SLPP Chairman finds fault with NFF for taking ‘internal issues’ before the public
…emphasises miracle created by Basil
By Shamindra Ferdinando
SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday questioned the rationale in National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa taking up ‘internal issues’ publicly in spite of the coalition having a specific mechanism to address any contentious matter.
Addressing the media at the Waters’ Edge, Prof. Peiris explained how SLPP constituents over a period of two weeks discussed Sri Lanka’s response to accountability accusations at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The SLPP Chairman, who is also the Education Minister emphasized that matters of concern could have been amicably settled within the coalition without causing a public uproar.
Prof. Peiris said that the ruling coalition wanted to set the record straight as regards recent developments. The comments were his first since Weerawansa with the backing of several other lawmakers, including cabinet ministers successfully challenged the move to involve India in the East Container Terminal (ECT) before calling for the inclusion of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the SLPP’s decision-making hierarchy. Weerawansa called for a formal political role for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Referring to the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) as weak, Prof. Peiris stressed the need to avoid reckless actions which might confuse the public, especially those who voted for the party at the 2019 and 2020 presidential and parliamentary polls, respectively. That would be advantageous to the bankrupt Opposition, Prof. Peiris said, underscoring the importance of being mindful of political realities.
At the onset of the briefing, Prof. Peiris said internal disagreements weren’t something new in coalition politics. The formation of the SLPP, too, hadn’t been an easy task against the backdrop of the 2015 defeat at the presidential election, Prof. Peiris said, urging all stakeholders to be mindful of the challenges, obstacles faced in the run-up to receiving recognition of the party in late 2016.
Prof. Peiris paid a glowing tribute to the role played by former SLFP National Organizer and ex-minister Basil Rajapaksa in the launch of the new party (re-registering under a new name) at a time a section of those in their camp asserted that there was no requirement for a new party. Prof. Peiris said that though they declared the then Joint Opposition was sufficient for their project, Basil Rajapaksa quite rightly formed the party. The SLPP founder believed that they required new space and was determined to bring the project to fruition and in less than one and half years, the SLPP convincingly won the Feb 2018 Local Government polls. Again underscoring Basil Rajapaksa’s role, Prof. Peiris said that securing 71 per cent of LG councils at that poll was nothing but a miracle for a new party.
There had been no previous instance of a ruling party losing LG poll in Sri Lanka, the SLPP Chairman said.
Prof. Peiris said there had been very difficult negotiations among the constituents in the run-up to the 2020 general election as regards the nominations. However, they were able to settle the issue amicably, Minister Peiris said, citing the 20th Amendment to the Constitution as another contentious matter successfully addressed through talks.
Referring to the recent issues, Prof. Peiris said that those involved were experienced in politics and could respond to situations, prudently.
Commenting on the collective responsibility of members of the cabinet, Prof. Peiris said that once the cabinet finalized a decision on any given matter, there couldn’t be a public debate over such issues under any circumstances. Such a scenario would be detrimental to the government and the country, the SLPP Chairman said, warning of a catastrophe if members of the cabinet violated the basic rules. Prof. Peiris warned of the disastrous impact on the government’s efforts to attract foreign investment and irreparable damage to foreign policy especially in the run up to the Geneva sessions next week.
One-time External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris said that as Sri Lanka was on the Geneva agenda, SLPP constituents were discussing their response. The Minister said that they were in the process of reaching consensus on Geneva response. According to the Minister, both President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa had been involved in those deliberations.
Responding to a media query, Minister Peiris said that the government would provide a copy of the PCoI report on the Easter Sunday attacks to Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. The Minister emphasized that there was no need for international intervention in the matter. The Minister pointed out that the Cardinal appeared before the PCoI as he had faith in the inquiry therefore the media shouldn’t undermine the process by raising issues they didn’t do during the previous yahapalana administration.
Lanka’s poor surge by 4 Mn to 31-pct of population: Survey
ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s poor has surged by 4 million to 7 million since 2019 to 31 percent of the population in 2023, a survey has found as the country was hit by the worst currency crisis in the history of its central bank.
A 10,000 person survey by LirneAsia, a regional policy research organization, found that 33 percent of the respondents had skipped a meal and 47 percent reduced their meal sizes, after the currency crisis.About 27 percent of adults restricted their meals to feed children. The survey was conducted from October 10, 2022 to May 12, 2023.
Sri Lanka started an output gap targeting exercise (Keynesian stimulus) printing large volumes of money and a so-called flexible exchange rate backed by inconsistent policy collapsed in 2022 from 200 to 360 to the US dollar, tearing apart the monetary foundations of families, destroying real salaries and jobs.
