(This news is from Sunday, August 26, 2007, Sunday times newspaper)
The UNP has written to three foreign banks informing them that a future UNP government would not honour the repayment of the proposed US $ 500 million bond to be taken by the Government, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe declared. Addressing the ‘janarala’ meeting of the National Congress held at Nittambuwa Mr. Wickremesinghe said the loan was being taken at the expense of withholding relief measures now given to farmers and the poor peasants.
He said by the time we pay back the loan in another decade, the amount would be as high as $ 850 million or Rs. 12,000 million making the nation a debtor for 10 long years to HSBC.“The Government had decided to allocate in 2006 5.6% from national production as relief measures but in 2007 it was cut down to 3.9% on a promise given to foreign commercial banks,” he said.
“HSBC has been told that the money is for expenditure on the Norochcholai power plant, the super highway in the South, the Hambantota port and construction work of the Puttalam – Padeniya road, but there was no rationality in obtaining such a loan and paying so much. Mr. Wickremesinghe questioned whether the loan was for Rajapaksa’s Randora programme for which the poor people are to be made debtors to the tune of paying back Rs. 1350 per year per person.
|Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the joint UNP-SLFP (M) rally at Nittambuwa on Friday. Pic. by Gemunu Wellage|
“The MiG 27s were supposed to be brought to destroy the LTTE. In that case why were not the LTTE cadres withdrawing to the Wanni attacked and killed? The Eastern Province was captured not due to MiG 27s, but because of the morale of the soldiers. In 1992 Toppigala and locations like Mavilaru were liberated, but it wasn’t due to the MiGs,” he said. Mr. Wickremesinghe alleged there had been a fraud in the purchase of the MiG 27s from the Ukraine, running into millions of rupees. This would mean each citizen had to pay Rs. 50 for the aircraft. Therefore, Mr. Wickreme-singhe alleged that Meda-Mulana had turned into ‘Mig-Mulana’.
“In the ancient days people made money from elephants and now from MiG deals. Today the media is being intimidated. Even the security of The Sunday Times defence analyst Iqbal Athas has been withdrawn.” Mr. Wickremesinghe further alleged that the Government did this because the journalist exposed the MiG deal of the ‘Rajapaksa Sahodarayo’.
Detailing the sufferings of the masses today, he said that the cost of living is prohibitive with fuel prices and other items at an unimaginable high and to add to that the Rajapaksa rule has blocked school admission of our children. “The need of Parliament is to look after the suffering people, to look into their free education and save the school system. We are on a petition campaign to lobby for these rights. We need to decide on whether we are serving the Government or serving the suffering public,” he said.