Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman Prof. G. L. Peiris, yesterday, said his party would go it alone at provincial councils, parliamentary and presidential elections under the leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
PC elections are expected later this year, while the Presidential and Parliamentary elections should be held within the next 1 1/2 years. The Joint Opposition (JO) candidates contested the last local government polls on the SLPP ticket.
Addressing a media briefing held at SLPP headquarters at Nelum Mawatha, Battaramulla, Prof. Peiris ruled out an electoral pact with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The JO had about 3,500 grassroot leaders as the majority of the LG institutions had been won by the SLPP, Prof. Peiris said.
Urging the government to go for an early general election to save the country from an economic disaster, Prof. Peiris said that his party only needed three weeks to get ready for an election.
Commenting on the recent fuel price hikes, Prof. Peiris alleged that they had not been necessitated by world market price fluctuations. They had been effected on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he added. The fuel prices in the world market in 2015 was USD 35 and now it had increased to USD 76. But under the former government, the fuel prices stood at USD 99.
Highlighting the effects of the fuel price hike, Prof. Peiris said that the fishermen had been badly hit as the kerosene price had been increased from Rs. 44 to Rs. 107 while the fuel price increase would directly affect about one million of big onion cultivators as they were using fuel for their water pumps.
The three-wheeler drivers had increased their minimum fare to Rs. 60 while private bus owners demanded a 20 percent fare hike. In addition, the school vans would also increase fees, Prof. Peiris said.
The SLPP chairman alleged that even though the government had increased the fuel prices and taxed the people more, it did not seem that the government itself had cut down its wasteful expenditure.
He stressed that it cost about Rs. 7 million rupees to maintain a minister a month and Rs. 570 million to maintain the Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
Instead of cutting down and limiting the number of Ministers to 30 as stipulated in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the UNP had already demanded six more deputy ministerial posts, Prof. Peiris said, adding that there was a plan to appoint another 30 Monitoring MPs.
The rupee had depreciated by 21 percent over the past three years and, therefore, the government had to pay an additional Rs. 856 billion as the loan interests, Prof. Peiris said.