Says its focused on small section of capitalist class
Little support for small traders and SMEs
No program for overall development of agriculture sector
Expolitation of farmers continues without any govt. support
Opposition to Yugadanavi deal welcomed
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which was formed on the December 18, 1935, celebrates its 86th Anniversary on December 17 at party headquarters. The theme is “development towards elimination of poverty and for social justice” party leader Tissa Vitarana said in a news release critical of the budget 2022..
“There must be a well thought out plan to face and overcome the economic crisis, as well as the health problems, Covid-19 and hunger. While supporting the proposal to have a development oriented budget, it would appear to be one that is focused to a small section of the capitalist class but did not cover the overall economy.
“For instance there was little support for the small traders and the SME’s. It was disappointing to note that there was no programme for overall development of the agricultural sector. This includes ensuring the production and supply of adequate fertilizer.
“The exploitation of the farmer continues without any Government support through purchasing and marketing provisions like the marketing department. The high prices of foods are mainly due to exploitation by mill owners and traders. Strengthening of the producer and consumer cooperatives would eliminate the profiteering by middlemen.”
But he qualified: “Besides self-sufficiency in food, the decision by Government to promote local value added industry is welcome. The foundation laid by the Ministry of Science and Technology to do this through the Vidatha movement at the SME level and SLINTEC and SLIBTEC at the hi-tech level need to be further intensified. Sri Lanka must become an industrialized country. “
He urged that the threat from American led imperialism continues and must be opposed. It is focused on getting control of our economy through the MCC agreement and to establish a military base on the basis of the SOFA agreement.
“The resounding defeat of the UNP and its allies by the people at the last general election with the victory of the SLPP, prevented the signing of these two dangerous agreements. But these efforts of the USA are continuing, and the people led by the progressive forces in the Government and outside must counter all such efforts,” he said.
“The resistance to the 40% share in the Yugadanavi project being given away, with its danger of the USA controlling our power generation is welcome. Sri Lanka must stick to the principle that national assets should nor be sold to foreigners, and the drive for self-sufficiency must be intensified.
“The LSSP urges all progressive and nationalist forces to intensify the struggle against these moves by the USA and its allies, both foreign and local. However this should not prevent us from getting help from friendly countries like India, China and Cuba which are not imperialist and are focused on increasing trade for mutual benefit. But we welcome genuine help from all countries, even the USA.”
The statement continued:
“The problem of poverty continues, with 60% of families in Sri Lanka living below the poverty line. The problems of unemployment and under employment continue seriously affecting their incomes and purchasing power even of essentials. Along with rising high prices and with no effort on the part of the Government to reduce this by strengthening the Cooperative movement, both wholesale and retail, the people live in hunger with some having only one meal a day.
“The malnutrition level has increased to 18%, which means that one of five children are ill, and the others are also affected to some extent. This has an adverse effect on their growth not only of the body but also of the mind. If this continues the future generation will tend to be stunted, thin and with lower mental capacity.
“In my opinion the Government should give priority to the provision of adequate food and other essentials to all citizens. The development effort (highways etc.), can be delayed. The Government must make a proper assessment of those living in hunger and the supply of free dry rations weekly should be instituted.
“It is good that the drive to control the Covid-19 pandemic, where the Government has actively intervened by its immunization programme is welcome, though we have some reservations about the safety of the Pfizer and other mRNA vaccines. The onus is now on the people to comply with the preventive health regulations (wearing of masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing with soap and water and avoiding crowds). Where this is not being observed the Government needs to enforce it, setting up specialized covid control committees where necessary.
“Thus the LSSP is continuing its anti-imperialist and anti-big capitalist policies to solve the problems of the people. It is necessary to go in a socialist directions by strengthening state participation in the agricultural, industrial and marketing sectors of the economy. In addition the move towards a ‘Solidarity Economy’ should be intensified. All loss making institutions both public and private, should be run on solidarity principles.
“This means that they should be functions as companies (e.g. 30 years lease where Government land is used), which are owned solely by the employees of that institutions. This will not only give them a sense of ownership leading to greater commitment to improve the performance of the institutions, but also ensure that they get an equal share of the profit.
“The Workers Administrative Council will select professional management and technical personnel purely on merit. This proposal is no ideal dream. It is being practiced in several countries abroad, even in Europe. For instance in Kerala state, India where TATA’s claimed that they were running the tea estates (63,000 hectares) at a loss, the left Government took the land back and ran them on the solidarity principle. “
Not only have they become large profit making concerns but also generated a greater enthusiasm among the workers who have got a share of the profit in addition to their regular salary. All stealing and misconduct has ended as they have a sense of ownership. The LSSP demands that this policy be implemented not only in the plantation sector but in all public and private institutions, specially where they are running at a loss. This would increase productivity and also help in the transition to socialism.”
Vitarana continued: “It was the LSSP that led the independence struggle against imperialism and poverty in Sri Lanka from 1935. It built up a strong trade union movement to win the worker’s rights. It led the struggle against poverty by establishing a social welfare state. The leadership were given by Dr.N.M.Perera, Dr.Covin R.de Silva, Leslie Goonewardene, Bernard Soysa and others. “
This struggle must continue on the lines mentioned above for the development of the country in the interest of its entire people, irrespective of community differences, as one united Sri Lankan nation. The struggle in and out of jail for independence and people’s rights that our founder leaders started must be continued in the direction of Socialism.”
