Ex-leader has no explicit plan, but claims he will ‘rescue’ the economy: Hand the country over to me: MR | Sunday Observer

Ex-leader has no explicit plan, but claims he will ‘rescue’ the economy: Hand the country over to me: MR

23 September, 2018

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday demanded to be allowed to run the country to rescue Sri Lanka from the current economic ‘crisis’, but refused to outline strategies to address the problem at a media briefing at his residence yesterday.

The Joint Opposition held a media conference at the former President and Kurunegala District MP’s official residence at Wijerama Mawatha last morning, primarily to discuss the economy.

Rajapaksa claimed he had steered the country out of such a crisis in the past, but asked to explain how he would go about it now, he replied “let us govern, and we will show you.”

“During our government when the rupee was at risk we took preventive measures. Most importantly we gave the necessary confidence and leadership to overcome economic adversities,” said the former President, who presided over some of the worst corruption scandals and the financial ruin of the national airline during his 10-year tenure in office.

Joint Opposition stalwarts Prof. G L Peiris, MP Dinesh Gunewardena, Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal participated in the media briefing.

The JO members were non-commital about what the exchange rate against the dollar should be, and also said they were unfavourable to the rupee being pegged to the US dollar.

JO frontliner Dinesh Gunewardane claimed that most foreign investors were leaving the country and recalling investments.

“What this government plans to do is wait till the country and the economy deteriorates so that they have a good reason to sell the country and its assets”, he charged.

Responding to a query by the Sunday Observer about the double standard used by the JO in their claims about selling national assets, given that prime ocean-front land on Galle Road, Colombo 1 had been sold to Shangri-La and 20 acres at the Colombo Port City had been given to a Chinese company on a freehold basis during the Rajapaksa regime, the former President responded: “We managed to bring in large number of foreign investments through such projects out of which the current government is benefiting”.

Refuting media reports that he has given his blessings to one of his siblings to contest the race for the presidency he went on to state that the media had reported it erroneously.

However Rajapaksa told The Hindu newspaper while on a visit to India recently that his brother was certainly a contender, but declined to mention which brother. Last week he denied that the brother he had meant was Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as claimed by certain Sri Lankan media outlets.