A senior artist says that businessman artist Somarratne Dissanayake has behaved like a “Medamulana thug” to belittle Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera. Dissanayake had behaved in this unbecoming manner during a discussion between several artists and government officials on the 12th.
The meeting was held to discuss the interest free loan scheme to purchase duty free vehicles for artists and journalists that was promised by the President. Artists Somaratne Dissanayake, Sriyantha Mendis, Channa Wijewardena, Ravindra Randeniya, Douglas Siriwardena, Sudath Rohana and Suresh Aneysekera participated the meeting. Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Media Ministry Secretary W.B. Ganegala and Cultural Ministry Secretary Wimal Rubasinghe represented the government at the meeting.
The Treasury Secretary has said that artists and journalists who have served continuously in their respective fields for over 18 years could be given an interest free loan of Rs. 1.2 million through state banks with a monthly installment of Rs. 10,000.
Dissanayake had objected asking the Treasury Secretary to name vehicle that could be purchased for Rs. 1.2 million. Dr. Jayasundera has said that since state expenditure had to be curtailed, that was the only amount to be permitted by the Treasury. He has added that arrangements could be made to allow the purchase of a vehicle using the loan money as collateral.
Angered by the Treasury Secretary’s words, Dissanayake has said, “We are the ones who made this government and is this how we are being treated? If that is the case, is someone like Lester also given Rs. 1.2 million? We cannot agree to this. We will take this matter with the President. Don’t insult us in this manner.”
The Treasury Secretary had said that he was not mandated to deal with issues faced by artists and that it was the task of the Cultural Ministry Secretary. He has further noted that his task was to ensure that sate funds are spent in a manner that would not create an economic crisis in the country.
The Treasury Secretary had firmly said it was not the forum to shout about the privileges that would be offered to Dr. Lester James Peiris. He has observed that the President has made arrangements to offer special privileges to senior artists through the President’s Fund.
The artists have continued to disrupt the Treasury Secretary and Dr. Jayasundera has said, “professor please learn to act with decorum at places like these.”
When several artists have asked Dissanayake why he had behaved in such a manner at the meeting, he has said the President had asked him to do so. Dissanayake has said the President had informed him that Dr. Jayasundera would be removed from the post of Treasury Secretary. The President according to Dissanayake had said that artists would be offered a Rs. 2.5 million interest free loan once the new Treasury Secretary assumed office.
Dissanayake has asked the other artists to make comments to the media against Dr. Jayasundera.