The Cabinet approved a proposal made by Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne to nationalise the Neville Fernando Hospital, United National Party (UNP) General Secretary Kabir Hashim said.
H said the Government will continue to execute South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) through a trust fund or as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) or through stocks of SAITM being traded in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) while 51 percent of the ownership of the stock capital would be held with the Government.
The Government will explore the three options and choose the most effective and the suitable mechanism to run SAITM, he added.
He also said that the SAITM issue was solely a production of the previous regime and no contribution was made to the SAITM issue by the present regime.
The UNP General Secretary said, “However, a solution which will be equitable to all aggrieved parties including medical students and doctors will be taken by the Government. Measures will also be taken to ensure that free education will not adversely affected by any of the solutions taken.”
Hashim further said that there was a shortage of 6000 doctors in the country and the Government will make allocations to uplift the medical education and its facilities to overcome this shortage.
New medical colleges will be established in Moratuwa, Sabaragamuwa, Ruhuna and Wayamba, he added.
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake said that ministers could have personal opinions on the SAITM issue but what should be officially considered is the Government’s statement issued by the Presidential Secretariat.
Dissanayake also said that what made university students and doctors voice opposition to the execution of SAITM as a medical college was mainly due to the suspicions they had on the quality of the medical education of the SAITM and that how it would affect the free education. He further said, “300,000 students are admitted to grade one annually while only 25,000 students enter universities for higher education every year.Therefore, we request the university students to be more responsible in their behavior as they are the future of the country”.