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DateLine Sunday, 25 November 2007

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Government Gazette

Budget victory - more meaningful

The main ally of the UPFA - the JVP did not vote for the second reading of Budget 2008 in Parliament on Monday. The main opposition - the UNP resorted to all tactics to keep its power-hungry deal alive. The Tiger proxy, the TNA carried out Velupillai Prabhakaran's 'orders' in voting against the Budget. The two opportunist SLFP Parliamentarians - Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi did likewise.

They all had one common goal. By hook or by crook they wanted to topple the Government to find a shortcut to regain power. The LTTE exploited this opportunity to prevent the Security Forces from successfully marching towards the Wanni jungles.

The Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa won the Budget with a handsome majority of 16 votes. It was a crushing defeat for the power-hungry elements who were dreaming of forming a Government the next day. Eventually, the UNP ate humble pie as the Government emerged victorious with 118 MPs voting for Budget 2008.

The LTTE desperately needs to get rid of the Government, which has been 'harassing' the terrorists ever since President Rajapaksa took office two years ago. The UNP's dream of regaining power provided a good platform for the Tigers. It's indeed a crying shame that a party such as the JVP decided to vote against the Budget, along with the UNP, notwithstanding the fact that this party eliminated almost the entire top JVP leadership during 1988/89, and the TNA which dances to Prabhakaran's tune.

On the eve of Monday's Budget vote, the Maha Nayaka Theras of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters, the Ramannya Nikaya and Amarapura Nikaya called upon the public and political parties to extend their support to President Rajapaksa. They were of the view that political leaders and members representing their political parties in Parliament should act in accordance with the admonition given by the Buddha in his sermon to the Vajjins espousing the importance of coming together in unity and exchanging views in an atmosphere of peace and then dispersing in the same manner which ensured victory. The Mahanayake Theras said that it is important for all to act in a similar manner in the face of the present conflict situation of the country and to overcome all challenges.

The joint statement by the Prelates said: "We cannot create a developed country, saved from all forms of destruction as long as the leaders and the people of the country live without any discipline and divided by ethnicity and politics. In such a situation we cannot expect to have a peaceful society either where all groups live in peace and harmony. Jealousy, division, agitation, wars and many faceted struggles originate from craving". They added that any individual or any political party wishing the well-being of the people in Sri Lanka should forget whatever disagreements one has and put to the backdoor whatever differences and work in unity at this crucial hour to save the country. Neither the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe nor JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe paid heed to the appeal and joined hands with the Tiger proxy - the TNA in a desperate bid to topple the Government. Fortunately for the patriotic citizens of Mother Lanka and the brave sons of our soil who are fearlessly battling the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world, the conspiracy did not work as anticipated.

All constituent parties of the UPFA, save the JVP, along with the CWC and SLMC stood firmly beside the President in shattering the common dream of Wickremesinghe and Prabhakaran.

Thus, the victory of the Government could rightly be considered as a triumph for all those who cherish the core aims of the Budget - developing the local economy and ensuring the welfare of the public while allocating funds to protect the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Government's victory is a severe blow to the UNP which had vowed to defeat the budget and topple the Government. Contrary to the claims of springing surprises, neither the UNP nor its two rebel MPs - Samaraweera and Sooriarachchi, were unable to lure even a single Government MP to vote against the budget.

As the Minister of Information and Media, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa described, it was the UNP's 15th successive defeat under the opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. The budget vote was a victory for the people as the Budget provided a wide range of benefits to the people. It was a resounding endorsement for a patriotic and development-oriented budget that would usher in a new era for the country. Let's join hands to give a better meaning to this victory and the effort that our brave Security Forces are taking to eradicate terrorism and provide a better tomorrow, not only for the Sinhalese but also for all communities.

Innocent civilians in the newly liberated Eastern Province and those who are still under the clutches of the LTTE's ruthless rule in Mullaitivu and the Wanni, still have a ray of hope. All what they yearn for is the freedom to live peacefully. The Government is making every effort to provide them a better tomorrow. Even parties such as the TNA should vote with the Government, if they genuinely care for their own community, suffering due to Prabhakaran's terror acts in the North and East.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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