tamasha time in Paradise
SAARC heads of state and heads of government
posing for the media with President Dr.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan in
New Delhi on April 3, 2007
cost of living issues push people towards
trade union action and demands for salary
hikes to fight starvation, the Sri Lankan
state has committed itself to two expensive
projects this July-August. Two projects that
could have waited.
committed Rs. 268 million to hold hasty
provincial polls in the North Central and
another Rs. 278 million for Sabaragamuwa
Provinces - a year ahead of the scheduled
date - the government has now committed
another Rs. 2,800 million to hold the SAARC
Summit in Colombo, again, a year ahead of
that seems to be the order of the day when
holding elections busting millions of rupees
and the decisions are largely influenced by
astrological predictions. While the
overburdened public is made to forego a
salary hike and eke out a living, the
government will host the SAARC Summit this
July-August in the backdrop of a costly war,
a collapsed economy, spiraling cost of
living and India' fear of the island's
ability to provide security to their
Sri Lanka remains committed to holding the
talk shop instead of the Maldives whose turn
it is to host the regional summit.
government on Tuesday (8) presented a
mammoth supplementary estimate to parliament
for over Rs. 2,800 million to finance the
upcoming SAARC Summit, luxury Benz cars et
al scheduled to be held from July 27 to
August 3 in Colombo.
amount, according to the breakdown is Rs.
401,881,272 for recurrent expenditure and Rs.
2,478,299,069 for capital expenditure
totaling to Rs. 2,880,180,332.
supplementary estimate bearing Head 112,
Programme 2 - 'Development Activities'
quotes Rs. 401,881,272 as the recurrent
expenditure additional provisions required.
The 2008 estimate is undisclosed in the
document submitted to parliament.
the above head, Rs.3, 270,000 is meant for
personal emoluments. This is broken into
Rs.1,500,000 as overtime and holiday
payments and Rs.1,770,000 as other
Rs. 35,372,800 has been quoted for domestic
to the breakdown provided by the Foreign
Ministry, the supplies requirement for the
regional summit is a massive Rs.62, 835,485.
above head is split into four sub heads that
includes Rs. 6,640,550 for stationary and
office requisites, Rs. 45,994,935 for fuel,
Rs. 540,000 for diets and uniforms and Rs.
9,660,000 for other expenses.
Rs. 4,500,000 has been earmarked for vehicle
maintenance expenses. Besides, the proposed
allocation for services is a mammoth Rs.
260,601,987. This will include Rs.
75,687,750 for transport, Rs. 6,800,000 for
postal and communication, and Rs. 1,600,000
for electricity and water.
allocation under 'other expenditure' is a
massive Rs. 176,514,237. And this includes
Rs. 52,629,670 for accommodation and Rs.
56,406,520 for entertainment.
for cultural activities, Rs.28,050,000 for
seminars and exhibitions, Rs. 3,500,000 for
publications and advertisements, Rs.
1,200,000 for gifts and Rs. 15,247,500 for
'others' have also been allocated.
is a proposed allocation of Rs. 35,300,000
to be transferred to public institutions.
The allocation will be split between
the Colombo Municipal Council (Rs.
27,800,000) and the National Youth Services
Council (Rs. 7,500,000).
for capital expenditure, a total of Rs.
2,478,299,060 is quoted. Under the head
'rehabilitation and improvement of capital
assets' which is meant for the improvement
of buildings and structures, the allocation
is to be Rs. 47,411,960.
the acquisition of capital assets, the
proposed budget is Rs. 2,091,700,000. This
is split as Rs.1,598,000,000 for vehicles,
Rs. 10,280,000 for furniture and equipment
and Rs. 83,420,000 for plant, machinery and
amount quoted for capital transfer is
another Rs. 318,267,100. This will be
divided between public institutions (Rs.
318,267,100) and the Bandaranaike Memorial
International Conference Hall (Rs.
the amount quoted for other investments
under the heading of other capital
expenditure amounts to Rs. 20,920,000.
is learned that the supplementary was
presented as the decision to hold the summit
here was reached after the annual estimates
were approved for the year 2008 thus
necessitating the making of provision for
the SAARC Summit expenses that were not
included in the annual ministry estimates.
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will receive
a total of Rs. 354,417,497, Ministry of
Cultural Affairs some Rs. 2,960,000 and the
Department of Police Rs. 2,168,315,735.
supplementary will also fork out Rs.
20,000,000 to the District Secretary of
Kandy, Rs. 123,267,100 for the Bandaranaike
International Conference Hall, Rs. 7,500,000
for the National Youth Services Council (NYSC)
and Rs. 222,800,000 for the Colombo
Municipal Council (CMC).
15th SAARC Summit is being held in Sri Lanka
despite it being Maldives' turn to host the
plans to strike back
personnel manning a desk during the
strike and (inset) K.D. Lalkantha
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
JVP after firing its first salvo against the
government on July 10 by holding an island
wide token strike and protests with workers
attached to the public, private and estate
sectors is to decide tomorrow (14), the next
course of action to be adopted to win the
demands of the workers.
