Oct 31, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera says by formulating a new constitution the trajectory of the country can be changed towards a new direction and create an ‘equal citizenship’ to bring about economic prosperity.
He expressed these views participating in the debate held in parliament today on the Steering Committee Report on constitutional reforms.
The Minister said the burning issue in Sri Lanka is the ethnic problem although certain quarters do not seem to have such a problem.
Over the years, leaders of all political parties have spoken about a constitution that secures the rights of all races but only the present government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has come forward to make it a reality.
The Minister said the President is a true patriotic leader although the extremists groups with dangerous ideas refuse to accept it.
He pointed out that the President, acting according to the mandate given to him on 8 January 2015, after completing one year in his post formed the Constitutional Assembly as pledged. “There was no conspiracy, it was an open process” the Minister added.
The constitutional assembly was established upon the mandate received by the president. The assembly comprises all political parties.
He said the debate is being held with all the relevant parties to reach a consensus on a new constitution through negotiations. “That is democracy,” he said adding that the democratic people will understand.
He added that the citizen of this country has suffered at the hands of war and rebellion and post-independence Sri Lanka missed many opportunities to resolve the problem. “We should not let this opportunity to pass by,” he said.
“In the past 70 years people expected basic changes and a sustainable, lasting peace with equal opportunities should be provided for them,” he said.
“It is necessary to create equal citizenship in this country. That can lead to economic prosperity,” Minister Samaraweera said.
Recalling that all Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities suffered during the war, the Minister said the country should not let such violence to recur.
“Therefore, an undivided violence free country is aspired. United, the country should turn on a new chapter,” he said.