The Government spent about Rs 450 billion annually to maintain public institutions, Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament yesterday.
He said Janawasama and Elkaduwa Plantations were being operated by the Government incurring heavy losses.
He said the Government had come up with 250 project proposals to be carried out in non-utilized state estate lands which were poorly maintained for many years with the aim to turn them around. He stressed that no land coming under the Knuckles forest reserve would be given to the private sector.
Kiriella observed that those project proposals were made by five consultants on the guidance of Minister Kabir Hashim. He vehemently denied charges that those lands were given to Minister Hashim and his close associates.
He pointed out that the EPF of estate workers had not been paid for 20 years and when the Government assumed work in 2015, Rs 1,800 million in EFP arrears needed to be settled. He said the Government spent about Rs 1,500 million annually to maintain the state-owned plantations.
Minister Kiriella also observed that it was during former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s period (in 1996) that 500,000 acres from state owned estate lands were given to nine private companies.
He made the observation as a reply to Joint Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardena who pointed out that the residents in the area and environmentalists had been objecting to the moves to give lands adjacent to Knuckles Mountain Range to the private sector.