President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (22) attended Parliament in his capacity as the Minister of Finance and took part in the debate on nine tax amendment bills.
They are the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, Nation Building Tax (Amendment) Bill, Economic Service Charge (Amendment) Bill, Strategic Development Projects (Amendment) Bill, Provincial Councils (Transfer of Stamp Duty) Bill, Debits Tax (Repeal) Bill, Finance (Amendment) Bill, Regional Infrastructure Development Levy (Repeal) Bill and the Excise (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Bill.
The President who received a rousing welcome from MPs on both sides began his speech by stating that it was his intention to strengthen the cooperation and relationship between the executive and the legislature which was why he decided to address the House.
He said that a Bill will be moved in Parliament next month to establish a Contributory Pension Fund for the working class in this country as pledged in the budget proposals.
The President further stated that with this move, the pension that was confined to public servants will now be extended to the employees of State banks, corporation, the private sector, for those employed overseas making a tremendous contribution to the national coffers and for those self-employed including farmers, fishermen, artistes etc.
The President added that with the enactment of the Act a secure social system will be established so that the working class will be restored with a permanent income for life after retirement.
President Rajapaksa further stated that the Government created the highest economic stability during the recent past. The exchange rate has been stable for the last two years. The interest rates have been brought down.
President Rajapaksa stated that the establishment of million domestic economic units is another stable income source for the people. Another means of stabilizing the economy is to make each employee entitled to a pension.
The President also stated another revolutionary development in the recent past was to rid the urban areas of garbage and beautifying them.
President Rajapaksa also stressed that the future vision of Mahinda Chintana was to enable the people of this country to live as dignified nation in the world economy while making both villages and towns equally attractive.
He added that to realize this vision was a matter of pride for the Government while accepting it to be an investment for the younger generation in the country.
The President addressed several other issues ranging from economy and political developments.
He also extended his condolences to the disaster hit Japanese people and said that Japan was a longstanding friend of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka and her people would always stand by the people and the government of Japan.
The President also requested the Opposition to refrain from spreading false rumours and tarnishing the good name of the country at international fora. The Opposition had attempted to make statements of corruption, fraud and crimes not existing in the country. It was high time they opened their eyes to reality and saw the damage those irresponsible statements were doing to the nation, the President said. The opposition should act with responsibility without engaging in confrontational politics for narrow political gains.