BY Buwanajee Coralage
Amidst speculation that the MPs of several political parties are in discussions to join the United National Party (UNP) and support the new Government in the upcoming Budget, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa claimed that none of the SJB MPs will succumb to the privileges offered to them and join the Government.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday (9), he stated that no amount of incentives could be used to lure MPs from the SJB to the side of the Government, and that no MP from his party is willing or ready to join this “rotten” Government.
“Today, there is an auction for Ministerial posts. The promises of privileges are sky-high. Our MPs have principles and they remember their beginnings when making a mark on the democratic history in this country. We were able to win our first election in a record-breaking manner by forming the alliance of the Samagi Jana Sandanaya. We know that the Government is trying to poach MPs from the Opposition, but we won’t send them abroad or hide them, as our MPs have self-esteem,” said Premadasa, claiming that incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe had to send his MPs to Singapore when he was Opposition Leader to prevent them from crossing over to the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government.
Remarking on the bridging finance promised from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, he recalled that the Government claimed that its members were experts in international relations, and inquired as to the performance and progress on that front.
“The Government’s goal is to contract the economy and to contract the incomes of the 22 million to nourish the 134 MPs in the Government while granting privileges to them,” he claimed.
Furthermore, he questioned if this MP hunt is the system change that the Government promised to bring about. He asserted that the people are waiting for the system change and warned the Government to not forget the reasons behind the resignations of the former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, former Prime Minister and incumbent MP Mahinda Rajapaksa and finally former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
He claimed that the Government is still not aware of the nature of the people in this country who are enraged by the Government’s lust for power and riches, the use of violence, and greedy politics, and that they are waiting for these MPs who accepted Ministerial posts for privileges to come before them to give them their dues.
He further assured that the SJB will not disgrace the people’s mandate in the face of any privileges forsaking the country and its people.
Meanwhile, political sources have claimed that approximately 13 MPs from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) will join the UNP on the date of the Budget speech.
Sources further claimed that initial discussions have been held in this regard, and that further talks are being carried out regarding the ministerial positions to be given to the MPs who will join the UNP.
The Appropriation Bill for the fiscal year 2023 will be tabled in Parliament for the second reading on 14 November. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation, and National Policies, will deliver the opening speech of the second reading of the Appropriation Bill to Parliament at 1.30 p.m.