Peaceful environment, vital to promote tourism - Bandula Gunawardane | Sunday Observer

Peaceful environment, vital to promote tourism - Bandula Gunawardane

2 October, 2022

Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media, Dr. Bandula Gunawardane said Sri Lankan politicians and other pressure groups should shed their differences and unite and create a peaceful environment in Sri Lanka to promote tourism which is the quickest source of obtaining the much needed foreign exchange for the country.

The Minister, the chief guest at the World Tourism day celebrations at the Tourism Ministry on Tuesday, said that Sri Lanka’s economy badly needs foreign exchange to import not only oil, drugs, fertiliser but also raw materials. He said the quickest and most economical way to obtain Dollars is through tourism and it also creates direct and indirect income opportunities in large numbers.”

Dr. Gunawardane said, “The Government has identified tourism as a key thrust area that could stimulate the economy and had taken several steps to promote it. The Minister said “When I was in Russia to attend a World Film festival the global film fraternity was asking several negative questions on Sri Lanka like why there were so many road protests, power cuts and long queues to buy essentials. They said that these don’t encourage tourists who want to enjoy an alien country.” The Minister said that this is why steps were taken democratically to clear these negative sentiments and today Sri Lanka is ready and open to accept tourists.

National Council

The inaugural meeting of the ‘National Council’ was held at the Parliament complex under the chairmanship of Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Thursday. It has been decided to appoint two sub-committees related to national policies and economic stabilisation in the inaugural meeting of the ‘National Council’.

The purpose of setting up the Sub-Committee on National Policy is to set the common priorities of Parliament to guide the formulation of medium and long-term national policies. Also, the purpose of establishing the Sub-Committee on Economic Stabilisation is to reach agreement on the short- and medium-term programs related to economic stabilisation.

Following the inaugural meeting of the National Council, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the media that both the Government and Opposition lawmakers represented the Council by opening a new chapter in parliamentary history.

This positive message would pave the way to carry forward the parliamentary program in a more successful manner and further strengthen the confidence between Parliament and the people. The attempt made by the Council to formulate National Policies and economic stabilisation.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Leader of the House Minister Susil Premajayantha, Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella, Minister Tiran Alas, Members of Parliament Asanka Navaratne, Rauf Hakeem, Rishad Badiuddin, Mano Ganesan, Palani Digambaram, Jeevan Thondaman, Sisira Jayakody, Namal Rajapaksa, Johnston Fernando, Sagara Kariyawasam, Ali Sabry Rahim, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Vajira Abeywardena, Sivaneshthurai Chandrakanthan, Champika Ranawaka and several members of Parliament were present. Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake was also present at this meeting.

Separate commemorations

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and several SLFP Parliamentarians who recently accepted Cabinet and State Ministerial portfolios attended the event to commemorate late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike while the current SLFP hierarchy led by Party Chairman Maithripala Sirisena commemorated the same, separately.

The event to commemorate S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and Anura Bandaranaike was held on Monday, September 26 at the Bandaranaike Memorial in Attanagalla. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and her sister Sunethra Bandaranaike presided over the event, which was attended by Premier Gunawardena and former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

Apart from them, SLFP Parliamentarians Mahinda Amaraweera, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Jagath Pushpakumara and Ranjith Siyambalapitiya who were removed from all positions in the SLFP due to taking over Cabinet and State Ministerial positions recently also participated in the event. In addition to them, New Lanka Freedom Party Leader and SJB Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama, SLPP MP Yadamini Gunawardena, SLPP elected “Independent” MPs Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Chandima Weerakkodi and Piyankara Jayaratne and former Minister Jeewan Kumaratunga were also present on the occasion. However, SLFP Chairman, former President Maithripala Sirisena and SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara did not participate in the event, as they had instead organised a separate event to commemorate the Bandaranaikes at the BMICH.

Aragalaya II

Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB), Leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the second phase of the ‘Aragalaya’ will take place under the leadership and direction of the JJB. He said the dispersed power of ‘Aragalaya’ should be organised again since the real solutions can only be obtained by building an organised force.

At a meeting in Akuressa recently, Dissanayake said that the citizens were frustrated given that Ranil Wickremesinghe, who did not even have the mandate of the people, suddenly became the President of Sri Lanka. Therefore, the second phase of ‘Aragalaya’ will take place under the leadership and direction of the JJB, he said.

He said, “The Governor of the Central Bank had recently said that the second phase of ‘Aragalaya’ would be more dangerous than the first uprising of the people. He had said that there will be a second uprising because there is no food and there may be a great bloodshed in the country as a result of the current crisis. Should we wait three more years for an election under this situation? Can anyone say that these rulers will solve the problems? If a child faints and falls at school, if there is no medicine for cancer, if the farmer does not have fertiliser, what will happen to the country?” Dissanayake queried.

President in Japan

President Ranil Wickremesinghe attended the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on Tuesday. The President was accompanied by his Chief-Of-Staff, Sagala Ratnayake. Several foreign dignitaries including Vice-President of the United States of America, Kamala Harris, also attended the funeral. A 19-gun salute was sounded in honour of the former leader Abe, as his ashes, carried by his widow Akie, arrived at the Budokan venue in Tokyo.

President Wickremesinghe held discussions with Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Tuesday in Tokyo. Foreign Minister Hayashi welcomed Sri Lanka’s progress with the IMF and expressed Japan’s willingness to take a leading role in Sri Lanka’s creditor talks. President Wickremesinghe expressed regret over the breakdown of relations between Japan and Sri Lanka following the cancellation of several investment projects by the former Government.

