In the Service of the People

Jagath Wijeweera – Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Development Lotteries Board

The Chairman/CEO of the Development Lotteries Board, Jagath Wijeweera boasts a long and eventful career, having worked in a number of varying government departments and ministries. 

Having begun his career as a Youth Service Officer based in Kalawana, Ratnapura, Jagath spent an interesting couple of years interacting with the youth and people of the area. “Even today, the people of Kalawana lead very simple lives. A year after I passed the Sri Lanka Administrative Services Examination in 1987, I was transferred to the Department of Immigration & Emigration as an Assistant Controller. This marked the beginning of my career in administrative services. I have worked in many places such as the Ministry of Media, Tourism & Civil Aviation, Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of Defense, Public Security, Law & Order, which was a significant experience as I joined the ministry during the latter years of the Civil War. After that I served as the Commissioner General at the Department of Registration of Persons, which was a good opportunity for me to serve the next generation. I was then appointed as the Director General of Customs. This was another significant juncture in my life, as I interacted with many industrial and business leaders during this time. I also initiated a 24/7 export centre, which enabled exporters to work during all hours of the day and night, thus, enhancing the country’s export system and revenue.  Following this, I was appointed as the Secretary of the Ministry of Law & Order and Southern Development, which was a very high post in Sri Lanka with many responsibilities. My time at the Ministry of Law & Order and Southern Development was very important to me as I gained more experience and exposure with regard to national intelligence and security.”

Having served as the Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources, Jagath took up his current post as the Chairman/CEO of the Development Lotteries Board. Reminiscing on some of the most memorable times of his long career, Jagath recalled – “During my tenure as the Commissioner General at the Department of Registration of Persons, I met thousands of students in desperate situations. They would come to me either because they had not yet received their National Identity Card in order to sit for their Ordinary Level Exams or because they did not have all the relevant documents to receive an NIC. I helped them in any way I could, issuing hundreds of NICs to enable these students to sit for their examinations. 

In the Department of Immigration & Emigration we were often faced with very pathetic situations. A large part of our foreign revenue comes from the poor mothers who work in the Middle East. Sometimes, very poor people would come to me and beg me to help them get national passports. In many cases these people did not have the necessary documents or any idea of the process in place to gain a passport. But I ensured to do all in my power to help them. it is my belief that as government servants, we are bound to serve the people, especially those who are most in need.”

Expressing his opinion on the vital characteristics necessary in a government servant, Jagath said, “First and foremost is that a government servant, especially one in a managerial position, must be a good listener in order to grasp the situation and identify the problem. To feel the pulse of the people and know what they need, a government servant must have the ability to listen well. The second required characteristic is dynamic decision making. One needs to have a strong backbone and the ability to think outside the box to make innovative and ethical decisions in order to solve the issue that the people they serve are faced with. The third is having good, honest public relation practices, which benefit the people.”

Speaking of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the general public, Jagath noted, “I feel that the people’s way of thinking has deteriorated due to fear. But this should not be the case. We have to rise to the occasion, and face the situation and the challenges brought on by the pandemic. It may take a long time for us to be rid of this disease, but in the meantime, we need to move on with our lives. I also feel that this pandemic has taught us how to live with limited resources.”

On the topic of his future plans for the Development Lotteries Board, the Chairman stated, “We are in the process of initiating an e-lottery, which will be the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. At the moment, we are collecting money from the poor to help the poor. By introducing the e-lottery, we aim to tap into the niche market, which will include people who are either too busy or don’t like to visit a ticket stand to purchase a lottery ticket. This way anyone who wishes to participate can easily download the app and purchase a ticket. If you win, the prize money will automatically be transferred to your account. I believe that this will boost the income of the DLB, enabling us to contribute better to the President’s Fund and the Mahapola Fund. We will also be introducing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System, which I feel is a necessity to this type of business entity. I think, following the introduction of this system will interconnect all the employees, divisions and sectors as one unit.”