Time to get out of welfare mentality - President | Sunday Observer

Time to get out of welfare mentality - President

20 November, 2022

Delivering Budget 2023 in Parliament on Monday, November 14 President Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Budget for 2023 is aimed at creating a modern economy targeting the country’s youth and looking to go beyond the deeply entrenched mentality of a welfare society.

Reminiscing, the nineteen fifties, Lee Kuan Yew once said: “In Singapore I followed the hard, but right path. Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike followed the popular path.”

President Wickremesinghe arrived in Parliament at around 1.20 pm on Monday to deliver the Budget 2023 speech “Towards a New Beginning Approach”.

He commenced delivering the Second Reading of the 2023 Appropriation Bill at around 1.32pm. In a notable departure from traditional budgets that focus on price and wage revisions, Budget 2023 is focused on a modern economy that isn’t limited to International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations.

He said there is no future for the youth in the country by continuing on this popular path. There is no prosperity for the country by giving concessions while being in debt to others. So, let’s get out of this welfare mentality now. Let’s change our thinking pattern. “Accordingly, I request all of you and youth to actively and proactively contribute to the effort of re-raising the country through a new economic foundation.”

The President said a glimmer of hope on emerging from the economic abyss is currently visible as a result of the strenuous and difficult actions we have adopted during the past few months.

He said, “After the era of waiting in queues for days and protesting in various occupied places, our sufferings have been eased to some extent and we have reached an era where our peace of mind is much settled.” President Wickremesinghe said in many cases, popular decisions were taken instead of correct decisions in our country. Even today many people try to take popular decisions.

“What was the result of this popular ruling tradition? In order to build a relief economy and a relief mentality across the country. The people are used to getting concessions. Governments do not work to create opportunities for people to develop but only to provide relief. The President invited all Sri Lankans to think anew and create innovative approaches to move the country forward.

Concluding the Budget speech, President Wickremesinghe said, “I request all of you to join and support the journey of bringing positive change in the country through these budget proposals. We are taking these suggestions as background, let’s prepare a new economic base. Let’s come to a common consensus and create a national economic policy framework. Let’s implement that policy framework for the next 25 years.”

Around five hundred youth, including schoolchildren, visited the Parliament Complex on Monday, November 14 to listen to the Budget Speech delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe. This is the first time in the history of Parliament that a young community, including schoolchildren, visited Parliament to listen to a Budget Speech.

Senior students including student leaders of several schools in the Western Province and nearly a hundred youth representing the Youth Parliament of the National Youth Service Council were among them. Besides this, a group of young people representing the Youth Corps also came to witness this event. After listening to the budget debate, they also joined a sightseeing tour inside Parliament.

Five to cross over?

Speculation is rife that five Parliamentarians, who were previously members of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and decided to function independently in the House have decided to cross over to the alliance led by the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

MPs Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Chandima Weerakkody, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Jayaratne Herath and Piyankara Jayaratne have joined the SJB-led alliance.

With regard to this, the Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said, “We consider this as a positive sign. We will also get the support of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. We have come together under one slogan: ‘One People, One Country.’ We will continue to work together hereafter.”

SLPP Parliamentarian Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said that no matter what the political opinion is, it is the responsibility of all political parties or alliances to achieve a good future for the country.

Hooted at

A group of youth hooted MPs Wimal Weerawansa and Vasudeva Nanayakkara while they were leaving the Uttara Lanka Sabhagaya political event in Kandy a couple of days ago.

At the conclusion of the meeting attended by MPs Weerawansa, Nanayakkara and some other politicians who quit the Government, a group of youth in Kandy staged a vehement protest against them. The youth hooted at the politicians as they exited the hall, resulting in a tense situation between the two factions.

However, while the youth were protesting, Weerawansa left the hall with his bodyguards and drove off in his vehicle, but due to the chaotic situation, Nanayakkara, Prof. Tissa Vitarana and others were unable to leave. While the tense situation continued, Nanayakkara and Prof. Vitarana left amid loud opposition from youth with Police protection given to them. The heated exchange of words lasted about 15 minutes, during the time Police officers stood aside and watched silently.


SJB Parliamentarian Dr.Harsha de Silva on Tuesday called on the Government to conduct the Local Government and General elections at the same time in March 2023. Dr. de Silva made this observation, opening the Second reading debate on the Budget.

He also proposed that Sri Lanka should follow the US election system where the elections for the Congress and the Senate are conducted on the same day. De Silva said, “Elections Commission Chairman told us that funds have been allocated for the Local Government elections. So we can hold the General Election on the same day without spending extra money. We propose to follow the US voting system where the elections for the Senate and the Congress take place on the same day.”

De Silva said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has the authority to dissolve Parliament in March next year and call for an election to create a new Parliament. He requested the President who was present in the Chamber, to give people the right to vote and elect a new Government.

“Youth supporting the ‘Aragalaya’ wanted to chase away the thieves who stole the national resources and their future. The President said that we need to follow Lee Kuan Yew, but you need to remember that he eradicated corruption. He didn’t say eradicating corruption is a myth. The whole world is talking about the economic crimes that happened in Sri Lanka. We cannot get out of this economic crisis without fighting corruption”, Dr. de Silva added.

“Well planned Budget”

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that Budget 2023 is an integrated and well planned Budget. The Prime Minister said this joining the second reading debate of the Budget in Parliament on Wednesday. The Prime Minister said that the government is a united coalition government and many Parties such as the Podujana Peramuna, UNP, MEP, SLFP and EPDP formed a coalition government to help the country recover.

