Civil society activists lambaste govt.

Srinath Perera warns of dire consequences unless remedial action is taken



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(L-R) Dr. Nirmal Dewasiri, Azath Sally, Ven. Amulugala Sumangala, Chrishmal Warnasuriya, Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe, Srinath Perera and Dr. Damayanthi Perera (Pic by Saman Abesiriwardena)


By Shamindra Ferdinando


 


Alleging that the UNP-SLFP coalition had gone off the yahapalana track, President’s Counsel Srinath Perera yesterday warned of dire consequences unless remedial measures were taken immediately.


UNP Western Provincial Councillor Perera said that the country was rapidly heading for an extremely dangerous situation with those who had earned the people’s mandate at presidential and parliamentary polls in January and August, 2015, respectively, brazenly violating good governance promises.


Perera said those now in power had failed to respect their mandates though there were several positive developments.


The UNPer was addressing the media at the inauguration of the People’s Intellectual Assembly, at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute yesterday.


Emphasising that their effort shouldn’t be considered an anti-coalition move supportive of some other political outfit, Perera said that those who had risked their lives to oust the Rajapaksas couldn’t remain silent. Perera categorised corruption, fraud and nepotism as three major challenges faced by society.


Responding to a query, Perera strongly condemned the inclusion of those who had been rejected by people at the parliamentary elections on the National List of the SLFP, UNP as well as the JVP. Alleging that such measures were detrimental to democracy, Perera said that honest people found it extremely difficult to enter Parliament.


Ven. Ambulugala Sumangala told the gathering that they represented the interests of the masses and would go all out to pressure the government to adopt people friendly policies.


Perera regretted that some of those who had been called thieves during the last presidential and parliamentary polls were now in the government. Those who had switched their allegiance to the government weren’t being investigated, he said. The UNPer said that the government was pursuing wrong policies after being elected on an anti-corruption platform.


Attorney-at-law Chrishmal Warnasuriya said that those who had voted against the previous government hadn’t wanted a new power structure which was as corrupt as the previous one. Warnasuriya said that the situation was so bad that many tended to believe that the old system was still being implemented by different players.


Warnasuriya said those in power had been able to pursue policies inimical to the wellbeing of the masses for want of a proper Opposition. The attorney-at-law questioned Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan’s appointment as the Opposition Leader because the latter was primarily interested in affairs of the North. The so-called Joint Opposition spearheaded by SLFPers, too, were President Maithripala Sirisena’s party, the senior lawyer said.


Warnasuriya alleged that the executive as well as parliamentary authority were being used for the benefit of those in power at the expense of the masses. Warnasuriya alleged that present-day rulers had failed to keep their promises.


University Teacher Dr. Nirmal Dewasiri castigated the government for neglecting the education sector having flaunted some grandiose plans in the run-up to last national polls. The education sector was in serious crisis with the new government failing to take remedial measures, Dr Dewasiri said, adding that there was absolutely no basis for the recent suggestion that all students should be allowed to continue schooling for 13 years. The university teacher strongly opposed the government suggestion. According to him, the situation at the National Institute of Education revealed the crisis in the education sector.


Dr Dewasiri said that members of the institute hadn’t met since December last year and the government wasn’t making an effort to correct the situation.


National Unity Alliance (NUA) leader and former UNP Central Provincial Council member Azath Salley said that the economy was in dire straits due to the government not having a tangible action plan. He said the government was struggling for want of clear policies and strategies in the face of mounting economic challenges. Referring to the cancellation of Chinese funded Colombo port city project, the government was now at the mercy of the Chinese who demanded compensation, Salley said, asserting the government had blundered by suspending the project.


Salley ridiculed those who had repeatedly declared that massive funds in overseas accounts belonging to bigwigs of the previous government would be recovered and used to provide relief to those struggling to make ends meet. Had that happened, there wouldn’t have been any need to increase VAT and impose it on items hitherto not taxed, he said.


Salley alleged that President Maithripala Sirisena and the government had been pulling in different directions. He cited the government decision to go ahead with VAT in spite of the President strongly opposing the move to justify his claim.


Commenting on the turmoil in the financial sector, Salley severely criticised the finance activities being divided and placed under three different persons. Salley said that the Central Bank had been placed under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, banks under Minister Kabir Hashim and the Customs under Minister Ravi Karunanayake. The country was paying a very heavy price for the government’s blunder, Salley said.


Appreciating the new government’s efforts to discourage use of fertilizer in accordance with an overall plan to change the Western model in the agriculture sector as well as food habits, Dr. Damayanthi Perera said that major changes were needed.


Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe emphasized the need to shed all differences and work towards true post-war national reconciliation.


The prelate urged the people of all communities not to be deceived by those hell bent exploiting their emotions for their advantage.


 


 


 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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