Looters, thieves don’t worry about the people – Handunnetti

Looters, thieves don’t worry about the people – Handunnetti

Looters, thieves don’t worry about the people – Handunnetti

Written by Staff Writer

31 Jul, 2020 | 10:04 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Looters and thieves do not worry about the burden of the people, former parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti has said.

Handunnetti pointed out that former SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer was paid a monthly salary to Rs 3.2 million.

“He received housing benefits and vehicle facilities. He leaves to Australia Friday night and returns to the island on Monday morning,” he said.

The former MP added that the Ceylon Electricity Board has been mired in corruption due to the electricity mafia.

“The price of electricity always increased but never reduced,” Handunnetti observed.

He said former chief general manager of People’s Bank Wasantha Kumara obtained Rs 35 million worth suspended salary increments at the time of his retirement.

Foreign debt often figures heavily among many social circles and the political sphere. The path that successive governments have steered our nation towards is exemplified through the mounds of debt that have been amassed over time.

The debt burden of Sri Lanka is more than Rs 14,000 billion. In other words, it is more than Rs 14 trillion.

While the burden of mounting debt weighed down on the populace of Sri Lanka, the actions of those appointed to alleviate the burden and formulate strategies to improve the livelihoods of the masses only acted to worsen the adversity of the people.

n 2007, more than a decade ago, a project was implemented to import dairy cows from Australia in order to uplift the economic status of Sri Lankan dairy farmers and to increase dairy production in the country.

The project which was implemented through the Ministry of which Basil Rajapaksa was the subject minister, imported 1,500 dairy cows between 2012 and 2013.

However, the high expectations of dairy farmers were short lived as a majority of the imported dairy cows either died, fell ill, or did not produce a favourable yield. The distress of the farmers only continued to worsen thereafter.

The Good Governance Government which rose to power in 2015 followed in the footsteps of its predecessor imported 2,495 dairy cows as part of the second phase of a project which had gone belly up.

And again, in 2017 the Good Governance Government imported 1,994 more dairy cows. By the latest importation, the cost of the total project stood at a whopping 7.9 billion rupees.

P.Harrison oversaw the project to import the dairy cows during the tenure of the Good Governance Government.

The Former Ministry Secretary had to sign off on an installment a day before entering retirement as well. Incidentally, she was also the wife of the Secretary to the President at the time.

Another white elephant that squandered the taxpayers’ hard earned money was the building in Rajagiriya, acquired to house the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Government at the time managed to acquire the Govijana Mandiraya in Rajamalwatta, Battaramulla under the purview of Parliament and subsequently acquired a private establishment in Rajagiriya on rent.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had presented the cabinet paper in this regard, with the approval of the then Minister of Agriculture Duminda Dissanayake.

Mahinda Amaraweera and P.Harrison also took over the reigns of the Ministry later on.

The monthly rent on the building for the first 3 years was an eye watering 21 million rupees. Therefore the total paid in rent for the first 3 years was a mammoth 756 million rupees.

Subsequent to the fulfillment of the first 3 years, an additional interest of 15% was agreed to be paid on a monthly basis hiking the monthly rent to 24.5 million rupees.

Thus, 579.6 million rupees were paid in rent for 2 more years.

Even after such a massive investment, the building remained unutilized for a certain period of time as office furnishing was also imported.

The controversial Tab computer deal is yet another instance were allegations of corruption were leveled against the former Government.

The Minister of Education at the time Akila Viraj Kariyawasam drew flak over a proposed project to provide tab computers to A/L students and teachers.

Rs. 5 billion were also allocated from the appropriation bill in 2017, to implement this project.

Later a memorandum was submitted to Cabinet in an attempt to increase it to Rs. 6.78 billion.

Even at a cost of nearly Rs. 7 Billion of public money, those in charge of the project had attempted to acquire tab computers with outdated technology.

Shouldn’t comprehensive probes be launched into such scandals which attempted to squander public money? Shouldn’t justice be meted out to those responsible?

It is understandable for certain politicians to feel disheartened by these revelations being reminded to the people yet again.

But, the money that was misspent and misused belongs to masses of the country.

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