Gota promises Rs. 1000 wage for estate workers | Daily News


Struggles to explain how to offset losses from shedding VAT, other taxes :

Gota promises Rs. 1000 wage for estate workers

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Presidential Candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday struggled for words when asked by journalists as to how he intends to find the money to run the economy when his proposed tax cuts are implemented.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday challenged the SLPP Presidential Candidate to explain as to how he would bridge the Rs.350 billion that would be lost per year if the latter’s election promise of reducing the VAT and exempting other taxes was implemented.

The question was posed to Rajapaksa at a press conference convened at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute to announce UNP dissident MP Dr Wijedasa Rajapakshe’s support to SLPP Candidate Rajapaksa at the upcoming Presidential Election.

Rajapaksa replied that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa answered that question during the previous press conference on Tuesday. Then changing the course of his answer, he told the journalists how his brother and the then President bravely took the correct decision, upon his request at the Defence Council meeting, to make a three-fold increase in the tri-force cadres to defeat the LTTE.

“We spent a large sum of money to increase the number of cadres. I made that request because I understood that the war dragged on for many years because all previous governments feared to take such bold decisions in fear of economic collapse and toppling of government. However, Mahinda Rajapaksa took bold decisions to reach our targets. At another point, he gave the fertilizer subsidy when there was a shortage of rice. Ultimately, we could end the war and also make the country self-sufficient from rice,” he elaborated.

Rajapaksa, touching upon the topic of the question again, stressed that there is a big difference between trying to force economic plans of foreign consultants, which are best suited for foreign countries, on our land and taking decisions with experts who have an understanding on domestic economy.

He said that encouraging local and foreign investors is necessary to rebuild the economy and that an atmosphere conducive for them must be created.

“Those who cannot think beyond the prevailing economic conditions cannot perform that task. We have great confidence that we can do it,” he said.

Asked for the second time by a journalist as to how he would address the question of budget deficit when his proposed tax cuts are implemented, SLPP frontline MP Bandula Gunawardena hurriedly intervened to say that they would explain the matter at a later time.

However, the journalist sought to get an answer from the SLPP Candidate.

“My answer to that question was given. That is my job. I will do it,” Rajapaksa replied briefly.

Responding to another question, Rajapaksa also pledged to increase the daily wage of estate workers to Rs 1,000 to uplift the living standards of estate community. He said the SLPP has drafted a “people-centered economic plan”.

At the outset of the question, Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, before passing the microphone to the SLPP candidate, said that he believes that “the Finance Ministry portfolio of the country must be held by a person who has experiences of a family life”.

“Then only he can understand the domestic burdens of the public. When we promised Rs 10,000 pay hike for public servants prior to 2015 elections, people asked how we are going to do it. The reply was that the money saved from waste and corruption of Rajapaksa administration would be enough for the purpose. Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka even came up with numbers. After four years, what was created is a country that we want to flee. He has spent over Rs 100 million for posters and advertising for his campaign of making a country that you want to stay, but he did not utter a word when the country’s assets were sold,” he remarked.



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