Aswesuma compensation begins | Sunday Observer

Aswesuma compensation begins

3 September, 2023
President Wickremesinghe presents an award to a young artiste at  the ceremony to award prizes to the artistes  who excelled in the Kandy Esala Perahera. Pic: Courtesy PMD
President Wickremesinghe presents an award to a young artiste at the ceremony to award prizes to the artistes who excelled in the Kandy Esala Perahera. Pic: Courtesy PMD

President Ranil Wickremesinghe returned to Colombo following the completion of his tour of the Eastern Province and reserved Sunday to study the Cabinet papers. Although there were several other personal meetings, the President didn’t have any other functions due to this reason.

The Cabinet meeting was held on Monday morning and the payment of Aswesuma compensation was discussed. The President informed the Ministers that it will be paid from this week. It was said that the President is working to improve the local economy by strengthening foreign relations.

When President Wickremesinghe came out after the Cabinet meeting was over, several Members of Parliament along with the President’s Parliamentary Advisor Prof. Ashu Marasinghe were present to meet the President and the Prime Minister. The ruling party MPs Premanath C. Dolawatta, Madhura Withanage and Jagath Samarawickrama were among them.

“Sir, these people have come to make a complaint,” Prof.Marasinghe said looking at the President and Prime Minister.

MP Dolawatta said, “The Leader of the Opposition and his team are ruining the MPs’ question hour in the morning.” .

MP Jagath Samarawickrama said, “Because of the work of the Opposition, we do not get time to speak during debates. Therefore, the biggest injustice is happening to the back row MPs of the ruling party. Although we are allotted 15 minutes to speak, we finally get about four minutes in the debate due to the nonsense of the Opposition Leader. This is very unfair.”

MP Madhura Withanage, joining the conversation, said, “It costs more than Rs. 4 million a day to hold parliamentary meetings. Public money is being wasted because the Opposition Leader is talking about what is necessary and what is unnecessary.”

Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said, “We spoke about this issue on many occasions at Party Leaders’ meetings. After agreeing to manage time, it is changed after coming to the Chamber. Even though an hour has been reserved for oral answers, these people drag it on for two to three hours.”

The President, looking at the Prime Minister, said, “We will talk to the Speaker about this.”

UNP Convention

After that the President met the UNP anniversary convention committee officials. After discussing the progress of the work and giving certain instructions to the Management Committee, the President left for another duty.

On the invitation of UNP General Secretary Range Banda, the discussion commenced and UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene, Deputy Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Chairman Wajira Abeywardena and National Organiser Sagala Ratnayaka joined it.

The General Secretary assigned the responsibility of the UNP Convention to the group. The question that came up was that there was a mistake in the year of the convention. Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that the letters sent by General Secretary Range Bandara mentioned it as the 56th convention. He pointed out that the announcement of the 56th convention in a party that has held conventions over 70 years will confuse party members.

General Secretary Range Bandara’s response was that the Convention and the anniversary have been confused. He said that the party has been holding anniversaries and conventions since time immemorial and even special conventions.

Range Bandara said that the 77th anniversary convention of the party is being held this year to commemorate the day the party was founded. He pointed out that party Conventions were held on special occasions such as to change the party Constitution. General Secretary Range Bandara said that the 56th convention of the party will be held this year.

In the end, they spoke to the oldest member of the Sirikotha governing body Yvonne and brought the Convention book and resolved the issue. But the group started to say that it should go by the number 77.

The General Secretary said that since both invitations and posters had stated 56 and 77, if this is to be changed, additional money will have to be spent. It was decided to print the invitations again and Daya Palpola and Ronald Perera of the legal department said that General Secretary Range Bandara doesn’t say something irresponsibly. Finally, it was decided to remove the number “56” and print invitations and posters again and Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene agreed to solve the problem.

After that, General Secretary Range Bandara, Shamal Senarath and Lasanta Gunawardena along with the officers of the Presidential Security Division went to inspect the venue of the anniversary convention. They observed the venue and returned to the President’s office in the evening to participate in the party’s Management Committee meeting chaired by the President.

The President at the meeting inquired about the progress of the anniversary Convention and General Secretary Range Bandara explained the details related to it. Range Bandara said over 20,000 people would come as guests and the President was asked if they would invite Parliamentarians, Party Leaders, Ambassadors and Governors.

Everyone could not stop laughing when President Wickremesinghe said that it was not necessary and only one Governor could participate in the anniversary Convention. Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene, Chairman Wajira Abeywardena and National Organiser Sagala Ratnayaka took charge of the tasks to be done on behalf of the convention.

After discussing the activities of the anniversary Convention, the President explained the situation of the country to the group. The President said that the development of tourism will bring positive results to the economy by January. He also revealed information about his trip to Trincomalee and Arugam Bay.

