In a sense, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who celebrates his 71st birthday tomorrow (June 20) has received his birthday present already in the form of high appreciation from many foreign leaders as well as the World Health Organization for the success in managing the COVID19, a devastating pandemic that baffled even most powerful countries and their leaders.
President Gotabaya’s biggest victory is his success in giving the people of the country a sense of security and peace in a very short time. The early steps taken to strengthen law and order machinery have given an assurance to the people. There is confidence placed in the abilities of the police, ably assisted by the Security Forces to maintain law and order.
Even the critics have acknowledged that it was possible to successfully manage the rigid health regulations and social distancing because of the stable and conducive atmosphere created by the Government in the first six months since Presidential Election of November 2019.
The straightforward ‘no-nonsense’ characteristic of President Gotabaya at his meetings with the Cabinet of Ministers, political party leaders, senior bureaucrats, task force members, trade unionists, student leaders or the public is very evident and it is highly appreciated by everyone.
Earlier this week, he reprimanded the economists in the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for their lapses in preparing post-COVD19 economic revival plans. “A place like Central Bank where the biggest economic experts are rendering their service, isn’t it your responsibility to present a proposal to conquer this situation. What have you submitted in this regard ? What are the guidelines you have given me? There is nothing and you have not come forward to support me,” he said.
“If you are not on the same page with my suggestions please give me your strategies to revive our economy by tomorrow morning. Give me your suggestions on how to strengthen the economy, how to assist banks under these dire circumstances, how to categorically assist small scale and medium scale businesses. If what I say is wrong, don’t hesitate to let me know,” President Gotabaya told the top CBSL officials.
It produced results the very next day when a new financial recovery package was announced by the CBSL.
His ardent desire to eliminate corruption is another point that won accolades from the people. The citizenry is of the view that corruption is the biggest curse and the efforts to eliminate this menace will get the fullest support. The average feeling can be summarized from the following example. Newspaper Columnist RRW said last week in an appreciation on the late journalist Rajiv Jayaweera that, “Professionally, he (Jayaweera) served as an executive of SriLankan Airlines, the flag carrier of Sri Lanka. I remember him once writing about entrenched corruption in that body. As far as I could judge, Rajiv was not politically affiliated to any individual or party. However, I felt that he liked the advent of non-politician plain spoken Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President. In the corruption in SriLankan Airlines article aforementioned, he expressed his implicit trust in President Gotabaya to have these problems investigated properly and appropriate action taken in his characteristic no-nonsense way.”
The advent of non-politician President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his no-nonsense way is hailed by the average Sri Lankan. The masses are aware that during the last seven months, a solid foundation has been laid for implementation of the policies laid down in his election manifesto, the ‘Saubhagyaye Dekma’, the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour. They are also aware that the COVID 19 pandemic, an unexpected challenge of gigantic magnitude has slowed down development activities. However, the masses appreciate the successful action taken by him to deploy health staff and the Security Forces to contain the spread of virus.
The country has a sense of freedom today as the fear psychosis that prevailed since the Easter Sunday terror attack on April 21, 2019 had become a thing of the past.
The youth are quite contended with the decision taken by the Government to grant employment to 35,000 unemployed graduates, though it has been temporarily suspended due to the rules laid down by the Election Commission. It will become effective immediately after the General Elections slated for August 5, 2020. Those recruited would be provided with skills training before being placed in different public sector offices, schools and other institutions.
In the education sector alone several new programmes were launched during the last seven months. They include upgrading of 1,000 schools to the level of National Schools, ensuring university admission for every student who qualifies through the GCE A/L examination, a programme to provide vocational training coupled with proficiency in English language and information technology to those who do not qualify to pursue higher education and upgrading nursing and teacher training diploma courses to degree level by elevating those institutes as fully-fledged universities.
Another decision taken by the new Government was to streamline the criterion for selection of heads of State institutions. A high-level expert panel was appointed to make recommendations for State sector top jobs. The six-member committee comprising professionals has submitted recommendations on the appointment of competent personnel to the Boards of Public Enterprises, Statutory Bodies and State-owned Commercial Businesses.
The decision taken by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to cut down unduly high salaries of some heads of institutions was highly appreciated by the people. One such example was the reduction of the salary of the Telecom Chairman from Rs. 2 million to Rs. 200,000. The Government also gave instructions to follow the procurement procedures in transparent manner and to halt unnecessary expenses on festivals at State institutions.
The President will get many best wishes and birthday gifts tomorrow, but one he would sentimentally appreciate would be the gift of Rs 5,000 sent by S.B. Hewaheta, an octogenarian villager in far flung Medirigiriya who had striven to make his own magnanimous contribution to the COVID-19 Fund while being bedridden.
Courtesy- Daily News