Harsha denies claim that Mangala is depriving him of opportunity to work



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Harsha de Silva strongly rejected Opposition claims that Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had deprived him of an opportunity to play a constructive role at the ministry.

Kandy District UPFA MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage recently alleged in Parliament that De Silva could speak only on two unimportant countries. Aluthgamage claimed that the government hadn’t utilised the expertise of the Colombo District MP.

Aluthgamage asserted that economist De Silva could have prepared a much better budget than incumbent Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

The Deputy Minister hadn’t been in Parliament at the time the reference was made.

The Deputy FM told The Island: "I have not been restricted at the Foreign Ministry at all. In fact, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has given me the freedom to work and also the opportunity to lead the entire policy and implementation of economic diplomacy besides helping him in all his tasks. It is an honour for me to work on linking Sri Lanka’s economy with the rest of the world."

De Silva succeeded attorney-at-law Ajith Perera as the Deputy FM following the Aug.17 parliamentary elections. Perera held the portfolio during Jan.-Aug period.

Asked whether the country was ready for challenges ahead in the wake of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warning of impending severe economic turbulence, Deputy Minister said that the UNP leader had stressed the importance of the country initiating consultations with the IMF in that regard. The Deputy Minister asserted the security crisis in some parts of West Asia could cause trouble for the global economy therefore Sri Lanka needed to take precautions.

The Deputy Minister said that the government was in the process of re-building what he called old friendship with China. An investor forum in Tokyo was also being planned in accordance with Sri Lanka’s overall strategy to attract overseas investment. MP De Silva said that the government was talking to all major countries, including China.

PM Wickremesinghe recently announced the resumption of China-funded port city project.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government suspended the project soon after the presidential election in January.


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