The President also pointed out facts about the improvement of tourism there. He said that the Aswesuma compensation benefits will be paid from this week. Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and others said that every person who takes Aswesuma benefits should be given some responsibility so that they will be responsible for the money they receive.

General Secretary Range Bandara said, “Sir, don’t do anything until the next mandate.”

When he said that, another group said, “Yes, we say these things in good faith and have made a mistake.” The President heard all this and said nothing. General Secretary Range Bandara also explained the progress of his North and East tour to the President before the discussion.

DDC meeting

When the President came to his office on Tuesday, a group of Ministers were waiting for him. They raised the issue about a group of Buddhist monks forcibly breaking into the Trincomalee District Development Committee (DDC) meeting that day. They started saying that it was a bad precedent. MP Wajira Abeywardena said that if this becomes a precedent, no District Development Committee will be able to be held.

The President told the group that he would visit the Malwathu and Asgiri Mahanayaka Theras that evening and discuss the Kurundi Vihara issue and the Trincomalee issue. The President then joined the discussion on sustainable development. Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena was also present and the President said that we should stand alone as a nation without waiting for help from other countries.

President in Kandy

The President went to Kandy that evening and visited the Malwatu and Asgiri Mahanayaka Theras and Anunayaka Theras after worshiping at the Sri Dalada Maligawa. Former UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrama also accompanied him.

The President also visited the Anunayaka Theras of the Asgiri Chapter Most Ven. Vedaruwe Upali thera and Most Ven. Anamaduwe Dhammadassi Thera.

Most Ven. Dhammadassi Thera appreciated the President’s actions and said that everyone should support him to develop the country.

He said, “President, when we go to preach to the people, they ask about the country’s problems. So, I thought I would ask you these questions at this time. Then we can answer the people’s questions.”

“Ask anything, Ven. Nayaka Thera,” the President replied.

Then the Anunayaka Thera asked about the IMF issue and the land issue of the 13th Amendment.

Responding to that, President Wickremesinghe explained the functioning of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said that all activities regarding the 13th Amendment will be subject to the approval of Parliament. He said a National Land Commission will be set up to look into lands and its powers will be maintained at the national level.

“The people want to eat and live normally. But a few groups are trying to change that. They go outside and create problems. I see the problem of Kurundi Vihara in the same way. Don’t let this happen,” the Anunayaka Thera said.

The President said that he would not allow it, adding that he would set up a committee consisting of the chief monks and priests of those provinces and solve the problems in the sacred places.

President Wickremesinghe also had discussions with the Anunayaka Thera of the Malwathu Chapter Most Ven. Dimbulkumbure Sri Vimaladhamma Thera.

President Wickremesinghe met United States Senator Chris Van Hollen at the President’s House, Kandy. President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka was also present.

The President invited Senator Van Hollen to the back of the President’s House, who was chatting for a while in the lobby. Showing the Udawatta forest behind the President’s House, the President gave a long explanation about the history of Kandy, surprising the US Senator. After about half an hour of discussion, the President went to the Queen’s Hotel to watch the Dalada Perahera, accompanied by Senator Van Hollen and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung.

Capital Market Clubs

When the President came to the Queen’s Hotel, he received a warm reception from the people. The next morning, the President went to the Nugawela Central College, Kandy to set up the first of the Capital Market Clubs to be set up in 100 schools to increase financial literacy among students. The President, who said that prizes will be given to school clubs that work very efficiently, also said that students and teachers who show the highest performance will be taken to Singapore to study the workings of its stock market for a brief period.

This project is being implemented under the President’s Youth Affairs Director Randula Abeyweera.

President Wickremesinghe who engaged in a friendly conversation with the students, then came to join the ceremony of awarding prizes to the artistes who excelled in the Perahera, which is the final stage of the Kandy Esala Perahera festival.

MEP’s Adhistana pooja

The annual Adhistana pooja and Sathyakriya conducted by the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) with national organisations to preserve the motherland and its unitary state was held at the historic Kataragama Kirivehera on August 26 for the 29th consecutive year under the patronage of MEP Leader Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

When Premier Gunawardena and MEP Deputy Secretary MP Yadamini Gunawardena arrived around 4.00 pm to participate in the ceremony, Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapaksa, State Ministers Janaka Wakkumbura, Piyal Nishantha, Anupa Pasqual, Shashindra Rajapaksa, Jagath Pushpakumara, Members of Parliament Gevindu Kumaratunga, Gayashan Navanandana and many people’s representatives were present at the Kirivehera. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera arrived a little late but joined the Sathyakriya. Premier Gunawardena went straight to the Kirivehera temple.

The Prime Minister who bowed down and worshiped the Maha Sangha, including Chief Incumbent of Kirivehera Ven. Kobawaka Dhamminda Thera prepared to fulfill a duty.

He said while handing over the legal documents, “As per your advice, we are working to offer the Kataragama pilgrims’ rest to Kirivehra.”

