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Friday March 1st, 2024

Sri Lanka’s war winning army chief says ready to take presidency

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka’s war winning army chief Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said if the majority in the parliament accepts, he is ready to take up presidency and he wants a change in the current political system.

Fonseka, who oversaw the island nation militarily defeating Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), made a foiled attempt in 2010 for the presidency against his commander-in-chief and then president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of resigned leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa, fled the country early this week.

Sri Lanka is in a political turmoil after tens of thousands of youth-led protesters forced the Rajapaksa dynasty out of power citing their wrong policy decisions that dragged the country into an unprecedented political crisis.

Fonseka has already seconded the presidential nomination of Sajith Premadasa, the leader of opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB). But the 71-year old five-star ranked celebrated military leader said he is ready to accept the most powerful position in the country.

“By that, I do not mean that I will change parties to get the position. Majority of the parliament means acceptance from the government party and the opposition,” Fonseka told reporters at a media briefing held on July 14.

Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic and political crisis in history. The protesters, frustrated by the inaction by the government. had pushed the country into instability.

Protesters after a 92-day protest on Saturday (09) stormed into the President’s official residence. Rajapaksa by then had fled the house. Later they occupied the presidential secretariat, prime minister’s official residence and office. The protests, analysts say, have started to give a wrong message to the public, threatening the parliament’s democracy and people’s freedom of expression.

Fonseka is one of the two legislators who was not attacked by the protesters when they visited the protest site.

Fonseka said, if the responsibility of the President is given to him, he is confident of handling the current crisis situation, which he believes “is not an impossible” issue to overcome.

“I will definitely listen to the general public if I get the presidential post,” Fonseka said.

“When I became the army commander, the government did not like it as well as some generals. but I did not think about it. I knew if I did it right then I would last otherwise I would have to go home.”

“I am confident. I don’t see the current issue as a big impossible difficult issue. I am sure I can win this
challenge. ”

Fonseka, populour for his aggressive straight forward comments even about his own party leader, is a populour leader among Majority Sinhala Buddhists. He won the 2010 parliamentary polls while he was jailed for politicking in uniform.

He criticized his own party leaders like Ranil Wickremesinghe, the current acting president, as well Premadasa.

He said he already gets invitations from the government party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to nominate him for the Prime Minister post.

“However I have not accepted them,” Fonseka said.

When asked about why the proposal to nominate SJB leader Premadasa was seconded by him, Fonseka said, it was done because it was the choice of the party to nominate the party’s leader to the position.

“It was not because it is Sajith Premadsa that I seconded the proposal, but it was proposed that the party leader should be nominated and everyone was asked to confirm it and it was done as a tradition.”

“There were opinions about whether we can win or not,” Fonseka said.

“Many politicians call me these days from other parties. Even from SLPP as well. All of them say the same thing and that is capable people should come forward. And that is the opinion from some politicians on both sides.”

Political analysts say public acceptance for another military leader as the president of Sri Lanka after Rajapaksa’s failure would not be there as much as in the past.

Fonseka said his party leader Premadasa should see the reality.

“If Sajith wants to continue then he should understand this reality as well. If that happens, he will have a future.”

“We all have a personality and an image we build for ourselves. I and Sajith have a different one and so on. Everyone thinks they are capable. We have an issue like that as well.” (Colombo/ July 14/2022)

Comments (6)

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  1. Rabok says:

    The best Presidential candidate

  2. Dickie Bird says:

    He needs to throw his name into the hat and get 113 or more votes in Parliament,
    if the majority in the parliament accepts, – here is the sticking point.

  3. Shan says:

    He is a military man like Gotabaya and was denied entry to many countries. He is also a man with many contradictory stories, maybe a war criminal as well. He is not suitable to even sit in parliament.

  4. Appuhamy says:

    Aragalaya and the people have rejected the current political system and elected members of the parliament. It is clear that some political parties in parliament including SLPP are acting in their personal interest and will try to elect someone like Ranil who will protect the rogues who stole the country’s money. These parliamentarians will not act in the interest of the people- they do not represent the people’s expectations. Aragalaya should focus on getting the members of parliament to elect a president according to the wish of the people. My understanding is that a majority of people will be happy to see Sarath Fonseka becoming the president.

  5. Krish says:

    One dictator to another? No more Military mind set leaders to our country. Better if let him retire and give a chance to new civil leaders.

  6. Nalaka Fernando says:

    We need to be careful of replacing one military leader with another.

    Let’s not forget even Gotabaya also came saying “I will listen to the public and fix everything, like I ran the war!” We all voted for him and gave him unprecedented power. Long story short, here we are.

    Let’s be careful with these military leaders… They are good at war but not running a country.

