Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera hit back at former President Mahinda Rajapaksa over the latter’s statement on GSP+ concession.
In response to Mr. Rajapaksa’s claims that obtaining the GSP Plus facility is trivial, since Sri Lanka is very close to passing the threshold of an upper middle income country, Minster Samaraweera said, “… Mr. Rajapaksa is clearly trying to distort facts because he can’t acknowledge the fact that the National Unity Government has in fact managed to obtain a formidable boost to Sri Lanka’s economy.”
“He conveniently hides a fundamental issue. A country has to be classified as "upper middle income" by the World Bank for three consecutive years in order to be no longer eligible for the GSP Plus. Even if Sri Lanka were to reach that threshold tomorrow, we would still have access to the advantages of GSP Plus for three years, and for one additional year after the decision is taken to withdraw the benefit,” Minister Samaraweera said in a statement.
Full statement issued by Minister Samaraweera;
Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his advisors, instead of working to take our country to the heights that our country could have achieved soon after the conclusion of the conflict in 2009, chose to run our country to the ground. He made our country heavily indebted on the one hand, having borrowed at exorbitantly high, commercial rates; while taking decisions that made Sri Lanka withdraw from the international stage, on the other, thus making our country and our people isolated and shunned by the world. He hides the fact that time after time, major donor countries voted against Sri Lanka at the time, in international financial institutions.
Having eventually lost an election which he himself called for, ahead of time, he appears to still not be able to come to terms with that loss. His hunger for power makes him and his advisors continue to indulge in the lies, tricks and games that were so much a part of his regime and so much a part of his personality. Just recently we saw how he lied to the people about his travel to Japan. He said that he was travelling to Japan at the invitation of the Emperor of Japan! The Embassy of Japan responded to a question from a journalist denying this. Why resort to this kind of lying to hoodwink the people, Mr. Rajapaksa? If you are in fact a follower of the teachings of Gautama Buddha as you try to show the people, isn’t it about time, at least at this stage of your life, to try to abide by even one of the five precepts, and refrain from indulging in lies.
Mr. Rajapaksa, in a statement titled ‘Government should not create unrealistic expectations about GSP Plus’ says that obtaining the GSP Plus facility is trivial, since Sri Lanka is very close to passing the threshold of an upper middle income country. He conveniently hides a fundamental issue. A country has to be classified as "upper middle income" by the World Bank for three consecutive years in order to be no longer eligible for the GSP Plus. Even if Sri Lanka were to reach that threshold tomorrow, we would still have access to the advantages of GSP Plus for three years, and for one additional year after the decision is taken to withdraw the benefit. This shows that Mr. Rajapaksa is clearly trying to distort facts because he can’t acknowledge the fact that the National Unity Government has in fact managed to obtain a formidable boost to Sri Lanka’s economy, in application of Article 4(1) of the GSP Regulation of 2012, for at least four years.
This period of, at the very least four years, comes just when the European economy starts to show signals of growth recovery. With less unemployment and more consumer demand, this is the moment to join in enhanced partnership with the European Union!
But let me add a point. Mr. Rajapaksa’s reasoning that we shouldn't aspire to a better deal, because some time in the future the economy will grow is callous and insensitive to the workers of our country and their families. It reflects a complete lack of concern for our workers who expect progress in the immediate present, and they deserve progress in the immediate present. So what if Sri Lanka, thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of its entrepreneurs and workers looks poised to cross a certain threshold of average income? Does it mean that we, as a government, should sit on our hands without giving them the opportunity for a better deal that they deserve now in the present? Shouldn't we help them to reach our national goals sooner rather than later?
The idea that GSP Plus puts Sri Lanka "under the supervision" of the EU is simply absurd. By committing to a number of universal human rights principles, we do nothing that was not already recommended by Sri Lankan people who came before the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to give their input and views. Protecting every citizen from torture is not an alien imposition. It is a sovereign decision from a humanistic nation, towards its own citizens, inspired by the most sacred human values and principles. How ironic that Mr. Rajapaksa who claims to be not just a follower but a guardian of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, does not advocate granting the very basic human rights principles and rights and freedoms to the citizens of this country! Don’t our citizens deserve the highest standards of protection? Don’t our citizens deserve the highest standards of human rights and freedoms?
It was incompetence and arrogance of Mr. Rajapaksa and his advisors, and their determination to deny the people of this country their rights that resulted in Mr. Rajapaksa failing to retain the GSP Plus facility. It was ill-advised to not implement the 2011 recommendations of the LLRC, a Commission which he himself appointed, to protect citizens from torture, criminalize disappearances, and fully investigate cases of human rights violations. In fact it was an injustice caused to the law abiding soldiers of this country as well. Having failed himself, and the people of our country, now in 2017, it is simply invidious to criticize a successful measure that the Government seeks to implement for the benefit of the people of our country.
We know very well how Mr. Rajapaksa and his advisors tried until the last minute to retain the GSP Plus facility in 2010, and lost. Licking their wounds, they then sought to lie to the people by saying that he decided to not pursue the facility, to avoid damage to the country’s political, legal and institutional framework. He probably still can’t get over those lies. So he keeps repeating them in different formulations and words even seven years later in 2017.
