“Pohottuwa Party Can’t Hide Behind New Prez”

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Yesterday (26), Top Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Spokesperson, MP Mujibur Rahuman said that the Cabinet of Ministers had to explain itself on the latest statement of the Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera that fuel imports would be restricted for the next 12 months.

Minister Wijesekera claimed restrictions on fuel imports would be unavoidable due to forex unavailability.

Colombo District Legislator Rahuman pointed out that the ministerial warning was irrelevant as the fuel supply had been interrupted and regular power cuts had been introduced several months ago.

New restrictions on fuel imports meant the national economy would shrink rapidly and the so-called new government had no strategy to meet basic needs, the MP said.

Newly appointed President Ranil Wickremesinghe reappointed Wijesekera as Energy and Power Minister.

Former UNP MP Rahuman urged the SLPP government to come clean on the economic situation without further delay. Pointing out that as many as 4 million vehicles had been registered so far, the MP asked if the government was sincere in implementing the much-vaunted fuel dispensing system under the code ‘QR’.

Responding to The Island issues, lawmaker Rahuman warned that the worsening economic crisis could not be resolved by suppressing dissent. Referring to recent media reports that coal stocks had rapidly dwindled, MP Rahuman said essential supplies, including LPG, had yet to be normalised. “Are we heading for longer blackouts than the current three-hour daily outage?” asked the deputy.

Minister Wijesekera’s warning that fuel supplies could be further restricted reflected the real situation, regardless of foolish efforts to deceive the public.

The SLPP could not hide behind UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was recently elected president under controversial circumstances, lawmaker Rahuman said. The SJB official asked if President Wickremesinghe had consulted the SLPP hierarchy before ordering a full-scale military crackdown on Galle Face protesters.

In Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s absence, the military and law enforcement apparatus carried out a coordinated attack on protesters on the day President Wickremesinghe was sworn in to new ministers, MP Rahuman said. The opposition MP said those who attacked protesters at the behest of President Wickremesinghe would be held accountable.

Lawmaker Rahuman alleged that the SLPP was engaged in a desperate attempt to retain power at all costs. The embattled ruling coalition wanted President Wickremesinghe to save them from the current unrest, MP Rahuman said.

The SJB official said that despite offering to form a multi-party government to resolve the ongoing issues, President Wickremesinghe and the SLPP were clearly not serious about such an arrangement. If the government was genuine, the army would not have been unleashed on the protesters, he said. “Perhaps the attack was aimed at undermining proposed efforts for a multi-party government. The new president and the SLPP appear to be planning to proceed regardless of calls to call a snap general election, the MP said.

Under the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the President can dissolve Parliament.

Lawmaker Rahuman said the SJB believed that even though Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not on the scene, the SLPP’s agenda remained the same.

Lawmaker Rahuman said dozens of deaths in fuel queues in various parts of the country were a grim reminder of the failure of the SLPP. No less than Central Bank Governor Dr Nandalal Weerasinghe has told parliamentary oversight committees, COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) and COPF (Committee on Public Finance) how the previous administration mishandled the national economy. The then Minister of Finance, Ali Sabry, PC, and members of the Monetary Board, Prasanna Jayawardena, PC and Dr. Ranee Jayamaha confirmed what Dr. Weerasinghe, the head of the SJB, said. It would be the responsibility of the Wickremesinghe administration to act on the disclosure made by the aforementioned individuals, he said.