ECONOMYNEXT – As Sri Lanka scrambles to find solutions to its worsening economic crisis, democracy may end up being the next victim, according to former opposition MP Sunil Handnunneththi.
“As the country becomes bankrupt and they run out of solutions for the economic woes, they will then touch democracy itself,” Handunneththi said speaking an event on Sunday (23).
The former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentarian was responding to a controversial statement by MP Diana Gamage last week that a motion should be passed in parliament extending the term of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by two years. Gamage claimed that Rajapaksa had lost two years to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If Diana can ask for two more years with no shame, claiming that the first two years didn’t work out and it was a lesson learnt, then the people also have a lot to ask for.
“The crashing of the economy, the destruction of agriculture, the sale of national assets, the various deals entered into, give it all back then,” said Handunneththi.
Sri Lanka is currently going through one of the worst economic crises in its history, compounded by a crippling dollar shortage. Adding to the public’s woes are a shortages in essential items and an ongoing power crisis with seemingly no solution in sight.
“They have depreciated the rupee and created a black market for the dollar. Give that back too,” the former MP said.
Government MPs, however, have distanced themselves from Gamage’s comment.
Enivornment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, who represents the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) – a coalition partner that is increasingly at loggerheads with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) – said the president is aware of the shortcomings in the past two years.
“It is no secret that there is some public discontent with the government at the moment. We routinely engage with the people, so we are privy to their problems.
“Over the last two years, I don’t think we have able to provide the solutions they had expected,” said Amaraweera.
“The president has also acknowledged this. He is determined and has promised to overcome these shortcomings and to speedily fulfil the people’s expectations in the next three years and implement [Rajapaksa’s 2019 election manifesto] the Vistas of Prosperity,” he said.
“As the SLFP, we are fully behind the programme to build the country. Our party will never help take the country backward,” he added. (Colombo/Jan24/2022)