The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Defence has met under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Sri Jayewardenepura Parliamentary Complex on Thursday (April 08).
This is the inaugural meeting of the Consultative Committee after the election of the current Parliament. The President chaired the meeting in his capacity as the Minister in charge of the subject who is usually the Chairman of the Committee, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.
A number of issues such as national security, promotion of law and order, salaries of war heroes, drug eradication and annual reports of institutions under the Ministry of Defense were discussed at the meeting.
Government MPs, Ministers and Opposition MPs were present at the meeting. Parliamentary officials noted that this was the first time in recent times that such large number of Ministers and Parliamentarians has attended the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Defence.
Referring to the proposed measures to ensure and promote law and order, President Rajapaksa added that 196 new police stations have been planned to be established in order to serve citizens in different parts of the country as required. At the same time, 10,000 new recruits, both men and women, are being recruited to increase the police force.
Salaries and allowances paid to the families of disabled and deceased war heroes came under discussion at today’s meeting. The President said that a Cabinet paper has been submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers seeking the approval to pay lifetime salaries and allowances now being paid to disabled war heroes to their dependents for the rest of their lives upon the former’s death.
This will also provide the opportunity for the dependents of the fallen war heroes as well to receive their salaries and allowances for life. He expressed that the requests of the families of war heroes would be met and they do not need to resort to demonstrations adding that the true motive behind the protests is something else. Both the President and the Defense Secretary reminded that the current government did not harass the protesters contrary to the practice in the past.
Responding to a proposal made during the exchange of views on drug prevention, the President said that a new National Policy on Drug Prevention has already been formulated. It is expected to be made available to the public soon. The president also pointed out the importance of using religious counselling in the rehabilitation process of drug addicts.
With reference to a question which arose on banning books containing ideas of religious extremism, the President said that the decision was not aimed at a specific religion but aimed at eradicating all forms of religious extremism in general.
President Rajapaksa emphasized the need to cultivate coconut or other suitable crops on unused lands belonging to the security forces and instructed the Heads of Security Forces to identify lands that could be used for this purpose.
State Minister of Defence Chamal Rajapaksa, Defense Secretary General (Retired) Kamal Gunaratne, Commanders of the Tri- Forces, IGP and Several high-ranking officials of the Security Forces were also present at the discussion, the PMD said.