UNF Govt. ready to work with President | Sunday Observer

UNF Govt. ready to work with President

Non-Cabinet Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Ajith P. Perera said the UNP led UNF Government is ready to work with President Maithripala Sirisena based on political understanding and policies but, that they seek more responsible political conduct on the part of the President to work for the betterment of the country.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, he said there is no reason for the UNP to go for an early election in April or May next year. The Government has decided to launch a massive development drive from January and is ready to govern till the next Presidential Election. Parliament will be dissolved after the Presidential Election, most probably in February 2020.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. What were the main reasons for the National Unity Government to collapse?

A. That was mainly due to the ill-timed political decisions by the President but he has now rectified the situation and expressed his willingness to work with us.

Q.The President himself said that most politicians in the Unity Government were corrupt. Is this not borne out by the recent crossovers not on policy matters but for personal gain?

A. I think only one Cabinet Minister crossed over and he was originally an SLFPer. He joined the UNP at the last election and was elected on the UNP ticket. He is the only Cabinet Minister who crossed over. The other is Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and he was also originally an SLFPer. Later, he joined the UNP and then crossed over. This has nothing to do with the crossover.I think there is no substantial evidence that all Ministers in the Cabinet are corrupt. There is no charge against any of these Cabinet members by any credible investigation. It is very unreasonable to conclude that all members of the Cabinet are corrupt.

Q. In the backdrop of the political crisis do you think that the new cohabitation between the President and the new Government will work for the betterment of the country?

A. We are ready to work with the President based on political understanding and policies. But we will work as the UNF Government. The President is the Head of the Government and the Cabinet.

But the President has to understand the powers vested in him under the 19th Amendment and what the people expect him to fulfill. We seek more responsible political conduct on the part of the President to work for the betterment of the country.

Q. Some UNP and TNA Parliamentarians protested against Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appointment as Opposition Leader on the ground that he is no longer a member of the SLFP. What are your views?

A. Article 99 sub section 13 of the Constitution clearly says that a member who lost his membership of the party he contested from will lose his seat as a MP after obtaining membership of another political party.

We strongly believe that a Parliamentary Select Committee should be appointed to go in to whether this allegation is true or not.

Q. Is it correct to assume that more SLFP crossovers to the Government are withheld due to the President’s decision not to reward them with ministerial portfolios?

A. There are seven SLFP MPs who wish to extend their support to the Government and they will take a decision shortly. Most probably they will extend their support at the forthcoming Budget. Actually, the Cabinet portfolios are not so important for MPs who are willing to extend their support to the Government.

Most SLFP MPs are willing to extend their support to the UNF Government without expecting any portfolios or other perks.

Q. Will the UNP be ready for elections in April next year?

A. There is no reason for the UNP to go for an early election in April or May.

The Government has planned to launch a massive development drive from January next year. We are ready to govern the country till the next Presidential Election. Parliament will be dissolved after the Presidential Election most probably in February 2020.

Q. Is the National Government still alive with the SLMC remaining as a constituent party?

A. That is what the original motion passed in Parliament says. But having one MP from the Opposition and one from the SLFP is not a very good way to form a National Government. If we form a true National Government, we should take at least 10 to 15 SLFP MPs to the Government. That is the situation as at today. But with more crossovers in the future, there will be a very good reason to think of forming a National Government. We are yet to decide on that arrangement.

Q.Do you think it is prudent to limit the number of Cabinet portfolios to 30 in the larger interest of the country ? The public sentiment is that the number of Cabinet portfolios is increased mainly for politicians to flourish at public cost?

A. I agree. Thirty is a very good number. We can accommodate senior SLFPers in the Cabinet. To fulfill that, some senior UNPers will have to resign from the Cabinet for the betterment of the party and the country. That is what we are now discussing.. I think we could accomplish this task.

Q.People still blame the Yahapalana Government for its failure to punish those charged with bribery, corruption, money laundering and other economic vices. Your comments?

A.We have completed more than 120 investigations against those of the former regime. More than 20 cases were filed in the High Court. One trial against a former Ministry Secretary has already been completed and he was convicted. However, the legal process is very slow.

That is why we introduced the Anti-corruption Trial at Bar Special Courts. One Trial at Bar has already been set up. The judges for the second Trial at Bar have also been appointed. We have to set up all Anti corruption Courts shortly and let the trials proceed.

 

Comments