(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Unlike during the previous regime, elections are now held on the days fixed by the Chairman of the Election Commission and not by the President as guided by his astrologers, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe noted yesterday. He was speaking after opening a Colombo district election operating office of the New Democratic Front (NDF) at Thotalanga, Colombo.
“This situation can be considered as a win for Democracy and moreover, the strengthening of that democracy. As a result of measures taken by this government to strengthen democracy and democratic rights, the people are, today, experiencing and enjoying a most advanced democratic atmosphere. Under these measures, independent commissions including those for elections, police, and state services were established. Besides, certain powers of the Executive Presidency were curtailed through the implementation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The independency of the judiciary was improved and a Right to Information Act has been introdeced,” the Prime Minister added.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe added that people should think about whether to fulfil the aspirations of the entire country or the aspirations of a family when voting at the next Presidential election.
The Prime Minister said that people are not abducted by white vans now since the democratic right of expression has been protected.
“Those days, healthy people were abducted in white vans but nowadays sick people are taken by Suwasariya ambulances. White vans claimed valuable lives but ambulances protect and save lives. That’s the difference of the two regimes,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Wickremasinghe, while expressing his dissatisfaction over the biased conduct of certain media organisations, especially certain television channels, said that no journalist has been abducted or assassinated or media institutions torched under this government.
Minister Ravi Karunanayake said Mahinda Rajapaksa should reveal the manner in which he plans to cut VAT by 50 per cent as Rajapaksa promised at a recent election rally. “The Treasury receives an amount of Rs. 40,000 million through VAT and these monies are spent for providing social subsidiaries. When cutting down VAT by 50 per cent, state revenue will drastically decrease. Then the unit price of electricity will increase from Rs.11 to Rs.75 while a unit of water will increase from Rs.25 to Rs.100,” he said. Karunanayake added that the Rajapaksa government struggled to increase state sector salaries by even Rs.2,500 during their 11 year rule, but this government has already increased the salaries of state sector employees by nearly 100 per cent.