Benefits of development evenly distributed now- Prime Minister
|Boost for jewellery
The local jewellery industry
has received an unprecedented boost under the present
Government, parliament was told yesterday. The Government
has taken steps to lift the duty tariff on raw material
imports such as gold used in jewellery production while
providing tax concessions and tools needed in the industry,
Environment Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said in
He further said that
jewellery industry is carried out in 39 villages of Gampaha,
Hambantota, Kandy, Galle, Matara, Matale and Kurunegala
”We also provide advice on
precious metals and alloys necessary for the jewellery
making, he said.
Two gem and jewellery
centres have been set up in Ratnapura and Colombo to
facilitate the industrialists.
The Gem and Jewellery
Authority (GJA) provides information on gems suitable to
each country, the required quality of jewellery and prices.
Meanwhile, the GJA has spent
over Rs. 11 million to carry out various development
projects in the jewellery industry, during the last four
It has spent Rs. 3.8 million
for enabling the participation of gem and jewellery
craftsmen who cannot afford trade stalls at local trade
”We have already commenced
an island wide census concerning all the aspects of the
jewellery industry including the North and East,” he noted.
The Minister said this in
response to a question raised by UNP MP Sajith Premadasa.
PM clarifies Senior Ministers’ roles
Prime Minister D M Jayaratne yesterday stated that the functions and
duties of Senior Ministers are clearly defined in the Gazette and money
is also allocated through the budget for their functions hence the
Opposition Leader has nothing to worry in that respect.
The Prime Minister made this observation in response to a question
raised by Opposition members led by Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe alleging that neither functions nor duties of Senior
Ministers were clearly defined and that money was not allocated to them.
The Opposition raised the matter just before the committee stage debate
on the Appropriation Bill commenced.
Chief Opposition Whip John Amarathunga raising a point of order
stated the debate could not be continued as the allocations were not
made for Senior Ministers.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinge stated that allocations are not
made for the nine Senior Ministries. He said Government has to assign
duties and functions for them and clarify how money is allocated for
them as well.
Chief Government Whip and Minister Dinesh Gunawardane said that the
duties and functions were clearly defined in the Gazette.
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa stated that under the provisions of the 45
clause of the constitution the President can appoint Ministers in
consultation with the Prime Minister. According is the provisions, the
Ministers have been appointed and allocation made accordingly. UNP MP P
Perera inquired how much is allocated for each Ministry.
Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Resources Management
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva stated that the duties and functions
are clearly noted in the Budget.
He also stated the capital expenditures and the recurrent
expenditures mentioned separately in the Financial head no 3.
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa stated at this stage that although not noted
separately the allocations have been made for those Ministries
separately, thus he concluded that the debate could be continued.
Prime Minister D M Jayaratne stated that very experienced and skilful
members have been appointed as Senior Ministers. Their duties and
functions are clearly defined in the Gazette. The budget has allocated
money for them and their functions. He added that under these grounds
the Opposition Leader does not need to worry about that matter.
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa presided yesterday when Parliament met at
9.30 am. After the presentation of papers and oral questions the House
took up the Committee Stage debate of the Appropriation Bill 2011.
The committee debated the Financial Heads of the President, Office of
the Prime Minister, Judges of the Superior Courts, Office of the Cabinet
of Ministers, Parliament, Office of the Leader of the House of
Parliament, Office of the Chief Government Whip of Parliament, Office of
the Leader of the Opposition of Parliament, Public Service Commission,
Judicial Service Commission, National Police Commission, Administrative
Appeals Tribunal Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or
Corruption, Department of Elections, Auditor General, Office of the
Parliamentary Commissioners for Administration, Office of the Finance
Commission, National Education Commission, Human Rights Commission of
Sri Lanka, Attorney Generals Department, Department of Legal Draftsman,
Ports and Highways, Civil Aviation, Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs,
National Heritage and Culture and Arts.
D M Jayaratne (Prime Minister): The role of senior Ministers are
criticized in this debate but the Gazette clearly defines the role of
those Ministers. Even India has a group of very senior Ministers above
the Cabinet Ministers who provide advice and instructions on economic
and social matters.
This budget is designed not to attract votes but it is a long-term
plan for us to emerge as a developed nation.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that he knew the hard work done by
the people at grass roots level who strive to develop this nation. So he
promised the people to solve the LTTE menace. The President kept his
promise and solved this problem.
He then commenced development projects in Embilipitiya, Moneragala,
Hambantota and other areas that were under developed. These areas are
now emerging as developed ones.
