Addressing new Cabinet: President admits his mistakes

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Backtracking and criticising his own policy decisions, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday admitted not having approached the IMF much earlier and not providing chemical fertiliser to farmers were mistakes.

Addressing the newly appointed Cabinet of Ministers, he said the Government will provide chemical fertiliser to farmers once again. 

President Rajapaksa who appeared unconcerned and oblivious to the demands of the masses until now also said, the present crisis is a good opportunity to make the system change that the people have demanded. 

“Now you have that opportunity. 

At the same time, I urge these young people to help in this endeavour. During the last two and a half years we have had vast challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the debt burden and some mistakes on our part. They need to be rectified. We have to correct them and move forward. We need to regain the trust of the people, he affirmed. 

He said the institutions under the purview of respective Ministers should be transformed into institutions free from corruption and dedicated to delivering the service to the public. 

“The Ministerial post is not a privilege. It is a great responsibility,” the President said requesting the new Ministers to commit themselves to build honest, efficient and clean governance without using any additional privileges.

The President further said as many State-owned enterprises are in dire financial crisis, the Ministers should refrain from filling those institutions by providing job opportunities. It is the responsibility of the Minister to transform them into job-generating institutions, the President added.

The people are suffering from a number of issues caused by the economic crisis. The President expressed regret over this and said that he would not abdicate his responsibility to manage the current challenges and difficulties. The pain, discomfort and anger displayed by the people, for having to spend time in queues to get essential items at high prices that cannot be afforded due to cost of living, is justified, he said while charging that a number of racketeers, who are taking advantage of the hardships faced by the people, have emerged. “The Government is intervening to manage this situation.”

The President pointed out that some decisions that have been delayed for decades due to political reasons have to be made no matter how difficult they may be.

“Sri Lanka is one of the oldest democracies in Asia. The security and freedom of all citizens depends on a democratic system of governance that functions in accordance with the Constitution. I do not believe that there is anything wrong when the young people, the most active part of the society, express their displeasure in their own way. The youth who are to take reins of the future of the country have complete freedom to express their views, organise protests and agitate today. I especially appreciate the Police, the Armed Forces and all Security Forces personnel who are performing their duty in a disciplined manner when the protesters carry out their protests creatively.”