Sajith will curb drugs, corruption, extremism - Patali | Daily News


Sajith will curb drugs, corruption, extremism - Patali

New Democratic Front (NDF) Presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa will give leadership to a social revolution marked by “three wars against drugs, corruption and religious extremism”, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said.

Speaking at a press conference at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo yesterday, Ranawaka said Premadasa would make a “powerful but non-violent socio-political transformation” to rid the country of “insidious cancers that had plagued the country”.

He said a tabloid size booklet, explaining Premadasa’s policies as given in his election manifesto, would be circulated in all households within the next weekend.

Non-Cabinet Minister Dr.Harsha de Silva, elaborating on their proposals to wage a battle against drugs, said a special anti-drug court would be set up to try those cases, adding that those who involve in illegal drug business would be sentenced to “unpardonable life imprisonment”.

He said giving new wine store licenses would be suspended and an independent commission would be set up to look into the Ethanol importing licences issued.

He said the Police Narcotics Bureau would be strengthened, and the support of international agencies and intelligence services would be sought to prevent drug smuggling in to the country from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and South American countries.

He said the Police personnel would be given international standard training and rehabilitation centres for drug addicts would be increased by four-folds.

Commenting on the war against corruption, Dr de Silva reminded that Premadasa has already pledged not to appoint those with corruption charges to his Cabinet. “No public official would be allowed to act above the law. New laws will be made to make those who give bribes equally culpable as those who receive bribes. With a view to prevent corruption in procurement, sub committees will be set up under the Parliament Watchdog Committees such as the COPE and COPA for continuous auditing of procurement such as coal, electricity and petroleum products” he said.

Elaborating on the measures to address religious extremism, Silva said stringent punishment would be given to those who provoke religious extremism by revising the laws. He said those spreading hate speech and false information would also be punished. He said that school curricula would be revised to make all students have an understanding of all religions in addition to learning his or her faith.

Commenting on the economic policies of the NDF Candidate, the Non-Cabinet Minister said small and medium scale entrepreneurs would be exempted from VAT up to a monthly income of Rs. 4 million, and the employees earning up to Rs.150,000 per month would be exempted from the PAYE tax.

State Minister Eran Wickramaratne the value of nutrition pack given to pregnant women would be increased from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000. He added that the pre-school system would be integrated into the public service, and all pre-school teachers would be recruited to the government teachers’ cadre. He said this would help increase the standards of pre-school education.

Wickramaratne further said that the interest-free loan scheme facilitated for students, who are unable to enter into the state universities, would be increased from Rs. 800,000 to Rs. 1.6 million. The loan is facilitated for them to obtain higher education with the condition of paying back after they find employment.

Commenting on policies related to the women, Wickramaratne pointed out that Premadasa is in favour of allocating 25 percent quotas for women in the Provincial Councils, Parliament as well as in the National List. He said the Government would support to set up day-care centres in workplaces in an attempt to increase women representation in the labour force.

The State Minister said a “Venture Capital Fund” and an “Innovation Fund” would be set up with initial capital of Rs 10 billion each to encourage start ups and innovation of the youth.

Non-Cabinet Minister Ajith P Perera said the entire judicial network would be digitalized within five years. He added that a digital card would be issued to the people to receive their public services and allowances efficiently through the modern banking system.

He added that a special unit would be set up in the Presidential Secretariat to supervise daily performance of all public institutions and evaluate the progress of special projects. He said two new public service categories could be created as ‘Sri Lanka Digital Service’ and ‘Sri Lanka Economic Service’ to implement the digitalisation process and economic plans. He said under the ‘smart President’ concept, the President would monitor all ministries using modern technology.

He said that fertilizers for all cultivations, seeds and saplings would be provided free of charge to the farmers and the elders’ allowance would be increased to Rs. 3,000.

Responding to a question by journalists, Minister Ranawaka said the parliamentary process of making a new Constitution with the consultation of all parties would be carried forward in the new Parliament after March 2020. He also reiterated that the NDF Candidate has not consented to the 13-point proposals of the Tamil academia in the North. “Premadasa has no connection to these proposals. He is a free candidate,” he said.

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