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MR sees triple danger for SL in 2019


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  • Rajapaksa says economic collapse, 19th Amendment and draft Constitution main dangers 
  • Insists that Opposition alliance he leads is only political force capable of countering issues  

Marking the fourth anniversary of the change of Government, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday highlighted a weakened economy, the 19th Amendment and a possible new Constitution as the “three greatest dangers” Sri Lanka would have to face in 2019. 

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa also stated that he was the only person capable of leading Sri Lanka out of these dangers and establishing a stable country. 

“I wish to draw the attention of the people to the fact that the only political force capable of preventing these dangers from becoming a reality is the Opposition alliance that I lead, which has an established track record of having overcome even challenges deemed impossible, in the service of this country,” he said. 

Rajapaksa claimed the economy “could collapse at any moment.” He charged that in the past four years, the United National Party (UNP)-led Government had borrowed the equivalent of 50% of the total National Debt that was outstanding as at the end of December 2014 from the loans taken in the six decades after gaining independence in February 1948. 

“Even though the UNP claims to be taking loans to repay the loans taken by my Government, if debt was being incurred only to pay off previous debts, the total outstanding debt in the country cannot increase. What has happened, however, is that while the total outstanding debt as at the end of 2014 has remained as it is, a sum equivalent to more than 50% of that total has been added on to the National Debt in the past four years,” he said. 

“Over the past four years, without any of the crises that we had to face, the rupee has depreciated by Rs. 53 to the US dollar. The average growth rate of 7.4% that we maintained has plummeted to below 3%. Even though the President realised the danger of what was happening, and tried to hold a General Election and hand the running of the country back to us, that did not succeed. We are now in a situation where no one knows what will happen to the economy in the coming weeks and months.”

The 19th Amendment was the next element Rajapaksa described as “a danger”, insisting it could undermine the entire governance system. However, the 19th Amendment was upheld by the Supreme Court in December, which held that Parliament could not be dissolved by the President before four and a half years.  

“The next danger we face is that of the entire governmental mechanism breaking down due to the 19th Amendment. Under the provisions of the 19th Amendment, Parliament cannot be dissolved under any circumstances, even in the event of a Government repeatedly losing votes on the Budget, the statement of Government policy or No-Confidence Motions.”

“After the 2018 Local Government Election, the whole country knows that the UNP does not have the people’s mandate, and that they have been avoiding holding elections for that very reason. In such circumstances, it will be impossible for the President to hand over the running of the country to the UNP and take a back seat. Because of the irrational provisions of the 19th Amendment, there is a clear danger of a breakdown in the governmental mechanism of the country,” he claimed. 

The third danger facing the country, according to Rajapaksa, is the proposed new draft Constitution, which is to be presented to the Constitutional Assembly.  

“Through this draft Constitution, the Government seeks to divide the country into nine semi-independent federal units. The powers wielded by the central Government today are to be devolved to the Provinces. Each Province is to have a separate Police force. Provisions have been introduced to weaken the central Parliament and the legal framework in such a manner as to make it impossible for the central Government to respond adequately to an emergency in order to safeguard the peace and integrity of the country. This draft Constitution has been prepared by the same persons who drafted the completely confused 19th Amendment,” he charged. 

  


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