President’s speech did not address key issues; shifts blame: UNP

UNP logo - United National Party Sri Lanka

The United National Party (UNP) yesterday charged that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s speech last Friday failed to address the key issues faced by the country, indicating lack of direction and attempting to shift blame to the public for national woes.

Issuing a press release, the UNP stated that the President used the nationally televised address as an opportunity to present excuses for the shortcomings of the Government and deflected blame to the public.

The party also condemned the President’s remarks on the state of the economy during the period of 2015-2019 were false.

“The people had looked to the President to provide leadership and hope in these difficult times, he has failed them miserably instead blaming them for his own shortcomings,” the UNP charged.

“There are numerous problems faced by the country, including the growing threat of COVID-19, the collapsing economy, fertiliser shortages, disruptions to schooling and the rising cost of living. The President did not address any of these concerns. He instead made excuses as to why he has been unable to solve these problems, while avoiding to explain his failure to implement any of the promises made in his manifesto,” the UNP stated.

The party also blamed the Government for mismanaging the COVID-19 outbreak, alleging that failures to heed expert medical advice in enforcing quarantine related travel restrictions and delays in ordering COVID-19 vaccines have pushed the country into a crisis.

“When the medical professionals advised him to implement a lockdown prior to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year he ignored them. The President is now accusing the public of causing the third wave of the virus by enjoying the New Year,” the UNP said, stressing that poor management of the pandemic and lapses in the vaccination program has forced the country to undergo sporadic lockdowns that have burdened the public and commerce.

Further, the UNP claimed that the Government lacked clear and transparent economic and fiscal policies. “As of today, the foreign reserves have fallen to less than $ 4 billion. This Government has no plan on how to increase the reserves and deal with the pending loan repayments,” the party said, arguing why the President had placed faith in his Secretary rather than the Minister of Finance and the Cabinet.

“The President claimed that the economy has been well-managed during the time of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. If this is correct, why has he chosen to remove the powers from Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, under the 20th Amendment, and empower P.B. Jayasundera to run the economy? Does the President not have faith in his own Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers?” the UNP questioned.

(Source: Daily FT)