Following the invitation of the Cuban President, President Ranil Wickremesinghe left for Cuba and after that visit he went to the United States to participate in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session.
President Wickremesinghe, who took part in the G77 and China Summit, arrived in New York last Sunday to attend the 78th session of the UNGA. Before the President left for Cuba, he did not fail to add a congratulatory message to the J.R. Jayewardene commemoration ceremony held on Sunday.
On Monday, the President participated in the “Conference on Sustainable Development Goals – 2023,” a high-level political forum on sustainable development held under the auspices of the General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters. On the same day, he met the President of the World Bank Ajay Banga. President Wickremesinghe, who met the South Korean President, discussed expanding investment relations between the two countries.
A business meeting expressing support for Sri Lanka was also held there. The President presented Sri Lanka’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region using a strange analogy. “Someone asked me if I am pro-India. I said no. Then he asked if I was loyal to China. I said no to that too. He asked whether I am not loyal to anyone. Then I said that I am only loyal to Sri Lanka,” the President said, looking at the announcer.
The President joined the World Conference that evening. He met the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday morning. She congratulated Sri Lanka on the new economic program. She also expressed surprise that the economy was strengthened so quickly and the loan obtained from Bangladesh was repaid.
President Wickremesinghe met President of Global Affairs for Meta, Sir Nick Clegg, in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA and discussed the use of artificial intelligence technology in Sri Lanka. He also met the Prime Minister of Nepal. The President did not forget to meet the USAID Administrator Samantha Power and ask for help to develop the country. When President Wickremesinghe met the President of Iran, he invited him to visit Sri Lanka and he will visit the country to open the Uma Oya project.
At the Climate Ambition Summit, the President outlined the damage to the country’s economy due to climate change. President Wickremesinghe met IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday. He also met Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland on the same day.
A group of Sri Lankans living in the US engaged in a discussion with the President on the same day. They appreciated the steps taken by the President to improve Sri Lanka’s economy within a year. Therefore, they said that they will support the program to rebuild the country. At the end of the meeting, they gathered near the President and took selfies.
The President confirmed the Malaysian King’s invitation to visit Malaysia at the meeting with the Malaysian Prime Minister. Accordingly, the President is due to visit Malaysia early next year, either January or February.
The President addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday afternoon. It was around 10.00 p.m. Sri Lanka time.
Although the President was out of the country for a few days, he did not fail to look into the country’s affairs. The President inquired about the affairs of the country by contacting the President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka. He reported the situation in the country to the President daily. He also informed the President about the ongoing discussions with a delegation of the IMF as they are in Sri Lanka.
Apart from that, some diplomatic issues were also discussed. Last Sunday, the President made a phone call from the US and asked Sagala to find out and inform about the situation of the country’s reservoirs.
Ratnayaka immediately called the officials of the Electricity Board, Mahaweli Authority, Irrigation Department and Water Management Board and discussed the situation of the country’s reservoirs. A detailed report was obtained about the fact that the reservoirs had not been cleaned for many years and how silt had been deposited.
Since the President was not in the country, officers and Security Chiefs came to meet Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka. The officials of the Navy and the Sri Lanka Port Authority came to meet him on Monday with a problem. It was about the decision to remove the security system installed to protect the Port, due to the building of the expressway from Katunayake to the Port City. He immediately summoned the officials of the Air Force, Navy, Ports Authority and the private company building the expressway and settled the problem without affecting anyone.
Ratnayaka on Saturday joined the International Coastal Cleanup Day. The discussion about the work there took place on Monday. For the sake of the beauty of the country and for the protection of the natural ecosystem, they discussed the destruction of the beaches and rivers and reservoirs and forest resources.
Opinions were also exchanged about the garbage problem. The discussion held under the patronage of Ratnayaka decided to present five proposals for the environmental safety of the country after the President returns. They also discussed the import of vehicles. It was also decided to prevent the destruction of large forests and unauthorised sand mining by preparing an environmental committee.
On Sunday evening, the President’s Chief of Staff Ratnayaka went to the Meethotamulla Shesthraramaya Temple to unveil the newly built Chaithya. Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka was also present. Although it was Sagala who was invited to unveil the pinnacle of the Chaithya, he invited Patali to unveil the pinnacle. They unveiled the pinnacle together. They exchanged pleasantries and talked about politics as well.
Since the President was not in the country, Sagala called the Security Chiefs to the President’s office on Tuesday morning for a review of the security situation. He also called the officers of the Sri Lanka College of Information Technology and handed over the control of the Sharia University, Batticaloa built by former Minister Hizbullah, which is currently under the Security Forces, to the Sri Lanka University of Technology. Its ownership was transferred to Hizbullah and control was transferred to the Sri Lanka University of Technology.
On Wednesday, Ratnayaka held a discussion with Public Security Minister Tiran Alles and Finance Ministry officials regarding a number of pending issues in the Police. At the end of the discussion, the Inspector General of Police told Ratnayaka that it was a positive discussion.
Discussions with IMF
A number of discussions with representatives of the IMF was held throughout last week. It had been continuously brought to the attention of the Government about the inadequacy of state revenue and Chief of Staff Ratnayaka said in reply that they cannot oppress the people by putting the burden on them anymore.
The Staff Level Agreement between the IMF and the Government of Sri Lanka is to be signed this week. Following which the second tranche will be released by the IMF.
