Johnny to take over ‘dens of thieves’

by Lal Gunesekera

Minister of Cooperatives and Internal Trade Johnston Fernando has decided that the management of the 13 Economic Centres in the country should be taken over by his Ministry for better management and elimination of corruption and waste. The Minister told The Island that those economic centres had been managed by Trusts, which included certain public servants. He said they had become dens of thieves. The manager of the Dambulla Economic Centre drew a salary of Rs. 52,000 per month and Rs. 300,000 was needed for salaries alone, Minister Fernando said.

He said that he had got the police to provide security at the Dambulla Economic Centre and he was not worried about picketing campaigns carried out by unscrupulous traders who had their tenders withdrawn due to fraudulent activities. The Special Task Force (STF) is providing security at the Ratmalana Economic Centre.

He said that there would be no shortages of any essential commodities for the Sinhala and Hindu New Year in April and there would be buffer stocks of 15 essential items, including dhal, potatoes, big onions, red onions, green gram and other varieties of gram, dried sprats, dried chillies, sugar, garlic, etc apart from paddy, sufficient stocks of which were being maintained by the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB). He said the government was ready to import some essential commodities should the need arise and consumers need not worry about shortages.

Minister Fernando said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had instructed that 250 more Lanka Sathosa outlets be opened in rural areas, before the festive season in April, for the benefit of consumers.

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