Economic crisis: SLPP rebels to present their alternative roadmap

Dayasiri Jayasekara

SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera says the reaction of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to the deteriorating financial crisis and a spate of other contentious issues have compelled some members of the ruling coalition to make a set of alternative proposals dubbed a national declaration.

Commenting on the proposals to be launched at the Imperial Hall, Monarch Hotel, Sri Jayewardenepura, Kotte, on 02 March, State Minister Jayasekera yesterday (27) alleged that the government seemed incapable of addressing the issues at hand.

Responding to questions, the former Minister said they had initially planned to present a short-term plan stressing the need for the government to make a course correction. “We really didn’t have any other option as the SLPP doesn’t believe in consultations among the partners,” lawmaker Jayasekera said.

The Kurunegala District lawmaker said of the 145-member government parliamentary group about 30 MPs represented their group. Of the dissident group, 14 are SLFPers, and the second largest group represents the National Freedom Front (NFF) led by Wimal Weerawansa. The group included some SLPP National List members and Ven. Atureliye Rathana thera, NL member of the Ape Jana Bala Party.

MP Jayasekera said that SLFP leader Maithripala Sirisena, MP, would attend the launch of the alternative proposals on 02 March. Asked whether they would place themselves on a collision course with the government, the SLFP General Secretary referred to the SLPP’s recent public rally in Anuradhapura. Those who now questioned the motives of other parties conveniently remained silent over the fact that the SLPP had not invited any of its coalition partners to the rally.

State Minister Jayasekera said that they could have addressed the issues differently if the government leaders had consulted other political parties over matters of national importance. Had there been proper consultations among partners, the government wouldn’t have had to face unprecedented protests over the banning of fertilizer and agrochemical imports, MP Jayasekera said.

The SLFP has held District Conventions in many areas including Jaffna. State Minister Jayasekera said that they wouldn’t back down under any circumstances and were ready to face challenges at any level.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila told The Island on Saturday (26) that unveiling of national declaration should be examined against the backdrop of their controversial decision to oppose the Yugadanavi deal. Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Gammanpila said that it wouldn’t have ended up in the Supreme Court if the government had followed proper procedure in adopting a cabinet decision. According to the minister, the financial crisis is so severe that consequences can be devastating. Minister Gammanpila recently told PHU gathering at Avissawella that he along with Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena on July 17, 2021 at the Janadhipathi Mandiraya explained to the SLPP parliamentary group how the financial crisis could affect Sri Lanka till 2030.

Minister Gammanpila and State Minister Jayasekera alleged that the SLPP hadn’t responded to their concerns at all. Therefore, they had no option but to present a set of alternative proposals to the people, the lawmakers said.

On behalf of the Organising Committee State Minister Jayantha Samaraweera said that the Democratic Left Front, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, the SLFP, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, the NFF, the National Congress, the PHU, the Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya, the Vijaya Dharani Jathika Sabhawa, the Eksath Mahajana Pakshaya and Yuthukama civil society organisation would attend the launch of the new initiative on 02 March.

SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris, who is also the Foreign Minister, couldn’t be contacted yesterday as he was in Geneva to attend UNHRC sessions scheduled to commence today (28). After concluding an official visit to France several days ago, Prof. Peiris has arrived in Geneva where Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet is to present an oral statement on Sri Lanka today.

The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) led by Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has opted out of the dissident grouping. The MEP group in Parliament consists of three lawmakers, namely Dinesh Gunawardena, his son Yadamini accommodated on the SLPP National List and Gampaha District MP Sisira Jayakody. The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), too, has refrained from joining the alliance.

(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)