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Differences Have Been Overcome – Anoma Gamage

by Thushari Nathaniel

Deputy Minister of Petroleum Resources Development Anoma Gamage believes that the unity government has succeeded in overcoming their differences and benefiting the people greatly during the past year. In an interview with The Sunday Leader she said that in her ministry, corruption has been controlled, and they are working according to a plan to improve the overall performance and productivity of the Ministry. She further said the higher authorities of the government are now taking measures to curb corruptions in every sector of the country.

Following are excerpts of the interview;

Q: The unity government was given power on August 17, 2015. After a year in power, how successful have they been so far in good governance?

A: With the two main parties working together towards one goal, they have taken the country forward positively. Of course, I am not claiming that there are no issues at all. However, the way the people working and their attitude have to be changed. It will take some time, because they were working under a government that has been ruling the country for 20 years; but we are taking the country forward.

We have done a lot during the past year, but the changes are yet not visible that much. People had a lot of problems regarding democracy. The white vans are no more and the people are free and safe now. However, they have forgotten that they had passed a fearsome past because they are being caught up in their day to day affairs now.

The constitution has been changed and a lot of reforms have taken place. Last week, the OMP bill was passed – a big step taken in resolving the problems that the families of the missing persons face and in fulfilling our obligation to the Tamil people. Even the fertiliser issue has been resolved to a greater extent. I am not claiming that everything is perfect, but we have made some positive progress and we are heading in the right direction.

Twenty five per cent of female representation in parliament has been introduced. Moreover, we are giving a basket of food items to every pregnant woman and many initiatives have been organised for the benefit of women. These are just a few that we have done during the past year. It will take some time for the people to realise what has been done for them.

 

Q: The UNP and the SLFP have always been rival parties. Now working together, what obstacles have they faced so far?

A: Even a family faces problems. We make compromises, so we are all making an effort to put aside the differences and work for a greater cause, to benefit the country. My minister is from the SLFP, but we have come to an understanding. We discuss matters amicably; we have had no issues working together.

Similarly, I don’t see that members of both parties have any major difficulties in working together, because we all want to improve the country and its people.

 

Q: The Joint Opposition (JO) has not relented in their quest to bring down the unity government. Has their effort put any pressure on the government?

A: No. I don’t think so. Even if they try, they cannot topple the government. We have five years to run and there is nothing they can do; they just put on a show raising some issues to get the media attention and stay in the limelight.

When we were in the opposition, we never tried to do such stupid things. Whenever we tried to do something, our leader Ranil Wickremesinghe always told to behave ourselves and act responsibly with dignity. But the JO is uncontrollable. Its members have absolutely no discipline whatsoever.

 

Q: It is alleged that the investigations are not moving forward at a satisfactory pace. People now think if this is nothing more than taking political revenge. What is your take on the matter?

A: In most of the cases, we cannot find satisfactory clues to carry out a proper investigation. If we have no proof, we will have to release them after arresting. They have conducted all their fraudulent activities under other people’s names; so it’s very difficult to trace back to them and prove the allegations even though we know the allegations are true. However, the investigations have progressed and within the next few months many will be proved and their activities will be revealed

 

Q: Since you took over as the Deputy Minister of the Petroleum Corporation, how much have you achieved so far to improve its condition?

A: We have done a lot in the ministry. We have implemented a proper system. Every week we have a progress review meeting to see how much of the set goals we have managed to accomplish. In the past, they never held such meetings. The Ministry was considered the most corrupt. Even the workers have changed their attitudes now and are working according to a proper plan.

In the past, certain decisions were taken without proper procedures being followed or without transparency. This has all changed now and we are on the right path. You may not be able to see the progress we have made yet, but the measures we have taken will yield results in the future.

 

Q: Although the people believed the UNP had a proper economic plan to bring the country out of its economic crisis, today they have failed. Do you agree with this statement?

A: No! You cannot say that we have failed. When we took over the country, it was heavily in debt. Even in the petroleum industry, we were in debt to the tune of around Rs. 380 billion. It’s the same everywhere. There are lots of infrastructure projects that were done during the past regime that do not provide any income. They were enjoying the grace period that was given for loans. But now it’s pay back time. Now it’s on our head.

However, we simply cannot take decisions. It needs proper planning and strategies. The President and the Prime Minister are discussing how the economy should be steered. Within the next few months, we will be able to come up with a proper plan to revive the country’s economy. Hasty decisions will only aggravate the situation even further. There are no quick fixes.

 

Q: Do you agree that the unity government has failed in rural development?

A: No. That is incorrect. Every week the Housing Minister opens several housing projects. Even in the Ampara area, around 12 housing projects have been initiated. In the past, Ampara has no such projects. The previous government spoke a lot, but did nothing much.

However we have commenced housing projects and even road construction is carried out in almost every village. We are not making a huge spectacle of what we do, but we do a lot.

 

1 Comment for “Differences Have Been Overcome – Anoma Gamage”

  1. Citizen

    We have done a lot during the past year, but the changes are yet not visible that much
    Duty Minister –
    You need to eloborate on this giving examples, otherwise this is just a statement without essence.

    Basket of food –
    Each and every government does such things for popularity and this is nothing out of ordinary

    We have done a lot in the ministry. We have implemented a proper system. Every week we have a progress review meeting to see how much of the set goals we have managed to accomplish –
    What are the changes implemented for better since you took office apart from having review meetings ?

    Deputy Minister what are your priorities in the ministry ? Surely you may have discussed in your meetings.

    What about the leaking pipelines from Harbour to Kolonnnawa ?
    Are you going to recruit more people to CPC which is already overstaffed. What are your plans to make it a profitable organisation ?

    What is you forecast on crude oil futures and petrol price at the pump ?

    Lot more questions to ask, will save for future .

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