JVP affiliated National Trade Union Centre (NTUC),
which consists of 366 public, private and
estate sector trade unions, as part of its
campaign to win several demands for the
workers has after the July 10 campaign vowed
to continue with the battle until the
workers' demands were met by the government.
Parliamentarian and NTUC Head, K.D.
Lalkantha says that the steering committee
of the NTUC would meet tomorrow (14) to
discuss several issues.
said that decisions would be made on how to
continue with the agitation campaign and the
next course of action to be adopted. It is
to be decided if the trade unions would move
for strike action that would last over two
of other unions
to be discussed is the role so far played by
other trade unions in winning the demands
and how best to proceed with them during the
to Lalkantha, the NTUC is to also decide on
how to overcome the state suppression on
trade union action and the steps to be taken
on the trade unionists who have been
victimised by the government for
participating in the July 10 strike.
says that the July 10 token strike was only
the beginning of a long battle against the
government, adding that it was going to be a
tedious and risky trade union struggle given
that the government would never agree to
grant the demands without a fight.
a strike is to be a 100% success, essential
services such as power, water supply and
transport have to be stopped. The NTUC had
no intention of crippling the essential
services, as we did not want to place the
people in difficulty. After all Thursday's
strike was only a one day token
strike," he said.
vowed that the struggle that commenced on
the 10th would be intensified if the
Rajapakse government continues to ignore the
demands of the workers.
struggle will only end when the workers'
demands are met. Till then there will be no
turning back. How can a government that does
not make any sacrifices expect the people to
make all the sacrifices," Lalkantha
to the NTUC head, nearly 660 trade unions
had joined the strike organised by the
centre last week, while other trade unions
were not invited, as it was only a token
threats, police intimidation and government
propaganda through the state media to
sabotage the strike, the token strike has
been a success, he said.
to Lalkantha, 70% of teachers, 95% of
Central Mail Exchange staff, 60% of the
railway staff and 94 locomotive drivers, 72%
of hospital staff, 95% of the State Printing
Corporation staff, 40% of the SLBC staff and
65% of the SLRC staff had joined the strike.
addition, 75% of the Auditor General's
Department staff, all employees of the
National Film Corporation's Advertising and
Counters, 50% of the Sri Lanka Land
Reclamation and Development Corporation and
16 out of the 20 monitoring centres of the
Meteorology Department had stayed away from
their posts. The government however claimed
the strike was a dismal failure.
agreeing, Lalkantha said that workers at
estates in Nuwara Eliya, Badulla, Welimada,
Ratnapura and Matara too joined the strike.
President Mahinda Rajapakse two days before
the island wide strike speaking to trade
union representatives affiliated to the
government had said that he was saddened by
the fact that trade unions were resorting to
strike action to gain political mileage at a
time when soldiers were sacrificing their
lives for the country and nation without
expecting any returns.
a labour leader and a former labour
minister, Rajapakse had said, he did not see
anything wrong in trade union action by
workers to win their rights.
he had said it is sad to note that methods
employed for winning demands that cannot be
won through dialogue are now being used to
gain political advantage.
in a bid to resolve the growing labor
unrest, agreed to grant a salary hike of Rs.
625 along with the cost of living allowance
of Rs. 375 till the next budget.
leaders expressed their objection to the
President's offer of Rs. 1,000 saying the
amount was insufficient.
The NTUC said the offer of Rs. 1,000
was a poor consolation when the demand was
for a monthly increase of Rs. 5,000.
NTUC's demand for a minimum pay increase of
Rs. 5,000 is based on the cost of living
index, which had increased by 2,430 points
since the last pay rise in 2006. As such the
offer of Rs. 1,000 hardly meets the
expectations of public servants who are
struggling to make ends meet under difficult
conditions," Lalkantha said.
from the salary increase of Rs. 5,000 for
the public and private sector workers,
another demand made by the trade unions is
the payment of the Rs. 2.50 cost of living
allowance promised by the government in 2006
for each increasing cost of living index
addition to the salary increment of Rs.
5,000 for the public and private sector
employees, the NTUC has also demanded for an
increase in the daily wages of the estate
workers. They have called for the daily wage
to be increased to Rs. 500 from Rs. 290.
the drastic increase in the cost of living
index since 2006, the government has also
decided to increase transport fares by a
fares have been increased by 27.2%. Train
fares have been increased over 100%, which
is unbearable for the people. Therefore we
have been compelled to add a new demand to
our campaign, which is that train fares be
reduced as it has been increased by 100, 200
and 400 percent adding a further burden to
the ordinary people," Lalkantha said.
the JVP breathing fire down a government
that says it does not have sufficient funds
to permit a wage increase; the battle of the
workers is now likely to intensify with the
Marxists out to prove they were neither down