Changes before Vesak: President

Published : 9:10 am  April 21, 2017 | No comments so far |  |  (545) reads | 

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said there will be changes in the government activities within the next two weeks, including changes in heads of state institutions. He said this would entail in how things would be done by the government as well especially with regard to development activities. 

LATE-CITY-DM-1-8Asked what the changes were and whether there would be a cabinet reshuffle, the President replied that everybody would be able to see the changes before Vesak (May 13-14).  

The President was addressing the editors and media heads at the President’s House yesterday also emphasized that the country was not facing an economic crisis. He noted that there were positive steps being taken in the economic front with the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said the Finance Minister and other officials were in Washington discussing matters with the IMF and the outcome looked very positive.  

The President assured that the country is heading positively towards economic stability. He added that the country’s foreign reserves have already exceeded US Dollars 5 billion and expected to improve further in the coming months. He said that the international market prices of tea, rubber and coconut have increased, thus there is a positive trend in foreign exchange earnings from these traditional exports. “The economy is very sound and there is no possibility at all of an economic collapse,” he said.  

Referring to the tragedy following the collapse of the Meethotamulla garbage site, the President said that a retired judge will be appointed to investigate on how things led to the tragic situation and find those responsible for the garbage dump issue. He said that a report on the inquiry is expected within one month.  

The President added that within two days, 98 houses would be given to families whose houses were completely destroyed. Along with this speedy programme, the steps would be taken to resettle all the families evacuated from the area. The garbage dump will be gradually removed from the area by utilizing garbage for power generation, production of organic fertilizer or for land fill, without affecting the environment or the residents in any place, he assured.  

The President also announced that it was decided to provide Rs.250,000 to each of the families to purchase furniture for their houses. The Army and the Engineering Unit of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) will take steps to move the Meethotamulla garbage dump systematically within nine months. Furthermore, the Valuation Department and other relevant agencies have been instructed to conclude the damage assessment from the disaster during this week and hand over a damage assessment report. All funds for compensation will be released immediately after this is completed.  

President Sirisena said that the controversial private medical college, South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) issue would be solved by broad-basing its management, which is now a single ownership and open it to the stock market by listing it with the Securities Exchange Commission. He said the medical college will be governed by a board of professional administrators.  

He said that the government has taken this decision after a series of discussions with all the parties concerned, including SAITM management, GMOA, education authorities, medical students, medical doctors’ associations, SAITM students and their parents.  

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said once a proper guidelines have been establish to administer SAITM, it would also be applicable to two other private medical colleges proposed to be set up by the Monash University in Australia and Manipal University in India. The President pointed out that 75,000 to 85,000 Sri Lankan students go abroad annually for higher education and if there are private institutions in Sri Lanka, it would be a great relief to them as the cost would be much less.  

Replying to a question on the proposed new constitution, the President said the first rough draft would be presented by the Constitutional Committee within 2 or 3 weeks and thereafter it would be studied before the final draft could be prepared.