Media Minister Gayantha Karunathileke has stated that The Right to Information Bill (RIT) will be presented before the Parliament at the beginning of the next year. It is introduced to ensure media freedom. It is the biggest benefit that the government has given to journalists.
Speaking in Parliament at the Committee Stage Budget Debate under the head of the Ministry, he sated that media freedom is one of the achievements of the January 8 ‘silent revolution’ and today they can express their views without hindrance. The Journalists who left for overseas to rescue their lives during the past regime has returned to Sri Lanka today as the climate has been created for them to freely engage in their work.
He said: ‘When we came to power on January 8, there was no media freedom in the country. Media freedom had hit rock bottom. Media freedom is ensured now under President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. We have already commenced several programs for the welfare of journalists. We have identified suitable lands to construct houses for journalists. Land plots are being demarcated to commence construction work. We have also formulated a program to provide duty free motorcycles to journalists and nearly 2000 media personnel who were interviewed and selected would be granted duty free motorbikes before the end of this year.
A program to provide loans for journalists who wishes to upgrade their professional standards is being implemented and 150 personnel will be given loans on Dec.18. Even during the General Election campaign, we maintained a balanced media policy. Even the people didn’t expect the State media to be balanced. If we maintain this balanced media policy, those who distanced themselves from the State media would also switch to it. SLBC has now become the nation’s true voice and the Government Press is also operating very efficiently.’