Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sri Lanka: ‘GSP+ Was Withdrawn Out Of Jealousy’ says President's brother

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema - Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa claimed on Thursday that Western nations are shocked at the fact that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has succeeded in handling an issue, terrorism, which they have thus far been unable to tackle.

He explained that most Western nations have failed in many aspects, including the economy, and are unable to fathom how Sri Lanka managed to end a 30-year war, reduce unemployment, increase reserves, increase remittances and record strong economic growth.

“Their people are asking them about what they have been doing and they have to find excuses,” he said. “They are jealous of us and are therefore trying to teach us a lesson. In a way they are trying to punish us and they won’t give us a chance.”

Rajapaksa went on to say that Sri Lanka is ready to shake hands with Western countries, but only as a sovereign country with self-respect. “Under no circumstance would the country kneel and beg,” he said.

When asked if the government was now trying to mend its soured relations with the Western world, Rajapaksa said the administration had been honest with Western nations from the outset and it was now up to the West to do its part.

Rajapaksa observed that if the West wanted to withdraw the GSP+ concession, they could have done it earlier. “They did it to embarrass the government. They timed it for before the presidential election.”

Rajapaksa noted that the EU also failed to deny a statement made by JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe during the presidential election campaign to the effect that the GSP+ concession would be restored if Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated.

“It is purely a political thing,” he said. Rajapaksa claimed that the GSP+ concession given by the EU to Sri Lanka was in fact a subsidy given by the EU to its own consumers. “When we remove taxes from any imported item, it is called a subsidy to our local consumers. Therefore, when the EU has removed taxes from their imports, that too is a subsidy to their people.”

© The Sunday Leader

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