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President, PM urge people to rally for true prosperity

|Mon, 09 January 2017 10:55|Security| Page Views : 74

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President Maithripala Sirisena along with Prime Ranil Wickremesinghe arrive at BMICH to officiate at the ceremony to mark the former’s second anniversary in office

* Sirisena says united effort needed to end poverty and achieve sustainable development

* Claims MR era resulted in artificial prosperity with a mountain of debt

* As opposed to official statistics of 7% puts poverty at 27% including poorly paid minor workers in public and private sector and those deserving but outside Samurdhi Reiterates no one can topple the Govt,urges those who want to join coalition to develop country

* Tells PM if Hambantota doesn’t want new industries divert those to Polonnaruwa

* Kicks off rural-based ‘Grama-Shakthi’ and women-led ‘Shrama-Shakthi’ to alleviate poverty

* Wickremesinghe says coalition’s third year takes off with economic focus; first week heralds new ventures with 26,000 jobs and

* He Says those opposing development jeopardising jobs for youth and income for impoverished people

Marking the milestone of two years in office, President Maithripala Sirisena along with Prime Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday urged people to unite for prosperity as the coalition Government was more resolute than weak.

Noting that several significant achievements had been made in the fields of democracy, human rights, coexistence and media freedom among others during the past two years, the two leaders emphasised that the arduous forward journey from a dictatorship to good governance required more work, hence their rallying call for unity.

“All must commit themselves to work towards sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty. There are good and bad things in a market and social economy. Let us take the best of both to lead Sri Lanka to prosperity. We have intelligent people and professionals. We have good policies and plans and we can be victorious as a country,” the President said at an official ceremony at the BMICH to mark the second anniversary of his inauguration yesterday.

The theme of the event was ‘Dawn of third year in the era of sustainability’ with the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu as the special guest.

The President said the event marked the celebration of two years of success and the commissioning of a host of new initiatives, including the poverty alleviation drive of the rural-based ‘Grama-Shakthi’ encompassing 15,000 villages and the women-led ‘Shrama Shakthi’.

Having thanked the UNP and other political parties, civil society groups and the 6.25 million who voted for him, the President said some were asking what mega projects the Government had started and whether there had been any progress in the country for the past two years.

He said that the dictatorial regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa only produced “artificial development” whilst burdening the country with a mountain of debt of over Rs. 9 trillion.

“Rajapaksa called for elections two years ahead as he was afraid of facing this economic crisis and mounting international pressure on human rights. We explained the true position to the people and the world. We are not afraid to face these challenges and we will emerge victorious,” Sirisena said.

He assured that many promises made in the presidential manifesto had been fulfilled and others would be made a reality. In that context he emphasised that the abolition of the 18th Amendment and the introduction of 19th Amendment were key victories for the people.

The President said the overwhelming mandate from the people was for a coalition Government since the major parties which had fought each other for over 60 years had to work together to lead the country toward true democracy and prosperity.

“I will not steer away from this mandate. I will not let anyone topple this Government. I invite those who are talking to form a Government to join the coalition and work towards development. That is the immediate need of the country. Not to scheme for a next election which is four years away,” the President added.

During his speech, he also said that although official statistics claimed poverty in Sri Lanka was only 7%, if one included poorly paid low-grade employees in the public and private sectors and people deserving yet not coming under the Samurdhi scheme, true poverty was around 25-27%.

“We have a clear objective and policies have been formulated towards sustainable development,” the President added. Whilst forging ahead with advancement in technology and education, he said agriculture, irrigation and the rural economy would be revitalised.

“We can progress and I invite all to join the march towards real development,” said Sirisena, who also told Prime Minister Wickremesinghe that if the people of Hambantota were refusing new industries those could be relocated to Polonnaruwa, the President’s constituency.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in his address also spoke of the virtues and challenges of two rival parties coming together to govern the country for the better. “It is not an easy journey especially when the economy was ruined and there was no democracy. People voted us to ensure real development and reconciliation and through collaborative efforts we will deliver,” he stated.

He said that the unity Government had embarked on its third year with an economic development focus with the first week alone witnessing new ventures with the potential to generate 26,000 jobs. “We are talking of new investments in the billions and from a host of countries as South Asia is the fastest-growing region in the world.”

Wickremesinghe also urged people to unite and work together for lasting peace and prosperity. “We have remained a poor country for long enough. With peace, coexistence and development we can be a powerful economy,” the Premier emphasised.

He also said that those who were trying to scuttle the forward march of the country were also harming the unemployed and impoverished and not the President and himself.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu highlighted various innovative measures spearheaded in his State to improve efficiency, reduce corruption and boost socioeconomic growth under the theme ‘Prosperity and happiness to all’. He offered to share expertise as well as sought Sri Lanka’s support from its success stories in health and education among other sectors.

Naidu hailed the major two parties coming together to form a coalition in the national interest and expressed confidence that Sri Lanka could achieve significant progress.

Focusing on bilateral cooperation, he said: “Sri Lanka and India will always be neighbours because we cannot change natural boundaries. We must enhance our cooperation for mutual prosperity.”

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