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Today The Whole World Trusts Us – S. B. Dissanayake

By Thushari Nathaniel

The unity government led by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was given power on August 17, 2015. According to Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare S. B. Dissanayake, the government has made massive strides to restore democracy, empower people and also to provide social welfare facilities. In an interview with The Sunday Leader, he said that despite allegations that the government has not done enough, it has allocated rupees one million for every village for its development. Similarly, under the Samurdhi fund that was increased from Rs. 12 million to Rs. 42 million the villages will benefit immensely. He also said the plantation sector is also being developed and houses are being built for the estate people. Refuting allegations that nothing substantial is being done for the people, he said, some parties are only harping on the VAT increase to hide their faults.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q:  How successful do you think the Unity Government so far?

A: This is a new experience for both UNP and SLFP. Hence everyone with the SLFP is not willing to accept this new situation. We have been in power for 20 years in the past, so some SLFP members are not happy to form a government with the UNP. This unity government forged forward during this year amidst all these obstacles.

In fact, the main reason that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to go in for an early election was the Geneva issue. He thought he would win the election and then attend the Geneva conference with the people’s support. He knew that there was a huge threat from the UNHRC, and they were going to charge 46 persons for war crimes. He also knew that the UNHRC was to initiate investigations into alleged war crimes and violation of human rights in Sri Lanka.

The US started going against India over 15 years ago in the same way. Similarly they targeted Iraq and other huge countries and today these countries have been reduced to wastelands without proper leaderships. They killed Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi and his family like dogs. All these facts were in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s head and this is why he called an early election to prepare for the UNHRC in Geneva. India and the US were against us, so were the rest of the world. However, in this one year, the unity government formed close friendships with all these countries. India and America are our good friends now.

However, since 1978, we have been raising concerns about the executive presidency. We also wanted to remove the preferential voting system and go in for an electoral voting system.

 

Q: Has this situation changed over the past year?

A: Yes. President Sirisena willingly gave up some of the powers vested in the presidency through the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Previous leaders promised to do the same, but when they came into power, they simply ignored it. But President Sirisena shared his powers with the Prime Minister, Elections Commissioner, Bribery Commission, State Administrative Commission, Police Commission and so on. This is a huge victory of democracy. Moreover, the World Bank, JAICA, KOICA and many others that had distanced themselves from us, have now come forth to assist us. This was no easy task. President Sirisena had to do a lot of damage control and convincing to get them back on board. He has also been able to keep these two parties together and forge forward and do some constructive work for the country. Therefore, as a country and its people who are against power hunger, greed, persecution, injustice and so on, we should be happy about the progress we have made under the new government.

 

Q: The new government before and after it comes into power promised to punish those who had done various wrongs during the previous regime, why is this process taking so long?

A: We simply cannot punish them without proper investigations. It takes time to investigate and gather evidence against them in a proper manner. Otherwise, we will be accused of taking political revenge. We are now investigating them properly, so that no one will have to face charges merely on speculations. Just be patient and all this will be done lawfully.

 

Q: It is alleged that the country’s economy is in disarray and that the people are finding it very hard to survive. Do you agree that the Unity government has failed in their economic strategy?

A: When I hear this, I feel ashamed a bit. This is the only government that increased the public employees’ salaries by Rs. 10,000. This is four times the increment that most governments granted to the State sector employees. Previous governments have only raised State sector salaries by maximum Rs. 2,500. Sadly, no one talks about this fact now.

Moreover, we reduced the fuel prices by around 30-35 per cent; we increased the Samurdhi benefits and reduced the electricity charges. The Samurdhi benefit at Rs, 12 billion was increased to Rs, 42 billion – by 200 per cent. Similarly, we increased the elderly and disabled benefits by 200 per cent. We also increased the private sector salaries by Rs. 2,500. We gave the people many such benefits during this short period we were in office. But instead of appreciating the benefits that they have received, the people are harping only on the VAT increase.

VAT is operative in around 142 countries. In 2010, it was at 20 per cent in this country and was later reduced. We had to increase it for good reasons. The VAT revenue is being used to cover up wrong doings of the past regime. I know those crimes because I too was in the previous government. From top to bottom, there was massive corruption, and these people are scared of having to face charges and they are just trying to cling onto some fault or shortcoming of the unity government to prevent them from being charged for the crimes they have committed.

Some former ministers are paying their wives $5000 million as settlement. When the courts asked where they got so much cash, they tell court of an Australian account that holds over $ 25,000 million. This is how the previous regime robbed the country of public fund.

Why can’t Namal Rajapaksa explain the way he got money when he was questioned about certain finances? Since they cannot explain how they got this huge sum of money, they simply start complaining that they are being politically victimised. The same goes with Yoshitha.

Basil Rajapaksa claims that he does not own the properties in question. Then how come he has approved all the finances, made the payments and so on in this regard. If they are innocent, all they have to do is to simply clarify these irregularities. That is all. They cannot because they have no valid reasons to show. They know that they have robbed the country and its people of this money.

 

Q: If this government is fair, why are they not investigating certain members of the former regime who are now with the government?

A: Complaints should be made if there are any against them. Then we will investigate. We do not differentiate.

 

Q: The Tamils allege that the new government failed them by not including international parties in the investigations. What is your view on this claim?

A: We did not promise to bring in foreign judges. The only thing is that India, the US and many other countries did not have any faith in our country at the time. Today the whole world trusts us. We will certainly do what is best for the Tamil people.

Sadly, some parties in the North are still trying to hang onto Prabhakaran’s slogans for them to gain petty political mileage. The current Chief Minister – a retired judge – has no knowledge of politics. He thinks that running behind Prabhakaran’s policies while doing nothing for the welfare of the Tamil people, is the right thing to do. But the world does not accept this stand.

We, on the other hand, are doing everything possible to find solutions for the problems that the Tamil people suffer, and we have their best interest at heart. Resettlement, education, health, livelihood, and many other areas have been earmarked and a proper plan has been already drawn up to ensure that their lives are put back on track.

 

7 Comments for “Today The Whole World Trusts Us – S. B. Dissanayake”

  1. The whole world may trust Sri Lanka; but nobody trusts S.B. Dissanayake. A low-life thief and gutter-dweller, who, is given extraordinary prominence by the Sunday Leader for reasons that defy logic.

  2. Who is investigating this scumbag ?

  3. Abey

    Yes, but the problem is we the Sri Lankans are begining to mis-trust you lot.Prez & PM has very little time to correct this. I for one will vote JVP at least for now

  4. But no one Trust you.Nothing but a thief,

  5. goof

    No, no, noooooooooo. Not after the Australian exposé about the Top man taking bribes.

  6. sam

    no one trusts you though

  7. daggy

    The whole world trust us BUT whole of Sri Lanka do not trust and detest this scum bag of a foul mouth called Es.Bee.Dissanayake.

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