Managing war, not economy central question –Minister

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 13 March 2001, 18:36 GMT]
“Today it is no longer a simple question of managing an economy. The real and predominant question is the managing of the war”. “A war as is waged by the LTTE has its several facets. The LTTE is quite a military machine that can very competently engage in conventional warfare with the added advantage of innovative tactics which they derive from the guerilla aspect of their war organization. A Combination of these two aspects can be deadly especially when they (the Tigers) had the time from about 1987 to 1993 to consolidate their positions in the open and in the jungles” said Mr. Batty Weerakon, a senior cabinet minister of the People’s Alliance government, speaking in Parliament Tuesday on his government’s budget.

He said that his government can hope to maintain some fiscal discipline this year if it does not have to fight with the Liberation Tigers again.

“The Government had to bring in an additional 30 to 40 billion rupees to withstand the LTTE's sweep across the North. If an additional expense of this nature has not to be met this year we should manage the war without going much beyond the monies got from the National Security Levy” he said.

(Colombo raised the National Security Levy from 6.5 percent to 7.5 in the budget)

“There are those who say that there is no such question and all that is there is only a terrorist question. I am not for the moment concerned with them. But there is the main Opposition party that has for several years accepted that there is this ethnic question and that there is the need to solve it”.

“To those who say that there is no ethnic problem and what is there is only a problem of terrorism - that is, people like the Sihala Urumaya - I ask them Sir as to when this fact dawned on them. I ask them as to why their leader, whom they recently ousted and earned for themselves the name Taliban, why did he go to Thimpu in H.W .Jayawardene's team of negotiators. What did he want to negotiate on if there was no problem?” Mr. Weerakon asked.

(Mr. S.L Gunasekera was the leader of the Sinhala extremist group Sihala Urumaya until November last year. He was ousted in an internal power struggle. He was a member of the Sri Lankan team that negotiated with the Tamil militant groups and the TULF in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan in 1985)

 

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