Rebuilding economy – credit goes to the people, says President

by malinga
April 7, 2024 1:20 am 0 comment 2.1K views

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who works day and night to uplift the economy, does not fail to participate in ceremonies where awards are presented to artistes. That is why the President also participated in the Raigam Tele’es Awards ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel, last week.

During the awards ceremony, the President also did not fail to entertain the actors and actresses with a joke.

In the speech at the awards ceremony, when it was said that the award for the best teledrama should be given to Parliament for its live telecast, no one could stop laughing. The actors and actresses appreciated the President for telling this story at the friendly get-together after the awards presentation.

On Sunday evening, the President went to SJB MP Kavinda Jayawardene’s residence to partake in the Easter Sunday dinner. A SJB Kegalle district MP and a Kurunegala district MP were also present and the political, economic and social conditions were discussed at length. The President remained until late that night as the conversation was so fruitful.

On Monday morning, President Wickremesinghe came to the Presidential Secretariat and in the afternoon went to Parliament to hold the Cabinet meeting as it was a Parliament day. As usual, the office of the President of the Parliament was teeming with Government and Opposition MPs.

The President, who only attended the Cabinet meeting, left without joining the Government parliamentary group meeting because he had other official duties. In the meantime, the President went for the Philip Gunawardena commemoration meeting. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was also present.

The President made a grant of one million dollars to the Gaza Children’s Fund and this money was collected through the private sector. The President discussed the problems of children in Muslim schools when he met a group of Muslim girls who came to the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday.

President meets UNP Management Committee

President Wickremesinghe, who met the UNP Management Committee that evening, spoke at length about the organisation of the May Day rally.

The appointment of zonal organisers was also discussed and the General Secretary Range Bandara said that 1,000 appointments are to be given. He also told the President that one zonal organiser has been instructed to bring 60 people to the May Day rally.

The General Secretary said that a group of old members of the party’s Youth Front have organised a motorcycle parade across the country to inform the people about the party’s May Day rally. It is said that it has been planned to travel from city to city up to Anuradhapura on the theme of ‘Let Ranil prevail’ and from there on May 1 at noon to reach the UNP May Day rally in Maradana.

President Wickremesinghe told General Secretary Range Bandara that the tenure of the committee appointed to investigate political victimisation against UNP members had been extended. “There, we put the Cabinet paper you requested. Now tell those people to come and give information,” the President said.

The Board of Investment Awards ceremony was held thereafter. The President who spoke to the officials about the agricultural modernisation program also had a friendly discussion with those in the tourism sector. While talking about the problems in the tourism industry, the talk also focused on the challenges faced by the tourism industry in the Yala National Park.

“Sir, your friend is the one who goes to Yala, the most. But I have not heard him talk about this.” Someone from the tourism industry who was there said.

“Ah, yes, we will find a way for him to continuously stay there next year. Then he will talk,” when the President said that, everyone laughed.

On Wednesday morning, the President went to the main hall of Temple Trees to present the letters of appointment to the teachers recruited in Western Province schools.

President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake received information that a group of newly recruited teachers are trying to embarrass the President through WhatsApp groups.

He did not tell anyone about this and kept his eyes focused to know what was going on. There was a message that no one should stand up when the President came to the ceremony, but it was not to be. This attempt by an Opposition group failed because no one followed their advice.

A few people sat but the rest blamed them and said, “As a teacher what would you do if the children ignore you when you go to class.”

An elderly official asked these few teachers not to attempt to build a generation of hatred. The majority approved it and said that they do not respect a person but when it comes to the key position of the country, its different, so they all got up from their seats and gave due respect when the President came to the ceremony.

NPP-SJB debate

A group of Ministers who came to meet the President on Wednesday evening spoke about the debate to be held between National People’s Power (NPP) Leader Anura Dissanayake and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.

“The SJB said that the economic policies of the NPP Economic Committee and the SJB Economic Committee should be discussed. But now the NPP says that this debate should be conducted by Anura Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa,” Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said with a smile.

“But the SJB is saying that the leaders should talk after the Economic Committees of the two parties talk first. The NPP doesn’t like it,” State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

“But if Anura and Sajith do this, it can be a historic debate. Because I don’t know whether the people will understand their big words.” Everyone couldn’t stop laughing when MP Madhura Withanage said that.

“But our President does not believe in debates, but only work,” Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.

