My first Cabinet meeting to prioritise fertiliser subsidy: PM
By Shane Seneviratne
Addressing a rally at Kandy, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday promised to assemble the first Cabinet meeting under his Presidency to prioritise the Rs. 350 fertilizer subsidy.

The UPFA Presidential candidate further pledged to maintain an economy with minimum foreign intervention. Mr. Rajapakse emphasised the need of boosting the local economy initially in the Colombo and Gampaha districts and letting the development flow towards other districts gradually. The economy should be balanced where the profits would reach all the people, he said.

Mr. Rajapakse added that the position of the Middle East housemaids should be elevated to the extent that Sri Lankan women were trained to become nurses and sent to countries like America, England and Middle East. This has already started with Labour Minister Athauda Senevirathne shouldering the responsibility, the Premier said.

Premier Rajapakse reiterated his stance on the N-E issue saying it should be a unified country. “I am going to gather all the forces in the South and come to an agreement on this issue. We want a unified country. We should achieve it by discussion,” Mr. Rajapakse explained.

He emphasised the importance of forging coalitions, quoting S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1956, 1970 and 1994 respectively as examples.

“Mrs. Kumaratunga formed a coalition with all leftist parties to ascend the Presidency. This is not a novel experience. We have always been with each other. Now I am in a coalition of 25 parties including the JVP and the JHU. So I am definitely on my way to that position.” he said.

Mr. Rajapakse also promised an industrial unit for every province and a subsidy package to low income pregnant mothers and their children up to five years. He also pledged to open more schools.

Earlier yesterday the Premier outlined his plans to reconstruct irrigation tanks at Ibbagamuva for the benefit of paddy farmers. Addressing the gathering he pledged 25 houses to the homeless in each district and reminded them of his programme of providing ambulances to rural areas as laid down in the Mahinda Chintanaya.

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