By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday defended the proposed ambulance service soon to be launched in the Western and the Southern provinces as part of an agreement with the Government of India.
Rejecting the opposition charges about not allowing a local entrepreneur to start a similar ambulance program, PM Wickremesinghe said: “During the first two years the cost of the ambulances will be borne by the Government of India. But we will be paying for recurrent expenditure.”
Drawing plans to provide roadside first-aid assistance in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister said: “There is a special ambulance service operating in Indian cities as well as in the suburbs. Due to traffic congestion there is a special team who use cycles to reach places to provide first aid till the ambulances arrive. So, we have entered into an agreement with this Indian company for a period of two years to start a similar program in Sri Lanka.”
“I know many are in favour of this ambulance service. I don’t understand why these MPs are not willing to introduce this project where the costs are borne by the Indian Government for two years. We can take over after two years. How can the members of a Government who reduced the free healthcare agree to such scheme? They provide the ambulances and we pay for the recurrent costs. I will provide details of this service to the Oversight Committee. There are no local entrepreneurs willing to start similar ambulance project in Sri Lanka,” he added.