President’s full policy statement in Parliament

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that it is essential that changes be made to the existing constitution in order to safeguard the security, sovereignty, stability and integrity of the country.

He made this observation while delivering his Policy Statement following the ceremonial inauguration of the fourth session of the eighth Parliament on Friday (03).

Addressing the MPs present in the House, the President said that irrespective of the political party the members in this august Assembly belong to, together they all have a prime responsibility to work for the betterment of the people of the country.

Rajapaksa said that he has served this nation as an Army Officer for twenty years, and as Secretary of Defence for nearly another ten years.

“Even though I was not actively engaged in politics, I have experienced what service to the people is, from an early age,” he said.

He also said that even though he does not wear ‘the maroon shawl’, he stand for the same profound philosophy of constant dedication to the poor that is symbolized by the shawl.

“It is this same philosophy that is embodied in the Policy Statement I presented during my Presidential election campaign.

He then tabled the “Visions of Prosperity and Splendour” Policy Statement.

The President said that the people who elected him to office desired a profound change in the political culture of this country. “They rejected political agendas founded on race. The majority of the people proved that it is no longer possible for anyone to manipulate and control the politics of this country by playing the role of king maker.”

He invited the politicians concerned to understand this reality. “I call upon all to join together in the national undertaking to develop this country, and to reject the politics based on petty agendas that have sown division in our society in the past.”

He said there is a social, economic and political crisis in the country today and that even after 70 years of Independence, “we cannot be satisfied with the country’s development.”

He said they all have a responsibility to change this situation and that they must be prepared to make the sacrifices required for this.

“The primary responsibility of a people’s representative is service to the people. We should all remember that the offices we hold are not privileges, but responsibilities,” Rajapaksa pointed out.

He stated that the right vision and plans are needed to develop the country and that the Policy statement, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”, placed before the people at the Presidential Election by him contains a national programme that was crafted during a period of nearly four years by incorporating his vision with the ideas and recommendations of national organisations such as Viyathmaga, the findings of the “Conversation with the Village” programme conducted by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, the discussions held with other political parties, and the ideas contributed by the general public.

He stated that in their policy, National Security occupies the foremost place while eliminating poverty is a priority of  the new Government.

“We have made plans to find employment opportunities for 100,000 young men and women from low income families within the next month.” He said his government is prepared to present practical solutions to resolve unemployment, with the public sector and the private sector working together.

President Rajapaksa said that success of a democracy rests upon the Constitution. “The 1978 Constitution, which has since been amended on 19 occasions, has given rise to many problems at the present time because of its inherent ambiguities and confusions.”

“In order to safeguard the security, sovereignty, stability and integrity of our country, it is essential that changes be made to the existing constitution,” he said.

He stated that whilst preserving the positive characteristics of the proportional representation system, electoral reforms are needed to ensure the stability of the Parliament and to ensure the direct representation of the people.

He added that even though elections can be won through numbers, an unstable Parliament that cannot take clear decisions and remains constantly under the influence of extremism is not one that suits the country.

“We can solve this problem through constitutional reforms that will establish a strong executive, legislature and an independent judiciary that can ensure the sovereignty of the people.”