Written by Tharushan Fernando
21 Aug, 2015 | 8:54 pm
The United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party on Friday reached an understanding for a period of two years. The agreement was reached at the Presidential Secretariat in order to work together for the betterment of the country, under a consensual framework.
UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim and SLFP Acting General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake signed the MoU pledging to work together at the next parliament. It was signed at the Presidential Secretariat soon after the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The agreement that was reached on Friday will be in effect for a period of two years and will be based on 10 points. Both parties have agreed that during the period of this agreement, public representatives from both parties will not be permitted to cross over to another party.
The first point of agreement in the MoU was based on developing the economy and this includes a state-administered social economic market where prices will be regulated and the public will be benefited through consumer protection.The objective of this is to bridge the gap between the haves and have nots so that the benefits will be distributed equally among all and includes the creation of one million job opportunities through qualitative development, formulate a conclusive programme to increase revenue and present deeds to small lands and houses that were provided by the state.
The second chapter of the agreement includes the establishment of freedom. Both parties have agreed to further strengthen the democracy of the country and maintain the rule of law and equality of the country.
The agreement also reads of the immediate establishment of the commissions in accordance to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and also compile a new constitution to strengthen democracy and human rights in the country. It also adds the establishment of a consensual state mechanism so that all parties will be able to take part in the governance process.
Both parties have agreed to provide grants to all MPs, committee chairmen and chairmen of the District Development Committee devoid of their party affiliations. The agreement also reads – for the abolishing of the preferential votes system and introduce a mixed method system which combines a first-past-the-post system with a proportional representation system.
The third chapter of the MoU relates to the crackdown on corruption.
It agrees to establish an independent commission to crackdown on corruption in accordance to the internationally-accepted, anti- corruption norms and also reads on passing the National Audit Act and the Right to Information Act; while calling for a review on the regulations on financial crimes, money laundering, fraud and corruption and assets declaration and thereby expedite the legal processes.
The fourth chapter in the agreement is related to the uplifting of the education and health sectors of the country which agreed to increase the allocation of the GDP for the education sector to six percent while the allocation of the GDP for the Health sector be increased to three percent.
Chapter five of the MoU that was reached today related to international relations and cities that a non-aligned policy needs to be followed in manner that the Sri Lankan Identity will be protected and maintain friendly and strong relations between all nations. Chapter six of the MoU reads on women and children’s rights and adds that measures need to be taken to ensure women’s social, economic and cultural rights and also to empower them and that laws need to be formulated in accordance to the United Nations Pledge on the elimination of discrimination against women and girls.
Both parties have agreed to impose strict punishment on sexual violence against women and children and also compensate victims of sexual harassment.
The MoU also agrees on providing state sponsorship to nurture artistes and the culture and to also provide the necessary facilities. It was also agreed today that the cabinet would make the decisions on major development policies and processes.
The agreement also reads that all facilities will be provided to mark the 70th Anniversary of the United National Party founded by the late Mahamanya D.S.Senanayake which falls next year and also the 60th celebration of the transformation led by the late S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike in 1956.
The agreement will be in effect for a period of two years and the extension of the agreement will be decided on by both sides.
Various views were expressed by candidates elected to parliament on the national government that will be formed together by the two main political parties.
UNP MP, Ravi Karunanayake stated:
We requested the Prime Minister to create a programme where all MPs would come together and work to protect the future of the country. And the SLFP lost and they have accepted that fact. So this will not be a coalition that will undermine any form of corruption because this will be a coalition where we will work on the national policies while making our commitment towards the people.
Gamini Jayawickrama Perera stated:
This is a national government and we have extended an invitation to all parties and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has signed an MOU so we will take this country forward – not for the next two to three years – but for five years, without divisio,n in order to forge ahead in maintaining the supremacy of parliament. We intend to develop the country’s economy and move towards greatness.
Mayantha Dissanayake stated that today is a day that “we as a nation can be happy.” He had pledged to form national government by inviting all members who wish to establish a united parliament for the future of the country.
Karunarathna Paranavithana stated that a national government will be formed. He said:
The Memorandum of Understanding has been inked with the Sri Lanka freedom Party and this was discussed even during the election period. We will form a unity government that will give priority to the nation. This will prioritise the aspirations of the country …”
Wimal Weerawansa stated that they can understand the nature of the government that was established by taking a look at the policies that it follows. He said
We hope that they will not weaken national security and will not weaken the economy of the country and we have no issue in the proper governance of the country.
He added that a national government means that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party will be made the tail of the United National Party Government and that is ‘political treachery’. He stated:
So we will not be party to a national government and we will form the proper foundation of an opposition with MPs from the SLFP who are not in favour of the national government. Mahinda Rajapaksa will provide leadership to that.
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