Public losing confidence in govt: SLFP vice president
ECONOMYNEXT – The public is losing confidence in the government, and coalition partner the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) may soon have to take a call on whether or not to go it alone at the upcoming provincial council elections, according to a party senior.
SLFP vice president Prof Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa told EconomyNext today that the SLFP has yet to decide whether to contest the PC polls as a partner of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led alliance.
With the national New Year approaching, Piyadasa said, “things are heating up” in the country as the prices of goods continue to rise.
“Then there is the coconut oil issue and the sugar issue. Coconut oil is something that is fundamental to Avurudu celebrations. Problems are piling up, not easing,” he said.
Piyadasa was referring to a controversy surrounding imported coconut oil that is allegedly contaminated with high levels of aflatoxin, a carcinogenic substance, as well as the so called sugar scam which opposition parties claim has cost the country Rs 15.9 billion in tax revenue.
SLFP leader and former President Maithripala Sirisena has made it clear that the party wishes to form an SLFP government in the future, said Piyadsa.
“We are working towards that end,” he said.
On March 18, Piyadasa told EconomyNext that that the SLFP party rank and file have raised concerns about broken promises within the alliance.
“Our urban council members at the grassroots level weren’t given money to do their council work. They couldn’t even put up a lamppost. So there is huge pressure from the lower levels of the party,” he said.
“We have to do something about this immediately. We cannot go on like this,” he added.
The party is currently accepting nomination papers for the provincial council polls. The deadline for applications has been extended to April 15 after which, he said, the party will start organising in all districts.
“The cabinet has said elections should be held, but we still don’t know what under what law they plan to hold the election.”
Last month, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the PC polls must be held soon either under the previous Provincial Councils Elections Act or under the proposed new (Amendment) Act with its “complications” removed.
The presidential secretariat quoted Rajapaksa as saying the Amended Provincial Councils Act which included a new delimitation of the constituencies, a quota for women candidates and other changes “had been defeated by the former government which proposed it.”
Sri Lanka’s supreme court determined that the PC polls can be held under either the old or new system but upon the amending legislation being passed. The Rajapaksa government has yet pass amendments to the (Amendment) Act to conduct the elections under the previous proportional representation system.
All nine provinces in Sri Lanka are currently being run by their respective governors following the end of their five-year terms at various points. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has also called for the early conduct of polls, a sentiment echoed by India. The provincial councils are a legacy of the Indo-Lanka accord signed in 1987. (Colombo/Apr02/2021)