Observations expressed by Comrade Anura Dissanayake at the press conference held at Solis Hall at Pita Kotte on 26. 12. 2019
What the government does is opposite to the promises it made to the people. Although anti-imperialist slogans were shouted on presidential election stages now, the government has become a vassal of imperialism. Despite stating they were environmentally friendly, they have been taken over by sand and soil racketeers. Despite talking about the economy, they have been subdued by the paddy and rice monopoly.
Normally imperialist countries pressurize periphery countries economically, militarily and culturally. During the previous government, such pressure was applied to our country as well. That government carried out its functions under such pressure while there were mass protests against the government’s capitulation. The present administration plundered mass protests.
The present rulers claimed on election stages that they were anti-imperialists and were against the USA. A big noise was made against the MCC agreement. It was as if they would throw away the agreement the very next day they came to power. What happened? The President, saying he did not have a complete understanding regarding the contents of the agreement, appointed a committee to study it. The Foreign Minister too made the same statement. The USA that had stated it would withdraw from the agreement if it was not signed before 31st December, gave the present administration time to study it. It shows that the government, as well as the USA, subtly mediate in the agreement. There is all the possibility that they would sign it after the general election.
These rulers severely criticized the previous government regarding selling Hambantota Harbour. When the agreement to hand over the harbour was signed, Mahinda Rajapaksa said in Parliament that no one should buy anything the existing government sells as they would take over everything that has been sold. It was stated that selling Hambantota Harbour was a grave crime. However, now Gotabaya Rajapaksa without any study says there is no issue regarding the agreement. The statements and actions of the government are contradictory.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on the election stage, said as the cost of living was high, an environment would be prepared for the people to a relief package at a fair price. However, the prices of all essential goods have gone up now. Instead of the relief package ministers ask the people to eat pumpkin instead of carrots. The price of rice too is a serious issue that has come up in society. There is a distortion in the prices of paddy and rice. The price of paddy has gone down, but the price of rice has gone up. The paddy had been bought for Rs. 38 to Rs. 40 a kilo during the previous season. Accordingly, rice could be sold below Rs. 75 a kilo. However, the ordinary rice people buy now has risen to above Rs. 100 a kilo. The farmer, however, doesn’t get any benefit despite the price of rice has gone up. It is the few large mill owners who reap the biggest profits. This distortion cannot be corrected just because the President visits boutiques to ask for prices of rice. The rice monopoly has been created in the country due to the few large scale mill owners buying paddy and storing it. What the government should do is to break the rice monopoly that is in the hands of a few large mill owners. Then only the distortion in the rice market could be solved.
There were also controversial statements made regarding the environment. The present President planted a sapling in his garden during the election campaign so that people would take him as an example to protect the environment. However, the restriction of a permit to transport sand and soil has been withdrawn. Normally, when permits for sand and soil are issued separate permits for mining and transport are issued. Those interrelated permits are issued after certain investigations are carried out. However, withdrawal of the necessity for the transport permit would allow unlimited mining. As the necessity for the permit has been withdrawn river banks are being destroyed and sand dunes in certain areas are getting disappeared creating erosion. The ordinary people would not get any benefit from the withdrawal of permits. Several racketeers using their financial and political power carry out the racket unceasingly. We demand the government to reintroduce the permit system.
The President prorogued Parliament that was to meet on 3rd December. Accordingly, the Parliament is to meet on 3rd January. We get information that there is an attempt to prorogue Parliament again after 3rd January. We discuss people’s issues and the government’s moves only in Parliament. Also, the President’s agenda and focus on the forthcoming session should be debated. We hope to ask the Speaker for this debate. We demand the President to withdraw any attempt to prorogue Parliament.”