Govt. prioritising 20A when it should be focusing on combating COVID-19: SJB

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 02:09 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Opposition slams Govt. for not helping public 
  • Says Gampaha delivered most votes to SLPP but district now abandoned 
  • Hails Amarapura and Ramanna Nikaya’s criticism of 20A, calls for other religious leaders to join 
  • Warns independence of public employees will be further eroded once 20A passes  

SJB General Secrectary Ranjith Madduma Bandara 


The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday accused the Government of prioritising the 20th Amendment at a time when it should instead be focusing on combating COVID-19, which is deeply affecting all Sri Lankans. 

SJB General Secretary Madduma Bandara speaking at a press conference criticised the Government for making the passage of the 20th Amendment its priority when the spread of COVID-19 has become a far more important issue for the public and not using its parliamentary majority and State resources to assist the affected communities. 

“Gampaha was the district that gave the most votes for this Government during the past two elections. But what is the Government doing to assist them during this difficult time? Every day we are hearing of cases increasing at an alarming rate but there does not appear to be any sort of plan from the Government to control its spread. Instead the Government is only moving ahead of the 20th Amendment. This is clearly not what the Government should be prioritising at this point,” Bandara said. 

The General Secretary recalled that before the Parliamentary Election, the key campaign message of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) was the need to establish a two-thirds majority in Parliament so President Gotabaya Rajapaksa could govern the country properly and deliver prosperity to the people. However, he argued that since obtaining two-thirds the Government has failed to deliver any relief to the people and had dropped the ball on containing COVID-19.  “People, especially daily wage earners, are suffering everywhere. The economy is doing badly and cost of living has escalated. Some goods such as sugar, rice, dhal and coconuts have increased between 60%-150% since the same period last year. People are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet and on top of that after the Moody downgrade Sri Lanka is also struggling with debt repayments next year. Where is the development and prosperity that was promised?” 

Bandara warned that the reason the Government was sprinting to pass the 20th Amendment despite growing criticism from civil society and even Buddhist religious leaders was because it could be used to reduce the independence of the public service and other branches of Government.  Citing the removal of several officials recently including Medical Research Institute (MRI) Acting Director Dr. Jayaruwan Bandara, the SJB General Secretary said the Government was repressing dissent and once the 20th Amendment is passed this situation could become worse. 

“The 19th Amendment ushered in an era of independence for public officials and reduced political influence in appointments. Now it is clear that if these people say anything critical of the Government their jobs are on the line. 

“How can the Government see their mistakes and learn if people are not allowed to criticise? The Amarapura and Ramanna Nikayas have asked the Government not to pass the 20th Amendment. We hope that the Government will listen to these venerable priests and call on other religious leaders to also join us in condemning the 20th Amendment.”