A total of 65 members and officials of the Central Provincial Council (CPC) is set to take off to Russia on a ‘study tour’ at a staggering cost of Rs. US $ 51,655.
The Central Provincial Council which is engulfed in a serious financial crisis has sent a letter to the Bank of Ceylon Super Grade Branch in Kandy, requesting the bank to release a sum of US $ 51,655 from the council’s current account number 33789 to facilitate the foreign tour, the state owned Daily News said.
The letter has been signed by the Council’s financial assistant S.K. Welagedara and council secretary Bandara Tennakoon. A total of 28 Council Members, including the Council Secretary and a large number of officials of the Council are taking part in the ‘study tour’. They will be leaving the country in two batches, with the first batch scheduled to leave tomorrow, September 27.
The council is spending nearly Rs. 180,000 on the air ticket of each member, and the tour is allegedly organised by a relative of a big wig in the Central Provincial Council. When the Colombo Telegraph checked the cost of an air ticket from Colombo to Moscow (Return) on Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and also Emirates, the ticket cost was between Rs. 85,231 to Rs. 118,528.
“Although US $ 3,000 has been set apart as expenditure allowance for each member, $ 1,325 out of this will go for food and lodging. Each member will thus receive $ 1,675 as personal expenses but several members have expressed displeasure over this meagre allowance,” the article said.
UPFA council member Gunatilleke Rajapaksa told a recent council meeting that out of 2,996 development projects launched by the CPC, 258 have stalled as the council does not have the necessary funds to complete the projects.
Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake is reported to have said US $ 51,655 had been allocated in the last budget for the study tour and therefore it could not be utilised for any other purpose.