United National Party (UNP) Western Provincial Councillor Harshana Rajakaruna said the government was spending billions of rupees for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) while turning a blind eye to the plight of the poor, who were badly in need of relief.
“The Government has imported 54 luxury Mercedes-Benz cars worth more than Rs.1.6 billion for delegates. It has allocated Rs.800 million for the media room; Rs.50 million for the opening ceremony; Rs.5 million for the carnival at Battaramulla; Rs.15 million for the CHOGM website; Rs.54 million to put up tents and Rs.25 million for landscaping the Baththaramulla Janakala Kendraya. But when the poor people in Gampaha pleaded for drinking water, three poor people were killed.
The government paid no heed to the appeal by University Academics for a 6% budget allocation for education. It has still not provided the public and private sector employees with the long outstanding Rs.10 000 pay hike,” Mr. Rajakaruna said and added that the farmers’ pension scheme has also been neglected.
He said all these unnecessary expenses would have to be borne by the poor people because the electricity tariffs, petrol and diesel prices would be increased to cover the CHOGM expenses.
Mr. Rajakaruna said the government was attempting to win the international acclaim by entertaining the Heads of Governments.
“We have agreed to ensure democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, equality, and devolution of power as a member of the Commonwealth and if we are to win the acceptance of the international community, we need to make sure that those rights are upheld in the country. Without doing so, we cannot please them just by entertaining them,” he said.
He said the government had stopped external degrees at Sri Jayewardenepura and Kelaniya Universities to promote Private universities.
“This is unfair for more than 100,000 students who are unable to gain entrance to Universities. We request the government to restart the external degrees at the state universities to facilitate those who are unable to gain entrance to universities,” Mr. Rajakaruna said. (Ajith Siriwardana)