Fonseka questions practicality of President’s cost-cutting move | Daily News


Fonseka questions practicality of President’s cost-cutting move

While appreciating the efforts of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to reduce unnecessary costs, it is also pertinent that it is done practically, Filed Marshal MP Sarath Fonseka said.

Joining the debate on the President’s Policy Statement in Parliament, yesterday, he found fault with the President for cancelling the Presidential Guard of Honour assigned to the latter before delivering the Policy Statement in Parliament on January 3.

Participating in a debate on the President’s Policy Statement in Parliament, the Field Marshall said, “The cancelling of the Guard of Honour parade set a wrong precedent. Such actions should not have been done. Accommodating a Guard of Honour, including a 21-gun salute to a President coming to open Parliament sessions is a serious event which symbolises not only the dignity of the person who is accepting it, but also the dignity of the institution and the tri-forces who participate in it.”

“In giving a Presidential Guard of Honour, the officers and men come in their ceremonial uniform and bring their weapons of the highest grade. In the instance of January 3, troops had rehearsed it and were ready to enact the time-honoured act. At the last moment, the President cancelled it on his own accord. Before doing so, he should have thought twice of its repercussions. Cancelling a time-honoured event which had been there for a purpose was an ill-thought act.

The mere reason cited for the cancellation was to cut down expenses. I hope that the Kandy Dalada Perahera would not be cancelled one day on the same grounds,” the Field Marshal added. The MP also noted that while the President uses only three vehicles and is attempting to cut costs, it is futile if the rest of his ministers do not follow suit. On a lighter note, MP Fonseka said that this is why the President is often seen in a short-sleeved shirt and dressed very simply.

However, this is not a good precedent as it would be totally absurd if some other president or minister decides to come in shorts, he added.

He said that although they were labelled as pro-Western, he is glad the President wore a full suit.

Referring to the shawl worn by the Rajapaksas, the Field Marshal commended the President for educating the House on its history. He added that a very attractive component of the President’s policy is the reduction of taxes.

“However, it is questionable whether the benefits of these tax cuts is enjoyed by the people. At the end of the year, during the festive season, the price of essential commodities shot up greatly, inconveniencing the public. They reduced taxes, but cut several projects that were initiated by the previous government. We had planned to grant Samurdhi benefits to 600,000 people, but once the new government came to power, they discontinued it,” he said, adding that it is not fair as people are facing great hardships to survive.

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