Adapting to the new normal, the way to take economy forward – President Rajapaksa | Sunday Observer

Adapting to the new normal, the way to take economy forward – President Rajapaksa

5 September, 2021

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressing the Special Committee on Covid-19 Control on Friday (September 3) commended all stakeholders, including health and security sectors, for their support in making the vaccination drive carried out covering all the districts for the people over the age of 30 a success. The President said that the Pfizer vaccine could be given to schoolchildren of certain age groups as soon as medical approval is received.

During Friday’s Special Committee on Covid-19 Control held via online technology under the patronage of the President, it was decided to extend the current quarantine curfew until 4 am on September 13. Provincial and divisional Health Directors joined the meeting and submitted facts and details on the measures taken to contain Covid-19 virus.

The progress of the vaccination drive and future action was discussed at length. Special attention was paid to the need to complete the vaccination of those belonging to the 20-29 age group in the next two weeks. During the meeting, the President pointed out the need to move the economy forward by adapting to the new normal with the success achieved by the vaccination drive.

Face reality

President Rajapaksa said that we should understand the reality that as a country with a small economy, all parties must take responsible decisions to move forward while protecting the economy. Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that the continuous functioning of factories in the export sector was a great relief for the economy and this was due to the success of the vaccination program which was implemented amid the quarantine curfew.

“SLFP cannot be destroyed”

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) marked its 70th anniversary on Thursday (September 2) with an islandwide blood donation campaign and a commemorative ceremony which was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SLFP General Secretary, State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara issuing a statement to mark the event said, “Sri Lanka Freedom Party, will continue to uplift the country and the party by producing people oriented, humanitarian, honest, pragmatic and dedicated leaders for the country.” Meanwhile, Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said that the SLFP cannot be destroyed by nefarious forces and she is committed to moulding a generation which can shoulder the party to victory. The former President in a message to mark the 70th anniversary of the Party founded by her father said the SLFP was founded by the legendary leader with good intent and such a Party cannot be destroyed by nefarious forces.

She said, “The huge tree, the SLFP, cannot be killed by cutting off the trunk. The roots of this huge tree that have gone deep into the earth may help bring a sapling. “This process will take time but that will definitely take place in the future. I may not be alive by that day,” she said. She said that she did not support the United National Party at the 2015 Election. “We wanted to form a broader alliance and this alliance was led by me.”

Bond scam

State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said the country became a victim of the world economic crisis due to the Central Bank Treasury Bond scam and other acts of corruption during the previous Yahapalana regime.

He said, “When the world faced an economic crisis, our country too became a victim of it due to the Central Bank Bond scam and other acts of corruption by the group which is posing as the Opposition today.”

At a media briefing at his Ministry recently, the State Minister said that concrete steps are being taken by the present Government to get out of the present situation based on the advice of eminent personnel in various fields. He said that certain groups are trying to create a sugar shortage in the country today.

“We say very clearly that strict legal action will be taken against those who are collecting and hiding stocks of sugar and those who support them. He said, “The Opposition can say anything. We have given them the opportunity to air their view. What we are experiencing now are the results of the destruction that the Opposition wrought in our country.” Semasinghe said that the economy of our country collapsed rapidly from 2015–2019. We saw how the Central Bank Treasury Bond fraud took place in February and June of 2015.


President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa were the first to extend warm wishes and congratulations to Dinesh Priyantha Herath who won the first Gold medal for the country at a Paralympics event.

The President while congratulating Herath on his achievement said that his service in fighting for Sri Lanka as a soldier and putting the country on the international map is remarkable. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa also congratulated Herath for making history by winning the first-ever Gold Medal in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The Premier in a congratulatory message said that Herath showed his unwavering dedication and commitment to save the country from the scourge of terrorism.

Youth and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa also congratulated Herath on his achievement in creating history at the Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020.

UNP’s national plan

UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardana said a national plan to build Sri Lanka will be announced at the 75th anniversary of the Party. He said, “The new national plan will cover all sectors of the country, based on key issues such as economic security, health care, environmental protection and knowledge security.”

At a media briefing in Colombo on the 75th anniversary preparations of the United National Party, Abeywardana said that the UNP is the parent political party that created various political parties in Sri Lanka. September 6 marks the 75th anniversary of the UNP.

He said, “We have started several programs nationally. On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the UNP on September 6, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will address all through Zoom and Facebook on September 5 from 5 pm to 6 pm. This will be followed by 75 meetings across Sri Lanka via Zoom technology.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris on Friday dismissed reports of a food crisis in the country, saying an emergency situation was declared not because of any shortage of essential food, but the Government needed to protect the public against unscrupulous traders trying to create artificial shortages in the market.

