Now, Rosy defends sojourn in China

Opposition leader of the Western Provincial Council Rosy Senanayake (UNP) yesterday rejected criticism of their recent visit to China on funds provided by the Council.

Responding to The Island queries, the former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia said that contrary to press reports the second batch of Councillors would go ahead with the planned visit to China. She said that the UNP Councillors had unanimously agreed to join the government group though the JVP boycotted the visit.

Seven UNP Councillors had joined 22 government members on the first visit. Asked whether a Chinese experience was necessary, she said that they could learn a lot from China. She expressed the belief that Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, too, would go on the trip though he failed to join the first group. About 100 councillors would visit China in four batches.

Another UNP Councillor told The Island that the programme would cost about Rs. 25 million. Although a section of the press had attacked the WPC for funding the visit, when compared with heavy expenditure incurred by MPs going on foreign trips this was nothing, he said. According to him, provincial Councillors should not be denied perks and privileges made available to MPs. He emphasised that there was absolutely no need to cancel the visit.

An aide to Minister Janaka Bandara Tennekoon, in charge of local government and provincial council portfolio, said that Provincial Councils could arrange overseas visits without taking approval from the ministry.

Mrs. Senanayake said that the WPC funded visit could not be considered a waste of funds as they benefited from the Chinese experience.

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