Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday warned the people not to fall for the machinations of the Mahinda Rajapaksa led Opposition grouping, who were hell bent on crippling the government’s economic programme aimed at improving people’s standard of living.
Addressing a massive UNP led United National Front May Day rally at Campbell Park, Colombo 8, the PM said that the Rajapaksa grouping was desperate to recapture power because it knew that if the ongoing development programmes were allowed to take root, the economic benefits would filter down and it would remain in the political wilderness for decades to come.
Wickremesinghe said that despite the huge debt burden that Mahinda had left the government had initiated many projects and also provided relief to the masses. "Next year we have to repay Rs. 960,000 million and by 2020 the amount would be USD 15,000 million. But, the Rajapaksas keep talking nonsense, claiming that they are not responsible for the mess that has been created.
"Mahinda thought that the economy which was in total ruin when he lost the last Presidential Election would collapse resulting in him being able to re-capture power in 2016, but we were able to resuscitate the economy," PM Wickremesinghe noted, adding that more needed to done, for which the people’s support was required.
The Prime Minister recalled that in 2002, the government headed by him, had applied for GSP Plus tariff concessions from the European Union ( EU) and after the change of government in 2004, President Chandrika Kumaratunga had continued negotiations and obtained the facility.
But, due to the Rajapaksa regime’s scant regard for rule of law and human rights, the EU had suspended GSP Plus. The EU Parliament had, the PM said, voted overwhelmingly for the restoration of GSP Plus to Sri Lanka last week due to democratic governance being re-established.
Wickremesinghe said that in addition, the government had, during the last one month, been able to reach agreements with Japan and India to develop key sectors such as electricity, ports petroleum and rail networks. They were not sellouts, he emphasised but joint ventures that would bring in revenue and a better life for the people.