Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera was the only former UPFA lawmaker to vote against the 19th Amendment regardless of the then President Maithripala Sirisena’s efforts to ensure the passage of the new legislation with the backing of the entire parliamentary group.

MP Kaviratne said that 61 of her colleagues who voted for the 18th Amendment that paved the way for twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa to secure a third term, five years later voted for weakening of the executive presidency. Then they had no qualms in voting for 19th Amendment that empowered the parliamentary system at the expense of the President. Now, the same lot was singing a different tune, lawmaker Kaviratne said.

She chided those who now gave ‘voice cuts’ underscoring the importance of giving dictatorial powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the expense of his brother Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Former UNP lawmaker alleged that the 20th Amendment would create an authoritarian rule far worse than that of JR Jayewardene.

Commenting on those SLFPers elected to parliament on the SLPP ticket at the recently concluded general election, lawmaker Kaviratne alleged ‘Pohottu’ leadership enticed them by indicating they would receive ministerial portfolios once the parliament endorsed 20th Amendment by two-thirds majority. Alleging that Professors, G.L. Peiris and Tissa Vitharana routinely changed their stand on vital matters, the SJB lawmaker said that former President Maithripala Sirisena’s lot were desperate and felt neglected.

Kaviratne claimed that there were 23 lawmakers who pledged support to the 20th Amendment after having voted for 17th, 18th and 19th Amendments. Pointing out that she was the only Opposition lawmaker to represent Matale district, Kaviratne said that political culture deteriorated to such an extent today many lawmakers no longer cared how the public felt about them.

The SJB secured 54 seats to become the main Opposition whereas the UNP ended up with one National List slot.

Kaviratne asked whether the Matale district overwhelming voted for the SLPP for Basil Rajapaksa, who held dual citizenship to re-enter parliament through the National List, to abolish the Police Commission to pave the way for Wayamba style poll or for ministers to hear cases in police stations?

Lawmaker Kaviratne flayed the government for destruction of Wanathavilluwa, Sinharaja and stepped up clearing of jungles. She asked whether the people really believed the SLPP believed in fair play and justice.

The MP warned of dire consequences unless the Opposition thwarted the despicable SLPP project. She alleged that the 20th Amendment was never meant to restore stability but to consolidate power at the expense of democratic governance. The former UNP MP said that the very existence of democratic way of life was at stake with the parliamentary democracy threatened by authoritarian rule.

The MP urged those genuinely interested in parliamentary democracy to peruse the 20th Amendment. It was certainly a frightening piece of proposed legislation that could ruin the country, the MP alleged.

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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving



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



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



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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