Kiriella refuses to give unspent money from ministry votes for disaster rehabilitation

Money left or remains unspent in the ministry votes will be utilized towards the speedy property rehabilitation, reconstruction and compensation payment for the people affected by the recent disasters, according to a cabinet paper submitted by finance minister Mangala Samaraweera on July 11.

It says the floods, landslides, strong winds and droughts in 15 districts severely inconvenienced the people. They claimed 213 lives and left 562,074 people from 144,188 families affected. They will face various socioeconomic problems for a very long time to come due to the loss of houses, businesses and infrastructure. The cabinet paper says restoring the lost property, livelihoods and health, education, roads, agriculture, animal husbandry, plantations etc. related infrastructure should be a priority, with a Rs. 80 billion preliminary spending estimated.

Due to an agreement with the IMF, allotting money afresh will be a challenge, and savings from the 2017 budgetary allocations should be used for the rebuilding work, it adds. The first quarter financial performance report says that out of Rs. 1,027,250 million earmarked for spending by 51 ministries this year, only Rs. 957,360, or 93.3 per cent, had been utilized and Rs. 68,930 million has been left unspent.

However, a day after minister Samaraweera tabled this cabinet paper, highways and higher education minister Lakshman Kiriella wrote to prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, asking that as per a finance ministry cabinet paper, the Rs. 3,250 million earmarked for rural road renovation be provided to his ministry without any change.

Daya Nettasinghe

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