Mangala asks what happened to Api Wenuwen Api war heroes fund

The Government has set a new record by increasing the salaries of public servants by 107 percent which hitherto no Government in power had ever granted, and it has also taken the extraordinary step of giving effect to the recommendation of the Presidential Commission on the elimination of salary anomalies, from January 1, 2020, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera told the Media at the Finance Ministry on Wednesday, (September 25).

Annually, the Government has to spend Rs. 1,000 billion on salaries for public servants and on pensions. With this new pay hike, the Government has to spend an additional Rs.115 to 120 billion. Therefore, Government expenditure on salaries and pensions next year would be around Rs. 1,115 to 1,120 billion. As the Government which assumed office in 2015 pledged, the salaries of public servants have been increased considerably. However, the total increase will be 107 percent in 2020.

Steps have been taken to rectify the salary anomalies of public servants with effect from January next year following the recommendations of the Presidential Salary Anomalies commission. The eight recommendations of the Presidential salary anomalies commission regarding the public sector including railway, postal and health sectors will be implemented.

The Minister said it was announced at the previous Budget that a new salary structure will be implemented from July 1, 2020. However, at the last Cabinet meeting it was decided to advance this date to January 1, 2020.

Following the declaration of the Presidential Election, a conspiracy has been orchestrated by some bankrupt political elements to create a wave of strikes and cause inconvenience to the people in pursuit of their narrow political objectives. They are using not only the public servants but also the disabled war heroes to realise their petty objectives, he said.

“When attempts are being made to give another pay hike to the public servants with effect from next year, certain elements are attempting to mislead the public servants and deactivate the public sector.

“These conspirators who attempt to mislead the public servants didn’t fulfill any of the pledges they made when they governed the country for 10 years. I request not only public servants but also the entire citizenry in this country to think whether the attempts by these conspirators to destabilise this Government is reasonable, a Government which has fulfilled a series of programs on behalf of the people during its short tenure in office. I call upon everybody to rally round the Government to rebuild the country without contributing to any conspiracies”.

“Those in the previous Government who thrived on the war victory over the past 10 years, today shed crocodile tears for the disabled war heroes. I categorically state that they didn’t do anything for the welfare of the war heroes during the decade they were in power.

On the contrary, they used them to secure their political ambitions. We remember a fund called ‘ Api Wenuwen Api’ for war heroes was set up and posters were pasted at each and every junction. Even the ordinary people made donations to the fund to pay homage to the war heroes. The fund received massive contributions. Although there was a fund of several million rupees, nobody knows what happened to it. If former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in charge of that fund, today, as the SLPP Presidential Candidate he is duty bound to make a statement in this regard”.

“If the former Government did politics under the pretext of helping war heroes, it was the incumbent Government which provided the welfare services and allowances to the war heroes. When the last Budget was presented, we increased the allowances to the officers and other positions in the three Armed Forces after a lapse of 20 years. The monthly ration (allowance) of war heroes of the three Armed Forces was increased from January this year. The monthly ration of high ranking officers too was increased up to Rs. 23,231 while the monthly ration of other positions was increased up to Rs.19,350. Therefore, we have given an increase of nearly Rs. 4,000.

The rent allowance was also increased by twofold during the previous Budget. The Rs.1,000 Commando allowance was increased up to Rs. 5,000. A promotion scheme was introduced for Police officers which had been denied to them during the past 20 years”.

“Following a request by the disabled war heroes who met me in Matara a month ago and the discussion the Defence Ministry had with the President, all issues pertaining to the allowances and pension were sorted out. All disabled soldiers of the three Forces and those of the Police and the STF will be given a pension equal to the full salary they received when they retired from service.

“The Cabinet decided to pay them this amount as long as they live. There are about 2,467 retired disabled soldiers, while the total number of retired disabled soldiers including those with the Police and the STF amounts to nearly 4,000. Another 8,000 disabled soldiers are still active in service in the three forces. They will also be given this new pension benefit after they retire,” he said.

Minister Samaraweera said an Army Major who receives a basic salary and other allowances amounting to Rs.97, 250 will also receive a service pension of Rs.10,000 and a disabled pension of Rs.4000 with the total remuneration amounting to Rs.111,485. Earlier, when such disabled officers retired at the age of 55 years, they received a pension of only Rs.81,000.

However, according to the decision taken by the Cabinet on Tuesday (September 24) such officers will receive a pension of Rs.111,485 as long as they live. I think this is one of the historic decisions taken by the Government. Accordingly, disabled war heroes will receive the same salaries and allowances as they received at the time of retirement.

Like the war heroes of three forces, the Police and the disabled soldiers, the Government has never forgotten the public servants.

As we remember, when a Presidential Election was declared the former President did beat his chest and pledged to increase the allowances given to public servants and rectify the anomalies of pensioners.

However, none of those promises were fulfilled. After this Government was formed in January, 2015, all public servants were paid Rs.10,000 allowance under the 100 Day Program. In addition, to Rs.2,500 monthly interim allowance paid to the pensioners , another Rs.1000 allowance was paid to them with effect from April, 2015.

Until the Presidential Commission report is implemented, another Rs.2,500 allowance was given to the public servants with effect from last July as proposed by the Budget. We are ready to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Commission salary anomalies report with effect from next year.

The incumbent Government has increased the salaries in each public sector by a percentage which no other Government had ever granted. A special Presidential Commission was appointed to rectify the salary anomalies in the entire public sector and its report was released a couple of months ago.

Even during the previous Budget, I stated that the salaries of all public servants will be once again increased with effect from next year following the recommendations of the Presidential Commission. According to these recommendations, the salaries in the public sector employees will be increased from a minimum of Rs.3,000 up to Rs.30,000 starting from Karyala Karya Sahayaka to higher positions.

A Ministerial Sub Committee appointed to go into the recommendations of the Presidential Commission which comprised Ministers Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Thalatha Atukorale, Malik Samarawickrama, Rauff Hakeem and I also approved those recommendations. 

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