Sajith lists Basil’s irregularities, lashes out at Namal


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa alleged that those who had misappropriated public funds during the previous administration were now protesting against the new government. Minister Premadasa declared that he had the strength to go ahead with projects meant to help the poor regardless of the UPFA working overtime to sabotage the programme.

Premadasa claimed that a person who had gone to play rugger matches in SLFP helicopters was among those campaigning against the government. The Rajapaksas should be held accountable for a spate of irregularities, Minister Premadasa said, accusing them of embezzlement and abuse of public funds, including Samurdhi allocation. The minister also alleged that the Rajapaksas planned to use ETF funds belonging to Samurdhi workers.

Minister Premadasa was responding to an SLFP protest opposite Housing and Samurdhi ministry at Sethsiripaya last Friday. UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa had been among those who were involved in the protest. Protesters also set fire to an effigy of Minister Premadasa.

Minister Premadasa alleged that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, Basil who had been in charge of the Samurdhi portfolio failed to take tangible measures to uplift the living standards of the poor. After having lost the presidential election in last January, the Rajapaksas were now trying to undermine the new government’s people friendly projects. The minister said that ‘lactogen

babies’ (milk brand) wouldn’t be allowed to interfere with his projects.

Claiming brazen misappropriation of Samurdhi/Divineguma funds, Minister Premadasa said that 5.1 million almanacs had been printed at a cost of Rs 29,000,000 to be used as propaganda material in the former President’s re-election campaign. The minister said a staggering Rs 63,000,000 had been squandered on a one-day Divineguma conference held in Colombo and Rs 170,000,000 taken from the ministry account on the pretext of paying gratuity to officials. The ministry had also spent Rs 3,000,000 to procure flag poles in support of the presidential campaign.

The Financial Crimes Investigating Division (FCID) last Wednesday arrested former Samurdhi Minister Basil Rajapaksa. The minister was remanded till May 5 pending further investigations.

Premadasa also accused the previous regime of providing loans to UPFA local government representatives as well as other government workers to buy motor cycles. Those now spearheading protests remained silent at that time, the minister said, alleging that the Rajapaksas utilized public funds for private purposes. They spent public funds lavishly to further their positions, the minister said, emphasizing his determination to continue with his projects.

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