President confident of normalising country by year’s end | Sunday Observer

President confident of normalising country by year’s end

8 January, 2023

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the Government should act as one mechanism, introducing new methodologies to resolve problems and towards normalising the country by the end of this year.

The President was addressing the staff of the President’s Office who commenced duties of the New Year 2023 at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday (January 2).

President Wickremesinghe also said that no one can shirk their responsibilities for the country in 2023, which is a crucial year for the Sri Lankan economy, and invited all public servants to dedicate themselves towards making Sri Lanka a prosperous nation in the New Year.

The President also hoisted the National Flag marking the commencement of duties in the New Year, and all staff members of the Presidential Secretariat took the public service pledge together. Thereafter, the President joined the staff members for a tea party, and also extended his best wishes to the staff for the New Year.

“I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. Five and a half months ago, we took over a historic task at this office. During those five and a half months, we took steps to establish normalcy in the country at a time when the government had collapsed and the economy had also collapsed. However, not all our economic problems are over yet. Nevertheless, today we have the ability to provide fuel, gas, foodstuff and fertiliser as required,” he said.

The President said, “I must first extend my gratitude to all those who assisted us during these five and a half months. However, our task is not over yet. The most crucial year is 2023. We have to move forward by implementing the debt-restructuring program and freeing our country from the debt burden.

“We have to build an economy that can compete with the new world. The opinion of the majority is that there is a need for a change in the political system of this country. We have to fulfill both these things,” he said.

President Wickremesinghe said we also need to come up with a new method that can solve the problems of today’s political system. We need greater unity among us than last year.

He said, “We look at this Government as a sort of mechanism. This is not divided into several programs by ministries. All work as sub-parts of the same mechanism. Therefore, there can be no competition or tug of war between anyone and no one can put a limit to their responsibilities. All of you should be bound to implement the basic policies of the country. The core of the program is the President’s Office, as well as the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s Office. It is from these institutions that these activities will be carried out. Each person’s duties cannot be limited to eight hours a day and 05 days a week. Let’s all work with commitment. By the end of 2023, I hope to take this country forward with the support of all of you and restore normalcy.”

Lotus bud symbol

SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam said the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) will contest the upcoming Local Government polls under the ‘Lotus Bud’ symbol along with all allied parties.

At a media briefing at the SLPP Party headquarters, Battaramulla on Monday, Kariyawasam said the SLPP had discussions with the United National Party (UNP) of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to some extent on contesting the election together, but later came to a decision to contest most of the LG bodies as an alliance with several other parties under the ‘Lotus Bud’ symbol.

He said, “A final decision is yet to be taken regarding joining hands with the UNP for this election. We are confident that the SLPP is capable of winning a vast majority of LG bodies.”

“Prioritise food security”

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on behalf of the Government and Parliament requested lawmakers from all parties to join hands in working actively for the development of all sectors, prioritising food security and the revival of the local economy.

While addressing the House at the first sitting in the New Year on Thursday (January 5), the Premier said working towards achieving such, should be done in strategies to strengthen the local economy that affects people’s lives.

He said Sri Lanka, which has enjoyed 91 years of universal suffrage, seeks the support of all Members of Parliament to further advance parliamentary democracy at the time when it is about to celebrate the 75th year of independence.

While stating that the Government, including the President, has taken many measures regarding economic, social, legal and international relations, and has strengthened democracy by allowing criticism, the Premier highlighted that though there are problems with the cost of living, Parliament should work together to transform this year into a year where everyone can come together to overcome challenges.

Premier Gunawardena said that the Government has taken steps to strengthen the parliamentary committee system, which was a major demand in the past and affirmed that the adoption of the 21st Amendment will proceed accordingly. He said that the support of all parties is necessary to carry forward the work of the National Council established on the basis of the all-party consensus of the Parliament.

As our journey towards the celebration of the 75th Independence Day in less than a month, we request the support of all Members of Parliament to keep alive the 91 years of universal suffrage continued among the protecting of the democratic parliamentary system, the process taken by the people to form Governments and decide the course of the Governments in Sri Lanka.

Through the crises that occurred during the last period, President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Government has made progress by taking many steps in terms of economic and social deterioration of the law, as well as to build the confidence and strength of the country that should be created internationally.

“SLFP cannot be destroyed”

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) represents the people’s force and it will never be limited to a nameboard. The Minister was speaking to the media at the all-night Pirith chanting held annually by the SLFP at Kirivehera last Sunday.

He said that no one can destroy the party. Parliamentarian Duminda Dissanayake said that some politicians attempted to prevent the party members from participating in this ceremony citing that President Ranil Wickremesinghe would be participating in this event.

“A former leader of our party, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa participated in the event today. Therefore, many people who were waiting to paste the tag of the United National Party (UNP) were disappointed,” he said.

