Warning that the country was heading towards a dictatorship with Presidential Task Forces filled with former military personnel, the UNP says that it would fight tooth and nail to protect the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and the various Independent Commissions, that have empowered the public service including the judiciary and police and placed shackles on political interference.
Unveiling his party’s manifesto for the August 5 General Election, he lamented on Friday, that the hard work done by his government between 2015 and 2019 to resurrect an economy that was in the dumps and repay a major part of the high interest commercial dollar loans had been squandered.
The previous Mahinda Rajapaksa government had borrowed with gay abandon to fund ego-boosting projects the country could not afford and had wallowed in corruption and the country had been dragged back to the same suicidal path.
In just a short period of eight months democratic governance had receieved a massive blow by the appointment of Presidential Task Forces packed with ex-military personnel who were a law unto themselves. The people had voted for strengthening democratic institutions and not a one man show.
Wickremesinghe stressed that the recent practice of delegating functions of the Police to the military should stop forthwith and the military given its rightful role.
The Executive Presidency should be further diluted as was the intention of the architects of the 19th Amendment and Parliament and all Independent Commissions strengthened to the maximum.
The UNP would resist the campaign launched by the President to abolish the 19th Amendment and Independent Commisions urging that the people’s hard-fought rights could not be sacrificed to perpetuate a dictatorship that benefitted a few.
Among the key proposals in the manifesto are using the UNP’s friendly relations with all countries and international lending agencies to obtain USD six billion low interest loans to develop the economy in the short term.
Laws would also be enacted after talks with leasing companies to ensure that vehicles belonging to defaulting three-wheeler drivers and other vehicle owners could not be seized using illegal methods.
Wickremesinghe said that economic mismanagement by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government was the main cause for the suffering people were undergoing and not the Coronavirus pandemic.
Leading figures in the government were pulling in different directions in an effort to cover the economic mess created in a short period of just eight months by making the Coronavirus disease as an excuse.
“God alone knows what would happen to the country, economy and the poor suffering masses, if the current administration was given a five year term, let alone a two thirds majority,” he cautioned.
The UNP leader said that the August 5, polls would prove to be one of the most vital, in the country’s recent past.
The people were facing many problems in their homes due to the economic downturn. With the onset of the financial crisis there was a shortage of jobs and many had reduced or no income at all. Daily wage earners and even businessmen and women higher up in the economic scale were feeling the pressures exerted by the financial collapse.
“The plight of the people are akin to the man who fell of a tree being gored by the bull,” he said.
Wickremesinghe emphasised that it was only the UNP that had a track record of raising the required finances through developing international relations.
Offering solutions, the UNP leader said.
We will raise USD 6 billion utilizing the assistance of the IMF and other financial sources including friendly governments.
The country’s relations with the government of Japan are strained. Wrong actions of the government have resulted in one of our oldest financial lenders losing confidence in Sri Lanka. We will revive this relationship through our strong and pro-active foreign policies.
Our economic revival plan will set the basis to build a competitive platform similar to the Japanese model. We will strengthen competitive enterprises and promote new age industries and services. This will create the necessary foundation for us to develop a strong economy that could repay the loans. We will immediately provide relief to the people by improving their financial situation, safeguard jobs and income.
(Source: The Island – By Zacki Jabbar)