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Eastern Province budget, a pipedream, impractical - Daya Gamage


Eastern Province Opposition Leader Daya Gamage says the province’s budget, presented by the chief minister against his conscience, gives a lot of pipedreams for the people and is impractical.

 Mr. Gamage was speaking at the EPC meeting yesterday after the presentation of the provincial council’s budget.

 Just like president Mahinda Rajapaksa did not fulfil his budgetary pledge to raise workers’ salaries by Rs. 2,500, the EPC’s administration has not delivered its promises to the province’s people, he noted.

 Properties of the people were seized by those in power and plans being made to sell them to foreigners, the EPC Opposition Leader charged.

 He said it was doubtful whether even the Supreme Court would ensure justice, since its judges have to think about their children first.

 The seat of democracy is parliament, but opposition MPs, including my wife Dr. Anoma Gamage, were manhandled there when they aired views against the government, at the presentation of the budget, said Mr. Gamage.

 The government has introduced an expropriation act to take over 37 private entities, although 249 institutions under it are incurring losses.

 They include Mihin Lanka, set up by MP Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and named after the president, which is losing Rs. 19,000 million and there are also SriLankan Airlines, Ceylon Petroleum, Ceylon Electricity Board and many others running at colossal losses.

 Sevanagala Sugar factory, which I had bought for Rs. 550 m at a time when it was losing Rs. 149 m, and now earning Rs. 220 m in profits, too has been taken over by the government.

 It had been developed amidst various challenges and acts of sabotage, including minister Jagath Pushpakumara’s setting fire to sugarcane cultivations, which Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa looked into when he was the prime minister.

 Minister Basil Rajapaksa told parliament that I had twisted the president’s hands and obtained the leasing agreement for the Sevanagala factory, which is incorrect, as it was given on a court order, said Mr. Gamage.

 He went onto say that the president has created a mess for himself after giving ministerial positions to his brothers.

 Mr. Gamage said several local businessmen, including himself, submitted tenders for Kantale Sugar Factory, which was closed since 1993, but foreigners were given it in the end in breach of the tax requirements to be followed when the country’s assets are given to a foreigner.

 He noted that competitiveness among local businesses has been lost due to expropriations of their businesses, and inquired the people’s representatives whether they would remain silence amidst all these attempts to sell the country’s assets to foreigners.

 Mr. Gamage said that he submitted a Rs. 502 m tender for Hingurana Sugar Factory, but the government retained a 52 per cent stake and gave the rest to Browns and Company.

 After being given a Rs. 750 m loan and five years elapsed, they have failed even to cultivate at least 500 hectares at Hingurana, he pointed out.

 Noting that the government was accusing him of being a kasippu manufacturer, Mr. Gamage said a 50 pc of by-product at a sugar factory is molasses, which cannot be utilized for any other purpose.

 Countries like Brazil have 40 pc of their vehicles run on ethanol, Mr. Gamage said, adding that a nation cannot be developed by slinging mud at its business community.

 A minister has said that I would be thrown into the streets like a beggar, but I would like to say that about 50,000 families of my workers will be the ones who will become helpless, he said.

 The EPC Opposition Leader asked the president as to whether those 50,000 families would be treated as Samurdhi recipients.

 Mr. Gamage added that he was committing himself to serve the people of the East.

Dayasarana Fundation

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