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UNP unveils election manifesto

The United National Party (UNP) today unveiled its general election manifesto today at the party headquarters.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking at the ceremony said that the party will be able to secure funds amounting to $ 6 b from international lending agencies to stabilize the economy.

Amoung other promises were to provide a relief on electricity, water bills and re-instate public sector allowances and pension payments that have been suspended by the current government.

He said the party hopes to provide Rs. 10,000 monthly allowance to around 1 million who have lost their jobs.

“Following the collapse of the economy the government did not provide relief to the public.”

“The government has clearly failed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The country cannot go forward without controlling the virus,” Wickremesinghe added.

The party has also promised it will install 2000 ventilators to fight the coronavirus.

The UNP manifesto would focus on a few salient issues as a solution to reviving the economy that is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic at both national and global levels.

Their foremost concern is to ensure the country is not hit by a second wave of pandemic. Below are excerpts of the UNP general election manifesto.

  • Winning the support of the international community
  • Ensuring the democratic freedoms enjoyed by our citizens are protected and promoted
  • Empowering the future generations are empowered with knowledge and skills of the 21st Century
  • Building a united, likeminded, and peaceful nation in order to preserve the Sri Lankan identity. The need of the hour is a country that has discarded the divisions of the past
  • Immediately provide relief to the people by improving their financial situation and safeguarding jobs and income. Helping the self-employed and providing relief to the unemployed

Given that the crisis of unemployment in Sri Lanka will increase by over a million, the party is also to look at the welfare of the unemployed, while simultaneously creating new employment and revenue generation opportunities.

  • The party promises to pay an allowance of Rs. 10,000 a month for the recently unemployed including people returning from overseas employment
  • Restoring the remuneration allowances of government employees
  • A moratorium on Enterprise Sri Lanka loans below Rs. 50 million
  • A payment of Rs. 10,000 to families affected by a lockdown

. Protecting Sri Lankan enterprises, both big and small, by establishing an Enterprise Finance Fund consisting of:

(i) Business Support Scheme

(ii) SME Support Scheme

(iii) Export Support Scheme

. Utilising financing from:

(i) The IFC private sector financing facilities including the Global Trade Liquidity Programme and the Critical Finance Programme

(ii) ADB $ 20 billion Covid-19 response and other similar schemes together with the Government Business Support Scheme to assist the private sector

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as well as the self-employed segment in the country will be empowered through these funds and related plans. These enterprises will be provided with valid, long-term state bonds to allow them to obtain the required financial assistance.

  • Private sector employees making payment to their workers will be eligible for support
  • Export enterprises will be supported
  • There will also be a special package to regain overseas markets, including:

(a) Assistance to meet the new conditions specified in the buyers’ contracts

(b) Grants for finding new markets. A Package for tourism sector hotels, homestays, restaurants, and the self-employed. This will include loan relief grants to re-enter tourist markets and offer packages. Re-training and upgrading staff in the tourist sector

  • Provide financial assistance to the youth to help develop their entrepreneurial skills, providing them with greater opportunities to enter a sustainable workforce
  • Offer concessionary loans to three-wheel vehicle owners, allowing them to purchase motor vehicles
  • A package for leasing companies in lieu of payment for three-wheeler owners
  • New laws will be introduced to help protect businesses from bankruptcy due to lockdown caused by Covid-19
  • Safety net for banks with refinancing and similar schemes
  • Laws will be introduced, making it mandatory for leasing companies to prepare their agreements in either Sinhala or Tamil languages
  • Liquidity and currency circulation in the local economy will be expanded by the payment of arrears and unpaid bills of contractors and service providers to the Government

The UNP promises to continue to make the national economy internationally competitive. Therefore, it will activate their plans to strategically develop the country’s enterprises, industries, and products to global standards.