ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in parliament today of alleged reports that USD 50 million has been allocated to repair Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF)’s Kfir fighter jets at a time when COVID-19 is raging in the country.
Though it is in the interest of national security that those aircraft are maintained, said Preamdasa, the funds should be prioritised to combat the epidemic. The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) leader requested the president to ascertain the truth of the reports and take necessary action.
Premadasa also questioned cabinet decision to open 500 outdoor gymnasiums at a cost of RS 625 million. Acknowledging the merits of keeping the country’s youth physically fit, he said that under the circumstances those funds too ought to be used to acquire more intensive care units.
Sri Lanka’s daily COVID-19 cases have reached record levels, with state hospitals running out of ICUs as the fast-spreading UK strain of the virus is threatening to overrun the system.
“I propose that both these plans – the outdoor gyms and repairing fighter jets – be carried out once the epidemic has been brought under control,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, who had presented the cabinet paper on the 500 outdoor gyms, defending the proposal. The Rs 625 to be allocated for the project was not going to be taken from the COVID-19 fund or any other funds reserved for containing the epidemic.
“It was a cabinet paper presented in accordance with the budget,” he said. (Colombo/May05/2021)