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Govt. decides on austerity, halves Ministry allocations
Ministries to be reduced, foreign trips restricted

The government has decided to reduce the monthly monetary allocation to all Ministries by 50 per cent as an austerity drive but the budgetary allocations for the year 2008 will remain intact. Foreign travel of all Ministers will be restricted in order to save foreign exchange and steps are to be taken to do away with unnecessary ministries. The government has also decided to stop renting expensive building complexes, Media Minister Laxman Yapa Abeyawardena said yesterday at special conference held at the Media Ministry.

Ministers will be responsible for eliminating waste and rationalizing energy an all Ministers have been advised to restrict their foreign tours.

The government had to take some painful decisions at this juncture as the country was faced with economic, social and financial crises, Yapa Abeywardena said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on his recent visit to London had told a London based journalist that responsible journalism was an essential component in a democratic society. Journalists were patrons of any society and he was not against freedom of expression he emphasised. He had cautioned journalists to be extra-careful when reporting defence matters and the war.

Minister Abeyawardena said that the JVP MP Vijitha Herath had criticized the dissolution of North-Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils ahead of schedule. It was the JVP who approached the former President Chandrika Kumaranatunga in 2004 asking her to dissolve Parliament

ahead of schedule, because the JVP’s principal objective was to join the then government and increase JVP seats in the House. The government was confident of winning the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial elections, but the JVP would lose a number of seats at these elections, he predicted.

Minister Abeyawardena said that MP Vijitha Herath had also said that the government would spend around Rs.400 million for the two Provincial elections. He should know that the government had spent Rs.4,000 million for 2004 general elections.

Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera had made a sensible statement that the two main political parties should get together if the country was to be developed. The government would appreciate that statement Yapa abeywardena said. The third crisis in the UNP was about to surface soon. Since Nanda Mathew’s cross over, the UNP had suffered two political crises and the third one was forthcoming.

Asked whether the Cabinet of Ministers would make any contribution to mitigate the hardships faced by the people on the economic front, Abeywardena said that the government was in the process of formulating a constructive plan to introduce political leaders’ contributions to ease the burden on the people.

Asked about whether the reduction of portfolios of Non-Cabinet Ministers was to be implemented, Minister Abeyawardena said that he was unaware of that and that decision would be taken by President Rajapaksa himself.

 


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