“Many channels are inviting them to conduct the debate on their channels but the Government media is silent.” When MP Premnath C. Dolawatte said that President Wickremesinghe told his Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka to call the ITN Chairman and tell him this.

Sagala promptly called ITN Chairman Sudarshana Gunawardana and asked him to invite them to telecast this debate on their channel. “If they can’t come to the station premises, take your camera equipment to a place they say and tell them that you can give a live telecast,” Sagala said. The majority of those present were of the opinion that it would be of great benefit if they could watch this debate before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

President Wickremesinghe went to Ratnapura on Thursday morning to inaugurate the International Gem and Jewellery Trade Centre, known as Ratnapura Gem Tower built by the Gem and Jewellery Authority.

State Minister Chamara Sampath who was present told the President not to go for the debate with Sajith Premadasa.

“Anura has been invited, not me. This is a problem of the Opposition,” the President said with a smile.

Later, State Minister Sampath made a critical speech referring to some of the problems of the Housing Development Authority.

Amidst the laughter of everyone, the President said in his speech that he took over a country that had fuel queues and now that there are no fuel queues, now “three-wheel comrades” have put posters on their three-wheelers.

Court injunction

While he was getting ready to leave Ratnapura, the President received an urgent message. The message was from Director General of Government Information Dinith Chinthaka. He said that the court has issued an injunction on SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena preventing him from holding that position.

The President then called several SLFP stalwarts including Mahinda Amaraweera and inquired about what had happened and what would happen in the future. Dinith Chinthaka who went to the Presidential Secretariat as soon as the President came from Ratnapura, told him that three names had been proposed for the chairmanship of the SLFP. He said that one of them is former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and the other two are Nimal Siripala and Mahinda Amaraweera.

While talking about Government and Opposition politics, there was talk about the stability of the economy and the depreciation of the Dollar as well as that people were keen on celebrating the New Year. Prof. Ashu Marasinghe said that three percent of the people are lamenting that they have no food on Facebook while others are shopping freely because they have money in their hands.

“We cannot forget the sacrifices made by the people to stabilise the economy. When I tightened the belts of the people, they trusted me and were patient, so now we are able to loosen the belts little by little. The people should really be given the credit for rebuilding the economy,” the President said with emotion.

PM admonishes CB officials

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has accused the Central Bank Governor and other senior officials of not acting to safeguard the deposits of those who deposited money in Cooperative Banks, even though the Central Bank could supervise them.

The Premier said that many pensioners had deposited their money in these banks and they have been suffering for many years without being able to recover their money due to the collapse of Cooperative Banks. It is a serious mistake of the Central Bank officials to ignore this.

The Prime Minister told this in the presence of the members of the ruling party when the Government parliamentary group meeting was held at the Parliament Complex on Monday (April 1).

The Governor of the Central Bank and senior officials were present to inform about the Bank (Amendment) Bill which was to be debated and passed on Tuesday (April 2).

Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Members of Parliament Jayantha Weerasinghe, Madhura Withanage, Yadamini Gunawardena and Jagath Kumara had also presented facts in favour of the issue raised by the Prime Minister.

It is also reported that even though Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena called the Central Bank to hold a discussion with the Cooperative Division, the Central Bank officials had remained silent.

Prime Minister Gunawardena had said that the Central Bank has been given unlimited power and problems had arisen and that it cannot give everything every official asks for and Parliament is responsible for this.

Badulla’s train centenary

The centenary celebration of train operations to Badulla fell on April 5. The Ministry of Transport and the Department of Railways had organized many celebrations to mark this occasion. The program started on April 5 morning from the Colombo Fort railway station. Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Transport and Highways Ministry Secretary Ranjith Ganganath Rubasinghe, Railways General Manager H. M. K. W. Bandara and many others participated in this event.

Commemorating the first train journey to Badulla in 1924, the Viceroy Steam train left from Nanu Oya to Badulla at 11.00 a.m. with Minister Dr. Gunawardena and other guests including Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media, Anusha Palpita on board for the 84 Km journey. Minister Gunawardena unveiled a commemorative plaque in the midst of a large crowd, commemorating one hundred years at the Nanu Oya railway station. A large number of schoolchildren came to the Idalgashinna railway station to watch the train coming for the centenary celebration.

