Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa today urged the government to be more people-friendly when taking economic decisions without blindly following the instructions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Speaking during the debate on the Vote on Account, he said people were inconvenienced by the high cost of living and the tax burden.
"There are people who can't afford to a single meal a day as mentioned by the Cardinal in his Christmas message. The government should be people friendly. Don't try to do only what the IMF says. Countries fall in trouble by doing so," Mr. Rajapaksa said.
He said when they took over the government, the businessmen were in a serious situation where some of them had shut down their industries leading to the loss of jobs.
"We should be sensitive to the needs of the people when taking decisions. It is not fair to fill the treasury by taxing the people all the time. Industries including the construction sector collapsed when this government took over in January, 2015. More than 500,000 people had lost their jobs during this time," Mr. Rajapaksa said.
He said this situation needed to be changed and pointed out that was why they decided to provide relief to the people soon after they took over the government.
"We reduced fuel prices and the VAT. The fuel prices could have been reduced even earlier. A barrel of crude oil dropped to US$28 in the world market. But the then government had not reduced the fuel prices," Mr. Rajapaksa said and added that they did not take over the government in a political coup and asked the current government not to be too sure of their position when considering who were in the opposition.
"We are in the opposition now so don't be too sure of your seats in the government. We, as the opposition, and the peolle will rise against your anti-people actions at any time," he said. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)