Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake’s decision to pay an additional Rs. 50 to plantation workers a day from tax payers’ money for a year has come in for criticism from the public and one of the social media posts challenges the right of the minister to "squander public money for political expediency."
However, when contacted by The Island Bilesh Samantha, Media Secretary of the Plantations Ministry said this it was a baseless allegation against his Minister who "never squandered public money. The Minister’s vote base is intact and this is for all the good work he has done for his people."
Samantha directed this reporter to Tea Board Chairman Lucille Wijewardene.
Wijewardene said no government funds would be utilized for the wage hike. Funds would come from the Promotions Budget of the Tea Board and given as a loan to the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs)."
"Things like this have been done before when we had to stabilise the industry,"he said.
There are over 120,000 plantation workers attached to RPCs and the total cost for the annual payment is around Rs. 1.3 Billion.