Ratnayaka went to Maharagama on Thursday morning to lay the foundation stone for a building to be constructed for children at Apeksha Hospital. This building is being built with the financial contribution of the Kataragama Devala and the labour of the Air Force following the intervention of Sagala Ratnayaka. Although it is planned to be built in one year at a cost of Rs.150 million, it will be built in six months due to the labour contribution of the Air Force and an additional floor will also be added to the building due to this.
The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government met at the Parliament complex chaired by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Wednesday, September 20. State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Janaka Wakkumbura, State Minister of Home Affairs Ashoka Priyantha, many members of the ruling party and the Opposition and officials of the Ministry were present.
“Due to the non-holding of the Local Government elections, the candidates who submitted their nominations face much inconvenience,” a group of MPs from the ruling party and the Opposition said.
“What do you wish to do now?” Premier Gunawardena asked. “Let’s cancel the nominations that have been handed over,” a Member of Parliament said.
“Now there are members of the Government and the Opposition in this assembly. Do the members of the Opposition agree with that?” Janaka Wakkumbura asked because this was directly related to his subject.
“Yes, even if there are no elections, injustice should not be done to the candidates,” an Opposition MP said, and the Government MPs also expressed their views in favour of it.
When the Prime Minister said, “No one is against it,” no one expressed any other opinion. The Ministerial Advisory Committee unanimously agreed to cancel the nominations submitted for the Local Government Election.
However, Prime Minister Gunawardena raised another point. That was when the Parliamentarians presented facts about the obstacles for Government field officials to contest in their constituencies. So, the discussion dragged on.
“We are making arrangements to permit them to contest from their area, because there is a big demand for this as well.” Ashoka Priyantha said, adding “Yes, we also get a lot of requests.”
The amendment of the Act was also discussed.
There was a discussion about the transfer and placement of Government officials, and the Prime Minister emphasised that the placement of all administrative officials, including Divisional Secretaries should be done properly.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told his MPs that he is ready to make a special revelation about the Easter Sunday attacks.
MP Harshana Rajakaruna: “The President is playing his usual ritual of setting up committees. He does not want to reveal the truth about this.”
MP Nalin Bandara: “Some say his committee is like a party reorganisation committee.”
MP Lakshman Kiriella: “You should reveal the truth about the Easter Sunday attacks to the country. That is what everyone is waiting for.”
Premadasa: “Yes, it should definitely be exposed.”
Sajith, who joined the debate about the Easter Sunday attacks, made a long revelation about the attacks.
“We don’t want to slander anyone, we want to reveal the truth to the world” – this was how Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa started his speech while joining the debate on the Easter Sunday attacks.
He said that this debate was presented as a proposal of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) on behalf of the community affected by the Easter Sunday attacks and the investigations conducted in that regard. Under no circumstances should a person be slandered or insulted and the main purpose and objective of this is to understand the truth.
The Opposition Leader said, “Some members of the ruling party said that this came to the fore because of a film on Channel 4, but they are saying so because they are sleepy members who have no idea about this.”
He said that the entire country was keen to know the truth and the mastermind and the SJB always spoke attentively in this regard.
Opposition Leader Premadasa said the US prepared a commission report regarding the attack on September 11, 2001, but as the Opposition Leader, even though he is not an American citizen, he is in possession of the report and they did not hide the reports by presenting false conditions like in Sri Lanka.
He said that they were able to find out the truth because they worked in the commission without any party bias and they were able to take long-term security measures.
He said that even though the US 9/11 attack has taught lessons; the leaders of our country have not learned the lessons yet.
MP S.M. Marikkar said, before the Easter Sunday attacks, Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited India, and an inquiry should be made, who he met there.
Members of the SJB also commented on the President’s visit to the US.
MP Ashok Abeysinghe: “Look at the set of people that went with the President.” MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara: “That’s why we said from the beginning that this is the shadow government of the Pohottuwa.”
Many people’s attention was drawn to the adjournment debate in Parliament on September 21 and 22 regarding the Easter Sunday attacks and national security.
In that debate, the heated exchange of words between former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Army Commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka gained much publicity in media circles.
During a debate, the Minister in charge of the subject or the State Minister remains in the Chamber. But when this debate was held, a Member of the Opposition party was always seen in the Chamber. That was former President Maithripala Sirisena.
Former President Sirisena remained in the Chamber to know what is being said about the Easter Sunday attacks and whether anyone blames him for that. When Sarath Fonseka joined the debate, Maithripala Sirisena was paying attention very intently as he knew that Fonseka would level some allegation against him. Just as Maithripala thought, Fonseka launched a scathing attack against him and the argument continued to heat up.
The Kurunegala district representative meeting of the new alliance was held at the residence of the operational leader of the group, MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa at Kuliyapitiya, Eriyagolla last Saturday.
Minister Nalin Fernando, State Nimal Lanza, former Deputy Minister Taranath Basnayake, former Chief Minister Dharmasiri Dasanayake, Provincial Council members Nilantha Rajapaksa, Sumit Rajapaksa, Chandana Yapa and a group of Local Government representatives were present. Sugishwara Bandara and Siripala Amarasinghe on behalf of the New Alliance Party office were also present.
A luncheon was also hosted at Anura Yapa’s residence for those who attended the meeting. The group also discussed the current political situation.