Food prices soared partly due to a global commodity bubble fired by the Federal Reserve and also import restrictions from forex shortages and disruption to agriculture from a fertilizer ban.
Agro-chemicals were bannd to ‘save’ 300 to 400 million dollars in foreign exchange, the government said at the time.Rohan Samarajiva Chair of LirneAsia said he searched for historical data and found a thesis done by one M Salgado, which estimated gross domestic product during the Great Depression.
“He talked about the Great Depression affecting Sri Lanka and how our per capita income, which was about 80 dollars, went down by about half over a period of four years,” Samarajiva told a forum where research findings was released.
The Great Depression was a ‘deflationary collapse’ during the 1930s came in the wake of the Federal Reserve firing the ‘roaring 20s bubble’ after accidentally inventing the policy rate giving power to economists to mis-target interest rates, analysts have said.
Sri Lanka at the time however did not have a central bank to trigger a currency collapse. Food prices fell steeply during the Great depression. In a central bank currency crisis, the worst hit are wage earners whose salaries do not go up as prices rise with a collapse of the value of domestic money.
From March 2023, Sri Lanka central bank has appreciated the currency with deflationary policy, allowing food prices to fall.
In Sri Lanka poverty among Sri Lanka’s plantation worker families was already high at 31 percent by 2019, based on a household income and expenditure survey (HIES 2019) of the state statistics office.
“This has worsened in 2023. Now more than half our estate workers are living below the poverty line,” Tharaka Amarsinghe, a researcher at LIRNEasia said.
“Now more than half our estate workers are living below the poverty line.”
In the rest of rural Sri Lanka poverty has doubled from 15 to 32 percent from 2019 to 2023.In urban areas, which are densely populated, poverty tripled to 6 to 18 percent.About 32 percent of families had sold household assets and 50 percent had run down their savings.
Another 6 percent did not send their children to school, indicating that 203,000 children did not attend school. Parents had mentioned that they did not have exercise books and had to make up books from empty pages of old books, according to a panelist.Sri Lanka has a number of government income support programs, chief among them known as Samurdhi.
The survey found that 1.7 million families got Samurdhi benefits but only 40 percent were poor or below the official poverty line Gayani Hurrulle, Senior Research Manager at LirneAsia said. About 4 percent were in the richest income decile, 5 percent were in the next.
Only 17 percent who were on Samurdhi benefits have exited the program. Opaque criteria including attending political meetings were used by Samurdhi officials to admit new applicants, respondents to the survey had said.
Institute of Analytics UK launches in Lanka, paving way for Data-Driven Innovation
The Institute of Analytics UK was officially launched at Courtyard by Marriot, Colombo City Center last week (5). The event marked a significant milestone in the country’s journey towards harnessing the power of data analytics to drive innovation, growth, and societal progress, said a press release.
It said: Imperial College of Business Studies, one of the robust higher education institutions in the higher education domain in Sri Lanka having its undergraduate and postgraduate campuses in both Colombo and Kandy, with their strong established connections with IOA and their partners in India, supported with the initial inauguration of IOA-UK, Sri Lanka Launch.
The inauguration ceremony brought together distinguished guests, Senior members from State and non-state universities, Senior leadership of both local and international professional bodies offering qualifications in Sri Lanka, Heads of private higher education institutions, academics, and senior government officials, all eager to witness the birth of a new era in Sri Lanka’s analytics landscape. The atmosphere was filled with anticipation and excitement as the institute’s vision and commitment to excellence were unveiled. The Chief Guest of the event was UGC Chairman Snr Professor Sampath Amaratunga. Dr. Clair Walsh Director of Education, Institute of Analytics and Lara Millmow, Head of Membership IOA were also present.
Sinhala translation of the Quran presented to the Tunisian Ambassador in New Delhi
Continuing his dialogue with Heads of Mission of Islamic countries in New Delhi who are concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India Milinda Moragoda presented a copy of the Sinhala translation of the Holy Quran to the Ambassador of Tunisia to India Hayet Talbi Bilel, his New Delhi office said.
The presentation was made last week at the Tunisian Embassy in New Delhi. The Sinhala translation of the Holy Quran presented to the Tunisian Ambassador has been published by the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) of Sri Lanka.
Previously, High Commissioner Moragoda had presented copies of the Sinhala Quran to the Jama Masjid of Delhi, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (Council of Muslim Theologians of India) as well as to the Ambassadors of Morocco, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and the High Commissioner of Nigeria in New Delhi.
The High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi has been promoting dialogue with all major religions in India, in keeping with the policy roadmap “Integrated Country Strategy for Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India.” the high commission news release said.
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