Last week President Ranil Wickremesinghe made plans to do what needs to be done to get the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. He went to Parliament on Tuesday with that aim.
President Wickremesinghe, who stayed outside Colombo the previous weekend, stayed in Colombo this time. He came to office on Monday morning and joined a number of scheduled meetings. The Cabinet meeting as well as the Government parliamentary group meeting was held that evening.
At the Cabinet meeting, the economy and legislation were discussed. A TV program related to the Easter Sunday attacks proposed to be telecast by the British Channel-4 was also discussed. President Wickremesinghe said let’s watch it first and a decision could be made about it later. The President also said that a Parliamentary Select Committee can be appointed if the Opposition demands it based on the facts presented in the telecast.
Govt parliamentary group meeting
The Government parliamentary group meeting was held later and there was also a discussion about this matter as well as the parliamentary affairs of the week. The President informed the ruling party group that the Inland Revenue Act should be passed before Sunday.
The President went to Parliament on Tuesday morning to brief the House about the Inland Revenue Act. He disclosed facts about the financial crisis in the country and the importance of passing the bill.
The President was surrounded by a group of Ministers in the parliament lobby while coming out of the Chamber. Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was also present.
“Good for you today, people are talking about Channel 4.” Everyone couldn’t stop laughing at what the President said.
Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said, “Yes, he was afraid for no reason. The Opposition would have scored points if it had been taken on the day the motion of No-confidence was submitted.”
When MP Wajira Abeywardena said, “Yes, now the No-confidence motion is taken. Among them, the Inland Revenue Act is also taken. On the other hand, the Channel 4 issue is also taken. This will undermine the SJB sponsored No-confidence motion.” The President nodded his head approvingly.
Minister Chamara Sampath asked, “Sir, what did you mean by presenting a Budget with many surprises?”
“There is still time for it,” the President replied with a smile.
When the President came to his office in Parliament, many people saw a group of Ministers and a Japanese youth present there. He had come as per the request of the President when he went to Japan. He is a university student and he is training as an MP there. The restoration of the Beira Lake is also being done with his contribution. His trip to this country was organised with the support of Prof. Ashu Marasinghe. His coordinator in Sri Lanka was the President’s Youth Affairs Director Randula Abeyweera.
After meeting the Ministers, the President walked with the Japanese youth in the Parliament premises, telling him about the traditions of Parliament. Seeing this, Prof. Marasinghe told the Parliamentarians nearby, “Young people from all over the world come to learn from the President, but our people are trying to kick him out.”
“His value was not always understood by the people of Sri Lanka,” an MP said emotionally.
MP A.H.M. Fowzie spoke to the Japanese youth in Japanese and Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva spoke to him in English. Later the President attended a meeting organised by the Women Parliamentarians Caucus where gender equality and women’s rights issues were discussed.
At the end of the meeting, when the President was getting ready to leave, MPs Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Talatha Atukorale and Rohini Kumari told the President, “We have great confidence that we will be able to solve women’s issues during your tenure in office.”
The President smiled and left saying that he had to attend the Security Council meeting. Presidential Adviser on National Security Sagala Ratnayaka, State Minister of Defence Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon and all the Service Chiefs were present at the meeting at the Security Forces Headquarters.
The program telecast by Channel 4 about the Easter Sunday attack was discussed. State Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Suresh Salley stated his position before the President. He presented explanations of the accusations levelled by Channel 4. The President informed him that he has the right to publish the information sent to Channel 4. President Wickremesinghe also informed the Security Council that a committee will be appointed and an investigation will be conducted regarding this.
The President informed Sagala Ratnayake to deploy some retired government officials and investigate this matter immediately. The President, who assigned State Minister of Defence Tennakon to support it, left the meeting as he had to attend to some other official duties.
President meets UNP Management Committee
In the evening, the President met the officers of the United National Party (UNP) Management Committee. As usual General Secretary Range Bandara explained to the President about the plans and future activities of the party. He also gave a description about the program to produce young leaders to represent all the districts.
He said that Kesbewa electoral organiser and his manager was removed from the authorised representative post and said that disciplinary measures are being taken against another set of people who are working against the party and its leaders.
