COMMON OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA (LEFT) AND OPPOSITION LEADER RANIL WICKRAMASINGHE ADDRESSING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY PIC BY KITHSIRI DE MEL
Private businesses will be able to operate without any political influence under a new government formed by t he Common Opposition, according to Common Opposition Presidential Candidate Maithreepala Sirisena and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, who were speaking at ‘Unite,’ the opposition’s forum held at Cinnamon Lakeside for the private sector yesterday.
“In our government, there will be no political victimization of companies, institutions, or individuals, irrespective of party appreciations,” Sirisena assured.
He promised justice for the victims of the Expropriation Act brought in by the present government in 2011, of which he was a Cabinet minister at the time. The Act expropriated over 30 privately1run businesses on state-owned land including The Hilton, Sevanagala Sugar, Pelwatte Sugar.
“The current government was only allowing favourites to conduct business unimpeded, and gave them subsidies, and others were extorted,” Sirisena alleged.
He said all professionals and businessmen will be able to operate with freedom within the rule of law, and no exceptions to the rules will be tolerated.
Wickremasinghe alleviated the private sector’s fears of their companies losing business or going bankrupt over the corrupt practices of few people in the top management.
“As far as corruption charges are concerned, we have to decide on the mechanism. The inquiries will go on, whether it is a person or a company. Basically it’s a purifying process, the business will continue,” he said.In his opinion, businesses should be glad to be rid of such corrupt practitioners. He reassured the business continuity by giving the example of leading international banks, which were called before the US Congress and fined for their corrupt practices, and yet did not go bankrupt.
Wickremasinghe said that those without questionable income should not worry at all, while those of ill-gained wealth should disclose their assets to the income tax department and pay their dues immediately.Meanwhile, Sirisena noted that maximum penalties will be sought against corrupt public servants and politicians not only for future actions, but also for those of the past as well.
He claimed that under the new government, foreigners need not lobby to public officials or politicians to invest in, or promote projects.
“The established institutions will have the power and authority to expeditiously and professionally accept and approve without politicians or public officials interfering,” he said.