The UPFA Government has provided the largest number of employment opportunities for graduates and non-graduates, Mass Media, Information and Investment Promotion Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said.
It has also increased the salaries and benefits of public sector employees than any other government in the past, he said. Speaking at the weekly Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry, he said the Government under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa recruited 58,156 graduates in 2004 and gave employment to 261,897 non-graduates.
The salary bill of the public sector alone was Rs. 20 billion, he said.
The Minister said the Government was also paying monthly pensions to 465,000 retired public servants spending Rs. 6.25 billion annually. The Government increased the salaries and cost of living allowances of public sector employees. Pensioners were also given the cost of living increase in the past few years.
Asked about the strike threatened by some trade unions demanding a wage hike in some public sector organizations, he said President Rajapaksa had informed the trade unions that a salary increase effective from November will be given and paid with arrears from January 2010. The campaign threatened by these unions was politically motivated but the pro-government trade unions were working in those organizations and protecting them from sabotage, he said.
The Minister said trade union action was one thing but political action was another. He said a political leadership was essential to win a war. For example Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin or Franklin Roosevelt were political leaders who gave leadership to win the Second World War.
Some people write sensational news but the Government was democratic and freedom expression is not curtailed. But media persons have a duty by the society, he said.