Gamperaliya to forge ahead: Minister

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had agreed to continue the Gamperaliya Rapid Rural Development Project, despite the obstacles the government had faced when expediting it, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.President Maithripala Sirisena had recently discussed the matter with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Finance Minister Samaraweera

A sum of Rs.200 million had been allocated to each electorate under the Gamperaliya Project, the minister said; “The Prime Minister and Finance Minister have agreed to streamline this project within two weeks Asked about his views on Ministers Arjuna Ranatunga and Sarath Fonseka's counter-statements on the President saying that the United National Party's (UNP) founders' values were not being upheld by the UNP, Minister Samarasinghe said that the President never wanted to criticise anyone.

Speaking on estate workers' trade union actions to seek salary hikes, the minister said that it was unjust that they lacked certain facilities, adding that priority should be given to providing them with the necessary facilities as they were an integral part of the country's economy. When questioned on whether companies could pay estates workers Rs.1,000 per day, the minister said that they should not refuse; “It is a fair request, it should be paid.”

Minister Samarasinghe said that an executive committee would be established in addition to the Central Committee. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party Convention would commence with the participation of office bearers, once an executive committee meeting was held.

Highlighting the allegations levelled on army personnel for human rights violations during the United Nations Mission in Mali, the minister said that President Sirisena had expressed his dissatisfaction over the matter.

“The President said that those allegations were not justifiable as they had been levelled by a non-governmental organisation,” he said.

The Human Rights Commission said that they had come to a common consensus with the security forces to look into matters concerning those officers prior their deployment on foreign missions, Minister Samarasinghe said. President Sirisena said that the government could not agree with baseless allegations levelled by organisations backed by supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he added.