By Saman Indrajith
The government was trying to mislead Sri Lankans and the international community by setting up a ‘national council’ that did not have the support of most political parties, independent MP Sarath Kumarasiri told the media yesterday.Kumarasiri added that they had asked former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to establish a genuine all-party government and a national council five months ago to get the country out of trouble.
“We told him on 19 April that the people were angry because the economic situation was deteriorating. Not only us but also 11 political parties including Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front (NFF) and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) called for an all-party government. We told Gotabaya to ask then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign and start discussions with all political parties in Parliament. We even tried to meet Mahinda but his henchmen did not allow us to meet him. Because Gotabaya and Mahinda didn’t listen to us, they lost popularity and power and ultimately allowed Ranil Wickremesinghe to establish an illegitimate government,” Kumarasiri said.
Kumarasiri said Wickremesinghe had no power and that he was dependent on the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to remain in power. Ever since Wickremesinghe came into power he had been unsuccessfully trying to establish an all-party government, the MP said.
“The Opposition doesn’t want to join the council because the government is not sincere about uniting everyone. Most Sri Lankans understand this. The government MPs still can’t go and work among the people. Now Wickremesinghe is trying to set up a phony national council to convince the world and at least some Sri Lankans that he has the support of all parties in parliament,” Kumarasiri said.
“The government needs to secure IMF funding and carry out a painful and complex debt restructuring process. The IMF and some bilateral creditors have asked for political stability and have commented that the Wickremesinghe government might not have the support of the people for IMF reforms. On the other hand, the UNHRC has alleged that serious economic crimes have taken place in the country and has demanded the government to look into this.
“These are serious problems for the government. Can it carry out reforms without being transparent and the support of all parties? Can it punish the economic hitmen that have destroyed the country? If you look at how the government has responded to the opposition’s demands to table the framework or agreement with the IMF, it’s obvious that they have no desire to be transparent and open, even now. However, Sri Lankans and the international community, including China, want transparency. Instead of being honest, the government is trying to mislead everyone by setting up a bogus ‘national council.”
Kumarasiri said the government must stop manipulating the people and make genuine moves to address the concerns of the people. The President is the hostage of the SLPP and the MPs who back him lack popular support.
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NEWSStudents faint due to hunger, MP tells HousePublished 18 hours ago on 2022/09/23
By Saman Indrajith
SLPP Anuradhapura District Parliamentarian K.P.S. Kumarasiri told the House yesterday that he had received reports of instances where 20 students fainted in three schools at Vilachchiya Divisional Secretariat division on Wednesday.
These instances were reported from the Vilachchiya Siddhartha Maha Vidyalaya, Kimbulawewa Ananada Vidayalaya and Kimbulawela Maha Vidyalaya, he said.
MP Kumarasiri said that children’s nutrition had become a major issue today as many people skipped meals owing to high food prices.He said that there were media reports of a student bringing coconut kernels as her midday meal to the school in Minuwangoda. Only 60 rupees is allocated per head for midday meals in rural schools. What could one buy from Rs 60 today? Relevant authorities must look into this crisis, the MP said.
Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that he was not aware of the latest incident at Vilachchiya. “I made inquiries of the Minuwangoda instance and spoke to the Principal of the school. I was told that there was no such incident. If something of that nature happened then the teachers and other children in the school should be aware of that. None knows such an incident. No child has complained of such an incident. I will look into the Vilachchiya instance.
Leader of the House Minister Prasanna Ranatunga: Minuwangoda comes under my electoral district. I too made inquiries. There was no such occurrence. I spoke to the principal of that school and she told me that she was not aware of such a thing as one of the children bringing coconut kernels to consume as a mid-day meal. These are lies fabricated to instigate people.
Kurunegala District MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa: People have a problem in finding food. They cannot afford the food prices. Children are caught in malnutrition. We must accept the facts and face the truth. It is better to admit the present crisis and bring about solutions rather than displaying your arrogance in the House.
Minister Rambukwella: Yes. There is a crisis. We admit that. Yet dissemination of lies cannot be approved of. That Minuwangoda incident is a lie.Matara District MP Dullas Alahapperuma: We have failed to look after our children. Students faint in schools because of hunger. This is the truth. We must find solutions for this situation. We have to state that we should set up rice banks.
CONTINUE READINGNEWSCabinet has not seen IMF agreementPublished 18 hours ago on 2022/09/23
By Saman Indrajith
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday that President Ranil Wickremeisnghe had informed him that the Cabinet and parliament would be appraised once a final decision was made on the understanding between Lankan government and the International Monetary Fund.The speaker was responding to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella the previous day.
The President has informed the Speaker that an agreement reached between the government and the IMF staff level meeting has to be approved by the IMF board and that approval would not be granted until the government completed its talks with creditors and other countries to obtain financial assistance to Sri Lanka.
In the past few weeks the opposition MPs have been urging the government to table the IMF staff level agreement in Parliament.Opposition MPs have claimed that it was reported that the government has reached an agreement with the IMF.The agreement must be tabled in Parliament if the government needs the support of all parties to implement the IMF-recommendations. The Opposition said the Parliament has authority on public finance therefore the staff-level agreement with the IMF should be tabled in Parliament.
CONTINUE READINGNEWSSpecial book exhibition to mark 75th independence commemorationPublished 18 hours ago on 2022/09/23
President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a special book exhibition including books and documents of rare and historical value that have been taken from Sri Lanka to foreign countries would be help to mark the 75th independence commemoration.
The President said this when he visited the 23rd Colombo National Book Fair at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall premises on Thursday (22).
The President also said that he hoped to obtain the support of the Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association for the Independence Commemorative Book Exhibition.