By Chandani Kirinde
Samagi Jana Balawegaya Leader Sajith Premadasa and Sri Lanka Freedom Party Leader and former President Maithripala Sirisena met with several Opposition political party leaders as well as civil rights activists yesterday in a fresh effort to moot a collective program to get the country out of the current crisis.
The meeting was organised on the theme “National Reforms and Progress” and is aimed at finding common ground on several issues to salvage the country and bring about long-term reforms.
Premadasa who addressed the meeting said that whatever form a Government takes, the economic issues of the people have to be addressed urgently and a solution acceptable to all people must be found first. “We are faced with a dollar and cents problem today. The basic human needs can only be met with the increase in our foreign reserves,” he said.
Premadasa said that the country can be built through social reforms that take a wide variety of opinions on board. “We must listen to the proposals and ideas of all progressive parties. The aim of the opposition is to rebuild the country through a common national agenda that can bring together diverse ideas,” Premadasa said.
Former President Sirisena said that the country’s foreign policy is in a mess and during the past three years Sri Lanka has lost her traditional allies including Russia and Japan.
“We are fully supportive of a common plan of action to put the country on the proper track. We need to form a Government unlike any we have had in the past so that the aspirations of the youth can be addressed,” he said.
He added that the issue of corruption must also be addressed urgently. “Over 100 state institutions are involved in large scale corruption. Today we know that when a bowser leaves Kolonnawa, they inform the petrol shed owner and demand a certain sum to bring the bowser there. Although there is no petrol in the sheds, plenty can be bought in the black market,” he said.
Sirisena added that the Government has failed to put in place a proper distribution system for essential goods till today.
The meeting was convened by SJB MPs Rajitha Senaratne and Buddhika Pathirana.
Those who attended the meeting included Samagi Jana Balavega General Secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara, President Sarath Fonseka, Mano Ganesan, Rauf Hakeem, C. Wigneswaran, P. Digambaram, many political leaders and a large number of civil activists including Victor Ivan, Janaranjana, Gamini Viyangoda, Prof. Rohan Samarajeeva, Upul Jayasuriya PC and business leaders such as Kulathunga Rajapaksa and Ariyaseela Wickramanayake.