Two-thirds majority needed to remove constitutional obstacles – President

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has requested the support of every segment of the population towards his plan of action to rebuild the country.

This plan only aims at the future betterment of the country, said the President adding that he never criticized dissenting views during his Presidential Election campaign. The President has said that what matters to him is not the individual but the policy.

President Rajapaksa has made these remarks during a meeting with newspaper editors and news directors of electronic media held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (05).

In order to achieve rapid economic development, modern technology especially the information and communication technology will be introduced as a priority, President has said. “Modern technology is the driving force behind economic development.” President said that it is his objective to introduce modern technology to every aspect of the economy.

“The current economic value of the communication technology sector stands at USD 1 billion. It could be increased to USD 3 billion within next 2 or 3 years. The employment generation is around 300,000 and what we need to do is to train the workforce.”

A journalist has questioned the rationale behind seeking a two-thirds majority at the upcoming Parliamentary Election President said that people of this country elected him to Office with great expectations.

In order to fulfil their aspirations, there should be an environment where the President could function without any obstruction. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution had taken away that freedom. President questioned the meaning of a Constitution if the very same Constitution prevents a President who was by the people. The two-thirds majority is required to remove this obstacle. Responding to a question on Independent Commissions, President said the ‘Independent’ Commissions should truly be independent. Independent Commissions established under the 19th Amendment do not meet this criterion, President observed.

When asked by a journalist of the steps that will be taken regarding suspension of the job training programme for unemployed graduates by the Chairman of the Election Commission, the President has stated: “Providing employments to unemployed graduates irrespective of their political differences was one of my presidential election pledges. All eligible candidates were selected as job recipients. Presently, the objective is to train them. Training is a prerequisite to do a job. Therefore, we will discuss this matter with the Election Commission.”

Responding to a question on how the government would face the consequences of withdrawing from co-sponsoring the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa noted that the Geneva resolution is a challenge to the nation’s independence and dignity. “This is the only time in the history a country that has acknowledged that their own security forces have committed war crimes. That is why it was necessary to withdraw from the co-sponsorship. We must get to the root of this problem. Uma Maheswaran started his political campaign by agitating over economic grievances. Later, this truth was concealed and separatism raised its head. We have to solve the genuine problem,” the President continued.

Another question was asked as to what solution is possible for the problem of the missing persons. President Rajapaksa has pointed out that there were disappeared persons from both sides and said that based on one or two incidents whole matter was generalised with political purposes. He added that once the missing persons have been identified, death certificates can be issued. A UNICEF survey on the disappeared revealed that a large number of people reported missing were killed in the battle field after the LTTE recruited them as their cadres, the President said.

“In the last presidential election, your party talked a lot about the Easter Sunday attack. What are the reasons for not arresting and punish the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday bombings,” a journalist questioned.

In response, the President said: “A Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday Attack has been appointed to investigate the crime. I have received two interim reports of this Commission. Upon the receipt of the final report, we can take necessary actions according to the recommendations contained therein. The Parliamentary Select Committee report on the attack also included important recommendations.” The President added that he will take into the consideration all of these reports and further said that His Eminence Cardinal is also satisfied with the on-going investigations.

Some of the tax reductions, including VAT, have not yielded the desired result, a journalist said. In response to this statement, the President pointed out that many businesses that were in a difficult situation could be saved due to this move of tax cutting.

A journalist commended President Rajapaksa’s concept to fill the top offices of Institutes and Corporations based on recommendations from a Selection Committee and inquired whether the President is satisfied regarding the appointments made so far.

President responded that he is satisfied with the majority of appointments made at a number of institutes and added that some appointments are arguable. President has stressed that the officials who assumed the top posts will have to come up with favourable outcomes in their respective institutes and if they fail, he would have to take a decision regarding them.

President was inquired as to whether he could continue his expected path for a better Sri Lanka surrounded by Members of Parliament with questionable code of conduct.

“President does not handpick the Members of the Parliament, the people has the mandate to elect their representatives. The people should choose the most suitable representatives,” President has responded.

The appointment of retired army personnel for a number of top state posts was questioned at the discussion. President stated that the current opposition who poses these questions appointed a military person for a top office at a university when they were in power. President Rajapaksa went on to note that former government appointed more military personnel for government institutes than the current government and assured that the high ranking military personnel are trained both locally and internationally in a number of fields including administration.

Responding to a question in relation to agriculture, President Rajapaksa stressed that he is determined to eradicate exploitation by the intermediaries in the industry and bring justice to both the farmer and the customer.