In January and August 2015, people of Sri Lanka exercised their franchise in a decisive manner, marking historic milestones in our country’s journey. People in the north, south, east, west, and centre came together to vote for: a change in Sri Lanka’s political culture against the politics of ethnic and religious division and against extremism on all sides; against impunity; for a strong democracy; for the rule of law and good governance; for reconciliation and sustainable peace; equality; upholding, promoting and protecting human rights of all and the pluralistic nature of our society; and for inclusive and equitable growth and development of the country. These were the aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka who voted to send a message to those who they elected that the promise of strong democracy and democratic institutions, the promise of reconciliation and sustainable peace and the promise of development, must be fulfilled.
Some of our promises have already been fulfilled. Chief among them are the restoration of Sri Lanka’s image on the international stage, the 19th amendment to the constitution, the setting up of independent commissions, the Right to Information Act, the restoration of the freedom of expression, public consultations on the proposed reconciliation mechanisms and the constitution, the setting up of the constitutional assembly, measures to rid our nation of corruption and usher in a culture of good governance. We have taken vital steps to reduce our debt burden, uplift the economic conditions of all citizens and ease the cost of living. Providing salary increments for state and non-state workers, increasing pension and Samurdhi payments, reducing the cost of essential items such as petrol, gas and medicine, were some measures taken by the Government to achieve the stated goals. Thus far more than 430,000 new jobs have been created in our efforts to create a million jobs. On others, we have initiated processes which are yet to reach fruition, but work continues with diligence. As in all democracies, progress is often not made in straight lines. Sri Lanka too, like all other countries in the world, is susceptible to the influence of global developments, natural disasters, and related challenges, and faces setbacks as a result.