Written by Staff Writer
16 Mar, 2019 | 9:56 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – The third reading of the 2019 budget was held in parliament today (March 16) for the fourth consecutive day. The expenditure heads of the Ministry of Housing and Construction and Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Wayamba Development were the subjects of today’s parliamentary debate.
JVP MP Nalinda Jayatissa speaking during the debate said that they had raised questions regarding the irregularities that had taken place in the Ministry of Housing during the previous government. He continued to say that the Minister back then, its chairman and the acting director of the Housing Authority are all part of the present parliament as well.
Jayatissa said that these individuals can even be charged and held accountable while they are present in the parliament. He also said that although the PCOI formed by the President to look into such irregularities had submitted a report on the matter, it had all gone a waste.
Explaining its wastage the MP said that as per reference number 8 of the document that there was an irregularity in the ministry of construction and infrastructure facilities and that the PCoI who looked into the matter had submitted a report and also prescribed punishment for those responsible for such irregularities. He added that even after all this was done that the President went onto shamelessly appointing the same wrongdoers to Ministerial positions once again.
Meanwhile, UPFA MP Kanchana Wijesekara commented on the downfall of the State Engineering Corporation. He said that in 2013 the State Engineering Corporation had earned a profit of Rs. 149 million and that subsequently in 2014 that a profit of only Rs. 47 million was earned. He went onto say that however, in 2015 the corporation incurred a loss of Rs. 709 million and that in 2016 the losses further increased to Rs. 958 million, a loss of Rs. 740 million in 2017, an even increased loss of Rs. 900 million by October 2018.
The MP went onto say that at present the housing ministry has become a ministry with excess staff. He said that although the approved amount of staff allocated to the housing ministry from the Hambanthota district should not exceed 64 that there are already 1175 staff in the Hambantota district office. He added that these details have all been obtained through the housing development authority through the right to information act and that they have even witnessed similar instances in the Jaffna district.
In the midst of constant interruption, MP Kanchana Wijesekara continued to say that when model villages were constructed in the Jaffna district under the Uda Gammana project that posters relating to the matter were even found in the Matara district. He further questioned the subject minister on the necessity of such posters.
In response to these accusations subject Minister Sajith Premadasa said Jaffna is not a separate state and therefore whatever happens in the north that the people of the south should be informed and vice versa. He went onto say that at present they have commenced a massive housing development project that covers every electorate in Sri Lanka. He further said that within the years of 2010 and 2014 that the government had only allocated Rs. 5.6 billion for the purpose.
Premadasa said that for the past four years and till date that they have commenced activities to construct 1925 model villages under the Uda Gammana housing project and that they hope to achieve a target of constructing 2500 model villages by the end of September this year adding that their long term objective is to provide a shelter to everyone by 2025. The minister continued to say that when the four year period of 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2019 is compared that the funds allocated for housing development have been increased by six times. Rejecting accusations on over staffing the minister reassured that there are no idle employees present in his ministry.
Supporting his statement UNP MP Ishak Rahuman said following the demise of Minister Sajith Premadasa’s father and former President that he works towards treating everyone equally in catering to the deficiency of houses that prevailed for quite some time regardless of political representation.
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