Rajapaksa said that President Maithripala Sirisena has stressed on the need to give priority to solve the problems of the Tamil people while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also spoken on the need to devolve power.
However Rajapaksa says the single most important slogan in the ‘good governance’ campaign was the abolition of the Executive Presidency with electoral reform coming next.
“Hence I stress once again that constitutional reform should focus on abolishing the executive presidency and bringing about electoral reform. More contentious matters such as the devolution of power can be dealt with later. The yahapalana government should respect the public opinion that they themselves helped create,” he said in a statement.
Rajapaksa also noted that in a TV discussion broadcast last Sunday, the President publicly endorsed the proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India.
The former President says all members of the SLFP serving in the Government will now have to make a very personal decision as to where they stand on this matter which will have far reaching consequences for Sri Lanka.
“When the President said that it was the ‘old government’ (parana anduwa) that had started negotiations for the CEPA with India, he was not referring to my government. CEPA was initiated in 2002 under the previous UNP government led by Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe. My government did not take the CEPA negotiations forward due to the misgivings expressed by wide sections of society. Though Indian exports flow into Sri Lanka without any obstruction under the existing free trade agreement, Sri Lankan exports to India have come up against various impediments such as quantity limitations, licensing requirements, non-acceptance of Sri Lankan product certification and state taxes at the Indian end. Our suggestion to the present government is that such outstanding issues be sorted out to enable Sri Lanka to obtain the due benefit under the existing FTA before the trade relationship is taken to the next level,” Rajapaksa said.
Rajapaksa says it is the height of irresponsibility to sign an ETCA ‘framework’ agreement leaving the specific details to be negotiated later when there are so many unresolved trade issues between the two countries.
The former President also insisted that the present economic crisis in the country is due to the haphazard and irresponsible foreign borrowings of the present Government and not due to any loans taken by previous Government. (Colombo Gazette)