Large Industrial Zone for Thulhiriya
By K. V. Bandara
State Minister of Industries and Commerce Champika Premadasa says, he together with the economically disadvantaged people, identify the needs of the village and give priority to those in his work.
What are the works started by your Ministry?
A: We have acquired a large extent of land in Thulhiriya to set up a large Industrial Zone. As at now the initial work regarding the land has been completed.
Have you not exerted a lot of effort and over a period of time to get this land demarcated and acquired?
A: Yes, a lot of effort and time has gone into it. The main reason is the lethargic attitude of State officials of certain departments.
If a Government Minister cannot expedite these things, how much longer would it take for a member of the public to get served from a Government department?
A: That is true; however, I do not blame State officials directly.
How much longer will it take to start the Industrial Zone?
A: To start the Industrial Zone we have to get the land, without doing that we cannot start the Industrial Zone.
Your village is Rambukkana, however, for several years now, you have been representing the Dedigama Electorate which was represented by Dudley Senanayake and, as at now, what have you achieved for the people of Dedigama?
A: I have spent and got work done for Rs.3.5 million for each electoral division. This money was used to build bridges and roads.
To carpet 10 kilometres of roadway, the finances were provided by Minister Kiriella. That work was done and also other works are presently underway. He provides the finances to develop 2 kilometres of roadway at a time.
Everything that was not done for 17-18 years cannot be completed within two to three years. This country has to be rescued from the situation it had fallen into and only then can work be carried out so as to create jobs. Now the President and the Prime Minister have finished preparing the system. After graduates were given jobs in June 2012, a large number were not found employment. The Prime Minister has decided to provide jobs to the 40,000 graduates. I prepared a list of 75 graduates from the Dedigama electorate, which I represent, and handed it over.
When giving these jobs is there special treatment for those who work for your Party?
A: Party is of no use to me. Parents, mother or father with great effort and sacrifice has educated these people up to degree level, after that, there is no party consideration. Any child is a child. Every mother is a mother and every father is a father.
Minister, this is about jobs for graduates. Then there are a large number of youth in the unemployed list, those who have passed the O/L's and A/L's?
A: The procedure for that too is ready and a common list is being prepared.
Do you have a plan in place to win the Dedigama electorate at future elections?
A: I do not hate anybody. Now Provincial Councils have been dissolved. However, a Provincial Council election will be held in the future, but I don't hate them, if they want an election they have to get the vote from the people. We will win this Pradeshiya Sabha election. The Party Leadership has given us the opportunity to formulate a selection procedure for candidates and it is already in place. We have already commenced the selection process in the Dedigama Electorate.
Voters in the Dedigama Electorate are critical saying that you visit the villages only during an election period. Is that true?
A: I cannot go from village to village. But as representatives of the people, when we carry out work of the Ministry and at Parliament when we have to contribute towards programmes delegated to us by the Prime Minister and the President, we work for the people. On Parliament days we cannot attend funerals or weddings, we have to sit in Parliament and if there is a vote being taken we have to vote. Therefore, we have to attend Parliament on every occasion. If you are not well, you can inform Parliament and get admitted to a hospital. That law is common to all.
You never fail to turn up in Parliament and raise your voice on behalf of the people, however, of late we haven't seen you, why is that?
A: We have to speak up on behalf of the village, raise a voice for requirements of the village. In Parliament we can speak up only regarding the Ministry. There is no point in just shouting in Parliament and getting our name in the media. I of course get together with the poor economically disadvantaged people and identify the needs of the village and give priority to those in my work.
This Government came into power saying they will apprehend the thieves as well as by making a number of other promises.
However, there are individuals in your Government too who have been accused of certain things, what do you to say about that?
A: I am a representative of the people, in Parliament, and also a State Minister. Decisions on those are made by institutions;therefore, I can't make decisions on those. A person is guilty if the misdemeanours are legally proven.
What is the reason for you to abandon your village Rambukkana and stay in Dedigama?
A: I won three elections while in Rambukkana. If I am challenged by Rambukkana, I have to go there and work for the people, and give the reply. It is the Prime Minister who appointed me as an organizer for the Dedigama Electorate. I won two Parliamentary Elections while there. I ensured President Maithripala's victory too.
This time at the elections, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party will contest separately and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's group which broke off will enter the fray as the Podujana Peramuna Party. Is the new party a threat to the UNP?
A: It is the voter who votes for these parties. We will contest under the Elephant symbol of the United National Party. We will work towards ensuring victory for the United National Party. Hence, while ensuring a win from the Dedigama Electorate I will go and help the leader in his election work in other areas as well.
You have established Juki Machine Training Centres, in several places in the Kegalle District, to economically empower women. Some complain that this work is taking place at a very slow pace.
A: Subsequent to President Maithripala Sirisena's victory, there was a 100 day Government for three months, when this Government was established, Minister Rishard Bathiudeen headed the Ministry, and I asked for 200 Juki Machines, and they were provided. The machines, the security guard and the person in charge of the place and the trainer were paid through the Ministry.
Then it was done properly. An exhibition was held in Warakapola displaying all the clothing that was sewn with these machines. That was done in the 100 day period and the machines were donated one per person.
Now this Government made a Cabinet decision and on that, to commence a small industry there should be 25 persons and machines as well as training will be provided. The Ministry has allocated money to the Government Agents for this. I have now established these centres in many places in the Kegalle District.
When the funds were given to the Government Agent, he distributed it among the Divisional Secretaries. However, DSs' did not disburse the monies and are keeping it with them, saying that there are shortcomings at these centres. Now, nearly six months have gone by and we have attended to the shortcomings that were mentioned. And by now payments are also being made. Even though certain organizations have the machines, as the rents for the premises have not been paid in nearly three months, the owners have locked up the places. It is not their fault. That fault is with the Divisional Secretaries. Therefore some poor, innocent women got into trouble.
Finally what I have to ask you is, whether you don't have a 'foundation' similar to the ones other Parliamentarians and Ministers have?
A: I would like to set up a foundation. You asked me a very good question. It is many years since the 'ChampikaPremadasa Community Development Foundation' was presented in Parliament, and it was renewed too, however, I have not got the requisite approval. Not only I, but several others too are awaiting approval. I will soon get the authorization and then we can obtain the legal provisions, and other countries can assist us. If there is such a foundation, we can raise funds for the benefit of the poor and we can send reports on those donations to the donor countries.
Expect crossovers in droves when elections are announced We want to take an anti-UNP struggle forward
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