People will be provided more relief – Prasanna Ranatunga | Sunday Observer
November Budget:

People will be provided more relief – Prasanna Ranatunga

18 September, 2022

Newly appointed Mass Media State Minister Shantha Bandara said the media has a great responsibility in promoting the country’s image and positive attitudes about the country within the international community as Sri Lanka needs their support at this critical juncture. He said that some media institutions give wide publicity to the negative information about Sri Lanka thus preventing the country from receiving support from the international community.

He told the media after assuming duties at his Ministry on Monday, that the Government of President Ranil Wickremesinghe will take steps to develop and empower the state media while allowing the private media institutions to perform freely and fairly.

He said all the state, private and social media have a responsibility to contribute to strengthen the country’s economy.

The State Minister also said that Sri Lanka needs the support of each and every citizen to rebuild the country and that can only be achieved through an attitudinal and system change. He said that the Government has taken steps to curtail the privileges of the State Ministries in large numbers to manage expenses.

Port and Shipping Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the President has offered State Minister Shantha Bandara the most suitable position as he has years of experience as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s Media Secretary and a Deputy Media Minister. With this new position, the State Minister can take action to make far-reaching changes in the media sector including enacting laws to prevent the misuse of mass media and their adverse consequences. Minister de Silva also said that the President has taken over the r

esponsibility to rebuild the country at a difficult time and he as a minister expects the Government will fulfill that task soon.

New political alliance

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa will lead a new political alliance, according to Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna MP Namal Rajapaksa. He has said the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna will serve as the main party in that alliance and that discussions with political groups to build that alliance have already begun and are progressing well.

During a recent political program in Dedigama, MP Rajapaksa said that Sri the SLPP has launched numerous programs to prevent the political power base from collapsing and to prepare for the upcoming elections. Rajapaksa said that the SLPP will provide leadership for nation-building programs through this new alliance that the SLPP will establish.

“More Cabinet Ministers needed”

Chief Government Whip and Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that there is no plan to replace the current Prime Minister 

despite what various people say. The current Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardene has proved that he is an experienced and prudent politician by his actions so far.

Minister Ranatunga was speaking to the media after a ceremony where Urban Development and Housing State Minister Thenuka Vidanagamage assumed duties.

He said that all State Ministers were appointed in accordance with the Constitution and they will draw only their MPs salaries. Only a limited number of vehicles will be available for their use because we all need to make some sacrifices on behalf of the country in these difficult times.

A large number of institutions come under the purview of certain Ministries and it’s hard for Cabinet Ministers to work and supervise those institutions alone. Therefore, several more Cabinet Ministers should be appointed for the functions of these Ministries to function smoothly.

Minister Ranatunga said, “No one can cast allegations that these appointments will increase state expenses. In that case, Government officials receive bigger salaries and allowances than us. The country had suffered an economic recession during the tenure of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

NFF Leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who accuses us of accepting Ministerial posts at present, also obtained Ministerial posts at that time. This is just a slogan of this Opposition.”

He said, “We understand that everyone in the country is undergoing economic difficulties. We brought an Interim Budget to provide relief to the people. Also, the Budget for next year will be pres

ented to Parliament this November. We hope to provide more relief to the people by managing the current economic situation.”

The Minister said, “The Opposition and the so-called protesters in this country still have a fear of the Rajapaksa family. But, ordinary people do not have such fear. It was only a system change accepted by peaceful strugglers in this country. We also accept that former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was appointed to the position of President for that reason.

“Since MP Namal Rajapaksa was the first on the Preferential List of the Hambantota district, he is suitable to hold a 

ministerial position. But, I don’t know whether he will accept a Ministerial portfolio or not.

“Also, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should decide whether he wants to return to politics or not. The future will decide whether his actions are right or wrong. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa is a weak leader. He is afraid of accepting challenges.

“We invited him to work with us by facing this challenge instead of talking nonsense outside. But, he is afraid. The same is the case with NFF Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Both of them are afraid of accepting challenges,” he said.


Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said even though the former President, former Prime Minister and former Finance Minister gave up their positions due to public pressure, the replacement is a Rajapaksa puppet.

He said the “Pohottuwa Government” is destroying the country’s future by giving ministerial portfolios to their favourites. Premadasa said “These Ministers are granted numerous facilities at the expense of the public.”

At a recent m

eeting held in Puttalam, the Opposition Leader said, “The Government is planning to have 20 Cabinet Ministers, 37 State Ministers and 12 more Ministers that would make 69 Ministerial portfolio holders. President Ranil Wickremesinghe is showing gratitude to the 134 MPs who voted for him in Parliament. During the 1970-1977 regime, the people agreed to whatever the Government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike said. Now the Government expects the people to live without proper electricity facilities, rice and fertiliser.”

Asian championships

Sri Lanka created his

tory last Sunday as they won both Asian Netball title in Singapore and Asia Cup Cricket title in Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The Netball team led by Gayanjali Amarawansa recorded a 63-53 win over Singapore while Dasun Shanaka and the team defeated Pakistan by 23 runs to win the Asia Cup in grand style. In fact Sri Lanka won both Asian Netball and Asian Cricket titles for the sixth time and this was the fi

rst time Sri Lanka recorded Asian two titles on the same day.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe extended his warm congratulations to the Sri Lankan cricket team for winning the 2022 Asia Cricket Cup. “Our cricket team raised Sri Lanka’s reputation in the international arena by achieving a record-breaking victory in the finals of the Asia Cup Cricket Tournament All these achievements were helped by the unity and immense commitment of the leadership and other members of the team.”

