Written by Staff Writer
20 Jun, 2019 | 9:53 pm
Colombo (News 1st): A group of employees of the Sevanagala and Pelawatte sugar factories, staged a protest opposite the entry route to parliament today (June 20).
The protest was staged demanding that the Pelawatte and Sevanagala sugar factories which were taken over by the state in 2011, not be privatized again. The protest was organized by the Joint Trade Union Alliance.
The protesters allege that preparations are currently underway to hand over the sugar factories to Minister Daya Gamage’s business. The protest staged opposite the parliamentary complex hampered vehicular flow along the route.
Protestors noted that the Sevanagala sugar factory currently operates as a state-owned institution and the factory earned a profit exceeding Rs. 700 million last year. They note such profitable state institutions should not be privatized and the company pays taxes to the government and they do not take a single cent from it.
They went onto note that the factory provides jobs to 4500 farming families and employs over 1000 people; they urged the government to not abandon them.
Venerable Magalakande Sudaththa Thero speaking to the media noted that this act has been brought forward to fulfil the objectives of one individual, disregarding the farming community. He noted the act provides for the privatization of 36 state institutions.
According to the Thero, they are trying to purchase the Sevanagala sugar factory for Rs. 550 million, however, the factory has assets worth more than Rs. 570 million. He said this government is selling national assets so cheaply and if this act is approved, the Thero noted that they will not allow even a grain of sugar to be produced in the Sevanagala and Pelawatte sugar factories.
UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara who arrived at the location noted that these sugar factories were inaugurated by the government and both factories were then privatized. He added that following their privatization, they suffered huge losses, and were taken over by the government once again. He said production then increased and Daya Gamage mostly produced ethanol.
Leader of the Jana Setha Peramuna Venerable Baththaramulle Seelarathana Thero who also arrived at the scene said certain MPs extended their support over the phone, however, all politicians of the Yahapalanaya government have turned a deaf ear to everything.
He went onto note that they have failed to solve the problems of the poor as they have no backbone and are weak. The protesters dispersed following discussions with the police.
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