University Security Costs Double With Rakna Lanka
By Niranjala Ariyawansha
The cost of providing security to the universities has doubled since it bacame mandatory to hire the services of Rakna Lanka Security Service through an order of the Ministry of Higher Education. This was revealed when Minister of Higher Education S. B. Dissanayake answered an oral question raised by UNP MP Dayasri Jayasekera in Parliament on August 22.
The cost of security has risen to Rs 440 million in 2012 from that of Rs 220 million in 2010. In 2011 the total strength of security personnel within the universities were 1,380 which has since risen to 1,408 in 2012.
Whilst most private security firms pay a guard an estimated Rs. 17,000 to Rs. 20,000 per month Rakna Lanka pays around Rs 35,000, Terrence Madujith, Secretary of the FUTA charged. “It is evident that the increase in security costs is not due to the extra number of guards but for increases in their salaries,” he said.
The services of Rakna Lanka was made compulsory in October 2011. Prior to that different companies provided security at each location. The Ministry of Higher Education made the order to engage Rakna Lanka compulsory without even calling for tenders.
The two month old trade union action launched by the Federation of University Teachers Association has amongst other demands called for the expelling of this security service. Madujith claims that at a meeting FUTA officials had with Minister Basil Rajapaksa on August 21 this matter had been raised. According to Madujith, Rajapaksa had explained that all government entities should engage Rakna Lanka for their security services as a consequence of a cabinet decision. He had asserted that as a result of the cabinet decision a tender procedure was not required. Rajapaksa had allegedly maintained that the services of Rakna Lanka comprising of retired security personnel must be given preference as a means of showing gratitude to those who had helped save the country from the clutches of terrorism. Terrence Madujith had another view. “We do not think that they brought in war heroes into the universities paying such a large sum for love or gratitude for them. They did so to spy on university students,” he said.