Mattala Airport is not for sale
Posted on July 10th, 2020

By Garvin Karunaratne

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has made the difficult decision not to sell the Mattala Airport to India.  It is the right decision and he deserves to be congradulated. 

I wrote about how the Mattala Airport and the Port of Hambantota have to be activated back in 2014. That Paper is annexed because every detail of what I then wrote will hold good for today. Nothing happened in 2014 and we lost the Port during the regime of the UNP.

Let me hope that the contents of this Paper will reach our leaders President Gotabhaya and Prime Minister Mahinda. To make the Mattala Airport pay  is very simple. 

Firstly we must understand our resources.  The Chena cultivators in Hambantota and Moneragala have to be activated to plant melon, red pumkin, ash pumkin. A Marketing Department has to be re established with two of their earlier programmes- the vegetable and fruit purchasing scheme and the Cannery.  The MD can be created overnight. The cost of creating it can be recouped within the very first year from the profits that come in by the purchase of veg and fruit that is supplied to the Cannery. 

A Cannery has to be set up. A medium scale Cannery has to be imported and assembled. My take is that it can be done within three to four months judging at the speed I worked at Matara in 1971..

The produce is already there the chena cultivators will produce all the Red Pumpkin, Ash Pumpkin we need and Melon to make all the fruit Juice and Jam and within one year we will be self sufficiuent in Jam and Juice. The foreign exchange we spend to get imports of Jam and Juice today wil leasily match the production we make. We can grow Tomatoes and be self sufficient in items like Tomatoe Sauce.

If I can find the equal of Assistant Commissioiner Oswald Tillekeratne  we can even export pineapple. He was in charge of the Cannery. We then exported 8% of our pineapple products.

I have seen children in Lunugamvehera running behind my car to sell us mangoes. Our crop of Mangoes is vast and half goes waste as we pluck to the ground.

The Mattala Airport is to be used to export the products.

That is easily the way ahead. Someone in the Administrative Service has to be put in charge.

If there is none to bell the cat I can undertake, though lingering in my Eighties I can undertake that job.. A place in the Administrative Service or an assignment will do that trick. Establishing a Marketing Department, a Cannery and getting it going will be far easier a task than establishing the Youth Self Employment Programme in Bangladesh which I did in 1983 when working as a consultant.

If anyone confronts and tells that this cannot be done. I will be there if intimated.- (garvin_karunaratne@  Once I had a two hours’ duel with the highest officer in Bangladesh- the Secretary to the Treasury who contested my statement that I will establish a self employment programme. He quoted the International Labour Organization’s failure to establish a self employment programme after trying for three years and getting down experts from all over. The Minister who presided at our duel Air Vice Marshall Aminul Islam, the Minister for Labour and Manpower was convinced of my arguments and immediately approved my establishing a self employment programme. An entire Department of Youth Development took orders from me and within nineteen months I established the programme and also trained the staff to continue it. Today that Programme is the premium employment creation programme in the world and has by now guided three million youths to become self employed. Establishing a Marketing Department and a Cannery is a far simpler task. If I had failed I would have been court marshalled for wasting funds, as it was a military government

It will be a pleasure to work for my Motherland. and I am dead certain that the task of establishing a Cannery can be accomplished and our country can also be self sufficient in all jam, Juice, Sauce and many more items that are imported today. 

A Rural Renaissance in the Offing
Posted on January 12th, 2014 in Lanka Web

By Garvin Karunaratne

My travel to Kataragama in December 2013 took me to the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa Airport and via the new road that is being built through Lunugamvehera Tank to Kataragama.  .

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