By Yohan Perera
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s speech on Friday (25) failed to address the issues facing the public but used this nationally televised address as an opportunity to present excuses for why he and his Government have failed, while blaming the people of Sri Lanka, the UNP said yesterday.
“There are numerous problems facing the country, including the growing threat of COVID-19, the collapsing economy, fertilizer shortages, disruptions to schooling and the rising cost of living.
The President did not address any of these concerns. He instead made excuses as to why he has been unable to solve these problems while avoiding explaining his failure to implement any of the promises made in his manifesto.
The people had looked to the President to provide leadership and hope in these difficult times, he has failed them miserably instead blaming them for his own shortcomings.
When the medical professionals advised him to implement a lockdown prior to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year he ignored them.
The President is now accusing the public of causing the third wave of the virus by enjoying the New Year,” the UNP said in an official statement.
The failure by the Government to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the delay in implementing the vaccination programme, has forced the country to undergo sporadic lock downs.
The lock downs cause grave financial burdens for the public.
These could have been avoided if the advice of the medical professionals
had been followed. In November last year the Health Minister told Parliament that they would be purchasing the necessary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, it was only in March this year that these purchases were made.
The delay in purchasing these vaccine doses has meant shortages resulting in over 600, 000 people unable to receive the second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine,” the statement added.
“The President’s remarks about the state of the economy during the period of 2015 - 2019 are wrong. At the time of the UNP handing over the Government in 2019 the country had US $7.6 billion in foreign reserves.
As of today, the foreign reserves have fallen to less than US $4 billion. This Government has no plan on how to increase the reserves and deal with the pending loan repayments,” an official statement also said.
“Under the UNP Government the country enjoyed a primary surplus for the first time in 60 years in 2017 and 2018. As the Government was earning more than it was spending, the UNP was able to take loans for development projects without the concern of being unable to repay them.
The reversal by the President of the UNP’s economic policies have now meant that repaying these loans will be difficult”.
Mr. Rajapaksa claimed that the economy has been well-managed during the time of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. If this is correct, why has he chosen to remove the powers from Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, under the 20th Amendment and empower P.B. Jayasundera to run the economy.