State Minister of Foreign Employment Jagath Pushpakumara said that many SLFP senior members attended the event except SLFP Leader former President Maithripala Sirisena. “We thought that the SLFP Leader would attend this ceremony to pay tribute to its founders,” he said. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa illuminated the Kirivehera before the start of the Pirith chanting ceremony.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. State Ministers Chamara Sampath Dasanayake, Dr. Suren Raghavan, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, former MP Pandu Bandaranaike and many party seniors were also present.

Will not participate

President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially informed the United National Party (UNP) that he will not participate in any campaign activity in the election to elect members to the Local Government bodies. The President while stressing that he was given a mandate not to go for an election but to recover the country from the abyss it has fallen into, within two years.

He told the UNP leaders that he will not act outside that mandate. President Wickremesinghe informed this when the senior leaders of the UNP met in Colombo on Wednesday. He also informed the UNP leaders that he will only take the chairmanship of the Working Committee meeting where the decision will be taken for the United National Party to run for the Local Government elections as a tradition. In addition, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he will not participate in any work related to the Local Government election.

The President also said that if the United National Party takes part in the Local Government election, it would be appropriate to field 40 percent new faces in the list of candidates. The President said that money has been allocated for salaries and allowances to only four thousand members who are appointed to Local Government bodies which include Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Municipal Councils and said that they should inform if the rest of them are working for free without salaries and allowances.

Cameron meets President

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was on a personal visit to Sri Lanka, met President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday (January 2). During a friendly discussion, former British Prime Minister Cameron extended his best wishes to President Wickremesinghe for the New Year. President’s Senior Adviser on National Security and President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake and Director of International Affairs for the President Dinouk Colombage were also present at the discussion.

Youth expect change

UNP Chairman MP Wajira Abeywardana said what the youth of the country expect is a change in the system and not a Government which keeps printing money and deceiving people with falsehoods.

At a press conference at the UNP headquarters, Sirikotha on Tuesday, Ageywardana said, “The year 2022 will go down in history as a year that added a black mark to the history of Sri Lanka. The youth of the country expected a complete transformation of the country. The President continuously invited the Opposition and other political parties to implement that change.

“He invited them for the good of Sri Lanka, to join together for the goals that these young men hope for. He accepted the challenge when other political leaders avoided it. We must come to a national consensus. The President always said that he wanted to move this country forward. But it can be seen that the Opposition is moving in the usual direction by sticking to petty political activities as usual,” he said.

VVIP socialists

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that VVIP socialists should put up aside boasting and join hands with him for the service of the people. He said that his program of providing buses to schools cannot be stopped by hurling insults at him. Premadasa said that some political parties are suffering from Sajith phobia.

He said, “Those who criticise me should work for the country from the opposition. The Development projects launched by the SJB have brought to light the real face of some parties.”

He said that a party leader who is an old student of Thambuttegama National School has been hurt, when a bus was donated to his alma-mater by him. The Opposition Leader was speaking at the donation of a bus to Homagama Maha Vidyalaya. Premadasa said that these VVIP socialists are planning to turn the children of the country into a nation shaking their tails. He said that his program of providing buses to schools and medicines to hospitals is not aimed at winning elections.

UN official meets President

United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary-General, Kanni Wignaraja who met President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday commended the efforts taken by the President to resolve the economic crisis. The discussions focused on the economic reforms, with the delegation recognising that these difficult decisions would have to be taken in order to ensure long-term recovery and growth in the country.

The President also briefed the visiting delegation on the political reforms in the country, including the establishment of the Constitutional Council in Parliament and the ongoing discussions with other political parties, regarding a resolution to the ethnic issues in Sri Lanka. The delegation welcomed the steps taken by the Government.

“Good demand”

When former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa came to Parliament on Thursday (January 5), State Minister of Defence Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon and former Minister of Public Security Dr. Sarath Weerasekara were at the VIP entrance to welcome him. Former Prime Minister Rajapaksa was on his way to the Chamber, a high profile Government officer and another group of officers met him.

The high profile Government officer briefed former Prime Minister Rajapaksa on a comment made by an Ambassador of a powerful country during a recent meeting with some key Government officials. The Ambassador had told the Government officials “There is no need to seek IMF assistance. If Mahinda Rajapaksa is appointed the Prime Minister, we are ready to provide more assistance to Sri Lanka.” Then former Prime Minister Rajapaksa had told the Government officials “That means, still I have a very good demand.”

“Opposition only interested in elections”

Hewaheta UNP Organiser and Lak Vanitha Peramuna President Shanthini Kongahage said the Opposition is walking along the roads demanding an election while the Government led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe is taking steps to rebuild the collapsed economy of the country

At a media briefing at the UNP headquarters, Sirikotha on Wednesday, she said the President in his address to the staff in the New Year requested all the public employees to provide public with a good service beyond the eight-hour limit.

However, the Opposition, disregarding it, is only speaking about the election. Kongahage also said that what the Opposition needs is to test the power of the Government but what we should look into is the issues in the health, food, education and business sectors. Everyone is requesting to make the country economically stable.

They are working for that, but the Opposition is walking along the roads demanding an election. She said at present the President is trying to bring powerful investors to the country and requested all to patiently wait for another year for the election.