The President expressed his heartfelt thanks to all those who dedicated themselves for this great victory, despite the grave challenges Sri Lanka is currently facing, noting that the common commitment made by everyone until victory was assured, is a great example not only for the cricket world but also for the younger generation in other fields.

The champion Sri Lankan cricketers arrived in the island to a hero’s welcome on Tuesday, after their heroics in the Asia Cup T20 Cricket Tournament where they defeated the favourites Pakistan by 23 runs in the final played in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. After a welcome and felicitation ceremony at the Katunayake International Airport, the Sri Lankan cricketers were taken in a parade along the Colombo–Katunayake route, boarded on a double-decker bus. Hundreds of people lined the streets along their way to Colombo and the Sri Lanka Cricket Team members also engaged with their fans while displaying the coveted Asia Cup.


President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he will call a referendum to pass the Electoral Reforms if parties in Parliament are continuing to drag legalising electoral reforms.

He said so when he met the visiting Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power who was in Sri Lanka on a two-day official visit.

He said, “I’m going to call on Parliament to say once and for all that they must agree on electoral reform. This has been goi

ng on. The parties are arguing among themselves. I give them six months. If they don’t, I’ll have a referendum and ask the country which system they want. The political parties can’t be putting this off forever.”

President Wickremesinghe said, “They have to bite the bullet at some stage. So, if they are not willing, I have not told them yet. Then I will go for a referendum on the major reforms”. He also said that he is focusing on an export oriented, very competitive market economy for Sri Lanka as the country has the opportunity of supplying South Asia, Southeast and East Asia.

“Our focus is on competitiveness and export markets. That’s what we are working on, looking at the industry for technology and modernising agriculture.” The President said that the wheels have been set in motion to make Sri Lanka a prosperous nation by 2048 as we reach the centenary of our independence. He also said that as far as democracy is concerned, the 22nd Amendment is before Parliament. “We are waiting for the p

arliament to pass it.”

“Request to rejoin”

SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam said some SLPP Parliamentarians who had chosen to be independent have requested to rejoin the SLPP. Accordingly, MPs who have given their support to SLPP Independent MPs’ Group led by Dullas Alahapperuma have made this request.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Kariyawasam said three such MPs have already joined them while others are presently discussing with them. When asked if Namal Rajapaksa would be given a Ministerial position, Kariyawasam said the former has already refused such a post because he is committed to rebuilding the SLPP.

‘Miserable life’

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) on Wednesday rejected the Government’s decision to appoint another State Minister to the already appointed 37 State Ministers and said it is unnecessary to spend colossal sums when people in the country are facing economic hardships due to the escalating prices of essential commodity items.

SJB National Organiser MP Tissa Attanayaka said although decision makers in the country are under the impression that the country is facing a severe economic crisis they ignored everything and appointed such a massive number of 38 State Ministers.

He said although decision makers know that the Government could be run with at least 20 Cabinet Ministers they purposely appointed such a large number of State Ministers with the sole intention of protecting their positions to enjoy higher salaries and other perks.

He said although the Government says that the newly appointed State Ministers do not get their perks, everybody knows that these state ministers are entitled to additional official vehicles, fuel and additional staff.

Attanayaka said the Government should have given it thought before appointing these State Ministers at this juncture. He said the Government should know that over 70 percent of the people in the country are leading a very miserable life due to the escalating prices of essential commodity items.


President at Queen’s funeral

President Ranil Wickremesinghe got a unique opportunity to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s State funeral as a son of the parents who participated in her coronation ceremony. It would undoubtedly go down in the annals of British and Sri Lankan history.

President Wickremesinghe’s parents Esmond Wickremesinghe and Nalani Wickremesinghe along with the then Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake had attended Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation ceremony in February, 1952. Similarly, the parents of former queen of the Netherlands Beatrix had also participated in the queen’s coronation. Therefore, the names of President Wickremesinghe and former Queen of Netherlands Beatrix would go down in world history as those who first got such a rare opportunity.

President Wickremesinghe had recently told his staff of a significant event faced by then Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake at the Queen’s coronation. At that time, Sri Lanka was a Dominion state under British rule. Among the state leaders of Commonwealth countries who attended the ceremony, horse drawn carriages had been separately arranged for the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan State Leader.

However, arrangements had been made for Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake to go along with the Prime Minister of Tonga State. Premier Senanayake who turned down the offer had refused to go with Tongo leader, a tall lady. Esmond Wickremesinghe had thereafter intervened to resolve the issue and reserved a horse drawn carriage for Dudley Senanayake to go alone.

Walking down memory lane, President Ranil Wickremesinghe left for London on Saturday morning to participate in the State funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and express his condolences on behalf of the Sri Lankan people. The name of President Wickremesinghe would go down in world history as the first person who received this rare opportunity outside the Royal family.