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Bankrupt political movements trying to sabotage IMF loan programme – Akila

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United National Party (UNP) Deputy Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said that bankrupt political movements are trying to sabotage the loan programme from International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He said that several trade unions and political parties tried to launch a strike on March 15, but it was not successful. “It was not possible to carry it out to expected extent. Apart from the railway trade union and the Port, other places carried out it well. What are the forces behind this strike?

“We must understand this situation. This is not the time to have strikes. Many things in our country became dysfunctional in the past. We seem to act as if we have forgotten what happened in the past.”

He said that during the 2015-2019 government, government employees were given a salary increase of Rs 10,000. “The salaries of university professors and lecturers were increased to Rs. 400,000 – Rs 500,000. The tax policy that was in effect until the beginning of 2020 was implemented.”

He said that the Government earned tax income. “Due to the cessation of charging those taxes and other reasons such as COVID, Sri Lanka faced a serious crisis. As a result, the country had to face many such problems. Our foreign assets dwindled. Our country became bankrupt. Finally, the people could not bear the pressure, so they took to the streets and engaged in a struggle (aragalaya). Some have misunderstood this and misinterpreted it as people’s support them and other groups.

“What has happened now is that President Ranil Wickremesinghe as a single person has taken on a challenge that no one could accept and has brought the country to a positive status. He said that three or four years ago, the country should have approached the IMF fund.

“He has brought this country to the point where it is successfully able to obtain a loan. The tax policy had to be changed for that and many sectors had to be formalized. Those things are being done properly so far. Now who wants to prevent borrowing from the IMF? Bankrupt political movements are constantly trying to prevent this process.

“The people should not allow it. They tried to get teachers to take to the streets. It did not work. There were end of term exams being held; it was also a mistake to cancel them. The Finance State Minister announced that the Government lost over Rs. 50 billion due to these one-day strikes. If this cannot be done through direct taxes, the next step is to collect these things through indirect taxes. That means the common people have to be taxed on everything they eat and drink.

“Therefore, all those who have to pay taxes, will have to pay them. It is without seeing this fact, that many of these people are tempted to assist these things.

“Most of the time, even persons with salaries of less than Rs. 100,000, fall under the influence of these trade unions and participate in these things. This is very wrong. They are causing great destruction. All they did always was to push the working class to the streets and get their political needs fulfilled. Many people are those who engage in trade union work as a profession. Does anyone have an estimate of the damage caused to the country due to this? Have they calculated it? No. Have any of those alternative leaders offered a solution to this? No. It has not been possible to present an alternative except for criticism. The people will suffer again due to that destruction. Many people find it difficult but they have realised that this is the task that should be engaged in. A number of people have realised this. Therefore, what we have to ask is to keep our spines straight and make decisions. Now when the country is reaching the proper turning point, they are attempting to put a stop to it. Consequently, government officials, those who make decisions about the country, should act wisely. What needs to be reminded is that political decisions should not be made. There is no national election yet. Make a decision there if preferred. Think about the country and do that, too. After the arrival of the tourists, their journeys have also been hampered. Tourists in Badulla and Bandarawela have had to face problems due to the railway strike. After that, tourists will not visit this country again. Are investors coming to this country? No. Many trade unions work with an agenda inherent to them. Often there is either a political party or some force behind it. If they do not take to the streets after doing something like this, they have no existence. Lalkantha is a progressive person in the Jathika Jana Balavegaya (JJB). He is a person who thinks out of the box to some extent and considers the people of the country in a neutral way. He understands that one day this crime will affect them badly. That is why he has had to make such statements. Many patients who went to hospitals, were inconvenienced due to the strike. They had not received any food even. The people are put into a worse situation. It is apparent that they have no desire to rebuild the country. That is why some groups have formed against this within various political parties. Lalkantha, the former Member of Parliament of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), understands the extent of this destruction,” Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said.

Monday, March 20, 2023 – 01:00

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