Rajitha-Sarath fish brawl in House leaves government red-faced

Public Resources Management and Entrepreneur Development Deputy Minister, Sarath Kumara Gunaratne yesterday accused Fisheries Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne of depriving consumers of an opportunity to buy fresh fish.

The unexpected attack from the Gampaha District MP, during the third reading debate on budget proposals, under the votes of the Fisheries Ministry, triggered a heated argument between the two UPFA MPs, while their colleagues looked on.

MP Gunaratne alleged that the Fisheries Ministry had failed to implement an efficient system to purchase fish stocks to ensure a steady supply though it boasted of a countrywide fish distribution network. Gunaratne declared that the much talked about Fisheries Ministry distribution network was nothing but a farce.

The Deputy Minister attributed the chaotic situation to Fisheries Ministry’s dependence on middlemen.

An irate Minister Senaratne angrily reacted to criticism asking Gunaratne to refrain from making baseless allegations. Senaratne said that he had no option but to depend on middlemen as the ministry had no cash to make direct payments.

Gunaratne shouted back at his colleague demanding that he obtain the required funds without depriving consumers of their right to enjoy fresh fish at reasonable prices.

The Finance Ministry wouldn’t provide funds to carry out experiments, Dr. Senaratne shot back, prompting the Deputy Minister to suggest that he should raise the issue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Gunaratne urged the Fisheries Minister not to squander public funds on propaganda. There was absolutely no use in promoting the ministry when it couldn’t meet the basic requirement of providing fresh fish at affordable prices, he said.

Participating in the budget debate, Social Services Minister Felix Perera said that during his tenure as the Fisheries Minister he had striven to save the industry and improve the livelihoods of the fisher folk. The incumbent Fisheries Minister should continue his good work. Referring to the time, a minister from the JVP had held the fisheries portfolio, Minister Perera said that when he assumed office he didn’t waste time looking for faults and shortcomings of his predecessor but worked hard for the benefit of the public.


Courtesy: The Island