Prof. Peiris told a news conference in Colombo that there are ample stocks of sugar and rice, but there are unscrupulous elements who have created artificial shortages. However, there are no real shortages.

The Minister said, “In these circumstances it is the duty of the Government to make essential food items available to the public and if there are problems because of the malicious efforts by several irresponsible traders, then the Government is duty bound to take measures to protect the innocent public.

This is the reason for an emergency situation.” Prof. Peiris said.

“The Government is addressing the Covid-19 pandemic issue without neglecting welfare measures. The Government looks after the people of this country in a spirit of compassion and empathy making financial resources available and making all essential commodities available,” he said.

SJB Parliamentarian Patali Champika Ranawaka told a recent press conference that Sri Lanka will be pushed into an era of Haal Polu, Parripu Polu soon as there will be a severe scarcity of food. He said farmers have not been able to produce their own organic fertiliser as the Government requested as the next cultivation season will begin soon. Sri Lanka needs 20 million tons of organic fertiliser for the whole cultivating season. Ranawaka said the country does not have such an amount of organic fertiliser at the moment.

Therefore, there would be a scarcity of rice as most farmers will cultivate only on half an acre as they usually do for their personal use. Production of other crops will also go down. This will result in a scarcity of food. The Government does not have enough funds to import essential items.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta engaged in a cordial telephone conversation on Friday morning (September 3). While expressing satisfaction over the growing bilateral relations between the two countries, the two leaders stressed the need to further enhance this cooperation.

President Kenyatta commended the Covid-19 control measures taken by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the success of the vaccination drive. He said the vaccination drive which has already covered almost 70 percent of the population is an example to other nations as well.

Though the numbers of Covid-19 patients and the deaths were managed well by controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, President Rajapaksa pointed out that new variants emerged in the middle of this year.

The President said that Sri Lanka has always proved to be resilient when facing various challenges throughout history, and added the country will rise again successfully by controlling the pandemic. Recalling his close relations with former President and current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed keenness to maintain close relations with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries.

Co-Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana told the weekly Cabinet press briefing that Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has urged the Cabinet to limit Government spending and cut down on unnecessary expenses. Minister Rajapaksa had clarified the economic situation at the Cabinet meeting on August 30. The Minister of Finance has instructed to review the progress of projects that have not already commenced and to take a decision on them, and to stop non-essential recruitments and unnecessary allowances if they are given. Dr. Pathirana said that the Finance Minister has instructed that strict financial discipline should be maintained.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa urged the teachers and principals to accept the solution presented by the Cabinet Sub-Committee to eliminate the teacher-principal salary anomaly. The Minister said this during a press conference convened by the members of the Cabinet Sub-Committee appointed to eliminate the teacher-principal salary anomaly, at the Government Information Department a couple of days ago.

Minister Weerawansa said that many problems that had been neglected for a long time had been resolved and urged teachers to accept this solution. Minister Weerawansa also requested the teachers and principals to come forward to work for the betterment of the children of the country without further delaying this issue. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera who was present at the media briefing added that 85 percent of the Government revenue goes to pay salaries and pensions to public servants. However, the Teachers and Principals Trade Union Alliance have rejected the Cabinet decisions on solving their issues.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared Emergency Regulations on the provision of essential foods on August 30 midnight. The decision was taken to prevent essential commodities such as rice, paddy and sugar being sold at exorbitant prices and hoarding stocks. In addition, the President has declared these regulations under the powers vested in him in terms of the Article 2 of the Public Security Ordinance.

Major General M. D. S. P. Niwunhella has been appointed as the Commissioner General of Essential Services to coordinate the supply of paddy, rice, sugar and other consumer goods that are essential to maintain the livelihood of the people.

TNA Spokesman MP M. A. Sumanthiran spoke against imposing the Emergency Regulations, adding that it was an unwarranted act that would lead to a state of repression in the country. He, however, advocated a separate Public Health Emergency Legislation to cope with any situation arising in the country due to the prevailing pandemic.

Request for pardon

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, requesting to grant a presidential pardon to former SJB Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake. Premadasa in his letter noted that previous requests made to the President in this regard were met with a favourable response, and that he trusts action will be taken soon. Ramanayake was sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court on January 12, 2021, after he was found to be in contempt of court in connection to statements made to the media regarding the judiciary.