Weerawansa’s wife sentenced to RI
Lawyers appearing for Shashi Weerawansa, MP Wimal Weerawansa’s wife, yesterday (27) appealed against a Colombo Magistrate’s Court decision to sentence their client to two years rigorous imprisonment.Colombo Chief Magistrate, Buddhika Sri Ragala found her guilty of submitting forged documents to obtain a diplomatic passport circa 2010. The Colombo Magistrate’s Court also imposed a fine of Rs. 100,000 on Mrs. Weerawansa. If the fine is not paid she will have to serve an extra six months.
Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawala announced that the appeal would be called for consideration on 30 May.The case against Mrs. Weerawansa was filed by the CID after a complaint was lodged on 23 January 2015 by Chaminda Perera, a resident of Battaramulla.
Unions predict end of energy sovereignty
By Rathindra Kuruwita
A government decision to allow all privately-owned bunker fuel operators to import and distribute diesel and fuel oil to various industries was a rollback of the nationalisation of the country’s petroleum industry and another severe blow to energy sovereignty of the country, trade union activist of the SJB Ananda Palitha said yesterday.Earlier, Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera Tweeted that ‘approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations provided in bulk’.Commenting on the decision, Palitha said that according to the existing law those companies only had the power to import, store and distribute fuel for ships. Those companies did not have the authority to distribute fuel inside the country, Palitha said.
“Only the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) can distribute fuel inside the country. There is a controversy about the licence given to the LIOC as well. If the government wants other companies to import fuel, it needs to change the laws. The Minister does not have the power to make these decisions. A few months ago the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration used to rush Bills that adversely affected the country through Parliament. Now, since they don’t have a majority in parliament, they are using the Cabinet to make decisions that are detrimental to the country’s interests.”
Palitha said that the controversial government move would further weaken the CPC, and that the ultimate aim of the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe government was to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) purchase fuel from private distributors. With a weakened CPC and a CEB under the mercy of private companies, the Sri Lankan state would have little control over the country’s energy sector, he warned.
“The CEB already can’t pay the CPC, and therefore how can it pay private companies? It will have to sell its assets. This is another step in the road to fully privatise the energy sector. When this happens no government will be able to control inflation or strategically drive production through fuel and energy tariffs. The people will be at the mercy of businessmen and the government will only be a bystander,” he said.
Modi government moves to ‘solve’ Katchatheevu issue
The Narendra Modi government is mulling restoring the traditional rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in Katchatheevu, an uninhabited island of 285 acres, sandwiched between India and Sri Lanka in the Palk Bay, with the BJP hoping the move could lift its political fortunes in the southern state.The government will push Sri Lanka to implement “in letter and spirit” the 1974 agreement reached between Indira Gandhi and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, then prime ministers of India and Sri Lanka, on the island.This will have to be done by withdrawing the “Executive Instructions” issued in 1976 without questioning Sri Lanka’s “sovereignty” over Katchatheevu, sources aware of the internal discussions in the BJP told the Indian newspaper, Deccan Herald.
Sources added that the discussions were “ongoing” at “various levels” including reaching out to Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka. The recent visit of TN BJP chief K Annamalai to Sri Lanka is also part of the outreach. Many feel the instructions issued in 1976 “superseded the provisions of the legally valid” pact between India and Sri Lanka, thus making Katchatheevu a subject of dispute in the Palk Bay.While the 1974 agreement gave away Katchatheevu, which was part of the territory ruled by the Rajah of Ramanathapuram, to Sri Lanka, the 1976 pact drew the maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka in the Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal.
“We cannot disturb the agreement signed in 1974. We are now finding ways and means to implement the agreement in letter and spirit. All we plan is to ask Sri Lanka to invoke Article 6 of the Katchatheevu pact. If Sri Lanka agrees, the issue can be sorted through Exchange of Letters between foreign secretaries of both countries,” a source in the know said.Another source said the time is “ripe” to push forward on the issue. “With fast-changing geopolitical situation in the region, we believe Sri Lanka will slowly come around and accept the rights of our fishermen,” the source said.
“The opinion within the party is that time is ripe to push this cause, with Sri Lanka beginning to realise that India can always be relied upon, given PM Ranil (Wickremesinghe) is pro-India.”
Articles 5 and 6 of the 1974 agreement categorically assert the right to access of the Indian fishermen and pilgrims to Katchatheevu and state that the “vessels of Sri Lanka and India will enjoy in each other’s waters such rights as they have traditionally enjoyed therein”.
However, fishermen from India were prohibited from fishing in the Sri Lankan territorial waters around Katchatheevu in 1976 following the signing of an agreement on the maritime boundary. The battle for fish in the Palk Bay has often ended in Indian fishermen being attacked by Sri Lankan Navy for “transgressing” into their waters.The BJP, which is yet to make major inroads in Tamil Nadu, feels a “solution” to the long-standing issue will give the party the much-needed momentum ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and provide a chance to get into the Tamil psyche. Political analysts feel that it might also allow the BJP to needle the DMK and the Congress by pointing out that it has restored the rights “surrendered by them,” to Tamil fishermen
Senior journalist and Lanka expert R Bhagwan Singh said: “If BJP succeeds in its efforts, it will certainly help the saffron party in the coming elections.”
But a source said the move will “take time”. “We don’t want to rush and create an impression we are forcing Sri Lanka. We will take it slow. We will take every stakeholder into confidence and reach an amicable settlement with Sri Lanka. All we want to do is restore traditional rights of our fishermen,” the source said.CM Stalin also raised the issue at an event on Thursday, telling Modi that this is the “right time” to retrieve Katchatheevu.
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Unions predict end of energy sovereignty
US Ambassador calls on Speaker
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