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Govt working 'round-the-clock' to overcome economic crisis: Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa in address to people

The address of the prime minister came hours after Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa alleged that poor economic policies of the government had contributed to the country's economic downturn.

PTI | Updated on: Monday, April 11, 2022, 08:38 PM IST

Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa | Photo: ANI
Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa | Photo: ANI
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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday assured the people suffering from the unprecedented economic difficulties that his government is working round-the-clock to address their woes and appealed to protesters to end their agitation and have patience, saying every minute spent on streets deprives the cash-strapped country of precious dollars.

"We understand the people's sufferings. We have to strengthen the economy. We will take the responsibility to resolve the economic issue in the same way we ended the 30-year war," Mahinda said, referring to his military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Amidst a growing pressure on him to quit following the unprecedented economic crisis facing the island nation, the embattled leader addressed the nation in a bid to calm the agitating people who are protesting on the streets over lengthy power outages and shortage of gas, food and other essentials.

"The government is working round-the-clock to overcome the economic crisis," Mahinda, the elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said.

In his first public appearance since countrywide protests began demanding the resignation of his younger brother President Gotabaya and the entire Rakapaksa family, he appealed to the protesters to end their anti-government agitation and said that every minute spent on streets deprives the country of dollar inflow.

"The government is spending every second of the day to resolve this problem. My family is being slandered, we can tolerate it," Mahinda said.

He said the protesters were demanding to send home the entire 225 parliamentarians. "It will be dangerous to reject Parliament," he said.

In a bid to blame the Opposition Janatha Vikmuthi Peramuna (JVP) party for the protests, Mahinda recalled the JVP rebellions in the 70s and 80s.

He said that his government had built roads, ports and infrastructure not to keep the people on the streets protesting.

His speech came as a flurry of political activities took place to end the economic crisis and the political impasse.

While another day was passed without appointing the Cabinet, the differences of opinion among the political groups came to light on the proposed no-confidence motion against the government.

The group which declared independence from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) coalition announced that they would not be supporting the No-Confidence Motion (NCM).

"We do not see how the passing of the NCM would help. Even if it is to be won, how could a government be formed," senior legislator Vasudeva Nanayakkara said.

The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) said that they have begun the process to move an NCM against the government on its mishandling of the economy.

The address of the prime minister came hours after Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa alleged that poor economic policies of the government had contributed to the country's economic downturn.

He said the cost of living in the country is going from bad to worse due to the price increase of essential food items including medicine, milk powder, rice, sugar, dhal, wheat flour and items such as gas, diesel, kerosene oil and petrol.

The Opposition Leader said that people gave ample time to President Rajapaksa to fulfil their requirements, especially by reducing the increasing cost of living but neither the President nor his Cabinet ministers were able to fulfil their demands.

The anti-government protests, which started on Saturday, continued to its third day on Monday.

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Published on: Monday, April 11, 2022, 08:38 PM IST