The number of planes of Mihin Air which is two at the moment will be
increased. It is planned to increase the number of planes on the
SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Air fleet to 30. Our Government was able to
buy back most of the institutions that were sold during the UNP regime.
During the UNP regime all the projects and privileges were enjoyed
only by the people in Colombo but today the situation has changed.
The steps taken by the Government in the direction of development
were criticized only by the Opposition.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe very recently talked of
constructing a harbour in Polonnaruwa. That’s not a bad decision but the
issue is there is no sea in Polonnaruwa. To build a canal from the sea
for Polonnaruwa is also not a simple task to complete. The development
of the country’s road network will bring great relief to the people
living in rural areas.
Under President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s rule the benefits of development
are evenly distributed throughout the country.
John Amaratunga (UNP): The 17th Amendment to the Constitution is not
enacted. As a result the main institutions are politicized and the
Commissions have not yet been appointed. The independence of these
institutions are not protected as a result priority should be given
preserving the environment around Parliament.
I suggest that an Act be passed in this regard. I also suggest that
the Air Force Base adjoining the Bandaranaike International Airport
should be shifted as there planes landing at the airport.
The appointment of a Cardinal from our country is a great honour. I
appreciate the statement by the Prime Minister made with regard to this
Vinayagamoorthy (TNA): I suggest to the President to appoint the
members to various commissions that is vested in the 17th Amendment to
This country has an excessive number of Ministers which is a burden
to the economy. Another suggestion I made is that if a particular member
wants to crossover he or she should resign from the Parliamentary seat.
Ravi Karunanayake (UNP): Our responsibility as Opposition member is
to protect the people in this country and not the Government.
The Government has provided incorrect statistics. The fly over
bridges constructed under this Government should be discussed. The cost
of a square foot for the construction Nugegoda and Dehiwela flyover
bridges were Rs 125,000 and Rs 138,000 respectively.
I request that Mihin Lanka be handed over to SriLankan Airlines and
that they operate together. Productivity at the Colombo Port is very
low. Establish a Corruption and Bribery Investigation Commission in the
country. It is non functional at present.
I agree that roads are being constructed in the country. Local
exports have decreased. The 17th Amendment has become inactive with the
introduction of 18th Amendment.
The question about this budget is whether the ordinary people have
obtained any benefit by it. The electricity bill has gone up. This is
the best time to create a national economy. Make use of it. We are ready
to support in this endeavour Senior Ministers have become supervisors
today. This budget is aimed at blue chip companies.
Ven. Ellavala Medananda Thera (JHU)
Today during the Committee Stage of the budget, National Heritages
and Culture are also considered. First I would like to say that this
budget is a far sighted budget.
Most of the budgets were not presented considering the future. That
is why problems like unemployment and economic and social issues have
Most of the time the budget is criticised using short-sighted
comments. But rather than short-term gains this budget aims for
It is due to this far-sighting quality of the President that he was
able to build a united country defeating separatism and terrorism in
Going back in history Sri Lanka exported clothes, aluminium, gems,
rice etc to other countries.
Abandoned paddy lands are now re-cultivated without just protesting
saying that there is no water for cultivation. It is better to renovate
the existing irrigational systems. In the same way it is better to
cultivate coconuts without saying that the prices of coconuts are high.
National Heritage Minister Jagath Balasuriya
First I must say that the country’s entire history is a national
We have high consideration over the national heritage of other
ethnicities of the country. It is said that we should not forget the
past because it is the bridge that links us with the present. Therefore,
we must give high priority to safeguard national heritages in the
Today we have almost completed preservation work of the Jaffna
Library and Fort. Many projects in the Cultural Triangle are also been
carried out. National Heritage is also important for the tourist
industry. There are tourists who come to the country due to their
interest in archaeological sites.
The President has allocated a significant amount for this Ministry.
This shows that this portfolio is given high priority by the President.
The Directors and Professors of the Archives Departments of Asian
Countries met yesterday. The National Archives Department comes under
this Ministry. During this meeting attention was paid to the challenge
of using modern electronic technology to preserve data and books.
Lakshman Kiriella (UNP)
Ven Medananda Thera said that we as the Opposition should support the
President in his journey. We also thought that the Government would
start a new journey with the defeat of terrorism. But this has proved to
be false and the government is following the same policy.
The Elections Department and police are under the President. People
favourable to him are appointed to the institutions under him. The
Judiciary is not independent.
