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Majorities get politicians intoxicated with power: Sri Lankan daily

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Colombo: The electorate has not given the winner a majority as they “realised that majorities make politicians lose their heads and get intoxicated with power”, said a Sri Lankan daily which cautioned the new government to “tread cautiously”.

An editorial “Happy Jumbos” in The Island on Wednesday said that the people have spoken and their message is loud and clear.

“They, however, haven’t given the winner a working majority. Perhaps, they have realised that majorities make politicians lose their heads and get intoxicated with power. The new government to be formed will have to be mindful of public opinion and tread cautiously if it is to avoid the fate of the UPFA (United People’s Freedom Alliance) administration which, having secured 144 seats in 2010, failed to manage its electoral gains and came crashing down,” it said.

dd2The daily said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has silenced his critics who, on numerous occasions, questioned his ability to steer the United National Party (UNP) to victory and went so far as to conspire to oust him.

“True, he failed to beat Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential race in 2005 and avoided the 2010 contest, not wanting to lose again. But, he has won against (former president Mahinda) Rajapaksa 10 years later. It is no mean achievement and let him be congratulated.”

The daily went on to say that the UNP has played its cards well since late last year against numerous odds.

“Its government succeeded in keeping itself afloat and granting some relief to the people. It tried to live up to their expectations. It failed to honour most of its promises, but it managed to convince the public that it was genuine in its efforts to make good those pledges.”

“The UNP government also made some blunders but the people voted for it in spite of them. Above all, it benefited immensely from the UPFA’s debilitating internal crisis.”

The daily said that the people gave a “mild knock to the UNP and a sobering slap to the UPFA on Monday. But, they dealt a knuckle sandwich to the Bodu Jana Peramuna (BJP), which is the political face of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). It was simply routed!”

It asked the UNP-led new administration to learn lessons from its predecessors.

“The UPFA will have to brace itself for bitterly fought internal battles, legal wrangles and, more than anything else, a winter of despair. The UNP is faced with the uphill task of fulfilling its promises. People’s expectations are high and it will have to live up to them,” it added.

(IANS)

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Sri Lanka to Reduce Airline Charges to Help Tourism Industry

The government currently predicts $3.7 billion in revenue from tourism this year, down from an initial forecast of $5 billion

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srilanka, tourism
Buddhist monks take part in a prayer ceremony at a buddhist temple for the victims, three days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 24, 2019. VOA

Sri Lanka’s government announced Tuesday it will reduce ground handling charges for airlines and slash aviation fuel prices and embarkation fees to help the country’s vital tourism industry recover after Easter suicide bombings killed more than 250 people.

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said the decision will lead to an increase in flights to Sri Lanka and a reduction in ticket prices, which will attract more tourists to the Indian Ocean island nation, famed for its pristine beaches.

Seven suicide bombers from a local Muslim group, National Thowheed Jammath, attacked three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21, killing 258 people, including 45 foreigners mainly from China, India, the U.S. and Britain. Tourist arrivals declined 57% in June from a year earlier, dealing a severe blow to the tourism industry, the country’s third-largest foreign currency earner after remittances from overseas workers and textile and garment exports.

sri lanka, tourism
Kandy Temple of the Tooth in Sri Lanka. Wikimedia Commons

The cuts in charges and fees will be in place for six months, said Johanne Jayaratne, head of the government’s tourism development agency. About 2.3 million tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2018, when 29 airlines offered 300 flights per week. After the April 21 attacks, 41 fights per week were canceled, amounting to a loss of 8,000 passenger seats. Several airlines have reinstated their normal schedules since then, but others have not.

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Dimuthu Tennakoon, chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives, said the government decision will encourage airlines to increase their capacity and offer attractive fares.
“That will definitely happen with this reduction because fuel and ground handling contribute a significant percentage of the total cost element of any airline,” he said.

Tourism accounts for 4.9% of Sri Lanka’s GDP. Around half a million Sri Lankans depend directly on tourism and 2 million indirectly. The government currently predicts $3.7 billion in revenue from tourism this year, down from an initial forecast of $5 billion. (VOA)