Sirikotha has slammed the Joint Business Forum (JBIZ) for being critical of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe`s decision not to participate in discussions on the hotly-debated Joint Mechanism (JM) to handle tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the northern and eastern provinces.
The JBIZ, following an emergency meeting last Thursday, urged President Chandrika Kumaratunga to act swiftly, while denouncing Wickremesinghe for `not participating in the discussions` on the subjects of the JM.
The business leaders, in a statement issued later in the day, emphasised that they would support a `suitable mechanism which will not damage the sovereignty of the country.`
The JBIZ comprises the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries, Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka, the Employer`s Federation of Ceylon, the Exporters Association of Sri Lanka, National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka, International Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Bankers Association.
UNP headquarters had dismissed the business leaders concerns. `It seems the JBIZ has been hi-jacked by a group of self-serving businessmen who no longer command the confidence of the majority of the private sector,` Sirikotha said.
The UNP also accused the JBIZ of clandestine dealings with President Kumaratunga. The JBIZ `seems to be only interested in safeguarding big business interests. One such example is the deal with President Kumaratunga to avoid any announcement of private sector wage hike on May Day.`
The UNP has accused the JBIZ of not undertaking activities to re-build the lives of tsunami victims.
The main opposition party ridiculed the JBIZ stance on the peace process, ridiculing their 1998 bid to negotiate directly with the LTTE. The UNP emphasised that it would be ridiculous to blame their leader Wickremesinghe for President Kumaratunga`s inability to move the peace process forward. (SF)