Coconut Development and State Plantations Development Minister Jagath
Pushpakumara: According to Standing Orders Number 78 the independence of
the Judiciary cannot be criticized. This statement should be withdrawn.
Lakshman Kiriella continues: These members do not know their
privileges what can be exported from Hambantota are those things like
curd and honey?
Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera: I
have to start from the point where Lakshman Kiriella finished. He said
that we applauded when a tax is being imposed even on our salary. Yes,
the members in this House should not be different from the ordinary
people. This is the difference between the Government and the
Opposition. They think that all privileges only should be enjoyed by
The hope of MP Kiriella is that this country would be come a country
that violates human rights. Today he revealed his wish. He even did not
stay until a reply is given by the Government.
Some say that ‘Mathata Thitha’ has been unsuccessful because the
revenue from liquor has gone up. This is misleading. The revenue has
gone up because the prices have increased. In reality the number of
people who consume liquor has decreased.
We have raised the prices of liquor under ‘Mathata Thitha’.
Ports and Highways Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena: Today when the
allocations for the President are taken up by the House. There are
hardly any Opposition members. The people who expressed their views on
behalf of the Opposition are also ignorant. They also misled the House.
I have the profit earned by the ports in 2008 and 2009. I table these
documents. This shows that the statistics presented by MP Ravi
Karunanayake is misleading.
They say that the Hambantota Port is useless. This is what they said
even when the Government was conducting the war. They asked what was the
use of engaging in a war.
The Mihin Lanka routes are worth USD 50 million. This is a major
achievement for the country.
Most of the UNP stalwarts are now with the Government and those
remaining in the party are just small fish. Therefore I ask the
Opposition and the UNP to reorganize itself. We also need a good
Opposition for constructive criticism.
Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera: This
is the debate which is usually conducted by the Opposition.
We even get the booklet from the Opposition’s Leaders Office. But
during the debate we see hardly any members of the Opposition. The
Government is compelled to take the responsibility of the Opposition.
Kanaka Herath (UPFA): The economy is growing at a pace. the economic
growth rate has been increased significantly recording 7.1 percent.
As young Parliament members, we have big responsibilities to work
hard and take this country forward.
The economic policies reflected through this Budget will definitely
help to achieve this target. The Ports and Aviation sectors have
developed rapidly. Many foreign vessels will dock in the country with
the construction of the Hambantota harbour. We will make Sri Lanka as
the best naval hub in the world.
Tourist arrivals to the country have increased with the ending of the
war. The Government is ready to purchase 30 new aircraft. This move will
boost the airline service.
Tissa Attanayake (UNP): The President’s Fund was established to
provide financial assistance to poor patients and for many development
activities. These transactions are not taking place in a transparent
manner. Economic activities have collapsed.
The income received from the airline service has been reduced.
Necessary action should be taken to improve airline services which is
one of the major income earners in the country. What happened to the
super luxury train service which commenced due to the IIFA festival. The
service has been stopped now due to lack of passengers.
M K D S Gunawardena (Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs Deputy
Minister): We aim to create a righteous society adhering to sound moral
ethics. Many programs including Punyagrama program, Mathata Thitha,
training of Dasasil Matha program and assisting temples in difficult and
remote areas are being carried out by the Ministry.
Many religious places were destroyed due to the war. We are in the
process of reconstructing those institutions.
Uvais Farook (UPFA): Muslim schools will be upgraded allowing
children to improve their education. Discussions are going on to
facilitate Muslim pilgrims to travel to Mecca at a low cost. Sufficient
funds will be allocated to conduct Muslim cultural affairs in the
When sea planes land at the Negombo lagoon the fisheries industry is
Sudharshani Fernandopulle (UPFA): The project has been temporarily
halted until it is discussed.
Nirmala Kotalawala (Port and Highways Deputy Minister): Joseph
Michael Perera has a good knowledge about the police. We have to recall
the history, the university students were assaulted at Ja-Ela during the
1972 election. The Government has developed the Potuvil-Batticaloa road
in addition to the large number of roads and bridges constructed in
Batticaloa and Trincomalee. Today the people have accepted the fact that
the more elections are held the more UNP gets defeated.
Priyankara Jayaratne (Civil Aviation Minister): With the defeat of
terrorism statistics show an increase in the number of tourist arriving
in Sri Lanka.