After that, he informed the President that the party’s 77th anniversary will be celebrated in an elegant and proud manner at the Sirikotha party headquarters, giving priority to religious ceremonies. Apart from this, the General Secretary also presented a report on the digitisation of party affairs.
Holding of the party convention was also discussed. There, many people had expressed their opposition to hold the convention on the land in front of Lake House. Then it was decided to hold the party convention at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on a Saturday in the third week of October.
It was also decided to hold a Working Committee meeting on Friday to postpone the party convention and approve the new date. On Wednesday morning, UNP leaders gathered at the Sirikota party headquarters to celebrate the anniversary.
The event started at the time as the General Secretary had planned and only a limited number of people had been invited. UNP Deputy Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Party Chairman Wajira Abeywardena, National Organiser Sagala Ratnayaka and other party leaders participated.
A cake had been brought to celebrate the party’s anniversary and after the candles were lit and when the leaders were ready to cut the cake, General Secretary Range Bandara interrupted and said, “Lalith and Gamini took one piece of the party and Sajith took another piece. There is nothing more to cut. So let’s go and sit down. Actually, it is not to cut and separate, but to join together.”
Sagala and Wajira replied, “There is a truth in what the General Secretary General says.”
A group of students representing Ratnapura Seevali Maha Vidyalaya’s Student Parliament came to the President’s Office to observe its activities. Hearing that the students were present at the Presidential Secretariat, President Wickremesinghe went there to talk to the students. The students and the teachers were surprised that he was talking like a young student. The President said that the opinions of the student parliament will also be obtained for educational reforms.
The President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka discussed with the representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund about the provision of Aswesuma relief based on the President’s instructions.
It was decided to follow up on the Aswesuma relief and re-examine poverty level and provide facilities. Carrying forward these activities through nine subjects was also discussed. Finally, an agreement was reached between the two parties to release the money in the second phase of Aswesuma.
The President, who visited Malwana Al Mubarak Central College, gave a long description of how Biyagama became an industrial zone. He came to Ananda College, Colombo from Malwana to attend the launch of two books and a song written by Defence Secretary Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne.
President Wickremesinghe came to office on Thursday morning for a discussion with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He did not forget to speak to the Ministers who had come to meet him.
In the evening, the President went to Eppawala Siddhartha Madhya Maha Vidyalaya to join the ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the school. The President explained the facts about the preparation of a new education policy.
The President visited the Ministry of Finance in the evening and discussed the country’s economy.
On Friday evening, President Wickremesinghe came to Sirikotha, party headquarters to attend the Executive Committee meeting. It was also the birthday of General Secretary Range Bandara so greetings and cake cutting were also witnessed.
Many State Ministers of the Government face problems while working in the ministries and recently some information about it came out and several State Ministers spoke publicly about this at press conferences.
A group of Government MPs made accusations against some Cabinet Ministers at the Government parliamentary group meeting at the Parliament complex under the patronage of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.
Premier Gunawardena gave an assurance that he would provide an opportunity for a discussion with the President. Accordingly, the Government parliamentary group meeting was held at the President’s office on Monday, September 4 under the patronage of the President.
On the same day, a meeting of State Ministers was organised at the President’s Office. However, the State Ministers had asked Premier Gunawardena that they want to meet the Prime Minister before they meet the President. Accordingly, the State Ministers were called to Temple Trees on Monday morning. The Prime Minister who cordially welcomed the State Ministers said, “I am very happy to meet you like this. Usually we meet every day in Parliament.”
A State Minister said, “Yes, you are our Prime Minister. You are the leader of the Government in Parliament. That is why we first decided to meet the Prime Minister.”
“Yes, you can come and meet me anytime,” Prime Minister Gunawardena said with a smile, and the State Ministers began submitting their grievances.
“We have many administrative problems in the ministries,” they said. Many administrative problems were also presented.
The Prime Minister listened attentively and gave practical answers, explaining his years of experience in ministries as a Minister. He said that somehow the Government Ministers are working to make arrangements to carry out the affairs of the ministries without any hindrance.
On the same day, the Government parliamentary group meeting was also held at the President’s Office under the patronage of the President and the Prime Minister. Later the Cabinet meeting was held. After that, the President met the State Ministers.
Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said the development of all the provinces of the island, including the Eastern Province, has stalled until the foreign debt restructuring is completed.
