President assures to empower citizens with basic needs

Thursday, 11 April 2024 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 President Ranil Wickremesinghe


  • Lists education, land, housing, biz opportunities as priorities
  • Hands over 294 housing units to Kajimawatte fire victims 
  • Urges recipients to preserve houses without mortgaging or selling
  • Outlines plans to provide over 50,000 houses to citizens within next 2 years
  • Minister Harin Fernando commends economic resurgence under President’s leadership, stresses need to avoid past mistakes for prosperous future
  • Senior Advisor Sagala Ratnayaka highlights President’s efforts in strengthening international relations, implementing regulations for economic stability
  • Former MP Ravi Karunanayake lauds President’s leadership in delivering justice to Kajimawatte residents after 14-year wait
  • Expressed confidence in Wickremesinghe’s potential return to Presidential arena as a non-partisan candidate, calls on residents of Colombo to support in upcoming elections

President Ranil Wickremesinghe reaffirmed his dedication to empowering the people and strengthening the economy by ensuring access to education, land, housing and business opportunities. 

“Historically, land rights and housing rights were not granted without cost. However, we aim to change this narrative by empowering our citizens with the rights to education, land, housing, and business. This strategic approach will enable individuals to directly contribute to our nation’s economy, fostering growth and prosperity for all,” he said at an event to mark the distribution of 294 flats among residents of Kajimawatte whose homes were ravaged by a fire in 2010.

Emphasising the key role of broadening economic participation in building a resilient economy, Wickremesinghe expressed heartfelt empathy for their decade-long struggles and commended the swift distribution of flats, with the unwavering support of former MP Ravi Karunanayake. 

“It is my earnest request that you handle these houses with care and responsibility. Please refrain from mortgaging or selling them, especially after enduring a decade of hardship. I urge you to safeguard these homes as if they were your own life,” he said.

Reflecting on the progress made over the past two years, the President acknowledged the transformation of the social atmosphere, which now feels considerably lighter compared to the challenges faced in 2022. 

“Those who endured the hardships of waiting in lines for food, gas, and fuel now lead lives of relative normalcy. It’s evident that the people of Colombo bore the brunt of these queues, alongside residents of flats and estates who faced their own challenges. I acknowledge that our tax policies have added to the cost of living, but thanks to your resilience, we’ve been able to bolster Government revenues without resorting to borrowing or printing money. This achievement enabled us to raise Government employee salaries by Rs. 10,000 starting this year, while also witnessing a strengthening of the rupee,” he said.

Wickremesinghe viewed the provision of free land deeds and homes to those who have faced adversity as a token of appreciation. 

“Looking ahead, we have plans to provide over 50,000 houses to our people in the coming years. Additionally, the houses provided by the Chinese Government during my tenure as Prime Minister in 1996 will also be distributed within the next two years,” he asserted.

Tourism, Lands, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Harin Fernando commended the strides made under President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership, noting a marked improvement in the national environment compared to 2022.

“Within a mere 23 months, the country has witnessed a resurgence, evident in bustling activities across towns like Pettah, Maharagama, Badulla and many other areas. This festive season marks a testament to the revived economy, showcasing a remarkable recovery,” he said.

Minister Fernando pondered the country’s trajectory had President Wickremesinghe not embarked on the challenge of economic reconstruction, questioning the Opposition’s failure to engage in discussions on economic revival.

He noted Opposition’s focus on economic theory, lacking practical understanding.

Fernando urged citizens to reflect on the significance of their homes and cautioned against repeating past mistakes, stressing the need to secure a prosperous future for generations to come.

Senior Advisor to the President on National Security Sagala Ratnayaka underscored the President’s efforts in bolstering international relations and implementing crucial regulations to prevent future crises, which have instilled confidence in Sri Lanka’s economy, evidenced by the influx of tourists to the country’s shores.

Highlighting the President’s commitment to accelerating economic growth, Ratnayaka outlined strategies aimed at enhancing the standard of living by increasing income levels. He noted that the milestone of 2.3 million tourist arrivals is achievable with plans underway to double this figure to five million annual arrivals. In addition, he outlined initiatives are in place to attract tourists capable of spending approximately $ 500 daily, further boosting the tourism sector’s contribution to the economy.

Ratnayaka also emphasised the President’s engagement in negotiations with India to optimise trade dynamics, particularly in facilitating imports and exports between South India and Sri Lanka through the Colombo port. 

He added that efforts are underway to modernise the agricultural sector and promote renewable energy, with a focus on attracting increased investments to drive economic prosperity.

“Under the Urumaya program, land allocation initiatives have been instituted, alongside ongoing endeavours to provide housing for citizens. These endeavours, accomplished within the past two years, have not only steered the country clear of economic turmoil but have also laid the groundwork for a revitalised economy. Through collective effort, we can further fortify and advance Sri Lanka’s economic trajectory,” Ratnayake said.

Former Minister Ravi Karunanayake lauded the long-awaited justice brought to the residents of Kajimawatte under the leadership of President Wickremesinghe, after enduring a fourteen-year wait. 

“Despite past delays and neglect from previous administrations, President Wickremesinghe’s decisive action has led to the construction of new houses, with an investment of Rs. 12,855 million to replace those lost to fire. The residents now have full ownership of these houses, freeing them from the burden of monthly rent and allowing them to allocate funds towards crucial health and education needs,” he added.

He highlighted a significant housing initiative in Colombo, with plans to distribute 53,800 flats to residents within the next two months. As beneficiaries of these housing schemes, individuals are urged to uphold responsible maintenance practices, ensuring cleanliness and orderliness within their residences.

Karunanayake noted President Wickremesinghe’s steadfast commitment to his policies, even amidst political transitions, underscoring his reputation for economic development and nation-building. He expressed confidence in Wickremesinghe’s potential return to the Presidential arena as a non-partisan candidate, backed by those who acknowledge his contributions. 

He also anticipated the people of Colombo to rally behind President Wickremesinghe, offering their support at the polls and potentially reinstating him to the highest office in the country.

Representing the house owners of Kajimawatta Hilma Mukesh reflected on the significant changes brought about in the past two years under the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. 

He expressed gratitude towards the President for taking on the challenge and eliminating the era of queues, allowing people to breathe freely once again.

Following the devastating fire that destroyed their houses, approximately 200 families spent 14 years living in cramped conditions within a small hall.

Mukesh recounted the challenges they faced, including the loss of privacy and the upbringing of their children in such confined spaces. Therefore, receiving new homes was a source of immense pride and relief for them, especially considering the houses are provided without monthly rent.

The event was attended by several dignitaries, including Ports, Shipping and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, Sabaragamuwa Province Governor Navin Dissanayake, Member of Parliament A.H.M. Fowzie, Ministry of Urban Development and Housing Secretary W.S. Sathyananda, and Presidential Trade Union Affairs Director-General Saman Ratnapriya, among others.


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