President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (6) invited everyone to unite and rebuild the collapsed economy of the country expressing confidence that the prevailing economic crisis could be resolved soon and the lives of the people could return to normalcy.
President Wickremesinghe said he has been planning to establish Gam Sabhas covering 14,000 Grama Niladhari divisions across the country to resolve the economic and other issues prevailing at village level.
Wickremesinghe was speaking at the 76thAnniversary celebrations of the party under the theme ‘Let’s Build, Together’ at the Sugathadasda Indoor stadium.
President Wickremesinghe said he has to move with the SLPP and other political parties in Parliament as he has been vested with a bankrupt economy.
“We are confronting a tragedy that has never been seen before. The economy has collapsed and a solution has to be found to overcome this issue. I have come here amidst these issues. I am not in a capacity to give positions to anyone like former Presidents who represented the UNP did in the past. Some people in this county are suffering without food and have no means of having three square meals a day. Unemployment is skyrocketing. All I can give you is to tell you to work hard and bear with the criticism. I express without hesitation that this would rebuild the country. When everyone rallies round and work in unison, this could be achieved,” he said.
“The people of this country are looking for politics with a policy and yearn for modern politics. None of us followed this mechanism. As pressure was mounting, the youth of this country engaged in the ‘April struggle’. Using their abilities and knowledge they made several requests. The young men and women of this country carried out a ‘struggle’ in a non-violent and peaceful way. We must admire and recognise that ability. The entrance of violent elements totally changed the peaceful struggle into a violent one”, Wickremesinghe said.
We are looking to enact a new law replacing the Prevention to Terrorism Act (PTA). A new Law in connection with gender equality while formulating an Act to empower women is also in the pipeline. A new Law will also be passed with regard to Flat, while giving permanent Deeds to lands, Wickremesinghe said.
“We will provide fertiliser and fuel for the coming Maha season, in addition to providing the required amount of seed paddy. This time around, I am looking for a bumper harvest from our farmers. Let’s join and work together. We must work together to develop the country. We can’t always beg from others. When our development goals are achieved there would be no need to borrow from others. Whoever it may be, no one likes to beg from others. Our parents have taught us to pay off loans that have been borrowed. Let’s pay off these loans and let’s work towards a debt free economy. Lord Buddha has also preached the same thing,” President Wickremesinghe added.
UNP General Secretary, Palitha Range Bandara said the UNP was founded by D. S. Senanayake in 1946 and he liberated the country from British imperialists, as there was unity among the people of this country who rallied round under his leadership after being under the domination of colonialists for more than 400 years.
President Wickremesinghe who entered Parliament on the National list with the support from every faction was elected Prime Minister once again this time around and elected to be the President of this country by a majority of MPs in Parliament. Even though Wickremesinghe ruled the country many years prior, he had no power. We are all aware that you are a visionary leader. You have enough skills to rebuild the economy while empowering the youth of this country. You have the power now to achieve your targets,” Range Bandara said.
The UNP is not a weak party and has contributed immensely for the development of this country. Let’s unite under the theme ‘Let’s build, together’ to rebuild and develop the country. As Senanayake did, President Wickremesinghe has started his journey to develop this country bringing everyone under one umbrella.
UNP Deputy Leader, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said always the UNP had achieved victory finally after confronting crises. The UNP ended the queue culture within 24 hours in 1977. On every occasion when the UNP ruled the country, it was able to reduce the cost of living to a great level.
As the Minister of Education when I gave tabs to students, certain leaders criticised it. If the project had been fully implemented, students wouldn’t have suffered to study during the Covid-19 pandemic, Kariyawasam added.
UNP Deputy Chairman and Senior Consultant, Ruwan Wijewardene said after 28 years, the UNP Convention was chaired by its leader who is the President of this country.
“Our leaders built the party to introduce it to the rest of the world and did so as expected while protecting customs and traditions of Sri Lanka. None of us have racist or communalist tendencies. I would like say that the doors are open to every member who split from the UNP to rejoin,” Wijewardene said.
Vajira Abeywardena said “Today, was a historically important day for the UNP. As there was unity and the independent struggle was easily won. President Wickremesinghe is always of the view that everything could be won if there was unity among politicians as well as the people of this country. President Wickremesinghe always recalls the positive impacts that have taken place in the country as a result of struggles.
Minister of Tourism and Lands, Harin Fernando said when he got on the stage, he didn’t feel like a stranger.
“I always did politics amidst criticism and challenge. Now, I feel like I have returned to my father again and had no intention to go away from the UNP hereafter”, Minister Fernando added.
By Naalir Jamaldeen