PM justifies paddy storage at Mattala

23 October 2019 09:26 pm - 9     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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While asserting that the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) is a white elephant, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has today justified the current government’s decision to store paddy at the airport storage facilities in 2015.

He said this while providing the evidence at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to investigate corruption of the current administration on the decision to store paddy at MRIA.

Accordingly, Commissioners questioned the losses occurred through the damages to the equipment in the airport premisses.

Responding to the question Prime Minister said that former Paddy Marketing Board Chairman had instructed the Mattala Airport officials to remove the equipment which can be destroyed by the paddy dust.

However, the Presidential Commission observed that the PMB stored over 4000 metric tons of rice at Mattala Airport and the damages amounting to Rs.600,000 were incurred to equipment at the storage area.

Prime Minister denied the allegations that the present government had destroyed the glory of the airport by storing paddy in its stores in 2015.

Accordingly, Chairman of the Commission retired Supreme Court Judge, Upali Aberathne questioned the Prime Minister that as current leaders in the country whether it is government’s responsibility to take such decisions to boost glory of MRIA.

“That airport has no glory to boost up. It’s called the world’s emptiest airport due to lack of flight operations,” Prime Minister responded to the PCoI Chairman’s question.

Providing evidence, Prime Minister said that he believes that it was a correct decision taken by the government to store paddy in the airport since the airport has the storage facilities.

“In 2015, there was an excess of rice cultivation and also there was an election around, so we have to maintain the price level on the rice. Considering all these situations the government had appointed a committee to find suitable solutions for the matter,” he said.

Accordingly, the Commissioners questioned the Prime Minister whether he has appointed three members from his office to the particular committee. Responding to the question, Prime Minister said that he has not appointed any of his officers to the committee.

“It is a normal practice to appoint a committee when there is an excess amount of yield and we followed that normal procedure. Line Minister had provided a cabinet memorandum regarding the excess amount of paddy harvest in 2015. Accordingly, I and the Finance Minister had provided observations to that memorandum,” Prime Minister informed the Commission.

The Attorney General's Department representative asked the Prime Minister whether he was aware that two of his senior advisors, Charitha Ratwatte and R. Paskaralingam, have been taking part in some of the meetings at the particular committee.

Mr. Wicremesinghe said that he was not aware of such things and the committee might have asked his advisors help to solve the matter.

Commissioners also questioned the Prime Minister about sending letters through the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the decision on storing paddy at Mattala Airport. However, the Prime Minister said that he was not aware of such letters sent to the Mattala Airport officials through his office.

Chairman of the Commission then questioned the Prime Minister on 16 warehouses in Hambantota which had the facility to store 8,131 metric tons of goods at the same time. “I can’t say anything about the decisions taken by the PMB and other officials unless I see the papers,” Mr. Wikremesinghe informed the Chairman.

He also said that the Mattala Airport officials had been given permission to store paddy at the airport and if the airport officials were against that decision the government would have arrived at some other solution to store the paddy.

“Mattala Airport is still incurring losses; no company has agreed to take this airport. Currently, we are having discussions with an Indian Company about handling the airport. All we need is to minimise the losses coming through this airport,” Prime Minister informed the Commission. (Yoshitha Perera)

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  Comments - 9

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  • Dee Wednesday, 23 October 2019 09:36 PM

    Please give that darn place as a gift to anyone who can repay the loan and run it. Land and all. Outright. If we sold (outright) the army HQ property, what does this mattala dump matter?

    Shan Thursday, 24 October 2019 08:41 AM

    Yes let PM to sell everything what does he care.This is the PM who laughed on the day of the blast. Is he a joker?Does he have any children to pass on his vision to??

    Sunil Wednesday, 23 October 2019 10:06 PM

    How justified it was, we will show on nov 16 th you scoundrel.

    Kanthaka Wednesday, 23 October 2019 10:13 PM

    Good use of public money PM! -Use an existing airport for paddy storage, and build a new one for Indian airline operators!

    Rohan Thursday, 24 October 2019 02:57 AM

    The commissioner should understand that the glory has been retained by - paddy storing warehouse instead of a whorehouse had it been unused from the time it was built.

    Rohan Thursday, 24 October 2019 03:00 AM

    Find out why public funds were used to build this white elephant by the people involved instead of how it is being utilized. Travesty of justice.

    C.K.Lankaputhra Thursday, 24 October 2019 07:23 AM

    රනිල් කියන්නෙ ඔහෙලට තමිබන්න පුලුවන් අයියා කෙනෙක් නෙවෙයි හලෝ.

    Lasantha Fernando Thursday, 24 October 2019 08:15 AM

    If you stop the process of the infrastructure that surrounds it, obviously it will fail. Self fulfilling prophecy. By the way that;s what the Auditor General's report said and the pdf with the findings can be found on Google. Vision by its very nature is only appreciated 10 or 20 years later.

    Manu Thursday, 24 October 2019 08:48 AM

    Then Jaffana airport is not a white elephant built only for the Indians to come and Tamils to go to India? Is it not a lost?


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