Samurdi Commissioner General stays put — won’t take transfer orders

by Namini Wijedasa
Commissioner General of Samurdhi Kumari Navaratne has refused to hand over her official vehicle and will continue to occupy her seat in office in staunch defiance of a directive by the Samurdhi ministry secretary that she relocate to the finance ministry.

"I don’t mind leaving, but at the correct time," Navaratne told The Sunday Island yesterday. "I am marking time. I will stick to my place."

"We worked genuinely hard for this government," she lamented. "We gave up good jobs in the United States and came back here, thinking we can do something for our country. I feel we made a mistake. I am really frustrated with what’s happening."

Last week, Secretary to the Samurdhi Ministry G. D. Gunapala wrote to Navaratne asking her to relinquish her post as commissioner, along with facilities and equipment, and to return to the finance ministry. To execute her duties, he appointed the Samurdhi ministry’s additional secretary, N. P. Punchihewa.

Navaratne turned down the order. She wrote back to Gunapala, quoting Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake’s directive to the public administration ministry secretary that all transfers be suspended till after elections.

"I sat at my place the whole day yesterday," Navaratne said. "They don’t give me any work and I’m powerless. But I won’t go."

She also said she had not given up her vehicle or any other facilities because, "it isn’t fair."

Navaratne also wondered whether the election would be a joke if the elections commissioner’s directives were so blatantly ignored.

Asked whether she had any guesses about why she was given marching orders, Navaratne said that it may be linked to the defection of S. B. Dissanayake, former Samurdhi minister.

"Maybe because we were close to him," she hazarded. "But I worked very closely with the President, too."