The revitalization of loss-making state institutions was a main slogan advocated by the new government after assuming duties. In fact, it sought a mandate from people to act on this. Key among them is the plan worked out to restructure Sri Lankan Airlines which is the national flag carrier of the country in partnership with a private investor.
The government, in fact, appointed a committee soon after it took office in 2015 to study the financial position of the national career which was incurring huge losses caused by, among others, mismanagement and malpractices during the previous rule. The former regime is blamed in great deal for irregularities and malpractices that left Sri Lankan Airlines cash-strapped eventually.
Nonetheless, the current government took charge of the national carrier with the promise to revive it. Accordingly, it laid plans for restructuring it in partnership with a foreign investor. Yet, the plan went awry, leaving the government to look for another investor for the joint development of the airline. Be that as it may, the Cabinet is now in for a dilemma as the position of the national career has taken a turn for the worse under the new administration.
It was a point of discussion at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting with the ministers putting forth their views, sometimes critical of the new airline administration. It was revealed that fresh recruitments had been made to the national career during the past couple of years under the new administration worsening the financial situation.
After listening to critical remarks, Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim who is in charge of the national career said certain appointments had been made even without his knowledge.
“I also do not know some recruitments,” he said.
In fact, he said more than 1,000 employees had been recruited in this manner by the Director Board without his knowledge.
At one point, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said the loss had accumulated to Rs.22 billion, and the government could, no longer, bear the burden of pumping in money to run the airline in the current form. So, he asked for the government to take prompt action rather than wasting its financial resources on a loss making venture.
Minister Ranawaka got a shot in the arms in this regard as Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne also took a swipe at the Board Director and suggested its replacement without any further delay.
Next, it was Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara who said that the airline staff was disgusted with the current administration, and therefore action should be taken forthwith.
“It is better to seek the views of airline employees. They will tell the truth,” he said.
Finally, President Maithripala Sirisena proposed to summon the members of the Director Board to the Cabinet meeting. Accordingly, it was suggested to have that meeting next week after the regular Cabinet discussion. The Ministers were invited to attend it if they wish.
Cabinet discusses religious tension
In addition to the matters pertaining to the national career, the Cabinet discussed in detail about the current spate of religious tension being spread in the country.
The Ministers, in a nutshell, opined that the trend should be arrested forthwith. Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake read out a statement outlining measures taken by the government in view of reconciliation and religious harmony in the country. It was done for the communication of the government’s stand to the international community.
Garbage crisis worsens
The garbage disposal has become a matter of concern in the country these days. It remained a crisis simmering since the local authorities became defunct over two years ago. The situation was compounded worse after the collapse of the Meethotamulla garbage dump earlier.
It transpired at the Cabinet meeting that the government had contacted Western Province Chief Minister Isuru Devapriya and asked him to work out measures to address the matter. After garbage disposal was stopped at Meethotamulla, the government identified Muthurajawela as a dumping site. The location is flooded at the moment making waste disposal a crisis once again. It has become an eyesore to see litter strewn at different places in the heart of Colombo these days.
Faizer not in favour of Navin’s proposal
Against this backdrop, Plantation Minister Navin Dissanayake submitted a proposal outlining measures to address the garbage crisis in his constituency of Nuwara-Eliya. Yet, Local Government and Provincial Minister Councils Minister Faizer Mustapha were not in favour of the proposal. He said it was a matter coming under the purview of his ministry, and therefore he did not want Minister Dissanayake to proceed with his plan. The latter reportedly insisted that he be allowed to carry out his plan.
After Japan, MR to visit Pakistan
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who just returned after a ten-day tour of Japan on a private invitation, will take wings to Pakistan on June 19. The invitation has been extended officially by the government of Pakistan.
After he received the invitation, he asked MP Wimal Weerawansa to join him in the journey. However, MP Weerawansa is now in a dilemma, as his passport remained in the court custody over some litigation against him. “I will be able to secure it, and join the trip with the former President,” he said.
JO to intensify agitation against Govt
The Joint Opposition or the Rajapaksa group of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) could not intensify its agitation campaign against the government during the past couple of weeks. The entire country was focused on the flood disaster and post recovery.
Now, it is going to mount the struggle anew against the move to sign the Economy and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India and to privatize what it calls national assets of the country. For that purpose, the JO has appointed three committees to work out strategies.
Udaya’s move yields results
JO MP Udaya Gammanpila sought information from the Department of Immigration and Emigration on the MPs having dual citizenship. He resorted to this action in terms of the provisions of the Right to Information Act.
His action seems to be yielding some results at the moment as the Department has written to the parliamentary authorities asking for all the details. The Department has sought details such as the names of MPs, their birthdates and National Identity Card numbers etc.
It became an issue after the Court of Appeal ruled that Galle district parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe ceased to be a member because of her Swiss-Sri Lanka dual citizenship.
Sand Buddha statue left to wash away with rain
Renowned Indian sand artiste Sudarsan Patnaik, who was in Sri Lanka during Vesak, worked out an art of a reclining Buddha statue to be displayed at Diyawanna Vesak Zone. Normally, such sand artworks are dismantled after the purpose is served. Yet, a Buddha statue is an object of veneration. That it could not be dismantled in the usual fashion. So, the authorities concerned got a few Buddhist monks to chant Pirith and sprinkle Pirith Pen (holy water) on it. Afterwards, it was left to be washed away with rain water.