By Lahiru Pothmulla
Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday requested the media institutions not to turn a blind eye to the government’s achievements and
He said the media institutions mostly stick to the ‘glass half empty’ concept, when it came to the development activities and therefore, invited the media to follow the ‘glass half full’ concept instead.
Addressing a forum held in Colombo, the minister said some 47,000 projects worth Rs.20 billion are being implemented across Sri Lanka at the moment under the Gamperaliya programme, without being noticed.
“There are other large-scale projects by the Housing and Megapolis Ministries as well. Even amidst all these projects, some only focus on topics such as Chinese debt trap or taxes.
We are not saying the faults of the government should be concealed. We are all for revealing frauds, corruption and waste of public funds. However, at the same time, the government’s achievements should also be reported,” the minister said.
He said the reports usually circulate claiming the government has sold this asset and leased out that land. He said the government does not sell assets out of a habit and that it only takes decisions based on sound economic principles formulated in 2015.
Commenting on selling the government’s stake in the Hilton and Hyatt hotels, he said it is not the duty of a government to operate hotels.
“The government should act as a facilitator. When there is a private sector capable of making investments, they should be facilitated to do so.”
Meanwhile, he said that the leaders of the previous government have got its priorities mixed.
“Projects worth Rs.700 billion were implemented in Hambantota between 2005 and 2014. However, there are 15,000 families in Hambantota without access to toilet facilities. The population that has no toilet facilities is close to one million islandwide,” he said.
The minister reiterated that the first agreement signed between China and Sri Lanka over the Port City project was detrimental to the country and that it was the current government that got rid of the harmful clauses of the agreement after having lengthy deliberations.
“The first agreement gifted a 50-acre land plot from the Port City to China. The airspace of that land would have belonged to China. There was also a clause that said Sri Lanka should have to pay compensation to China if that particular land was damaged by any natural disaster. We got rid of all these harmful clauses. It is us who saved the country from the Chinese debt trap,” he stressed.