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Sunday, 13 April 2014

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House fetes cricketers

Marking yet another significant milestone in the history of country's legislature, Parliament on Wednesday paid tribute to T-20 World Cup winning Sri Lanka Cricket team for its exceptional accomplishment which brought pride and international fame to the country.

The vote of appreciation to felicitate the cricket team moved by Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva was seconded by Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga.

Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody who welcomed the team at the visitor's entrance escorted them to the Speaker's Guest Gallery.

As a significant gesture, both the Government and the Opposition members joined hands to extend their warm wishes to the Sri Lanka Cricket team during the hour-long debate. This was the first time in Parliament history that the national cricket team was invited to Parliament and feted them for their landmark T-20 World Cup victory. At the end of the debate, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa hosted a tea party for the cricketers where the parliamentarians and cricketers exchanged pleasantries and posed for photographs.

The Government and the Opposition members who joined the vote of appreciation commended the firm dedication and sacrifice by our cricket team to bring international fame to Sri Lanka after 18 years when Sri Lanka won the 1996 Cricket World Cup. Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva who moved the motion told the House that this victory is memorable as to pave the way to further strengthen the strong bond and unity of the Sri Lankan nation as one family casting aside ethnic, religious and other differences. The players have brought honour to their motherland by courageously overcoming the challenges they faced. The Minister commented the decision by the Speaker to pay tribute of the House to our cricket team.

DNA parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake said when attempts are being made to divide people colours and religion wise, our cricket team brought victory to the country for all Sri Lankans to celebrate with pride irrespective of petty differences. The achievement by our team has given the strong signal that a country can achieve victory if there is unity. The example set by the cricketers is applicable to politics too, he said.

Dissanayake commended the significant role played by Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in bringing victory to the motherland. He described this victory as a result of the dedication and team work of our cricketers. Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said the felicitation of our cricket team marked a significant day of Parliament's history. We should honour our cricket team for its landmark victory achieved against a powerful cricket-playing nation such as India specially under a leader like President Mahinda Rajapaksa who loves sports.

DNA parliamentarian Arjuna Ranatunga hailed Dinesh Chandimal's decision to step down from the captaincy in favour of Lasith Malinga was the need of the hour. Ranatunga said this decision by Chandimal is a perfect example for posterity. When certain powerful cricketing nations are ganging up to marginalise smaller cricket playing countries, the victory achieved by the Sri Lankan cricket team has given a strong message to the world. Deputy Posts Minister Sanath Jayasuriya said that the Sri Lankans over the past 18 years had been anxiously waiting for the cricket world cup by our team. The immense sacrifices by our cricketers have made people's dream come true. After the Government and Opposition parliamentarians spoke the Vote of Appreciation was adopted.

The current economic situation turned into a hot topic in the House during Wednesday's debate on a few bills introduced under the Excise Ordinance. Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya who commenced the debate on behalf of the Government explained with statistics the significant economic growth achieved last year under the Mahinda Chintana. The Minister explained how Sri Lanka achieved 7.3 percent economic growth last year and also the significant growth in agriculture, industries and service sectors.

He said the sound economic policies adopted by the Government have brought down inflation to a single digit for the fifth consecutive year. Minister Siyambalapitiya said that the economic policies implemented under Mahinda Chintana last year had produced tangible benefits to the people.

UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake queried as to why people are still suffering if this kind of economic growth has been achieved. He said that the contribution by the agriculture sector had declined. He said the economy has faced a series of problems and the debt burden too had gone up rapidly. Karunanayake said the peace dividends have not been passed on to the people. He stressed the need to create a national economy irrespective of party affiliations. Ports and Highways Project Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena was very critical of the remarks by Karunanayake.

The Minister queried as to what the people had gained during the 17 years rule of the UNP? When the SLFP handed over the rein of the Government to J.R. Jayewardene in 1977, there was no terrorist war or an economic crisis in the country. The UNP was responsible for the terrorist war in Sri Lanka. The unfortunate incidents such as the 1983 Black July brought about an unstable situation in the country, he said.

Minister Abeygunawardena said there was no proper systematic economic policy during the UNP regime. Nothing substantial was done to develop the country from 1994 to 2001. He recollected as to how the former Ranil Wickremesinghe government attempted to destabilise the country from 2001 to 2004 by signing an MoU with LTTE terrorists. He also briefed the House on what the incumbent Government had done for the country and its people over the past nine years.

The Government under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa eradicated the three decades old terrorism from Sri Lanka's soil. The Government has launched massive infrastructure development in the country. The Minister said that the President has made a significant transformation within the country over the past nine years. If the economy has collapsed as claimed by the UNP, will the people vote this Government in this unprecedented manner, he asked.

Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody had to abruptly adjourn Parliamentary sittings on Thursday due to lack of a quorum in the House. The Deputy Speaker adjourn the House till April 24.

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