It was not possible for the government to grant the salary increases demanded by university teachers, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday. There was a salary structure and the government had to stick to it and paying a salary of Rs. 200,000 to a university professor was impossible, he said.
When several editors pointed out that university dons deserved better pay, the President asked whether they wanted him to print money for that purpose. “Do you want me to print money to pay their increased salaries?” he asked. “If I do so, you will blame me for the adverse consequences subsequently,” he said.
The President claimed that even university demonstrators’ salary increments were equal to that of his Secretary.He refused to reveal how much the Secretary to the President drew. “It is up to you to do some investigation and find it out,” he said laughingly.
Asked how he proposed to tackle a possible crisis in the event of university teachers boycotting GCE (A/L) examination duties, the President said Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardena had assured him that the situation was under control.
The President said he was confident that the dispute in question would be over by the time the examination was held. Asked why he did not intervene to sort it out urgently, he said it was a matter for Minister of Higher Education S. B. Dissanayake. “I had a discussion with them and now they can talk to Minister Dissanayake,” he said adding that after a recent street demonstration, some protesting dons had met the minister at his residence. He said it was good to open channels of communication between the minister and the protesters.