View all comments (6)

Comments (6)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Rabok says:

    The best Presidential candidate

  2. Dickie Bird says:

    He needs to throw his name into the hat and get 113 or more votes in Parliament,
    if the majority in the parliament accepts, – here is the sticking point.

  3. Shan says:

    He is a military man like Gotabaya and was denied entry to many countries. He is also a man with many contradictory stories, maybe a war criminal as well. He is not suitable to even sit in parliament.

  4. Appuhamy says:

    Aragalaya and the people have rejected the current political system and elected members of the parliament. It is clear that some political parties in parliament including SLPP are acting in their personal interest and will try to elect someone like Ranil who will protect the rogues who stole the country’s money. These parliamentarians will not act in the interest of the people- they do not represent the people’s expectations. Aragalaya should focus on getting the members of parliament to elect a president according to the wish of the people. My understanding is that a majority of people will be happy to see Sarath Fonseka becoming the president.

  5. Krish says:

    One dictator to another? No more Military mind set leaders to our country. Better if let him retire and give a chance to new civil leaders.

  6. Nalaka Fernando says:

    We need to be careful of replacing one military leader with another.

    Let’s not forget even Gotabaya also came saying “I will listen to the public and fix everything, like I ran the war!” We all voted for him and gave him unprecedented power. Long story short, here we are.

    Let’s be careful with these military leaders… They are good at war but not running a country.

Sri Lanka’s RAMIS online tax collection system “not operatable”: IT Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s online tax collection system RAMIS is “not operatable”, and the Ministry of Information Technology is ready to do for an independent audit to find the shortcomings, State IT Minister Kanaka Herath said.

The Revenue Administration Management Information System (RAMIS) was introduced to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when the island nation signed for its 16th International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in 2016.

However, trade unions at the IRD protested the move, claiming that the system was malfunctioning despite billions being spent for it amid allegations that the new system was reducing the direct contacts between taxpayers and the IRD to reduce corruption.

The RAMIS had to be stopped after taxpayers faced massive penalties because of blunders made by heads of the IT division, computer operators and system errors at the IRD, government officials have said.

“The whole of Sri Lanka admits RAMIS is a failure. The annual fee is very high for that. This should be told in public,” Herath told reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Thursday (29)

“In future, we want all the ministries to get the guidelines from our ministry when they go for ERP (Enterprise resource planning).”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government said the RAMIS system will be operational from December last year.

However, the failure has delayed some tax collection which could have been paid via online.

“It is not under our ministry. It is under the finance ministry. We have no involvement with it, but still, it is not operatable,” Herath said.

“So, there are so many issues going on and I have no idea what the technical part of it. We can carry out an independent audit to find out the shortcomings of the software.”

Finance Ministry officials say IRD employees and trade unions had been resisting the RAMIS because it prevents direct interactions with taxpayers and possible bribes for defaulting or under paying taxes.

The crisis-hit island nation is struggling to boost its revenue in line with the target it has committed to the IMF in return for a 3 billion-dollar extended fund facility. (Colombo/Feb 29/2024) 

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Sri Lanka aims to boost SME with Sancharaka Udawa tourism expo

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is hosting Sancharaka Udawa, a tourism industry exhibition which will bring together businesses ranging from hotels to travel agents and airlines, and will allow the small and medium sector build links with the rest of the industry, officials said.

There will be over 250 exhibitors, with the annual event held for the 11th time expected to draw around 10,000 visitors, the organizers said.

“SMEs play a big role, from homestays to under three-star categories,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu told reporters.

“It is very important that we develop those markets as well.”

The Sancharaka Udawa fair comes as the Indian Ocean island is experiencing a tourism revival.

Sri Lanka had welcomed 191,000 tourists up to February 25, compared to 107,639 in February 2023.

“We have been hitting back-to-back double centuries,” Gajabahu said. “January was over 200,000.”

The exhibition to be held on May 17-18, is organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators.

It aims to establish a networking platform for small and medium sized service providers within the industry including the smallest sector.

“Homestays have been increasingly popular in areas such as Ella, Down South, Knuckles and Kandy,” SLAITO President, Nishad Wijethunga, said.

In the northern Jaffna peninsula, both domestic and international tourism was helping hotels.

A representative of the Northern Province Tourism Sector said that the Northern Province has 170 hotels, all of which have 60-70 percent occupancy.

Further, domestic airlines from Colombo to Palali and the inter-city train have been popular with local and international visitors, especially Indian tourists. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 309.50/70 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 309.50/70 to the US dollar Thursday, from 310.00/15 on Wednesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were slightly higher.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.50/70 percent down from 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.10 percent from 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 12.20/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.30/45 percent up from 12.20/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 12.35/50 percent up from 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.55/13.00 percent up from 12.50/90 percent. (Colombo/Feb29/2024)

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