For this government, the GSP Plus system is a partnership that helps our nation and our people regain their due place once again on the international stage as a respected nation and a respected people standing shoulder to shoulder with the international community, shedding the pariah tatters that the former government chose to put on our nation and our people. Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan people deserve the best in the world. Sri Lanka is a proud nation and the Sri Lankan people are a proud people with the self-confidence to speak and act as equals with every country or group of countries in the world. We don't need to hide from global dialogue in order to feel better. On the contrary, we feel stronger when our laws reflect the best of global humanism, when our citizens benefit from the best law enforcement, when our workers and entrepreneurs see the ports of the world open to the fruit of their efforts.
Mithun Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:29
Very good reply Mr.Mangala
Reply : 26 62
Appu Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:48
You all have nothing better than accusing each other and lip service. Very little contribution to country. I am not a fan of MR but he has done one thing good which no one could in the past. That was the reason cost him GSP via DM Android App
Reply : 47 49
Bala Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:23
Isn't getting the GSP itself a benefit to the country. You cannot do things in a hurry like putting on a switch.
Reply : 13 21
Freddy Yong Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:49
GSP facility is an internationally acclaimed good thing. Let's not blow trumpets but work within the guidelines. Secondly, MR is totally ignorant of this economic plus point. He is simply parroting what the foot in mouth professor is telling him. It was foot in-mouth who boasted that we Sri Lankans don't need the facility.
Reply : 12 53
JAN Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:50
Blaming each other useless now government must take clever steps with responsibility to prosper our ecnomy cutting down all unnecessary spending via DM Android App
Reply : 2 46
D Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:52
Speaking the truth I praise you via DM Android App
Reply : 12 44
Kevin Ariyaratne Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:56
Blah , Blah , Blah
Reply : 25 29
Mandy Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:28
Yes a lot of blah, half truths and lies from MR clique.At last good that govt replies to these anti govt slogans of MR and Bandula. Others like Dinesh are quiet now somewhat.
Reply : 12 15
Shelly. Wednesday, 14 June 2017 13:58
If Mangala start replying to this dried pump-king (not Vasudeva) there will be no end. Instead ensure that the country reap benefits of GSP plus. via DM Android App
Reply : 10 23
Ha Ha Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:06
Hey What about the 'Kumanthanaya' by MR and his clan according to you.Any findings yet???
Reply : 3 20
Vijaya Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:29
The value of the GSP plus is known to the working class people, not the lazy people like ours. Anyway, MR has done enough damage to this country, other than won the war. But if we had won the war against another country we can be proud, here we should be shame that we fight among fellow sri lankans and we call it a proud moment. This shame is created by selfish politicians like MR those days due to their political gains.
Reply : 12 14
Gobaya Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:32
We know who is MR and his lies. He can lie to any extend for power. Recently he said if he comes to power again he will protect the muslims. hik hik
Reply : 8 9
firo Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:32
what about the Emirates / Srilankan Airlines partnership which was ruined by MR for personal egotistical reasons. Can you imagine where Srilankan would have been if it remained side by side with Emirates
Reply : 9 14
Leo Wednesday, 14 June 2017 15:26
There is no need to address MR and his precepts. The educated know the value of the GSP. Use it so that the less educated will see what it really is that is the best answer to MR. via DM Android App
Reply : 5 11
Demo Crazy Wednesday, 14 June 2017 15:39
Day light bank robbery which we pay billions over next 30 years will cancel out any minute gains. As one Economist said it wont move the earth. via DM Android App
Reply : 0 8
vithura Wednesday, 14 June 2017 16:05
MR mastered the art of lying through his teeth and people believed it unquestioningly, but those days are gone for good we hope.
Reply : 9 17
Anja Wednesday, 14 June 2017 16:52
Central Bank Central Bank via DM Android App
Reply : 4 9
Kiris Baba Amaray Wednesday, 14 June 2017 17:17
Come on Mangala we trust you not the looter who ruined our country looting and earning for his family.
Reply : 9 7
Bubble Banda Wednesday, 14 June 2017 17:19
Mr. Mangala you are highly educated and a wise man, MR is just a rotter who knows only how to rob poor man's money.
Reply : 13 11
German Jacob Wednesday, 14 June 2017 17:21
Well said Hon. Minister, who cares for the looter who destroyed the economy of our country getting loans for very higher interest and earned to develop his family.
Reply : 8 10
One Shot Ranjan Wednesday, 14 June 2017 17:21
Good slap to MR, the rotter. Keep it up Sir.
Reply : 8 12
Citizen Ash Wednesday, 14 June 2017 17:51
Very well said via DM Android App
Reply : 7 9
M Hettiarachchi Wednesday, 14 June 2017 18:35
Well written article by the Finance and Media Minister. We know the real truth behind GSP Plus story now. All the best for the Yahapalana government! Let our country reap the benefits.
Reply : 7 11
JAN Wednesday, 14 June 2017 20:03
All in a same boat each and every one knows exactly others secrets very well this is well planned organized group to foolish we citizens everyday please think cleverly my dear fellow Srilankans via DM Android App
Reply : 1 4
JAN Wednesday, 14 June 2017 21:13
Mangala MR those days MANGO FRIENDS Still friendly at media shows we citizens see their different but real life they all very good friendly only we citizens gets annoyed via DM Android App
Reply : 0 2
Kapuruhami Wednesday, 14 June 2017 22:58
Reply : 0 2
Buchweiser Thursday, 15 June 2017 00:08
If GSP is "trivial" as erroneously quoted by MR, why not get MR and his thugs to pay for this "trivial" amount from their loot they plundered from our people and country? This robber is yet to settle the outstanding bill incurred by the CTB for shuttling their rowdies in bus loads by abusing state property.
Reply : 3 7
Add commentComments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.