President at gratuity distributing ceremony :
‘Working class - strength, boon to government’
Vast development in North and East:
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said his government was ready
to face any local or international challenge that is inimical to Sri
Lanka confidently as long as the country’s working class stands with the
He was addressing a function to present 5,600 retired Sri Lanka
Central Transport Board employees gratuity payments totaling Rs 2,500
million at Temple Trees. President Rajapaksa said although the SLCTB was
running at a loss, the government took measures to provide this gratuity
to fulfil the responsibility of the government and it is the workers’
responsibility to play their role well to serve the nation.
Pointing out to Opposition criticism the transport service, including
SLCTB, railway and airlines were running at a loss, the President said
these were the very people who attempted to sell these institutions on
the pretext that they were non- profitable. He said SriLankan Airlines
which was sold was re-acquired by his government. President Rajapaksa
said the government was fulfilling its obligations to the people amidst
various threats levelled against it by international forces.
“Nobody can forget that the Sinhala and Muslim communities were
chased away from Jaffna 19 years ago. But those who have forgotten this,
are trying to create a major issue out of a small matter. The public
should be aware of such elements. Leaders too should be cautious,” he
He said during the past three years since the eradication of
terrorism. houses, land, electricity, roads, hospitals and schools in
the North and East were developed. President Rajapaksa said it was their
obligation to do this since the people living in those areas are Sri
Lankans and those areas were deprived of development for 30 years.
The President said land has become more precious than in the past.
“All sectors are being developed, including roads, ports, airports
etc. The Opposition raises questions about these projects . This
government is carrying out this work for the future generations. Past
governments took loans to feed the people.”
He said the people are still paying for the loans taken to import
flour to feed the people.
President Rajapaksa said the government does not take loans to feed
the people but to execute massive development projects as investment for
future generations. The President said it was the responsibility of
employees who received Rs 2 million as gratuity, to invest a
considerable proportion of this money for the future of their children
as the government does today. Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge, Transport
Deputy Minister Rohana Dissanayake, Labour and Labour Relations Ministry
Secretary Upali Wijeweera and SLFP Transport Workers’ Union General
Secretary Nimal Abeysiri also spoke . Transport Minister Kumara Welgama,
Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem and Western Province Governor Alavi Mowlana
were also present.