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SLPP secured two overwhelming mandates for total economic overhaul – Gevindu

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP National List MP Gevindu Cumaratunga says the 2021 budget presented by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Finance Minister would be able to strengthen what he called village-based economy.

Lawmaker Cumaratunga says Sri Lanka needs to take tangible measures to bolster the local economy or face the consequences.

Referring to overwhelming electoral victories achieved by Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the 2019 presidential election followed by the SLPP securing unprecedented 2/3 parliamentary majority in spite of the PR system at the general election, Yuthukama Chief asserted that the 2021 budget would pave the way for overhauling of the national economy.

MP Cumaratunga told The Island that he had an opportunity on Saturday (21) to discuss in parliament how the budget could be the basis for a new economic model to check the ruination brought on by JRJ’s ‘open economic’ policy adopted in the wake of the UNP landslide victory at the 1977 general election.

At the onset of MP Cumaratunga’s speech, the civil society activist emphasized that the country was aware of who carried out the most assassinations of Tamil politicians and the high profile civilian rescue mission conducted by the armed forces in April-May 2009 where over 100,000 men, women and children held as human shields were saved.

Samagi Jana Balavegaya National List MP Mayantha Dissanayake who had been in the Speaker’s Chair intervened several times as Cumaratunga was repeatedly interrupted. When Cumaratunga complained, Dissanayake pointed out those who caused interruptions were members of the SLPP parliamentary group.

SLFP nominee Dr. Suren Raghavan (SLPP) interrupted Cumaratunga’s speech to allege how his efforts as the former Governor of the Northern Province to bring back 83,000 Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu were thwarted by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). On behalf of the TNA, its Vanni District lawmaker Selvam Addaikalanathan (TELO) hit back at Dr. Raghavan.

MP Cumaratunga alleged that President JRJ exploited the difficulties experienced by the people during 1970-77 Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s administration to completely do away with the economic system followed not only by the SLFP led coalitions but the UNP as well. At the expense of the entire gamut of local industries, President JRJ adopted an economy primarily based on foreign loans and an import-export system. The introduction of the new system had far reaching consequences, the MP said, explaining how Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera in his ‘Abuddassa Yugayak’ discussed how the elected, foolishly responded to the then economic situation. Dr. Amarasekera highlighted the increase in the foreign debt amounting to Rs 10.5 bn in 1977 to Rs 6,402 bn by 2019.

Lawmaker Cumaratunga alleged that the treacherous Wickremesinghe-Mangala Samaraweera duo followed the JRJ strategy. Alleging they were the worst of the UNP lot, Cumaratunga said that yahapalana administration co-sponsored the Geneva Resolution against the Sri Lankan military and sought agreements with both New Delhi and Washington at the expense of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Reference was made to ACSA (Access and Cross-Servicing Agreement) and SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) though MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) was left out.

Their strategy was meant to transform the entire country to a refugee camp, MP Cumaratunga said. Massive SLPP victories at the last presidential and parliamentary polls had underscored the public determination to reverse UNP strategies. The electorate brought the UNP to its knees at the last general election, MP Cumaratunga said, while praising those who defeated the UNP machinations at introducing a new Constitution during the previous administration.

Lawmaker Cumaratunga called for a new Constitution that met the aspirations of a vast majority of people. The lawmaker emphasized along with such a Constitution, the country needed to adopt a new economic model that catered to the needs of the people.

Cumaratunga compared the crisis here and in various parts of the world and the catastrophe faced by the US. Referring to Al Qaeda attacks directed at the US, MP Cumaratunga explained that those who pushed for all out liberalization of economies were now exploring ways and means of bringing back investments home and thwarting terrorism as well as unauthorized crossings across borders.

The MP also discussed the pivotal role played by the Defence Ministry in the overall government projects with the focus on poverty alleviation. Large sums of funds allocated to the Defence Ministry should be considered vital investments for a better future.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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