Q What is happening today in the country?
The country is heading in the correct direction. New government completes its first year on January 8 next year. Rainbow revolution is not yet one year and only four months for the consensus government.
But within this short period we have completely derouted from dictatorship rule.
The whole world now recognises Sri Lanka as a country rapidly changing to a democracy. Samantha Power who is a cabinet minister of the Obama Government said President Obama calls Sri Lanka “Good News Country”. Only Sri Lanka and Myanmar introduce good policies while most other countries are entangled in confusion .
QInternationals are happy about our country but do you see happiness among the people?
It is impossible to satisfy all immediately after a great change. But the holistic view is people are today happier than during the former rule.
QNo problem at all?
There are problems but we have time to solve them.
Q What are the deficiencies you have identified?
There are few. People say we are not taking action fast on frauds and corruption and delay in taking into custody those responsible. Some people even say that we are having deals with these corrupt individuals
Q Are there really any deals ?
No, but there are some reasons for the allegations. Besides there is a confused situation in the country due to the misleading of the people by distorting of some budget proposals
Q During the budget debate in Parliament some members said this budget is opposed by all sections the country alike.?
Those who say that are opposing this budget. We got record two third votes for the budget at the second reading. I believe at the vote after the third reading more members will vote for the budget.
Q This budget is going to be a historic one because of the numerous amendments made after its presentation.
That is why we say our government is democratic. This is not an order of any king.
QWeak budgets call for more amendments. doesn’t it?
A month long debate is meant for discussion. Any reasonable arguments are appreciated and necessary amendments are introduced unlike during Rajapaksa government when relief was only provided for luxury goods like Lamborghini cars. But they increased taxes on food items of common people; dhal etc. During that government our views on the budget were neglected. We are really democrats there are arguments even between cabinet ministers as they have freedom to do so. But the last government rushed cabinet papers without enough time for review. Major projects where frauds were involved were approved in this manner- in some cases ministers couldn’t even read the memorandum. minister didn’t dare to criticise them. Those now in common opposition were lured for cabinet portfolios But a minister of the government resigned from the portfolio on an incident without leaving the government into a embarrassing situation. We have experienced such a resignation only 28 year ago. I myself had resigned during the probation government period to make opportunity for others including late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in the cabinet which was then limited to 21.
QIs it good for government even before three months of its existence.
These things are not weaknesses – amending budget proposals, resignation of ministers, opportunity for good dialogue etc. But these show the strength of a government.
Q At the very start UNP government began to show its attitudes by infringing on the the right for relief on fertiliser and school uniforms .
Certainly not. We have only entered a new path deviating from the old one to create a new country with a new economic order. Those whose vision are not far-reaching but limited to a small area are like frogs in a well criticize us. All countries are today economically and politically interconnected . Our policies on economy and foreign affairs have to be compatible on international basis. China a communist and a socialist country and Vietnam are well pursuing market economy better than our countries. They have achieved economic development rapidly through access to the modern policies. School uniform has become a problem for those exploit through the distribution of school uniforms and provoke the people. The new method is profitable to the government and new system will be continued.
QBut some argue that same method may be applied giving money for patients instead of medicine.
Anyone can argue. Uniforms are given to all students whether poor or rich alike.Students in Colombo 7 give these uniform materials to their servant boys. Our aim is to give relief to those who deserve it. We intends to initiate a social security systems for the benefit of have-nots .
Q Is the government going to do away with subsidies?
No, but we have march forward for economic development. Today Sri Lanka is a mid income earning country therefore we are not eligible for foreign aids. We have also to attract Direct Foreign Investment to achieve a rapid economic development. Meanwhile we will also ensure the susbsidies for the needy people.
Q But you talked differently during Packer’s visit to the country.
We didn’t oppose Packer and giving opportunities for him. We opposed only the Casinos.
Qbut taxes on Casinos has been reduced by this budget
We will not allow to emerge a Casino City in the country.
You are still on the same decision. We have to create good environment for the foreign investors. They are interested in a good democratic form of government, Good judicial system, Good policing, And mere good appearance of the airports are not enough. We seek at least five investment in our country from each countries with discussion with the foreign diplomats. Or we Will ask for certain number of job opportunities for our youth in their countries, We have also planned to streamlin our foreign mission services with proper management.
Q With the presentation of the budget the country has changed to battle field of workers. A big protest within four months, Why?
We have this type of people in any country. The Prime Minister made a clear statement on the situation. Many doctors were silent during the last government when murders were committed, When boys were killed when they asked for water. Now they try to provoke people.Even JVP to has freedom to hold protests.But anyway we are with people. You can see this at the local government election to be held soon.
QThere are disputes among ministers. Especaily among the minister who joined the UNP government from other political parties. They seemed to be controlling the government .
I don’t see such a situation.
QWe are still tend to think about the matters as they were during Rajapaksa government. President and the Prime Minister monitor the government . Some have not realized this reality. Today have the opportunity of having service of a Nelson Mendela and Li Quan U at the same time. You are the one who established the claim that Ranil is not capable. But the world sees our Prime Minister as a prudent leader.
But today I am proud to say he can. During this nine month I was able to experience his efficiency and capability. Sri Lanka’s present two leaders are good rewards for the country.
Q How long will the government last.
Definitely this fiver-year term.