SJB begins political campaign

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa recently started his political campaign by participating in the Badulla District Convention of the “Samagi Wanita Balawegaya”. He said that a Women’s Presidential Commission will be set up to seek the participation of women and ensure their rights.

The Opposition Leader said that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) gave priority to women and also presented a separate Charter for women at the 2019 Presidential Election. The SJB Government will bring an amendment that incorporates the rights of women and children in the basic rights of the Constitution. After the Badulla District Convention of the “Samagi Wanita Balawegaya” ended, the Opposition Leader came to Colombo to participate in the parliamentary session, the next day.

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe withdrew the revised Penal Code (Amendment) Bill at the beginning of the Parliamentary sessions last Monday.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa had been trying hard in Parliament for the past few weeks to have this Bill withdrawn. In the end, the Government had to withdraw this Bill.

The House took on a heated stance regarding the statement by former President Maithripala Sirisena on the Easter Sunday attacks. Opposition Leader Premadasa said former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa benefited vastly from the Easter Sunday attacks, and former President Sirisena had made a clear statement about the Easter Sunday attacks.

“We wish to know the information about the masterminds of the Easter Sunday attacks. We were in the Government when the Easter Sunday attacks occurred. But the former members of the Opposition demanded a mandate that the masterminds of the Easter Sunday attacks would be brought before the law. The Government has no right to request time for those investigations for the sake of the people who lost their lives. Find the masterminds of the Easter Sunday attacks immediately and implement the law,” he said.

“No backbone”

Parliamentarian Kavinda Jayawardene said, “Former President Sirisena’s attempt to repeat the sorrow of the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks is wrong. He has no backbone to say who the mastermind of the Easter Sunday attacks is. The Easter Sunday attacks had a political motive. They don’t reveal who conducted the Easter Sunday attacks to achieve a political goal.”

MP Nalin Bandara said former President Sirisena had said that India helped in the Easter Sunday attacks. That is a serious statement. Who helped India to do this?

Crocodile tears

When Harin Fernando was in the Opposition, he shed crocodile tears regarding the Easter Sunday attacks and wore a black shawl. Now he has fallen under the trap of the group who wear shawls (Satakaya).

MP Tissa Attanayake said many people say that there is some political force behind former President Sirisena. But I think that there is no such political force behind him. There is no truth in the statements he made. Some people told me that former President Sirisena while travelling in the US and met many representatives there. As a result, former President Sirisena is making such statements.

Former President Sirisena should be referred to a psychiatrist. I think he should be immediately sent to the Mental Hospital at Mulleriyawa. The friendship between India and Sri Lanka can be impaired by his statement. Diplomatic trust and ties with India may be affected. Former President Sirisena needs to think more about diplomatic relations, he said.

Opposition Leader Premadasa said that within two months of assuming the office of President, an investigation commission will be set up that can get the support of international investigators to do justice to the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks.

He said, “Within two months after being elected as the new President, we will appoint a commission consisting of seven to nine local and foreign members. Within six weeks of setting up the commission, a permanent investigation office of domestic security and intelligence agencies will be set up to work with it, along with foreign intelligence agencies including Scotland Yard and the FBI.

The SJB Lawyers Collective revealed the procedure to be followed regarding the people responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks.

“Two months after Opposition Leader Premadasa becomes the President, he will appoint a separate investigation committee under the Commission of Inquiry Act No. 17 of 1948 to investigate the Easter Sunday massacre. With the amendments to be brought under the Commission of Inquiry Act, it has the possibility of appointing another independent investigator in addition to the officers who are appointed with huge powers in the country,” said Attorney-at-law of SJB Lawyers Collective Rajitha Lakmal.

“This work will start within two months of a Coalition Government. We expect that the tasks of the investigation commission will be completed within a maximum of one year. Measures are being taken for that purpose. The SJB will act in unison to implement this. People’s support is also needed for this purpose,” he said.

Last Tuesday, MP Chandima Weerakkody and former Provincial Council member Niroshan Padukka came to the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo to participate in the meeting on the future work of the party.

“Right place for SLFPers”

At that time, former Provincial Council member Niroshan Padukka asked Chandima Weerakkody, “Now the SLFP is over forever, isn’t it? I think the most suitable ideology for the members of the SLFP is at the SJB.’’

