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Parliament– (28-11-2016)

Parliament– (28-11-2016)

Nearly 400 ‘Uda Gammana’ villages to be completed next year: Sajith

At least 400 ‘Uda Gammana’ villages will be completed next year, Housing and Construction Minister Sajith Premadasa said.

He was participating in the Committee Stage debate of ‘Budget 2017’ when the Financial Head of Housing and Construction Ministry was taken up in Parliament on Saturday.

The minister said a new ‘Uda Gammana’ village would be constructed in every district to mark the duty assumption anniversary of President Maithripala Sirisena. He said 166 ‘Uda Gammana’ consisting of 4,609 houses would be constructed utilising the financial provisions of Rs. 6 billion allocated to the ministry this year.

“We fully utilise the funds allocated to our ministry. In 2015 and 2016, we commenced the work of 167,466 houses and out of them, completed 133,398 houses. For this year and last year, we received Rs. 8.7 billion for the ministry. The total allocation for this ministry from 2010-2014 was Rs 3.2 billion," he said.

"My predecessor Wimal Weerawansa only started the work of 31,334 houses during the above mentioned five years and out of them he could only complete 18,046 houses,” Premadasa said.

The minister said his ministry has been allocated Rs. 7.2 billion for next year, adding that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake agreed to make an additional allocation of Rs. 1 billion to his ministry before the final vote on December 10.

“This is a 50 percent increase of allocation,” he added.

Observing that the subject of housing has been segregated and shared among several ministries, Premadasa said his ministry only undertakes rural housing programmes and housing programmes for the middle class.

Special programme to enhance public service productivity: Ranjith Madduma Bandara

A special programme has been implemented to enhance the productivity of the country’s public service, Public Administration and Management Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara said.

He was participating in the Committee Stage debate of ‘Budget 2017’ when the Financial Heads of Home Affairs, Public Administration and Management, Housing and Construction Ministries were taken up.

“For the first time in history, the present government has given a mega salary increase of Rs. 10,000 to public servants and measures have already been taken to strengthen the pension scheme of public servants,” the minister said.

He said measures would be taken to establish housing schemes for public servants in Colombo, Gampaha and Monaragala districts.

Budget 2017 has allocated Rs. 20 million to establish 1,000 Sewa Piyasa units and Rs. 1 billion has been allocated to form the Pension Fund.

The government has already taken measures to remove pension anomalies and also to enhance the efficiency of the Department of Pensions.

Supplementary estimate submitted seeking approval to purchase 28 cars

A supplementary estimate was submitted to Parliament on Saturday seeking approval to purchase 28 cars for 27 ministers, state ministers, deputy ministers, and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan.

The Supplementary Estimate was presented by Leader of the House and Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella at the commencement of the sittings.

The estimate dated June 24, 2016 contains 22 proposals to cover the expenses of purchasing 28 cars at a total cost of Rs. 791 million.

Among those who sought vehicles were seven ministers, eight deputy ministers and 12 state ministers.

Bimal condoles death of Fidel Castro

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake in Parliament on Saturday expressed his condolence on the demise of revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He also expressed tribute for his yeoman services rendered in realising socialism in Cuba.

He called Castro an “invincible political personality in the 20th and 21st Centuries”.

He made these observations at the commencement of his speech during the Committee State of ‘Budget 2017’.

“Castro was born in August 1926 and was a university student in 1948. He led an armed struggle against Cuban dictator Batista in 1952 and was arrested subsequently. He won the Cuban Revolution in 1959. From then, he developed the country under socialist policies. He was a founding leader of then Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in which we too work in. When the USSR collapsed in 1990, pressure mounted on Cuba to give up socialist economic policies, but Castro with the support of his countrymen could prove socialist economic policies are workable,” Rathnayake said.

“After 25 years from 1990, today the capital economy of the USA has failed and the US election was a reflection of this failure. However, under iconic leader Castro, Cuba achieved rapid progress from human development indices such as health, education and cultural aspects. Cuba has always been a friendly country for Sri Lanka and voted for our cause at international platforms. Cuba made a significant intervention against the US interference in the world,” he added.

UPFA MPs Namal Rajapaksa, Jayantha Samaraweera and State Minister T.B.Ekanayake also expressed their condolences.

More focus on strengthening divisional administration: Vajira

Special attention has been paid to strengthening the divisional administration of the country, Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardane said in Parliament on Saturday.

He was participating in the Committee Stage debate of ‘Budget 2017’ when the Financial Heads of Home Affairs, Public Administration and Management, Housing and Construction Ministries were taken up.

Abeywardane said measures would be taken to solve the issues of divisional administration officials.

He also stressed the necessity of taking a policy decision to solve the issues prevailing in North, East and the rest of the country.

Measures will also be taken to fill 2000 Grama Niladari vacancies in the country. "Without providing facilities, we cannot achieve divisional level administration goals. Measures would also been taken to uplift the living standards of each and every family by solving all the problems," he said.

Housing and Construction Ministry performance limited to media fanfare: Namal

UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa said in Parliament on Saturday that the performance of the Housing and Construction Ministry is limited to media fanfare.

He was participating in the Committee Stage debate of ‘Budget 2017’ when the Financial Head of Housing and Construction Ministry was taken up.

Rajapaksa said the ministry has only constructed 912 houses in 2015 and 4,625 houses this year contrary to the ambitious plans of making 500,000 houses within two years.

He said the ministry has plans to construct 25,000 houses for estate workers as of the Budget for next year, but the ministry could barely construct 72 houses this year for them.

He also charged that subject Minister Sajith Premadsasa has been distributing lands in Hambantota to people, but that these lands are coming under the proposed 15,000 acre industrial zone.

“Some of these lands come under the purview of the Wildlife Department and some have been reserved for various development projects by the Mahaweli Authority. Some are within the 15,000 acres demarcated for an industrial zone. When the people start laying foundations for their houses, industries will come up in the area and they will be forced to move,” he said.

Rajapaksa also pointed out Hambantota Salt has been enlisted for privatisation by the government, adding that it incurred a Rs. 170 million loss in 2016.

He attributed this loss largely to the inefficiency of its current Director Board.

Labour officers’ issue will be solved: WDJ

All possible measures would be taken to solve the issue of labour officers, Labour and Trade Union Relations Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne said in Parliament on Saturday.

He was responding to a question by UPFA MP Dinesh Gunawardane under Standing Order 23(2).

The minister said that the first strike was started by the Public Service Labour Officers Association and they called off the strike after coming into an agreement following a series of discussions with the authorities.

According to the agreement, a Cabinet paper has already been submitted to get the approval for the preparation of a service minute and a committee has also appointed to work on that.

The ministry has also taken measures to pay salaries to officers involved in the trade union action by deducting those days from their annual leave.

Measures will also be taken to submit the proposals with special relief to the Management Services Department of the Finance Ministry after taking them from the committee appointed to draft the service minute.

(dailynews)

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