UNP will never defend thieves: Akila

The United National Party (UNP) will at no time defend thieves, Party General Secretary and Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said yesterday.

He said this in response to a question asked by journalists at to what the party intended doing with regard to the UNPers who were
alleged to have obtained money from Perpetual Treasuries owner Arjun Aloysius .

“We will not defend thieves but one must be not label anyone as a thief until it is proven that they have stolen money,” the minister said at a media briefing yesterday.

When asked who would be the UNP candidate at the next presidential election, he said the party would field its leader as the candidate.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said some of the key points in the UNP policy of creating a wealthy nation have been picked up by former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and had included it in his Viyath Maga programme. He criticized Mr. Rajapaksa for saying he did not own a house in Kataragama because an electricity bill has been addressed to his name.

State Minister Harsha De Silva said there was a difference between a social market economy and a socialist market economy which Mr. Rajapaksa has talked about.

“Some have got mixed up with the economic programme. UNP policy is to maintain a social market economy and make Sri Lanka a hub of the Indian Ocean. Under the 2030 programme of Mr. Rajapaksa is to create socialist market programme based on competitiveness. Socialist market is a concept started by China. We talk of private sector being an engine of growth. Private sector includes SMEs, farmers, tuition masters and also large companies. In a social market economy one of the main factors is the market efficiency and social protection. In China enterprises are owned by Communist Party in China. Profits of enterprises in China go to the communist party. Is Mr. Rajapaksa going to hand over state enterprises to a political party,” the state minister said. (Yohan Perera)