Arjuna threatens to quit, alleging FM sabotage attempt

Arjuna Ranatunga

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunge yesterday alleged that the bigwigs in the Finance Ministry had been trying to pull the rug under the feet of Transport Ministry officials during the last one and a half months.

Ranatunga, in a scathing attack, on the conduct of the Finance Ministry, said it allowed the private sector to import luxury buses whilst stymieing the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB)’s moves to add luxury buses to its fleet.

The Minister said that SLTB had planned to import 2,000 luxury buses, but the bureaucrats in the Finance Ministry were making every effort to undermine their moves for reasons best known to them.

The former World Cup winning cricket captain, addressing a public event at the Sri Shaila Chaithyaraamaya, Dompe said the objective of the SLTB was to provide a quality service to the public and not make profits and a number of projects had been launched to strengthen the SLTB fleet, keeping that objective in mind.

“The key project among those was adding 2,000 luxury buses to the SLTB fleet. It is high time that the government provided an efficient public transport service to the masses which had hitherto been quite unsatisfactory. The government cannot shirk its responsibility and expect the people to use private transport. That’s why we tried to join investors for the particular project and import those buses, but the Finance Ministry officials have shown reluctance in supporting it.”

If those bureaucrats had the same interest and enthusiasm that they had in helping the private sector to import fleets of luxury buses, for the SLTB as well, the country’s public transport system would improve by leaps and bounds, Ranatunga said.

The Minister said that if the Finance Ministry mandarins were forced to travel in buses and trains for about two months, they would experience the problems faced by the people using public transport.

Ranatunga said that if the Finance Ministry officials continued to scuttle those projects, he would have to take a decision whether to continue in politics or not.

(Source: The Island)