An increased number of airlines are flying to Sri Lanka. When we look
at the increase in tourist arrival numbers we see a 16 percent increase
in tourist arrivals during the first seven months of this year in
comparison to last year.
Civil Aviation Services Minister Priyankara Jayaratne: The number of
flights have been increased and we have also identified the need of
domestic flights due to the rising number of tourists. We have also
decided to make arrangements to start direct flights from London to Jaffna.
The discussions are going on for other airport related trades,
luxurious hotels are being built near the airport. We have bought one
sea plane and we hope to buy another sea plane within the next year.
This will be helpful for the fishing industry as well.
We are holding discussions to start flights between Sri Lanka and
Moscow and Canada. The Mihin Lanka has now turned into a profitable
The Mattala Airport is nearing completion. This will be the next
international airport of the country.
About 60 percent of the food provided by the Sri Lankan air lines are
Janaka Bandara (UPFA): Even though we separate the topics for debate,
all these topics come under culture.
We have a history of about 2,550 years and our civilization is older
than that. We have a spiritual determination as a nation with history.
No other country has such a national interest.
British rule in the country tried to destroy this civilization, but
in vain. Our ancestors had the strength to fight against them to secure
our nation. Even though the British left the country, they created a
servile generation to the British. That is what happened in 1948. The
administration was taken over by a leader who was speaking in English.
It is at this time that SWRD Bandaranaike emerged as a local leader
who embraced our local culture. Our President made this country a united
nation after the defeat of terrorism. The challenge of rebuilding the
country which was fed up with globalization and terrorism was given to
the President. People have kept faith on Mahinda Chinthanaya to win
I do not have much confidence in Western economic specialists. Our
ancient kings have proven that we can do what those Western experts
think as impossible.
Our kings did giant creations soon after the wars were fought. Even
though we engaged in a critical war nobody died by starving. What the
world expects from us is to carry forward the pure Buddhist ideology and
the culture related to it.
Ajith P Perera (UNP): Opposing corruption and bribery is one of the
main needs of the country. The President also saw the importance of it.
However, even though five years have passed after his election, he has
not been able to prepare necessary measures for this task. When the
Government does not take the right path, it is our duty to correct it
and force it to take the right path.
The Constitution was amended in a hurry but as proposed an
Independent Commission to deal with corruption and bribery was not
formed. In the Mahinda Chinthana policy it is stated that they will
present a Bill with necessary measures to prevent corruption and bribery
in Government institutions and irregularities in the calling of tenders.
I request you to fulfil this promise taking into consideration its
National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva
Nanayakkara: The meaning of ‘first’ in Sinhala is not necessarily the
number one. It is used to indicate a high priority. We have not
forgotten about our promise and we still see it as a priority. Let us
discuss this matter if this was not done within the next few months.
R Yogarajan takes the chair Ajith Perera continues: Some countries
had presented a Bill to their Parliaments to get easy access to data and
information in State institutions. Some times we also face difficulties
when obtaining necessary information from those institutions.
Therefore a similar Bill is needed for our country as well.
National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva
Nanayakkara: Even though there is no legislation in this regard in our
country, if you ask for those information during Consultative Committees
in Parliament you will be provided with the necessary information.
A H M Azwar (UPFA) :Sri Lanka is among a few nations which
achieved economic growth in recent years. We are gradually achieving
economic prosperity and the political stability. We are in the process
of converting Sri Lanka as a famous tourist destination. War is now
We have to develop the use of latest technology which will help
achieve our future goals. The entire country is free from the terrorism.
We all must get together to rebuild the country.
Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage: The Opposition
always criticizes the budget. They never see positive aspects of it. As
you criticize the budget, you make heavy criticism over the President.
The Opposition tried to topple the Government at the beginning.
Finally, the President won the previous election by obtaining over
1.8 million of votes. You cannot defeat the President because he is a
powerful personality we must protect him. Since he eliminated terrorism
he will drive this country towards success and prosperity.
Vijayahala Maheswaran (UNP): A number of Temples and Kovils
have been destroyed due to the war. It has been unable to conduct daily
pujas. No action has been taken so far to rebuild those religious
places. Hindu schools are not provided with facilities. The Government
should allocate funds to upgrade schools.
Ven Athuraliye Rathana Thera (UPFA): It is the duty of the
Government to take measures to uphold religious harmony. It is necessary
to provide facilities to Dhamma schools. It is happy that the Government
has allocated Rs 14 million to improve the religious activities.
