“I experimented with organic farming successfully
By Ifham Nizam
Yesterday, a senior minister blamed the economic downturn not only on politicians but also public servants who, he claimed, had failed to perform their jobs in the 74 years since Independence.
Mahinda Amaraweera, Environment Minister, stated this at a meeting of officials at the Ministry of Environment for the inauguration of duties in the New Year 2022.
The public service pledge was read and religious observances were observed at the beginning of the New Year duties.
Other officials and the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe were also present.
Amaraweera noted that one in 15 Sri Lankans was a public servant. “Maybe this year the figure will increase further. The government has approved 50,000 service-ready graduates. Another 100,000 have been recruited into the public sector. Only by strengthening the public sector can a country develop.
“However, the economic development during the past 74 years has not been at a satisfactory level. Politicians are directly responsible. This situation is also my responsibility. Also, the per capita national debt today is Rs. 800,000. All of this shows that both politicians and public servants have failed.
We have a large target for 2022. We must spend Rs. 2000 million. We don’t have enough money, but the government gave us more money. The money must be used efficiently. Covid resulted in some funds being returned to the Treasury last year. It won’t happen again this year. We all need to work efficiently.”
The Minister also expressed concern at the Minister of Agriculture for complaining that neither Ministry of Health or Ministry of Environment supported him in organic farming efforts. Denying the charge, he said: “We started organic farming about two years ago. He claimed that he had tried organic farming before. I was the Minister of Agriculture and started organic farming in my rice field. It yielded a good harvest.
But it is not easy for farmers to return to organic farming. Agriculture policies have made people bitter,” he added.
Dr. Anil Jasinghe, the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment said, “We as the Ministry of Environment did a lot of work last year. There was more work to be done. We were therefore given Rs. 2000 million this year. We cannot allow projects that we have implemented this year to drag out until 2023. All the steps we take this year must be completed within this year.”
“Last year we concluded a programme to identify sensitive ecological zones. We have decided to continue this program. We have identified around 200 sensitive ecological areas.
All of them should be completed in the current year. He stated that it was our responsibility, therefore, to prepare future programmes and protect the environment as required by the government.