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Government ready to deal with departure of any allied party: Johnston

27 Dec 2021

The Government is ready to engage in political horse-trading to replenish its numbers in Parliament if any allied party deserts it, stated Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando recently. “Our doors are open. Anyone can leave. We are not going to stop anyone because we can at any time take more than the required number of heads from the Opposition. We are ready to face any desertions of allied MPs. There are many in the Opposition side to join the Government. They are ready to join our fold with a single call,” the Minister claimed in response to a query on rumours of a split within government ranks by a journalist during an inspection tour to review progress of constructing work of the Badagamuwa Vehicle Parking Terminal and its Health Facilities Centre recently. “We do not want to see them leave us. We will never forget the allied party MPs who assisted us to build this Government. Their leaving does not mean the Government would collapse. The Government is stronger than ever and has enough supply of MPs anytime we need from the Opposition. Our strategy is not to make announcements of the numbers ready to cross the House to our side, but to put into action an already arranged plan to replenish the number of MPs to keep our present composition in toto,” the Minister said. Responding to a question on the foreign exchange reserve crisis, the Minister said that there were speculations of loss of reserves, and a resultant collapse of the economy and thereafter the Government, but that this would not take place.  “We would not let that happen. We are capable enough to steer our way out of the forex reserve problem. The Opposition is happy to hear of the dwindling of forex reserves and are daydreaming of a possible governmental collapse. They also seem to derive a perverted happiness to see temporary food shortages and price increases. They think that just because prices increase, people will turn to them and vote for their parties. They underestimate the intelligence of people who know that these sudden price changes were because of certain dents in our supply chains in the economy owing to the pandemic and recent closing downs.  “These are very temporary issues. Once the supply chain is error-free it would function better than it was and none of these problems would exist. It is sad to notice that the Opposition has such degenerate thinking that they do not see that the country’s economy should be protected, because this is their country too. The rest of the country however hopes only that this problem will be over soon and the nation will prosper,” the Minister said. Responding to questions on increases of prices of fuel and other essential items, the Minister said that cost of living indices of other countries too show similar trend and it is not a problem only for Sri Lanka.  “There are shortages and thereby price increases. We managed to hold fuel prices down for a considerable time. We had to increase the prices as a temporary measure to keep the economy going. There would be further increases in prices of goods and services. People world over are facing this reality. Nobody likes price increases. If we did not increase fuel prices the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) would have suffered a severe loss. To cover that loss taxes would have been imposed on all whether they use vehicles or not. We did not take that option,” the Minister said. Asked to respond to the prevailing problems and issues pertaining to gas consumption, the Minister said that there was a problem pertaining to gas and it is being addressed on priority basis.  “We regret the inconveniences, but in the meantime, we are working fast to solve the problem. It is my personal hunch that this is a created problem and there seems to be hands of sabotage. We as a Government have the responsibility to find solutions and help people enjoy the festive season,” the Minister said. The Badagamuwa Vehicle Parking Terminal and Health Services Centre were constructed by the Road Development Authority (RDA). Associated with the Minister at the event were Highways Ministry and RDA officials, led by Ministry of Highways Secretary R.W.R. Pemasiri.

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