Substance abuse and addiction is the greatest threat against youth in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.
Hence, action will be taken to knock down the substance circulation system from grassroot level upwards, he further said.
PM Wickremesinghe made these observations at a discussion with the participation of the members of the Youth Parliament. The meeting was held at Temple Trees yesterday evening. Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka also participated.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe invited the Youth Parliament members to actively participate in and contribute their recommendations to government’s policy making process on education, skills development, youth and female empowerment among many other areas. Premier Wickremesinghe observed that Youth Parliament members are a part of the solution for all these issues in the country and observed that a new programme which will give more responsibilities to these Youth Parliament members.
Speaking further, PM Wickremesinghe said it is unfortunate that the substance circulation has reached even the most rural areas in the country while targeting school students as well. Thus, PM Wickremesinghe requested the Youth Parliament members to organise a national movement against substance abuse in support of the government’s fight against drug abuse. PM Wickremesinghe also observed that such a youth campaign against substance abuse will receive the necessary assistance from the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry as well.
Minister Sagala Ratnayaka speaking on the same issue said new laws will soon be introduced against pharmaceutical drugs. The Health Ministry, Justice Ministry and the Law and Order Ministry are working together on these laws at present, Minister Ratnayaka said.
“Three discussion rounds have been held on this matter. We believe that in the next discussion session we will be able to draft an amended bill on these laws. We have also established the Organized Crime Prevention Division and the Anti Narcotics Division. These two divisions address the web of underworld gangs and drugs.” Minister Ratnayaka pointed out.
He also said that certain aspects of the rehabilitation system should also change. Minister Ratnayaka also pointed out the importance of youth participation in the process against substance abuse.
The Youth Parliament members had a lengthy discussion with the PM Wickremesinghe on areas including, 25% female representation at the Local Government election, skills development, educational reforms, new constitution, youth empowerment, foreign employees’ right for vote, brain drain, sports, new electoral system, National Youth Policy, laws on Social Media and higher education.
Speaking on the new constitution, PM Wickremesinghe said a new round of discussion on the proposed new constitution will begin after the Local Government election. He observed that the government will not be able to continue with the new proposed constitution lest the general public have a different opinion on it. Premier Wickremesinghe also pointed out that the Youth Parliament should also contribute their proposals for a new constitution at these fresh discussions.
In a lighter tone, the Youth Parliament members expressed their enthusiasm in a video footage of some dance moves made by PM Wickremesinghe at a private function which went viral on social media. In response, PM Wickremesinghe in a lighter vein said that “a dancing competition be organized among the participants and the best dancer at the competition to receive a prize,” for much amusement of those who were gathered at the event.