Sri Lanka bought planes instead of building houses: PM

Ranil-Wickremesinghe-3

Mar 10, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister said on Thursday the nation is plagued with incompetencies of the former regime and the homeless could have been housed with the funds mishandled.

“If they (the former government) did not buy those eight planes then we could have built houses for the people,” Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe said at the launch of the National Action Plan for social development of the plantation community.

“We could have built all the houses needed for the estate workers with this money. This project will cost only 10 billion. That is only a fraction of the cost of the crafts.”

Former aviation minister Arjuna Ranatunga in 2015 appointed a four member committee consisting two accountants and two lawyers headed by attorney at law J.C Weliamuna to investigate alleged irregularities in the state-run SriLankan airlines.

“The former government of President Mahinda Rajapakse made management changes to carry out a re-fleeting of the airline with brand-new aircraft costing 2.3 billion US dollars despite the availability of more cost effective alternatives,” the report said.

The Weliamuna report recommended criminal investigations into the entire re-fleeting process and has noted instances where former chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe, a brother-in-law of Mahinda Rajapakse, should be prosecuted.

National Action Plan for social development of the plantation community will address issues in respect of poverty reduction, improvements in access to health, nutrition, education, housing, water supply and sanitation.

Around one million people are resident in the estates, with the sector employing 1.5 million people directly and indirectly. According to the latest World Bank report around 60 percent of the estate community live under the poverty line.