JO flays govt. for offering croton and jak leaves to hungry people


By Shamindra Ferdinando


Top Joint Opposition Spokesman Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday said that recent government declaration Sri Lankans should get accustomed to living on croton, jak leaves (kos kola) as well as yam was in accordance with the foolish agricultural policy of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.

Those who had been boasting of the yahapalana rule should be ashamed of the government they elected in Jan. 2015, former External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris told The Island yesterday.

Pointing out that croton and jack leaves had been offered on the third anniversary of Maithripala Sirisena’s victory at the last presidential poll, Prof. Peiris said that the electorate would surely give a fitting response to both UNP and the SLFP at forthcoming Local Government and Provincial Council polls.

Prof. Peiris pointed out that yahapalana government’s agriculture policy had been articulated by Dr. Rohan Wijekoon, Director General, Department of Agriculture at a recent meeting held in Kandy where ways and means of coping with drought and other environmental challenges were discussed. Dr. Wijekoon had wittingly or unwittingly exposed the folly of the government policy, Prof. Peiris said.

He said the people would certainly like to know whether the decision in respect of new agricultural policy had been taken at the cabinet and who proposed the move. Prof. Peiris said that people had expressed shock and anger when he explained the government proposal at several meetings held over the weekend in Dompe and Moratuwa electorates.

Alleging that the government had been successful in its despicable project to discourage the farming community, the former minister claimed that tens of thousands of acres of paddy land hadn’t been cultivated in 2016. The situation would deteriorate further this year, Prof. Peiris said, noting that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had, on several occasions, pointed out the danger in short-sighted and reckless policies of the ruling coalition.

Having pledged to alleviate poverty in 2017, the people had been offered jack leaves, Prof. Peiris said, alleging that the government was only capable of robbing the country. If the coalition continued till 2020, the people would be forced to live on a variety of leaves not only during drought, the Prof. said.

Recent declaration made by attorney-at-law Maithri Gunaratne, Chairman, Lanka Coal Company pertaining to massive corruption in the controversial contract to Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises Pvt Limited alleged to have caused losses amounting to nearly four billion rupees at an earlier occasion revealed the pathetic situation, Prof. Peiris said those who had promised good governance and accountability in the wake of 19th Amendment to the Constitution were silent today.

Recollecting how the Supreme had declared that the questionable coal deal had shaken the conscience of the apex court, Prof. Peiris pointed out that Maithri Gunaratne was of the opinion the country could have obtained coal supplies at much better terms if he had been allowed to call for fresh tenders. Prof. Peiris said the government should take the responsibility for the increases in the electricity tariff.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the UNP had tricked President Maithripala Sirisena into participating in the launch of a project at Kuliyapitiya by a local investor after having pledged to bring in investment from Volkswagen. The former minister challenged the government to reveal the entire range of concessions given to Western Automobile, formerly Senok to bring in USD 25.5 mn in new investments.

The JO spokesman said that the forthcoming parliamentary debate on Central Bank bond scams would give an opportunity to the country to comprehend the magnitude of the robbery perpetrated on the people. The top UNP leadership couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for causing such a colossal fraud for the benefit of a few, Prof. Peiris said, pointing out that Perpetual Treasuries had received as much as Rs. 25 bn in profits at the expense of the country.

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