ECONOMYNEXT – Deputy Leader of Sri Lanka’s United National Party Sajith Premadasa stake his claim for candidacy at a rally in Badulla, backed by many of the members of the party.
"We want to bring forward the younger generation," Premadasa told a rally. "We have to sweep out old ideas and give the place to the youth.
"To develop as a nation, we have to give the first place to innovation, new ideas and technology.
"We have to go forward with the world, using technology. Why can’t we also have a silicon valley in sri Lanka?"
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had not named a candidate for upcoming polls, but he faced opposition earlier this month when he tried to form an alliance with other parties.
Premadasa began speaking after Harin Fernando, who represents the Badulla district, said any campaign that started in Badulla would be successful.
"We have to take this country forward by making it a meritocracy, where persons with skills and knowledge will be given their place,"
"If a country is to go forward small and medium enterprises have to be supported with targeted assistance.
"The small and medium entrepreneurs are the main engine of growth.’
He said Sri Lanka’s younger generation should not be made into a political football.
The younger generation will be given opportunities to use their skills.
Sri Lanka should go forward as an export led economy.
He said ensuring national security required a broad approach. Military and intelligence has to be strengthened he said but more needed to be done.
"When the economy weakens it undermines national security," Premadasa said. "When social conflicts are created it deals a death blow to national security."
Premadasa said when a country goes forward, everyone should benefit.
He said there was a big tax burden on the poor and the middle class.
Sri Lanka has high taxes on foods to ‘protect farmers’ which keep basic food prices above the rest of Asia where malnutrition has come down fast, critics have said.
Premadasa questioned official statistics on poverty, citing incomes and beneficiaries of handouts.
But he said data on inequality was correct. (Colombo/Aug12/2019).