Government must take meaningful steps without compromising international friendship: Eran

Eran-Wickramaratne-3

With the corona epidemic and mismanagement of the economy, the country is now facing a Trinity of crises which cannot be cured by this government due to its intrinsic nature of mismanagement said Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Eran Wickramaratne.

Addressing a press conference held at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo today, the Member of Parliament said that the country has been pushed back to the pre-1977 era of shortages of goods and queues and people are in a tragic situation of collecting food from the bins of supermarkets.

Speaking further Mr. Wickramaratne said that the people have engulfed in the bottom of poverty today as a result of the crises in the country due to the inability of the government, but the government has introduced a system that provides undue advantageous to the close friends of the government.

The economy cannot be managed on lies and myths, If the Covid vaccine had been ordered on time, there would have been an opportunity to vaccinate all the people at a lower price. Further, there was an opportunity to save the country from the situation where most people die daily. He also stressed that Sri Lanka is the only country where schools  have been closed for such a long period due to corona.
 

Mr Wickramaratne also said that the government has done nothing meaningful for the welfare of the people amidst  covid hardships but it has  used even the state of emergency to allow its crony businessmen to make more profit.

The tax on one kilo of sugar which was Rs. 35 during the period of good governance,was increased to 50 rupees by this government, saying it would increase domestic production.

Proving that much hyped  manufacturing  economy and the local agrarian economy are just gimmick and false govt. abruptly reduced the tax on sugar to 25 cents, giving the opportunity to their crony sugar importers, to date, to deprive the government  of its tax revenue up to Rs. 35 billion and the corrupt will benefit from these dealings.

After reducing the sugar tax to 25 cents, sugar required for one year’s need was imported to be sold at the controlled price of Rs. 85/ but has made use of the provisions of the newly declared state of emergency to deceive the consumers by increasing the maximum retail price from Rs 85/ to Rs 122/ per KG under the guise of bringing down the prices.

Despite the corona and the economic crisis, the government is now pursuing a wrong foreign policy that has triggered a triple crisis in the country which  could cause severe damage to the country’s export economy in the future

Drawing the attention to the forthcoming Geneva HR Council session  this month he said that the resolution passed by the Geneva Human Rights Council in March this year on human rights violations in Sri Lanka, especially since the current government came to power, would be subject to  discussion again  this month. The local mechanism set up by the yahapalana government to investigate alleged human rights abuses during the Thirty Years War had gained international recognition.

In addition to the resolution passed by the Geneva Human Rights Council last March stating that human rights abuses have been rampant since this government came to power, the European Parliament too passed a similar resolution.

The Justice ministry has recently launched a website of the office of national unity and reconciliation. It is also  reported that the Cabinet of ministers have approved policies and guidelines for the office of Reparation and the govt. has recently opened an office of missing persons (OMP) in Kilinochchi. Further the President has appointed an Advisory Board as envisaged in the section 13 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act No 48 of 1979.

Since late is better than never, it is commendable that the government has taken these measures to address the issues raised by the Geneva Human Rights Commission in March 2021 giving a signal  that the govt of Sri Lanka would abide by the decision of the international community on the need to arrest human right violations.

If this government does not take steps to respect human rights as requested and trusted by the international community, they may stop providing concessions that will benefit the economy of our country. If such a move is made, the current account balance which is presently in favour of Sri Lanka on the exports to EU countries may be curtailed affecting the export market opportunities. 52% of Sri Lanka’s exports to Europe, based on the GSP  plus concession are garments and clothing and by 2020, from the exports to EU alone the annual revenue exceeded 2 billion Euros.

Therefore, if the government does not take appropriate meaningful steps instead of symbolic measures to rectify human rights violations, Sri Lanka will lose export earnings due to the loss of GSP + in the future while facing various other international restrictions. The consequences would be  thousands of young people working in free trade zones and other garment industries are at risk of losing their jobs.

Mr Wickramaratne reminded that the Yahapalana government was able to restore the GSP + concession with great difficulty which had been removed during the previous Rajapaksa regime in 2010

He urged that the government which maintains a dead silence on the alleged violations of HR violations since it came to power in 2019 should  abandon its symbolic actions taken when the Geneva sessions around the corner and instead take  realistic and meaningful steps to prove its bona fide

A terrorist who takes the lives of others for his own purposes and goals must be treated as a terrorist and it is not acceptable to discriminate or distinguish between Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim terrorists

He pointed out that the speech made by the New Zealand Prime Minister after a Sri Lankan terrorist attempted to stab civilians in New Zealand was an example to Sri Lanka. Describing it as a terrorist attack, the New Zealand Prime Minister said neither his religion nor his ethnicity was responsible for the attack.

“Memorialization of death only by one party considering them as heroes and treating the others as traitors cannot be accepted. Even 12 years after the end of the war, this government has no clear policy on remembering the missing persons and the death. At the same time, the government should take action against sexual assault and violence against women and provide fair compensation to the victims.” declared Mr. Eran Wickramaratne insisting on the need to take a policy decision on the matter concerned in Sri Lanka

Amnesty International estimates that more than 60,000 people, including about 5,000 security personnel are missing in Sri Lanka. During the time, when the EU Parliament passed a resolution against Sri Lanka on the violation of Human Rights and the alleged misuse of Prevention of Terrorism Act to victimize the innocent people  there emanated an opinion that why should the  EU provide concessions to Sri Lankan government  if the Sri Lankan government does not take appropriate action against HR violations and  to provide relief to victims of violations of internationally recognized human right conventions.

 As in addition to fish and apparel exports under the concession of GSP plus, small and medium scale industrialists also have the opportunity to export their products, Mr. Eran Wickramaratne emphasized that the future SJB government would give priority to small and medium scale industries under the government’s program to uplift the economy.