SJB wants all polls on same day as Govt.; resorts to delaying tactics

Thursday, 17 November 2022 01:44 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SJB MPs Harshana Rajakaruna (left) and S.M. Marikkar gesture during the media briefing yesterday – Pic by Lasantha Kumara


  • Points to possible conspiracy to change composition of Elections Commission
  • IMF bailout yet to reach fruition; Govt. considering selling profitable entities
  •  SJB will defeat proposed tax measures on people’s income

By Darshana Abayasingha

The main Opposition, SJB, echoed its call to conduct local Government polls and a general election on the same day, come March next year, as the present Parliament does not reflect the will of the people. 

Addressing a media briefing in Colombo yesterday, SJB MP Harshana Rajakaruna said the Elections Commission has stated it is ready to conduct the local Government polls early next year, but charged the President together with Government is trying various ploys to delay its occurrence.

“I won’t be surprised if they try to abolish or change the composition of the Election Commission, which has functioned independently and is prepared to conduct the election. Some Government groups are talking of a need to amend the Local Government act to delay the poll. The Ranil-Rajapakse Government does not want to measure the will of the people; they are scared,” Rajakaruna charged.

The Gampaha district MP added the General Election could be held on the same day in order to save costs, and said it only entails slipping an additional piece of paper. A General Election is essential for democracy and to boost confidence amongst both the local and international community, he said. 

The President and Prime Minister who was elected three years ago have been chased away by the people and over 50 members of that Government now sit with the Opposition, Rajakaruna said.

“We also have a President who was not elected by the people. Three years ago, on this day, the country was duped on a ticket of racism, and the leaders who came into power bankrupt this country and today the people are suffering. But those people are still roaming free. 

“We asked for a Parliamentary Select Committee to find out who is responsible for this debacle but there has been no interest in this matter. We must remind the President that this matter cannot be forgotten,” he added.

Rajakaruna stated the much-anticipated IMF bailout has still not materialised and will likely not come into play during the month of December as envisaged before. He charged that the Government does not seem to have a plan to resurrect the economy, and is resorting to wait and see if the IMF comes, or sell public assets. 

The SJB MP added his party is opposed to the sale of profitable entities such as Sri Lanka Telecom or Sri Lanka Insurance to suit the vested interests of some parties. He also refuted claims that some members of the SJB are to join the Government and remarked that would be political suicide.

Joining the discussion, Colombo District MP S.M. Marikkar said the party will vote against all measures to heap huge tax burdens on the people. Marikkar said tax on exports must be brought down to 15% and PAYE tax must return to levels that prevailed in 2019. He charged the Government will resort to more borrowing to fund the Budget deficit.

“We will defeat it if they don’t make necessary amendments. We cannot have the people fall from the frying pan into the fire. This is a fake budget. For instance, the proposals say they will invest Rs. 200 million to commence a medical faculty at the Uva Wellassa University. Can you begin a medical college with 200 million? 

“There are no moratoriums or benefits proposed for the SME sector to strengthen industries still recovering from the pandemic. This is a Budget the President has dreamed up. These are the views of the IMF coming out of the President, that is my view,” Marikkar said.

The Parliament needs legitimacy and therefore the House must be dissolved and people provided an opportunity to exercise their franchise, he stressed.


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