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UNP sees importance of having its own Muslim and Tamil leaders as in past



UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene at the party membership drive in Ampara yesterday. Former MPs and Working Committee Members Anoma Gamage, Saman Ratnapriya, and UNP Colombo Municipal Council Member Duminda Attygalle are also in the picture.

UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene yesterday said that the UNP would have to follow the policies of its founder and build up leaders which represent Muslim and Tamil communities within the party itself.

Speaking during the meetings he had with party activists in Ampara District, Wijewardene said the UNP should develop its own Muslim and Tamil leaders rather than depending on other minority parties. “We had good Muslim leaders in the past, such as, the late A. C.S Hameed and M.H. Mohamed.  It is time we developed leaders to represent Tamils and Muslims within our party” he said.

“We could not look after the needs of our party members during the time when we were running the government. We formed the government with the SLFP.  The SLFP got all the ministries where there were employment opportunities. They provided jobs to their supporters. Even Rishad Bathiudeen’s party got a ministry where employment opportunities exist. However, those in our camp never got ministries where there were job opportunities. Some say former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe only focused on developing the nation while forgetting party members. We should allow our leader to concentrate on building the nation if we form a government in the future. We can take over the task of looking after the party members without putting that burden on Wickremesinghe” he added.

“We will visit Ampara once a month and will also visit areas such as Trincomalee, Kegalle and Ratnapura in the future and organise the party,” he said.

He also said a common opposition alliance would come into place next year. “It is only such a grand opposition alliance that is able to defeat SLPP,” he added.

UNP Colombo Municipal Council Member Duminda Attygalle, former UNP MPs and Working Committee Members Saman Ratnapriya and Anoma Gamage were also present.

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Forex crisis will lead to power cuts, warns Ranil



Udaya pooh-poohs warning

By Saman indrajith

UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that the country would face power cuts soon if the government did not resolve the foreign exchange crisis urgently.

Participating in the third reading debate on Budget 2022, the UNP leader said the forex issue could result in Sri Lanka running out of money to import fuel.

Wickremesinghe called on the government to make a statement on the current situation.

The UNP leader pointed out that Sri Lanka had only Rs. 1.5 billion in foreign reserves, out of which Rs. 300 million were gold reserves, which meant only Rs. 1.2 billion was the liquid amount in foreign reserves.

The former PM said the low foreign reserves could lead to the country facing power issues in the future as there would be no funds left for fuel imports. However, the Minister of Power, Udaya Gammanpila, assured that Sri Lanka had enough fuel stocks.

The Minister said it was reasonable for people to assume that there would be power cuts in the future due to the foreign exchange crisis.

Reiterating that Sri Lanka had necessary fuel stocks, Minister Gammanpila said the fuel in hand was sufficient for the next 40 days.

Although the Sapugaskanda Oil refinery had been closed for 50 days, measures would be taken to resume operations at an early date, the Minister added, assuring that the foreign exchange crisis would not result in power cuts.

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State Minister Ranasinghe assures farmers using organic fertiliser compensation in event of losses



Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat yesterday

Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday assured that the government would compensate any paddy farmer who suffered losses due to adopting organic fertiliser.

Speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat, the Minister said that even if the government had not proposed to allocate funds in the Budget proposals for possible losses to paddy farmers using organic fertiliser, funds would be obtained from a supplementary estimate for the purpose.

Ranasinghe said that it was wrong to state that the government shifted from chemical to organic fertiliser abruptly. The government had promised to do so in its election manifesto and people had approved it by giving a two-third majority of votes for that. The UNP too had planned to adopt organic fertilisers in place of chemical fertilisers some 30 years back.

The State Minister said that during the past 30 years all the governments had spent billions of rupees to increase awareness of organic fertilisers among officials and the general public. In addition, there had been numerous projects introduced with the assistance of the World Bank to promote organic cultivation in the country.

Minister Ranasinghe said that there were chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides and there was information that some traders sell them at exorbitant prices. The government would get the Consumer Affairs Authority and police to implement the law against the black marketers.

He said that some farmers had raised concern that nano-nitrogen fertiliser would be washed away owing to the heavy rains, but the government would supply that fertiliser again as it was promised by State Minister of Organic Fertilizer Sashindra Rajapaksa.

The meeting was attended by ministry officials and representatives of the farmers’ associations in the Polonnaruwa District.

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Arjuna quits UNP



World Cup winning captain and former minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday quit the UNP over its failure to get its act together

Ranatunga has communicated his decision to leave the UNP to the Leader, Secretary, Deputy Leader, and the Assistant Leader of the UNP.

Ranatunga said, in a letter to the UNP leadership, that he decided to join the United National Front ahead of the 2015 presidential election to make a change for the common good.

He has said as the first step towards that objective he contested the 2015 general election and secured the highest number of votes from the Gampaha District.

Ranatunga said that when many left the party in 2020, he remained with the UNP in order to protect it.

He said in 2020 the UNP suffered a massive loss, “and what is required is to prepare a programme to overcome the present and future challenges”.

“However, as there seems to be no such preparation there appears to be no purpose in remaining with the party”, Ranatunga said.

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