The President stressed that he was keen to restart those projects. The President also indicated that the Government was interested in Japan investing in Sri Lanka’s renewable energy projects. Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi explained that Japan had increased its commitment to renewable energy and would be willing to explore future investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.

The President appreciated the support extended by Japan on the international stage, and expressed the Government’s willingness to support both Japan’s and India’s campaign to become permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The Foreign Minister welcomed the news, stressing that Asia required greater representation on the world stage.

Conciliatory approach

State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe emphasised the importance of everyone working together to overcome economic challenges to the heads of state banks. Acting Minister of Finance Semasinghe chaired a discussion on Tuesday at the Ministry of Finance with the heads of state banks on how the country can face the current economic crisis in the country and how the state banks should function to overcome the crisis.

The Minister advised Government and bank officials that it is appropriate for the Government and state banks to adopt a conciliatory and collective approach in banking affairs including loan payments in view of the oppressive economic situation that the public is currently facing.

Semasinghe told the officials to focus on adopting short-term and long-term lenient practices to face the current situation in the country. He emphasised the importance of everyone working together to overcome this era when the country is facing an economic challenge.

UNGA sessions in USA

Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry, PC told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) over the weekend that the external and internal challenges Sri Lanka faces provide an opportunity for implementing political, social and economic reforms that will lead to recovery and prosperity for the people.

At the General Debate of the 77th Session of the UNGA in New York, the Minister said Sri Lanka looks forward to the co-operation and support of the international community including the United Nations, as the country embarks on the journey ‘to build back better’.

Minister Sabry said, “The Government is extremely sensitive to the socio- economic hardships faced by our people adding “It is predicted that food and nutrition security will be at great risk. Sri Lanka is paying serious heed to these warning signs. Sri Lanka supports sustainable transformation of agriculture to a modernised sector and encourages enhanced food production to ensure food security.

Sri Lanka has initiated the national food security program with the dual objectives of ensuring that no citizen should suffer for the want of food and no child should be a victim of malnutrition. He called on the UN Member States to come together to face the contemporary challenges and crises. Winding up his speech, the Minister said that Sri Lanka is committed to the way of a socialist democracy, to non-alignment and to an independent foreign policy, based on friendship with all countries, irrespective of differing ideological and social systems.”

MPCS elections

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) won the elections of the Multi-purpose Co-operatives Societies of Panadura and Gampola with an overwhelming majority. Accordingly, the SLPP won 53 out of the 87 seats at the General Meeting of the Panadura Multi-purpose Co-operative Society.

The group supporting the Opposition secured 34 votes. The group supporting the SLPP secured Six Director positions at the Gampola Multipurpose Cooperative Society election while the Opposition secured only one Director position.

High Security Zone

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa vehemently rejected the declaration of large extent of lands areas in the Colombo city as a High Security Zone. Addressing a recent meeting in Bandaragama, the Opposition Leader said according to the country’s law such a large extent of land area, especially in the Colombo city limits cannot be declared as a High Security Zone without any valid reason.

Premadasa said, “Even the Sri Lanka Bar Association has also issued a letter in this regard and said that taking such a decision by the Government cannot be accepted and it is a human right violation.” The Opposition Leader said the Government declared this large land area in the heart of Colombo with the sole intention of stopping protest campaigns organised by people against the day-to-day rising cost of living and the price increase of almost all commodity items.

He said poor people are suffering a lot when the prices of all commodity items have increased and some families have even reduced their day’s meals due to the high cost of living in the country.

He said as we all are aware that even UNICEF has stated that six million children in the country are consuming only one meal a day and due to this the majority of children are suffering from malnutrition. He said at this crucial moment if the Government has adequate money to spend on Parliamentarians why they cannot utilise that money to reduce the prices of essential goods such as gas, diesel, petrol, kerosene, fertiliser and milk powder for the benefit of poor people in the country.

State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said that he has no plans to leave the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) or seek membership in any other political party. He also said that he has no desire to end his political journey that began with the commencement of the progressive student movement when he was a student at the Sri Jayewardenepura University in 1981.

The Minister was commenting on the decision taken by the SLFP Central Committee to remove six members from the positions they held in the party during an inspection tour to the Inland Revenue Department Head Office recently.

Minister Siyambalapitiya also said that political stability in the country is an essential factor to resolve the economic crisis. He said, “Both local and International institutions such as the International Monetary Fund suggested Political stability should be restored in the country.

Therefore, we mooted the proposal to set up the National Government.” The Minister said “We as a team took some steps to bring this country forward at this crucial time. I respect the President for taking over the country despite many challenges.”


Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said the Government is unwilling to hand over the chair of COPE and COPA to the Opposition. Premadasa said that even though the Speaker promised to give the chairmanship of COPE and COPA to the Opposition, it seems that it would be only a dream.

Premadasa said that the Government is not allowing it because it wants to safeguard the Rajapaksa family. Premadasa also said that all the members appointed to the National Council are Rajapaksa-friendly MPs. He said it is the shadows of the Rajapaksa family that govern the country. The Opposition Leader was speaking at a SJB Thanamalwila Bala Mandala meeting on Thursday.

Premadasa also said unlike the previous Oppositions that acted only with the intention of grabbing power, the SJB is assisting the people even while in the Opposition. The Opposition Leader also alleged that the Government does not have a proper plan to solve the economic issues prevailing in the country.