By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa held the Government responsible for the trade union action taken by Sri Lanka Customs and related other services which went on for seven days.
Based on the removal of the Department of Customs Director General P.S.M. Charles, the employees started a work to rule campaign which was joined by different organisations, including traders in Pettah who closed all shops yesterday in support.
“An issue has come up with the removal of the Director General of the Department of Customs, P.S.M. Charles, and appointing of a retired Navy officer. This stubborn decision of the Government has led to crippling the entire economy,” MP Rajapaksa charged.
The Opposition Leader also acknowledging the revenue increase at the Sri Lanka Customs under the current Government said: “Sri Lanka Customs accounts for 55% of State income annually. During 2017, the department provided Rs. 919 billion. This a 16% increase compared to 2016. There is a gradual growth in the Department of Customs and it is a 212-year-old institution that has professional staff recruited following well-set standards.”
“It has been seven days since the staff of Sri Lanka Customs resorted to trading union actions. As a result, the entire country has come to a halt. Unless this issue is sorted the daily loss incurred by State coffers will exceed Rs. 3 billion.
Both Orugodawatte and Peliyagoda container terminals are not functioning, affecting imports and exports. Essential foods, medicines, and refrigerated foods are being released without a delay, but if the work to rule continues it will affect food imports,” he added.