The Minister was speaking at the coordinating committee meeting of the Batticaloa District at the Batticaloa District Secretariat Auditorium under his patronage.
“There is also a great demand to run a new train from Batticaloa to Jaffna. Negotiations with the Indian Government are under way to get some trains to the country in the future under the Indian Credit Line. If those discussions are successful, I believe that it will be possible to fulfill the demands of the community in this area in the coming year.
Batticaloa District Committee Chairman State Minister of Rural Development Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan had made great efforts to hold these committee meetings. It was confirmed that he is a politician who works with the highest commitment for the Government in a very organised and systematic manner in that province.
New political alliance
Recently, the attention of many MPs in the Parliament was focused on the new political alliance. Meanwhile, many MPs from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) discussed the new alliance with MP Nimal Lanza and its other members in the parliament lobby and in the members’ cafeteria. The SLPP Parliamentarians were curious to know about the latest situation with regard to the alliance.
“You have now spoken to many of our people about your work haven’t you?” the backbenchers asked Lanza.
“No..No, we are not talking to the people of Pohottuwa, anyway they are helping the President. Now we need to look at gathering those who are not helping,” Lanza told the MPs.
Meanwhile, greetings started pouring in for MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. “Congratulations Leader.” A group of back row MPs greeted Anura Yapa who was coming towards the Chamber.
“Thank you very much brother,” Anura Yapa replied with a smile.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena also entered the Parliament Chamber last Thursday afternoon while MPs Nimal Lanza, Kavinda Jayawardene, Uddika Premaratne and Mohammed Muzammil were exchanging pleasantries. When the former President was smiling with them and walking towards his seat, MPs Lalith Ellawala, Dayasiri Jayasekara and Upul Galappaththi were also engaged in a conversation.
“Lalith, how are you?” asked Maithri. As Dayasiri was next to him. Maithri could not leave without talking to him. “Daya, how are you?” Maithri asked with a smile. “How are you, sir?” Dayasiri replied with a smile.
It is also significant that this is the first time that Dayasiri met Maithri after he was removed from the position of SLFP General Secretary.
“Don’t you see, he is a smooth operator who can cut down anyone,” Kavinda Jayawardena, who was nearby, said smilingly looking at Nimal Lanza.
“He has done the same thing that he did to the Helicopter to Dayasiri,” said Upul Galappaththi. Then Lalith Ellawala said, “No matter what, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa would not do such ugly things.”
The No-confidence Motion against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was defeated by a majority of 40 votes on Friday. Before that, this matter was discussed at length at the parliamentary group meeting of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB). “Whether the vote of No-confidence is won or lost, the Government will be defeated,” Gayantha Karunathilaka said.
“Everyone knows how corrupt the Ministry of Health is,” S.M. Marikkar said.
From the day Sajith Premadasa assumed the post of Leader of the Opposition, he did not act like a traditional Leader of the Opposition. He provided buses, smart classrooms and computer labs to schools across the island under the ‘Sakwala’ program.
Medical equipment and medicines were given to rural hospitals under the ‘Husma’ program. Moreover, he talked about the problems faced by various people and professionals in Parliament and took steps to draw the Government’s attention to them and also provided solutions to them.
Under the Standing Orders 27/2 of the Parliament, he spoke about the issues facing the people of the country in his allotted time. It was based on Sajith’s questioning that the people of the country came to know that there is a clause called 27/2. Because of this, a group of SLPP MPs complained to the President last week saying that Sajith Premadasa was wasting time in the morning by talking useless things under Standing Orders 27/2 of the Parliament. But Sajith didn’t care about this situation.
A meeting between the Leader of the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party, MP Asanka Navarathna and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa took place at the Opposition Leader’s office recently.
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) had informed the media about this meeting in such a way that an opinion was spread that MP Asanka Navarathna was ready to support them.
But MP Asanka Navarathna called a press conference the very next day and said that the Opposition Leader’s media team or one of its journalists had fabricated news that he had joined the SJB.
The MP also said that it was clear that some of them wanted to show that they were united with the SJB MPs to prevent them from moving around. The Mahajana Party will not be caught in such low political stunts and that the Opposition Leader will not be able to form any alliance by creating such fake news.