While Dinesh Gunawardena was the Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development, the National Physical Planning Department built a fully equipped pilgrims’ rest at Kataragama and handed it over to the Kirivehera Rajamaha Vihara for its activities, but later it was handed over to the Ministry again.

“Handing over the pilgrims’ rest to Kirivehera again is a very good move,” Ven. Kobawaka Dhamminda Thera said at the Adhistana Pooja at Kirivehera.

He said, “It is a matter of happiness for everyone that a person who accepted the responsibility in a difficult period, believed in religious leaders, and was a Buddhist at heart, became the Prime Minister. In an era where Bhikkhus are being accused of various things, if you had not become the Prime Minister, there would have been many problems. It is also a matter of praise that this Adhistana Pooja that was started 29 years ago has not been forgotten.”

Kataragama Abhinavaramadhipathi Ven. Kapugama Saranatissa Thera said, “During the past period, this country became very anarchic. The country lost its leadership. It was at that time that the current President and Prime Minister accepted the responsibilities when everyone refused in the midst of all those challenges. Despite all the challenges, today we are really happy the Prime Minister has taken over this responsibility following the same path taken by great leaders such as Philip Gunawardena to save the country from generation to generation.” A large number of people participated.

Everyone paid attention to the pledge given by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. “We will dedicate ourselves to preserving the unitary state, territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of the motherland. We will dedicate ourselves to preserve the noble Sambuddha Sasana and the Maha Sangha. We will also dedicate ourselves to strengthening democratic society and setting up a mixed electoral system for Parliament and public representative bodies. We are working towards an environment-friendly program by giving youth and women their due place.”

Premier Gunawardena did not forget to talk to the people present and the devotees in Kirivehera.

Program to gain power

It is the position of the Samagi Jana Balavegays (SJB) that the Government is facing a serious crisis in almost every field. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa advised his group of MPs to come together to strengthen the program to gain power. He instructed his group of MPs to meet the affected parties in various sectors of society and prepare the program to provide solutions to their problems.

The SJB position is that the Aswesuma Program implemented by the Government is a completely failed political project. A large number of public servants are inconvenienced by the Aswesuma program and the Grama Niladharis at the village level are severely affected by it. A group of such Grama Niladharis who have faced such inconvenience, met Sajith Premadasa at the office of the Leader of the Opposition recently.

The Opposition Leader said, “The current Government is a completely confused Government and they don’t understand how to work properly and they don’t have a proper program even for the relief program but they have already started working for the next election and all this is a political gamble and it should stop because this is a lie, fraud and fraudulent transaction. It should be stopped immediately and without that, it will not be possible to recover from bankruptcy.”

He said, “The first thing that the President who came to power after the Covid-19 situation and bankruptcy should have done is to conduct a proper census and correctly identify the poverty line and the people who should benefit, but the Aswesuma program did not start with such a formal survey and the Government started to conduct a survey while the program was being carried out.”

The Opposition Leader said if he became the President, he would first conduct a formal population survey. The population census that should be conducted by the Census Department has been conducted by the LearnAsia Institute and as a result of it, the number of poor people in Sri Lanka has increased from three million to seven million. The Opposition Leader also said that the Census Department follows a lethargic policy.

Opposition Leader Premadasa said that over 2,650 depositors of the Finance and Guarantee (UB Finance) institution which had the approval of the Central Bank had deposited Rs. 1.36 billion to get interest income, but the activities of the Central Bank and its Governors, injustice had been done to the deposits of these depositors. The Opposition Leader said this when he met a group of depositors.

Sajith meets UN Resident Coordinator

A meeting between the new UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Marc-André Franche and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa took place at the Opposition Leader’s Office.

Premadasa presented facts about the violation of the democratic rights of the people by the Government, postponement of elections and violation of fundamental rights, he also focused on providing support for Sri Lanka’s progress.


It is not a secret that a huge disaster has emerged across the country due to substandard medicines due to the drug mafia. The SJB believes that the Health Minister and the Government are fully responsible for this. Therefore, the Opposition, including the SJB has decided to bring a No Confidence Motion (NMC) against the Minister in charge of the subject. The No Confidence Motion is to be brought next week.

A Government Minister asked MP S.M. Marikkar: “What is the status of your No Confidence Motion?”

Marikkar replied, “Everything will come at the right time. The people of the country will be able to see who will raise their hand to kill the people together with the substandard drug mafia, and who will raise their hand to save the people.”

MP Harshana Rajakaruna: “The Government thinks that we have abandoned the No Confidence Motion. Let’s see what happens next week.” MP Dr. Kavinda Jayawardena: “It is not only the No Confidence Motion but we will also take legal action.” As mentioned, the SJB filed a fundamental rights petition on the import of substandard drugs and the emerging health crisis. Dr. Kavinda Jayawardena and Harshana Rajakaruna were present.