MP Weerakkody said, “Niroshan, the SLFP was created by late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike as a party with a middle path. The SLFP was started as a party that broke away from the UNP, which was neither extreme right nor extreme left. Today, the identity of the SJB is not extreme right-wing, not extreme left-wing. Therefore, the SJB is the right place for the SLFPers.’’

MP Nalin Bandara had invited the Economic Committee of the JVP to a debate with the Economic Committee of the SJB regarding economic prospects. Following which, former JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti had declared that JVP is ready for a debate. Parliamentarians Kabir Hashim, Dr. Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickramaratne came to the Opposition Leader’s Office last Wednesday to discuss how to conduct this debate.

MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said, “We were the ones who initially challenged the National People’s Power (NPP) to come to the debate. Now they are saying that they will accept the challenge, but there is a Presidential Election, so they are challenging Sajith Premadasa to debate with Anura Dissanayake. But we gave the challenge to a debate. Our challenge should be ahead.”

“Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa called me and said, “Harsha, debating is a good quality in a democratic society. I am ready to debate any topic such as economic, social, political and international affairs. Tell those who are asking for debate to come and serve the country in the competition with me. I am ready for debates as well as development for the country”.’’

MP Kabir Hashim said, “If Sunil doesn’t come to the debate, let’s put three chairs at the Galle Face Green and mark them as Marx, Lenin and Engels.”

MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said, “Sunil, if you are ready, we are also ready. Kabir, Eran, are you ready for a debate?”

MP Kabir Hashim said,”Yes, I am ready.”

MP Eran Wickramaratne said, “Even now we are ready, we are not afraid.”

The aim of the SJB is to gather talented people who are not corrupt and can work for the country into the SJB. For that, the SJB is working to win over all parties that can be won these days, Head of Presidential Election Operations of SJB Sujeewa Senasinghe and MP S.M. Marikkar said.

“No matter whether the Presidential Election or the General Election is held, the team formed by the most powerful organisation will be victorious. The SJB took steps to form the most powerful alliance in the country on April 5. It has been decided that ‘Samagi Jana Sandanaya’ will contest under the Telephone symbol. Nearly 40 MPs of the ruling party are preparing to form an alliance. In the formation of the alliance, six members of the ruling party will also join us. It will proceed as a ‘Samagi Jana Sandanaya,” said Sujeewa Senasinghe.

“The formation of the alliance is not just about winning the election. The alliance is also working to discuss how to get state power. Various groups are going to form alliances with various organisations until the elections are held. We have people who contested the 2020 election from the SJB led alliance. Groups are going to join the ‘Samagi Jana Sandanaya’ in the future as well,” said MP S.M. Marikkar.

New alliance

The SJB led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, reached an agreement with a powerful group of the ‘Nidahasa Janatha Sabawa’, which is independent of the government, on April 5.

The MoU related to the new alliance, which was announced as ‘Samagi Jana Sandanaya’, was signed by the SJB Leader Sajith Prelamadasa, General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara and MP Prof. G.L. Peiris representing the ‘Samagi Jana Sandanaya.’

The signing ceremony was held at the BMICH. Many prominent members of the SJB, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Dilan Perera, Wasantha Yapa Bandara, Dr. Upul Galappaththi and K. P. S. Kumarasiri were present.

“Everyone in the country is wondering who will save the country. The majority has decided that the SJB can save the country. Prof. G. L. Peiris and the team have been a great strength for us today. Discussions are going on to strengthen the ‘Samagi Jana Sandanaya’,’’ said SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara.

“The current leadership is a leadership that has been rejected by the people. The present Government has no sensitivity towards the people. It is said that the country was saved, but the current Government has also raided the EPF as well. Sajith Premadasa gave a new meaning to the role of the Opposition. Earlier, the Opposition Leaders only criticised the existing Government. Sajith Premadasa was able to change it completely. He took over most of the Government roles. He has a vision and what the country needs is such a leader,’’ Prof. G.L. Peiris said.

“We are building a country free from corruption, fraud and theft. The ‘Samagi Jana Sandanaya’ will implement a ‘sacred journey’. We are giving leadership to the country’s 22 million people in the journey of building the country in ideal ways,’’ said Opposition Leader Premadasa.

After the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding related to the new alliance, Opposition Leader Premadasa joined a discussion on the progress of the small, medium and micro business sector at the Mihilaka Hall of the BMICH. There it was discussed about the urgent steps to be taken to provide compensation to the parties affected by the Parate Law.

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