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Public servants will be given their due - President

COLOMBO: President Mahinda Rajapaksa asserted that his Government would give the public servants what they duly deserve and what the Government could do however limited by the constraints in the North-East and the investments made for islandwide development, also considered top priorities.

President Rajapaksa made this assertion when he met the public and private sector Trade Union leaders, Co-Chairman of the National Salaries Commission Lionel Fernando and other high officials, for a discussion on issues pertaining to the recommendations of the National Salaries Commission for the public sector, at Temple Trees yesterday.

President Rajapaksa reiterated "we don't need a war. This is not a war between two countries. It is a war against terrorism, in which we have emerged victorious to date. Thereafter, at a significant outlay, we have re-settled and developed places like Vakarai and Sampur which were sans basic infrastructure facilities and amenities such as hospitals schools and roads."

He further said that some essential items which were not available even at exorbitant prices, were later freely available at prices lower than Colombo, after the Government dispatched consignments by sea to the North and East. Despite these constraints, he said, "we have not levied taxes in the form of defence levies from Government servants whom we greatly rely upon. Instead, we have consistently increased their salaries. We should ensure that at the end of the day, everyone is benefitted and not just a few".

President Rajapaksa directed the Co-Chairman of the National Salaries Commission to expedite the implementation of the recommendations to rectify salary anomalies. All salary revisions will be done through the Commission in the future without any ad-hoc steps.

The President also directed the relevant officials to release the lower category distress and property loans speedily, and requested the officials responsible for its implementation to forward a Cabinet paper for the same.

He outlined some of the relief measures granted for public servants including a minimum salary raised to Rs.11,300 and a cost of living allowance to which another Rs.375 will be added by June end.

He also directed officials to appoint a commission to solve the problems of estate workers.

Nonetheless, he pointed out that certain politicians were engaged in a rigorous mud-slinging campaign against the government, alleging human rights violations of minorities and abuse of media freedom. "They are inadvertently catering to the needs of the LTTE and Prabhakaran," he said.

The National Salaries Commission among some of its recommendations has recommended a simple salary structure from that of a complex one in the past. It has increased the combined allowance and brought down the maximum/minimum ratio of salaries from 1:6 to 1:4.2. Increased unpaid leave allowance, enhanced loan facilities and making every Government servant pensionable among other facilities.

The third class railway warrant has been abolished, with all Government servants entitled to second class warrants. The father of a new-born child will be entitled for three days leave.

National Salaries Commission Co-Chairman Lionel Fernando said the salaries could now be made only by the Commission and would greatly contribute to avert serious salary anomalies which have taken place in the Government service salary structures as seen in the teaching profession.

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