S Yogeshwaran (TNA): During the regimes of Sinhala kings, they
supported Hinduism. Hindu kings supported Buddhism. But today, the
situation has changed.
The military forces are constructing Buddhist temples in those areas
where Hindu temples were constructed. Most of the Hindu temples were
taken over by the Archaeological Department. There are no Tamil
officials in those departments.
Water Supply and Drainage Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa:
According to my knowledge, there are Tamil officials in those
Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thera (UPFA): The member talked
earlier distorted the reality. I walk in those areas frequently.
Buddhist temples are not constructed where Hindu kovils were located.
Reality is at Kanchanaviale, Berugal, Kalladi etc there were attempts
to construct Hindu kovils replacing Buddhist temples. But the
Archaeological Department has prevented them.
Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala
de Silva: The people in North and the South are living without fear
since President Mahinda Rajapaksa united the nation by defeating
The President has taken measures to uplift all religious places
without discrimination. The speech made by the Opposition member before
me attempts to kindle flames of racism.
He was distorting the situation of the country. Opposition members
said the salaries of the public sector are not increased. The Opposition
leader cracked only a few jokes. There are about 200,000 teachers in the
country. Grade two teachers get a salary increment of Rs 1,561. Doctors,
university teachers, Grama Seva officers and others in the public sector
have salary increment.
Anura Kumara Dissanayake (DNA): Many new institutions have
been taken under the Defence Ministry. Eighty three institutions have
come under the purview of the President. That is an excessive number of
Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Development Deputy
Minister Weerakumara Dissanayake: One Opposition member alleged that
Hindu temples are being destroyed. It is incorrect.
Prime Minister D M Jayaratne: If someone says the Government
has discriminated any religion one who states so is a liar.
Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Development Deputy
Minister Weerakumara Dissanayake: The people enjoy the benefits of
Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody takes the Chair.
Culture and Aesthetic Affairs Minister T B Ekanayake: The UNP
claimed that China gives us only loans not donations. The Performance
Art Centre and many other institutions are donations made by the Chinese
government. That centre costs Rs 3,081 million and it will be opened in
next March. It is designed in the shape of Nelum Pokuna in Polonnaruwa.
The President suggested banks and other financial institutions to
commence at least small stage drama projects like in the Tower Hall era.
Initiatives have been taken to produce five dramas, including Vidura,
Sirisangabo, Vessantara and Padmawathi stories by January.
The Government has proposed to establish a cultural square linking
Kurunegala, Dambadeniya and Yapahuwa. Cultural and Aesthetic Affairs
Minister T B Ekanayake:
The town hall is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Plans are under
way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the town hall, Colombo.
R. Yogarajan (UNP):
We are discussing 5,6 ministries today. We saw that the Ministers are
unable to discuss their facts within this limited time. The Indian
External Affairs Minister was in Sri Lanka recently. He stressed the
need of a political solution. The TNA has taken a decision to abstain
from voting. This move alone will not help them toe get a permanent
We know that the Religious Affairs Minister is keen on protecting
temples, kovils, mosques and churches. But his Ministry has not been
allocated sufficient money for this task.
We are just two months after the 18th amendment and awaiting the
appointment of Independent commissions.
The SriLankan Airlines are exploiting the people with unfair charges.
Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena:
We are proud that our President could ensure safety of the country by
defeating terrorism. The opposition could not praise this effort even by
a word. The President also took the responsibility of the country when
the country was under a severe economic crisis. Some countries imposed
economic barriers saying not to give aid and loans to us.
The present leadership could surpass all these barriers. We have
started a new journey. The opposition leader tried to halt the aid and
funds given to the country by complaining before the European Union that
there are human rights violations in the country.
The commercial sector has developed into new era that we could not
foresee. Opposition members are not present in the chamber. They have
run away. They could not prove any fact that they presented.
Representatives of plantation workers should not disregard their
people and live in Colombo. They should support the proposals that will
benefit plantation workers.
This budget includes allocations for the resettlement work. This is
the world’s largest resettlement program. Some asked why we cannot
resettle people immediately.
They were blind to the conditions. We had to demine the whole area
and we completed this within a short period than we expected. We thrive
to strengthen the gains of the people. Democracy is not equal in all
countries. We have to think it in new terms to take the country in a new
Chandrakumar Murugesu (UPFA):
The allocated money should be used in a people-friendly manner. The
people in the North must be made aware of the resettlement program.
Free legal advice should be provided for the victims of the war in
The financial heads were passed with amendments.