Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage this evening clarified the conversation President Gotababya Rajapaksa had with former Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe over the phone.

Wijedasa Rajapakshe alleged that the President threatened him over the phone, but Minister, Aluthgamage addressing the press, discounted the fact and said there was no such vituperative exchange between them but only a clarification.

The Minister alleged that it was clear that there was a political hand behind WijedasaRajapakshe addressing the media, which was given extensive coverage.

The press briefing was held at the Abhayaramaya Viharaya, and the prelate who was present at the time had queried Rajapaksheabout the language he used. “Is it not too harsh” the prelate had queried soon after the briefing, according to Minister Aluthgamage.

Minister Aluthgamage said the President is leading a simple life living in an ordinary house using only three vehicles.  He had saved money for the country. “The President is an unassuming leader.” The Minister emphasized.

Elaborating, he said that Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa who never talks to the Abhayaramaya prelate under normal circumstances had spoken to him over the phone, which is indicative of a political hand behind this.

”Port City would be the watershed in our economy. The Leader of the Opposition doesn’t want it to happen under the existing President. We have drafted the Port City Commission bill within the parameters of  Constitutionalprovisions. The Attorney General had expressly said that the Bill was not inconsistent with the constitution. The Port City Commission Bill is well within the ambit of all tax laws and even subject to the Money Laundering Act, Therefore what the US ambassador has said would not be relevant as far as this Bill is concerned.” the Minister said.

He said that the JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake had expressed sentiments similar to that of the US Ambassador and said that the Port City would be a Tax haven and a place where Black money, would be attracted with no questions asked. This is not the case, he said and added that they need not have a special majority in Parliament to pass the Bill but a simple majority would suffice.

Nevertheless, he said that they would adhere and go along with the ruling of the Supreme Court, as regards the Colombo Port City Commission Bill.

Referring to Wijedasa Rajapakshe’s role in the matter the Minister said that he could have raised questions within the Government group, and asked for necessary clarifications, without holding Press briefings. We are aware of his predicament, he deserves a ministerial portfolio and we don’t deny it. If he realizes what is in the Bill I know he would not oppose it. He enacted a similar drama during the 20th amendment to the constitution but finally, he came round and voted with the government after he was told of the importance of the 20th amendment to the constitution.

Mr Rajapkshe should not have done what he did just because he was denied a Cabinet position.


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