Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe making his maiden speech at the 16th Parliament of Sri Lanka said the Covid Task Force appointed by the government is an abject failure.

Referring to constitutional provisions, he said the government should be run by the Cabinet and Parliament and called upon the Prime Minister to restore Parliamentary supremacy and the executive powers of the Cabinet under article 3,4 and 43of the constitution.

This government, the former Prime minister said, is partially militarized. The Army Commander is only a departmental head and requested the government to give precedence to civil administration. Administrative decisions should trickle down from Cabinet to the civil administration headed by Ministry Secretaries to the departmental heads and not the other way about.

There should be an advisory committee of experts according, to the WHO, to advise on the Covid pandemic situation. What we have is just a committee headed by a departmental head, the Army commander. I have no issue with the Army Commander, but the correct position is that we act following constitutional provisions. A departmental head cannot give directions to Secretaries he said. “We can’t go forward like this. The responsibility should be vested with the Cabinet of Ministers. I don’t know why it is not being done there should be a healthy discussion on the current issues and we too can come up with our suggestions.”

The UNP won only one seat at the 2020 General Elections, not electorally but through the National list. The UNP Working Committee that met recently nominated its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to represent the UNP in Parliament.

Referring to the BOI seminar held recently, the former Prime Minister criticized the decision to allow the Army Commander to address the seminar. The few who came for the  BOI seminar also withdrew, he said when they saw this.

“I listened to Minister Bandula Gunawardene’s speech where he said that the government has relieved the people of tax burdens as it assumed office, yes they gave big concessions to top-notch people and gave hunger pangs to the poor. Mr. Wickremesinghe said.

In 2019 we had foreign reserves amounting to7000million USD and today, the foreign reserves dwindled to 4000 million USD.

I can remember Udaya Gammanpila talking about the 300 million USD debts of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. The CPC was not allowed to pay up that money.  It was taken elsewhere for some other purpose. This and the loans of the state banks not included in the government budget report. How are we going to pay these debts? We hope that the IMF will give us 780 million USD and the SAARC swap will facilitate us with another 400 million USD and, the Bangladeshi swap will provide another  200 million USD. We should find a way out of this situation with an acceptable plan and a pragmatic solution and salvage the country from the economic quagmire. The only way is IMF if disagreed, what is the alternative. The government should be able to give an option.

The former Prime Minister requested the government to allow discussions and debates on the many violations of the constitution and other issues to restore democratic norms.


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