The All Party Conference called by Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resolve the prevailing economic crisis got underway at the Temple Trees in Colombo this morning (March 23).
“This All Party Conference, with representations from the ruling faction and the opposition, was organised to reach solutions in unison for the issues that we face today,” said the President.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said all politicians are duty-bound to find solutions to the issues that the country is facing today.
Party leaders including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President Maithripala Sirisena, Leader of the United National Party former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Leader of the Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian R Sampanthan attended the conference.
The forum was mooted by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to seek solutions for the ongoing economic crisis.
The United National Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Tamil National Alliance, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, National Congress, Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, Upcountry People’s Front, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Sri Lanka Mahajana Party, Eelam People’s Democratic Party, Lanka Sama Samaja Party’s MP Tissa Vitharana and Our Power of People Party’s MP Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thera who are representing 11 government-allied political parties, All Ceylon Makkal Congress, National Muslim Alliance, Mahajana Vimukthi Sanvidhanaya and Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi are taking part in the forum.
However, Samagi Jana Balawegaya led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s National People’s Power have boycotted the said conference. In addition, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), Democratic Left Front, Democratic People’s Front, and Ceylon Workers’ Congress also joined in to boycott the forum.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa urged the political party representatives to be determined to work together to solve the issues that are plaguing the country.
Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal who was also present for the meeting said Sri Lanka is facing a serious economic crisis, like most other countries in the world, and when the pandemic struck some countries had a strong foundation and others were not that fortunate.
He once again confirmed the Sri Lankan government’s intentions of working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance.
Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, however, snapped back at the Central Governor for opening his remarks by saying the former government was responsible for the crisis, at a time when parties have come forward for the All Party Conference casting aside differences.
“What would happen if I responded? Then another person will have to respond. The arguments will only end when someone says that these issues would have never arisen if King Vijaya never came to Sri Lanka,” remarked the Former Prime Minister.
“During our time the people had to eat and drink, and also had petrol,” said Wickremesinghe adding he attended the All Party Conference not to defeat the major opposition factions that boycotted the event but to make his opinions known to the gathering.
The former Prime Minister added he attended the conference to express his views and involve them in the discussion and called for the prevailing issues to be discussed regardless of politics.
Speaking during the conference President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the All Party Conference was not called to lay blame on any individual adding several setbacks of the former administrations for the past 74 years led to the present situation.
The Head of State said the All Party Conference was called to find solutions to the prevailing issues adding it is not a political matter.