Govt refutes reports circulated on Independence Day ceremony expenses

Govt refutes reports circulated on Independence Day ceremony expenses

February 7, 2023   02:44 pm

The Presidential Secretariat has refuted what it termed “false news” circulated on social media regarding the expenses of the state ceremony organized for the 75th Independence Day.

In a press release, the President’s Media Division (PMD) dismissed the reports, stressing that “the spread of misinformation is clearly another extension of the narrow political agenda that forced people to boycott the official state celebration of independence due to the economic crisis.”

The PMD states that the purpose of spreading such misinformation is to mislead the people and make them hate the government while creating unease to fulfil “petty political interests”.

Further, attempts have been made to convince the people that even providing mobile toilet facilities during the Independence Day ceremony was a mistake, the PMD’s statement continued.

“However, it should be emphasized that high-ranking foreign diplomats were invited to this celebration including the Japanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Takei Shunsuke, Bhutan’s Minister of Education and Skill Development Jai Bir Rai, Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr A.K. Abdul Momen, Pakistan’s Minister of State for External Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, Foreign Minister of Nepal Dr Bimala Rai Paudyal and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
“Further, around 3200 dignitaries including ambassadors, high commissioners of foreign countries, as well as 6670 armed forces personnel and the police attended the ceremony. Also, these mobile toilet facilities were provided for the personnel engaged in the pre-training for the Independence celebration.”

The PMD went on to note that in such a background, as a measure to provide proper health and safety measures for an event where thousands of people gather, it cannot be determined as an unnecessary expense for the provision of adequate mobile toilet facilities.

Not paying adequate attention to such an essential aspect at an official state event where a large number of people gather is a disgrace to the country, the press release read further.

Vehemently refusing the reports circulated in social media that Rs. 5.8 million had been ‘freely spent’ for this event from the money allocated for education sector by the government, the PMD explained that allocating provisions for the official state ceremony of the National Independence Day celebration is also a common practice.

It emphasized that the amount spent on the official state ceremony of the 75th National Independence Day celebration held this year was significantly lesser than the estimated sum.

“Accordingly, the government spent only Rs.11,130,011.29 on the 75th National Independence Day celebrations this year.”

The PMD also clarified that the government has spent significantly lesser on this year’s Independence Day celebration than on previous occasions.

Holding such a state ceremony when the country is recovering from a severe economic crisis clearly shows that Sri Lanka is preparing to rise again, the PMD added, noting that it also sends a message to the rest of the world that the country has the courage to stand up again, and that it is ready to reclaim the pride of Sri Lanka that was shattered by the crisis.

“Therefore, the President’s Office regretfully rejects the false propaganda that exploits a proud state event such as National Independence Day for narrow political purposes.”

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