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SLPP rebels issue warning over labour reforms, question motives of Prez

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Prof. G.L.

‘Who takes responsibility for denying two million persons welfare assistance in July?’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The rebel SLPP group yesterday (31) issued a dire warning over government plans to repeal or significantly amend 12 Acts which dealt with both public and private sector workers.

Addressing the media at the Freedom People’s Congress office at Nawala, SLPP National List MP Prof. G. L. Peiris explained how new labour laws could throw both public and private sectors into a turmoil. The former External Affairs Minister said that repealing or making significant amendments to what he called crucial protective legislation -Termination of Employees Act and Shop and Office Employees Act – could be quite devastating.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the proposed labour laws would cause uncertainty among the workers at a time of growing concerns among the vast majority of people over the direction the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was taking the country.

Prof. Peiris said a primary objective of the labour law reforms was to facilitate the termination of workers.

Alleging the government was doing its best to appease employers at the expense of workers at all levels, the former Minister discussed how the developing crisis in the health sector, disruptions to the provision of Samurdhi  benefits caused by the unplanned introduction of Aswesuma social welfare scheme, utterly unfair implementation of domestic debt-restructuring process and new far reaching labour laws affected the entire population.

The former Cabinet colleague of Wickremesinghe accused him of pursuing a heartless strategy regardless of the consequences as he went out of his way to address the concerns of the investors. Referring to a recent declaration by UNP Chairman Wajira Abeywardena, MP, that President Ranil Wickremesinghe should receive 12 more years in the same capacity in appreciation of the miracle he performed, Prof. Peiris claimed that the economy was in a pathetic state. The much-touted Wickremesinghe’s miracle was nothing but a myth, the lawmaker said that the ruination of the health sector was quite sufficient to send the UNP leader home.

The ex-Minister referred to a spate of unfortunate cases reported from government hospitals over the past several months to underscore the failure on the part of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa administration to sustain public sector health services. In spite of the deterioration of health services at an alarming rate, the public and private sector corruption seemed to be continuing unabated. Commenting on the Auditor General initiating investigations into procurement, Prof. Peiris mentioned several high profile corruption cases to highlight brazen acts of misappropriation of public funds.

Prod Peiris asked whether the government expected to suppress the health sector imbroglio by directing the Health Secretary, Director General of Health Services and selected medical administrators to issue statements. The government owed an explanation how it intended to procure life-saving drugs required at government hospitals. The ex-Minister alleged that those at the helm of the health sector resorted to emergency purchases to take advantage at the expense of the government and the people.

Those responsible for the disastrous bid to replace Samurdhi with Aswasuma should resign forthwith, Prof. Peiris said, demanding an explanation regarding two million people being deprived of welfare funds in July. Who would accept responsibility for this crime? the SLPP rebel heavyweight asked. Contrary to various declarations of President Wickremesinghe’s prowess in managing the economy under extremely difficult situations, the country was in a dire situation.

Referring to the recently concluded All-Party Conference (APC), chaired by President Wickremesinghe, close on the heels of his return from New Delhi, Prof. Peiris questioned the rationale in the offer to discuss devolution of power against the backdrop of the UNP leader’s refusal to conduct both Provincial Councils and Local Government polls. Such deliberations were irrelevant in a country where the President interfered with the election calendar.

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