People want a change
Posted on October 28th, 2016

By Lankesh Courtesy Ceylon Today

Delaying the Local Government Election will not affect the Joint Opposition because the people have already decided to make a change and are with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, National Freedom Front (NFF) media spokesman Mohammed Muzammil told Ceylon Today.
Excerpts of the interview:
? Why is the Joint Opposition unsatisfied with newly proposed Value Added Tax (VAT) Amendment Bill?
A: When the current government was elected they accused former President Mahinda Rajapaksa of taking mega loans from other countries and putting Sri Lanka’s economy at risk. Then they promised people who voted in support of this government, that the government will impose a tax which is fair; but the way the government is managing the economy is very disappointing.
For example, one year back this government invited the billionaire businessmen George Soros and organized an economic forum. The government said that Sri Lanka will receive many investments in the future; but what are the investments the government has got, so far. The government has a debt of Rs 4.4 billion dollar loan to pay back and the Central Bank is also at risk after the bond scam. The Stock Market is also at risk. Therefore, the only option the government has to earn more revenue is imposing tax on the people.
Also they are not even concerned about the income level of each individual in our country before imposing taxes. I have to point out that the government has rushed into things and they cannot even get the VAT Amendment Bill correctly, so we can see how weak the current government is at the moment.
? Why does the Opposition always criticize the current government?
A: As we see the government has still not done anything that can satisfy us or the people who voted in support of them. But if they do we will surely appreciate them; but they have not.
Why I say so is, now we do not have enough investment projects and we do not have developments in Sri Lanka. No economic development and there is no Yahapalana (Good Governance) as promised.
Also the law is not equal to everybody but the law is to hunt the people in the opposition which is not fair at all because if the opposition agitate they bring the certain individuals up to the Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
But as a party we have to inform the people about how the government is operating and also we have to make them aware the wrong steps taken by the government. I think we as a party who stand with the people, we are doing a magnificent job of showing how inefficient this government is.
? You mentioned before that government lacks investors but recently countries like China and India have planned to invest in Sri Lanka. What is your take on this?
A: There is nothing special about China investing in Sri Lanka; because it has been like that for many years but India actually they are not investing but they are trying to take over Sri Lanka on their conditions. The current government is helping them to do so.
The Hilton franchise is in Sri Lanka which is owned by India and there are so many petrol sheds owned by India but what they are doing is investing Rs 5 and taking Rs 25.
As we know India does not have a stable economy or their economy is not developed so what we can say is that we do not need investments from India.
Also for example if India gives a loan of 1.1 billion dollars Sri Lanka will have to repay the loan in one year because even India cannot afford to give loans with the problems they have in their country. But the current government is not that friendly with China as the previous government, because, even if the government requests for investments from China, still they have not invested for anything other than the Port City.
? The Local Government Election has been postponed to June, so do you think delaying in the election will benefit the Joint Opposition?
A: The government will not be able to put barriers in our way to emerge victorious at the local government election as we are prepared for it for months even the people stand by us.
This government speaks about democracy, good governance and freedom but they have delayed the election and taken away the right of the people to vote.
Chairman of the Election Commission has allowed politicians who were defeated at the general election to enter Parliament through the National List and given ministerial portfolios.
The Election Commissioner has no say because of this situation, therefore, we know how unfair the current government, is.
? What has the Joint Opposition planned before the election?
A: Actually we have arranged two programmes before the election. First is to form a new alliance and to conduct national trade union activities.
We are forming a new alliance because people expect a change from the current government, as they only accused former President Mahinda Rajapaksa but is not doing anything. But now the people have realized that President Rajapaksa’s leadership was way better for the country and for the people than anyone in this government.
This government is unable to conduct the development plans already agreed to by the previous government because the government is very inefficient.
Also a few ministers of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) want to resign from the SLFP because there is no future if they stay with the SLFP as they have become the tail of the elephant, and some do not agree with it.
Also the government is trying to bring the ETCA again and many professionals are against it.
? Do you think this change you are referring to can be done by only winning the Local Government Election?
A: As I see the government’s intention to stay in power till 2020 is just a dream for them. Because they know they will not be able to last long seeing how the work is conducted. Their honeymoon will be over very soon.
Therefore, the local government election is the start of our change because the government will not be happy about the result after that.
But as the election has been delayed to June we might see many changes in society and we will conduct our campaign with many forces.
? Sources revealed that ETCA will be signed at the end of this year, what will happen afterwards?
A: Actually we have prepared to conduct protests and stand against ETCA because we do not agree with the decision to sign the agreement. We do not want Indians to come to Sri Lanka and take over our jobs.
Either the government has to reconsider the agreement or face many consequences.
? Also we see a halt in investigations regarding the incident which happened recently at a well-known night club in Colombo, what is your opinion?
A: We saw President Maithripala Sirisena told the Police to conduct a special investigation on this matter. We thought the Police will take statements from the individuals involved in this brawl but Police have failed to get statements from the President’s son Daham Sirisena or any other person involved in the brawl.

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