Written by Staff Writer
22 Feb, 2019 | 9:40 pm
Colombo (News 1st): The Sri Lanka Transport Board was the key topic of debate between Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and State Minister Ashok Abeysinghe in parliament today (Feb 22).
Speaking in parliament the opposition leader noted that the present government has decided to introduce an early retirement scheme in 2016, with the intention of reducing the number of state employees. Also, some undeserved promotions have created an imbalance in the state institutions.
He noted that according to trade union leaders more than 5100 undeserved promotions have taken place and those who were employed as drivers, bus conductors and technicians, who do not fulfil any of the requirements, have been promoted to executive positions, on an unfair and illegal basis. He pointed out that when employees who are qualified for such positions are removed, the Sri Lanka Transport Board will start to incur losses again.
Responding to this State Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Ashok Abeysinghe noted that in 2017 the SLTB earned a profit of Rs. 161,080,000 and also in 2018 the SLTB was profitable. He noted that between the years 2010 and 2015, EPF and ETF funds worth Rs. 2555 million were not paid and salaries were not paid to 79 depots. He went onto note that during the period between October 26, 2018, and December 17th, 2018, attempts were made to remove graduates and qualified employees from their respective positions and suspend their promotions.
State Minister Abeysinghe noted that they have no reason to privatize this institution and on October 26th, 2018, the HR Manager at the SLTB head office was removed from his position and replaced by a lady named Tharangani. He said the CEO was forcefully brought in, and all divisional appointments were made thereafter.
The State Minister noted that after the Yahapalnaya government came into power, they have not provided a single bus free of charge to any political meeting or even the May day rallies. He added that more than Rs. 142.5 million is still owed to the SLTB, for hiring buses for the previous elections.
UPFA MP Gamini Lokuge adding to the discussion noted that currently there is a program in place, where more than 5000 employees are being promoted without an exam, test or even an interview. He noted that he will present the letters of appointment as proof. However, State Minister Ashok Abeysinghe rejected the claims.
Adding to the conversation non-cabinet Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva noted that the SLPP held a large meeting in state-owned property, along with large posters of Ms Rajapaksa and MP Gamini Lokuge. He said the poster said that the meeting was to be held under the patronage of former first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa. He pointed out that this is what is called the misuse of public assets. He asked Rajapaksa: “How can you make such statements against the ruling party when this meeting was held just last week?”
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