All Parties were requested to cooperate. Responding to SLPP Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva’s statement in Parliament on Tuesday to dissolve Parliament and hold a General Election, the Premier said that according to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, it is not possible to hold a General Election in the middle of the term.

He said that although one-third of the representatives of the United States Senate can be appointed through midterm elections, there is no such provision in Sri Lanka’s constitution. For this reason, the Prime Minister requested not to mislead the people by declaring that there is no responsibility.

Premier Gunawardena said that the period when the President presents the Budget as the Finance Minister should not be forgotten, that the country is in a period of greatest crisis. He said that about 150 state corporations have not yet sent their reports to Parliament.

He said that the decision to re-investigate the lands belonging to the Government is a bold step, that arable land should be used for cultivation, and that women and youth should be empowered. He said that measures have been taken in the Budget for social security to reduce the gap that does not exist.


Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told Parliament that if everyone joins hands, relief can be given to the people affected by the crisis.

Joining the debate on the second day of the Second Reading of the Budget Proposals 2023 on Wednesday, the Minister said that if the Government’s programs are continuously criticised, the people themselves will have to bear the consequences. He said that the time has come for us to work as Sri Lankans without calling ourselves Sinhalese or Tamil or Muslim.

The Minister said that the people of the Northern region make a great contribution to agriculture. “The people of the Northern region are a very talented group; they are making a great commitment to build the country’s economy. We provide support for that.”

Call to close ranks

Frontline Socialist Party Leader Kumar Gunaratnam has called on his erstwhile colleagues in the JVP to close ranks and topple the Government.

At a recent FSP meeting at the Kegalle Town Hall, Gunaratnam said, “The JVP and we know what we could do together in a situation like this. People demand that we unite in this struggle. Therefore, we call on JVP comrades not to fall for the traps of the capitalist forces. We must unite to defeat this Government.” Gunaratnam said that it was sad that some JVP members had reposed faith in the parliamentary system. He said “That system no longer has value. It’s crumbling. People’s problems cannot be solved through the parliamentary system. We must take the struggle out of Parliament. We must build a power centre out of Parliament.”

“Budget direction changed”

SLPP Nuwara Eliya District Parliamentarian C.B. Ratnayake told Parliament the Budget Proposals 2023 has given a fishing rod to a hungry man instead of a fish. He said it has taken 70 years to change the direction of a budget from a welfare Budget to an investment-oriented Budget.

Joining the Second Reading of the Budget Ratnayake said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe accepted the challenge at a time when things had grown out of hand; however, now things are gradually settling down.

“Budget will be passed”

UNP Chairman MP Wajira Abeywardene said he was confident that around 135 MPs will back the 2023 Budget proposals, which were tabled in the House by the President, in his capacity as the Finance Minister on Monday.

He said that most of the Opposition MPs, of the 134 MPs who had supported the UNP Leader in his quest to become the President, during the vote in Parliament in July, would be compelled to continue to back the President. Abeywardene said that when it comes to the third reading of the Budget and its final vote, the Opposition will more or less cease to exist and opined the entire House could come to a stage of supporting all endeavours of the President.

Ramaphosa visits Sri Lanka

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, November 16 for a short stay. He arrived on his return journey to South Africa after attending the G20 Summit in Indonesia. The South African President met his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Katunayake Air Force base for discussions on bilateral issues.

The discussions were focused on further strengthening the bilateral relationship aiming at economic cooperation and investment, expanding tourism in Sri Lanka, and receiving South African assistance, guidance and counselling in setting up a credible truth-seeking mechanism to achieve a lasting reconciliation amongst communities.

During the meeting, President Wickremesinghe expressed his gratitude to the South African President for supporting the resolution moved on Sri Lanka at the G-20 summit. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has informed his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa of his intention to send a group of representatives from Sri Lanka to South Africa to study the way of establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Sri Lanka.

President Wickremesinghe as the then Prime Minister of the Good Governance Government had proposed that a mechanism similar to South Africa should be implemented in the country to eradicate racism.

MR’s birthday

The traditional alms-giving ‘Kiri Ammawarunge Danaya’ was held at the Abhayaramaya Temple in Narahenpita to mark the birthday of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday morning.

The members of Maha Sangha led by Chief Incumbent of the temple and Chancellor of Colombo University Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera chanted Seth Pirith to bless the former President. Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa and former Speaker and SLPP MP Chamal Rajapaksa were also present.

A series of ceremonies were organised in Tangalle and countrywide to mark former President Rajapaksa’s birthday. A notable feature was that on Friday former President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa attended his first public event since resigning from the Presidency. He participated in a religious event organised in Tangalle celebrating the birthday of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Double standards

UNP Chairman MP Wajira Abeywardena said some members of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) met him to discuss certain matters. Abeywardena said so when SJB General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara raised a question during the former’s speech at the Second Reading debate on the 2023 Budget proposals.

MP Madduma Bandara asked, “As the Chairman of the UNP, you hold disciplinary investigations against our MPs. You remove our members. Then you come here and ask for our support and say let us work together. Aren’t these double standards?”

MP Abeywardena said, “We cannot solve the matter regarding our opinions simply by running investigations. That is why we sent an affidavit to all these 1,000 members to sign in and get the problem solved. Discipline is extremely important for any political Party. It is important for you just as much as for me. Some of your members come to meet me during the night. I discuss these matters with them when they meet me.”