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Govt. will relieve country of massive debt burden: PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe participating at the 71st anniversary celebrations of the UNP held at the “Siri Kotha’ party headquarters yesterday. The proceedings began with the garlanding of the statues of former UNP leaders.

The present National Government has created 400,000 jobs so far. It has also built 200,000 new houses during the last two years. Reduction of fuel prices, provision of a bag of nutritious food items worth Rs. 20,000 to expectant mothers, Rs 10,000 salary increment to government servants and reduction of grave crime rate by 30 percent are among the other services rendered to the people by the National Government, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Prime Minister made this observation addressing a meeting held at ‘Siri Kotha’ UNP headquarters, Pitakotte yesterday to mark the UNP’s 71st anniversary.

The meeting began after all religious services and garlanding of busts of late party leaders and placing of floral tributes by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Ministers Gamini Jayawickreme Perera, John Amaratunge, Malik Samarawickreme and Sajith Premadasa and Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake.

Quipping that on going development work delayed his arrival for the meeting, the Prime Minister said construction work on the Rajagiriya flyover project cought him in a brief traffic jam. This is real development because they had undertaken development work neglected by the former regime. The flyover project was a topic of discussion for 10 long years during the Rajapaksa era but they had no funds to launch the project soon. As they assumed power they launched the project under a Spanish aid scheme.

The Prime Minister said the government had taken steps to relieve the country of its massive debt burden within the time of the present generation through a system of proper debt management undertaken during the next three years.

Detailing the work done by the government the Prime Minister said one of their main pledges was to create employment opportunities. So far nearly 400,000 jobs had been created in the formal, informal and self employment sectors. Some of these jobs brought good dividends while the income devised by other were sufficient to make ends meet though not that satisfying. While trying to increase these earned incomes the government would also strive to provide employment to the rest of the youths too.

The Prime Minister said the government has built houses through various schemes. Financial assistance had already been provided for the construction of more than 200,000 houses. Already 200,000 houses had been provided under rural and urban housing, resettlement and Estate housing schemes.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said “We reduced fuel prices by 22 percent. The Rajapaksa regime earned massive profits through the sale of fuel. But we don’t want to do this. Fuel prices would be further deceased if world prices plummeted further.

“Prices would be increased if world prices escalated. This means that benefits as well as burdens had to be equally shared by all,”the Prime Minister said.

He said a program had been launched to provide Rs.20,000 as nutrition assistance to expectant mothers. The government increased the salaries of government employment by Rs.10,000 disproving the accusation levelled at the UNP by the Rajapaksa regime saying it was bent on pruning state sector jobs.

“They created a new political tradition by setting up a national government led by President Maithripala Sirisena. All this was possible because late D.S. Senanayake set up a party which was capable of serving the nation 71 years ago,” the Premier Wickremesinghe.

The Prime Minister said “Our party is capable of new thinking. Our party is always concerned about the country’s well being as well as the well being of the youth generation. The party had more work to accomplish including the fulfilment of the hopes and aspirations of its supporters. They hoped to accomplish a great deal of work within the next two years too and they would request the support of all for the success of their future tasks.

Supreme President, UNP Bhikkhu Front Ven. Guruwela Sumanaratana Chief Sanghanayake Thera of Katugampola Hathpattuwa, President UNP Bhikkhu Front Ven. Bopitiye Dhammissara Chief Sanghanayake Thera of the Raigam Korale, Secretary UNP Bhikkhu Front Ven. Theeniyawala Palitha Thera, Deputy President UNP Bhikkhu Front Ven. Kahatapitiye Pannasara thera and Ven. Balapitiya Ranawansa thera were also present.