Previous government didn’t guide youth

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State Minister Niroshan Perera

Former Minister Festus Perera is a known and respected politician who has served the country in many ways. He is still being remembered everywhere in the country not only the fisheries sector. His political legacy was later taken up by his wife and several years ago, their son Niroshan Perera committed himself to shoulder it. Today in the present government, young Perera who is an electronic engineer by profession is the State Minister of Youth Affairs.  State Minister Perera in an interview with The Nation said that while the government is working on the 100 day program, the Youth Affairs Ministry is also working on a special program designed for a period of 100 days. The program which has been named as “a guide to respectful youth” has already commenced as a pilot project in several schools. 

Here are some excerpts of the interview.
Q: - Minister, Will you explain a bit about the new project which you have planned to support the younger generation?
We were monitoring what was being done by the previous government and most of the facilities were limited to a section of the youth in the society. The main difference is we are to serve all youths in the society without having any divisions. The second point is we identified the failures or the areas that were neglected by the authorities of last government.

Our target group was school-children from the Grade 10 upwards. What we noted was they were not guided properly about the opportunities which are available for them. We focused our attention on school-children, university students and youths who are attending vocational training centres and National Youth Services Council. They are provided a good training and we give them an opportunity to decide for themselves what kind of course should be selected.

Q: - Does it have a difference from the system under which the previous governments conducted courses?
Yes. The system was the same. But, the youth were not correctly guided on how to select a career path. They go to schools for the sake of going. After the school, they go behind politicians and ask for ‘any job.’ When we ask what can you do or on which field you are experienced, they have no idea. We are to change this. We give them a chance to take a self-assessment test. Then, we direct them for training.

Q: - Is that all?
 No. We have also focused our attention on the creation of one million job opportunities for youth. We are planning to have employment opportunities in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) field. For the time being India has a big demand for the BPO sector. Not because of the quality but because of the large pools they have. Sri Lankans are more talented and we can provide qualitative teams than other countries. We have already begun the training of master trainers.
Not only that we have also plans for enabling young three wheeler drivers and youth who engage in the agriculture sector to expand their knowledge and talents. We are also planning to have a Youth Policy which ensures a satisfactory, healthy and wealthy future for the younger generation.

Q: - Your team gave a lot of promises before coming into power. What people expected was punishing the ones who played with public money and resources. But after so many publicized investigations, not a single has been punished. Why is this?
 We formed this regime only for a period of 100 days. We will be keeping each and every promise given to the general public during the campaign. We know that we have another election just after that ‘100 days’. Therefore, we cannot lose face before them. As the young MPs of this government we will be pressurizing the Cabinet of Ministers to attend to all the promises given.
And, we have kept so many promises already. We reduced the prices of essential commodities. Also reduced the fuel price as well as LP gas price. I know, people are eying several major investigations doubtfully. But, I think those should be proved. I assure you that not a single wrongdoer will be allowed to hide.

Q: - What about the Executive powers of President and proposed electoral reforms? Does the UNP, as a party take decisions on above?
I know. Both promises should be met. We didn’t have any recent meetings to discuss about them. But, the party has an idea to study the electoral reforms further.

Q: - Most talk about forming a national government. What’s the purpose of forming a national government? Is it to safeguard several politicians who are ill-famed with a number of allegations?
We; the UNP have decided to form a national government, if we receive the majority at the next general election. We do it. We are ready to invite all other parties and go for a national government. I think that is what the country needs.

Q: - Will the Government be dissolved on April 23 as said and is the plan of the UNP to contest alone or go for an alliance?
Yes, the government will be dissolved as promised. Anyhow, we have not yet decided the way of contesting the general elections. It will be decided later.

Q: - Sri Lanka Freedom party of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) will be sometimes supported by three Presidents. They are the present President as well as two former Presidents. How do you take this challenge?
No. I don’t think that President Maithripala will go against the UNP. He has promised not to forget the assistance which the UNP gave him to come to the present position. Whatever it is, UNP is ready to take it as another election. We have served the people. We have been with the people. We are to prove that we can run the government within this 100 days. Then, people will be with us.

Q: - The UNP failed to win the Puttalam district at the 2010 General election. While the UPFA was voted with 167,769 votes, the UNP was voted with 81,152. That is just half of the opponent vote. How can you change this situation at the next election?
Yes. You are right. But, that was just after the defeat of the LTTE war. The country was celebrating the end of the war. Then, we have to expect that result. On the other hand, the Puttalam district is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural district. We have to serve them very carefully. We have already won the confidence of the people there.

Q: - Well, The candidate which your party supported at the last Presidential Election won the district. But, the difference was 1.07 percent. Do you think that that is satisfactory, after almost five years of the end of the war? And the last General Election only 56 percent of registered voters came to the polling station. How do you face this situation?
People have become fed up with politics. Thuggerism was there. Politicians were not keeping their words. Bribery and corruption were everywhere. Then, it is fair for them to leave the politicians and politics. My plan is to begin with the young generation and they will make a change.

Q:- Present younger generation is closer to the technology. They are expecting your government to keep another promise of providing free Wi-Fi. Is there such a project?
Yes. We are studying these days how to attend to that matter. We are not yet identified the areas where to make the Wi-Fi zones. We are also discussing whether to have several large zones or a higher number of small zones.

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