New Constitution Draft by Early Next Year

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 22 2021
Focus New Constitution Draft by Early Next Year

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister, Johnston Fernando, said that as pledged by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his Presidential Election manifesto in 2019, a committee of experts was appointed to formulate the draft of the new Constitution to be sent to Parliament early next year. “The making of the Constitution was a complicated process, with the change of times and people’s needs, it needs changing. 

People voted for us to bring in a new Constitution among many other things we had promised in our manifesto. During the past one-and-half years, our topmost priority was saving the lives of people. Now the Constitution making process is back on track,” Minister Fernando told journalists after a progress review meeting held at the Ministry auditorium to appraise the ongoing road development projects in Kandy and its suburbs on Monday (18). Asked to explain the Government’s standpoint on holding Provincial Council Elections the Minister said: Elections should be held on time. 

Elections are a democratic right of people. We are ready to hold Elections and we saw recently the Opposition Leader too is suggesting that the Government should be dissolved and an Election should be held. We are ready and we are never afraid of Elections. Asked to comment on the ongoing forex crisis, the Minister said that it was only a temporary situation which would change in the coming few weeks. “We cannot solve this problem by printing dollars, we either have to earn them or save them. That was we had to impose limits that caused shortages and price increases. 

Now the problem is being solved and its subsequent problems too would be solved in time to come. The Opposition is all out to make slogans out of this and win political advantage but they would not succeed. For example, the Opposition made predictions of deaths and their estimates ranged from 20,000 to 200,000. They said that we would not be able to bring in vaccines. After we brought in vaccines they tried to sabotage it, but now the national vaccination drive is almost completed and we are among the top countries in the world in success charts. 

Similarly, the rice, sugar, gas and other problems too would last only a couple of more days.” Asked to comment on former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka’s statement that the Government had placed the burden on people’s shoulders while it could have given fuel at Rs 121 a litre, the Minister said: “Patali could speak of figures but people do not take his math seriously. That is why he is in the Opposition. They try to create a crisis and ride on that for survival. They got trade unionists to speak of a fuel shortage and create panic buying but people did not fall for that. 

People have trust in the President and our Government because they know we have not cheated or robbed banks the way the Yahapalana Government did.” Responding to a query that there was a fertiliser shortage and farmers predicting a famine, the Minister said that it was the JVP who were instigating the farmers to demonstrate after spreading such lies. “The JVP is a party that killed farmers and set agrarian centres and tractors there on fire. They know that farmers are a strong force in our vote base. That is why they try to create animosity between the Government and farmers. 

Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Hambantota and Moneragala were the districts predominantly with farmers and we amassed a massive number of votes from those districts. It is in those districts the JVP and their supporters get farmers to burn effigies of Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage. All effigies and posters are the same. That means they had been made in a single place and then distributed. 

It is none other than the JVP who is behind these mud-slinging campaigns,” Minister Fernando said. Central Provincial Director of Road Development Authority told the meeting that construction and development work of alternative routes, underpasses and overhead pedestrian bridges to alleviate traffic congestion in the Kandy city and suburbs were nearing their completion stages. The construction work of the Getabme flyover connecting the roads to Kandy, Kegalle and Nuwara Eliya districts would be expedited. Road section from Peradeniya junction to the Gannoruwa junction would be developed to a four-lane road and a new bridge would be constructed instead of the old bridge. 

Junctions at Heerassgala, Booweilkada and Wales Park would be widened and developed. A new flyover would be constructed near the Kandy Railway Station to eliminate traffic congestion there. In addition, as per the 2021 budget proposals, William Gopallawa Mawatha, Barigama-Haloluwa Road, Aladeniya-Irigama Road, Louie Peiris Mawatha, Dutugemunu Mawatha, PeradeniyaHaloluwa Road, Rajasinghe II Mawatha, Dharmaraja College to Tennekumbura would be widened and developed. Apart from that KatugastotaGalagedara road and Geli-Oya road would be upgraded to four-lane roads. 

Minister Fernando instructed officials to accelerate the work on Kandy tunnel road project from Suduhumpola to Tennekumbura of which feasibility study has been completed and the third phase of the Central Expressway from Pothuhera to Galagedara. Among those present were Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, State Ministers Dilum Amunugama, Anuradha Jayaratne, MPs of the Kandy District and RDA officials with Secretary to the Ministry of Highways R.W.R. Pemasiri.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 22 2021

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