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Bishops urge Government and Opposition to be 'non-confrontational'

10 months ago

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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka yesterday (31) called upon the Executive and the Constitutional Assembly to be accountable and transparent towards those who elected them, and to work together for the common good, in these “dire times”.  “We are all aware that the country is in dire straits. All successive Governments are responsible in varying degrees for the present state of affairs. Therefore, the present Government as well as those in the Opposition and partners in the coalition must adopt a conciliatory and non-confrontational approach. They must also not play the blame game.  “The Executive and the Constitutional Assembly should be responsible, accountable and transparent to those who trusted them and elected them to serve the common good. Therefore, the rulers are under obligation to put the country first and not act out of political expediency but principle. They must leave their political agendas aside and seek to work together based on ethical principles for good governance, in order to make lasting national policies,” the Conference said in a statement issued in this regard yesterday.  The Conference called upon the leaders to do away with all unnecessary expenditure and to prioritise essential food items, medicines, cooking gas, fuel, electricity, paper and cement for imports.  “We call upon all Parliamentarians not to indulge in senseless rhetoric but to be truthful and seek realistic expert advice. The country is fast approaching a failed State that will in its wake inflict irreversible injuries on the people.”  The Conference also called upon all Catholic institutions, parishes, apostolates, private institutions, and other men and women of goodwill to organise assistance for those constrained by financial difficulties due to the prevailing economic crisis.  Sri Lanka is engulfed in a dire economic crisis, with the public enduring heavy shortages of essential items, lengthy power cuts and not being able to conduct their daily livelihood-related activities. After months of keeping the Sri Lankan rupee at approximately Rs. 203 per US dollar, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka announced on 9 March that the rupee is being floated, with the USD currently selling at over Rs. 280. Following this, the prices of almost all essential goods have steadily risen – fuel by 54%, airline tickets by 27%, medicines by 29%, and a loaf of bread by Rs. 30. Although the Government has announced that it will seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund to resolve the economic crisis, immediate answers to the people's problems are yet to come.

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