Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake has urged President Maithripala Sirisena to take cue from his Philippines counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte and instead of doling out super luxury vehicles at the expense of public money for ministers and deputy ministers, to instead provide them with cheaper vehicles, such as Toyotas.
While agreeing that ministers and deputy ministers require vehicles to carry out their duties, Ramanayake questioned whether it was fair to purchase high end luxury vehicles from public money, especially when the government is trying to revive the country and pay off debts taken during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration, and while the public too was slapped with various taxes.
“I agree, ministers and deputy ministers require vehicles to carry out their duties, however some ministers have gone to purchase high end luxury SUVs, much to the disappointment of the public. I think we must not utilize the public money to purchase luxury vehicles, especially at a juncture when we are trying to pay off the debt taken by Rajapaksa,” Ramanayake said in his letter addressed to Sirisena on June 20, 2016.
Therefore, taking into consideration the current situation in the country and the financial issues Sri Lanka is facing, Ramanayake advised Sirisena to follow the style adopted by the Philippines President where instead of purchasing luxury vehicles for the use of ministers and deputy ministers, steps be taken to provide them with a mid-range vehicles. “The government will not even incur a huge burden to maintain these vehicles,” he said.
Ramanayake added that if the President seriously considers this, it will cost the government only a fraction of the funds that has been set aside already for this purpose, while the balance money can be used for a better purpose.
In early June, the government sought parliamentary approval to purchase 32 brand new luxury vehicles for the use of several ministers and deputy ministers at a cost of Rs. 1.1 billion.
Mid this month, Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte announced that he will replace all the luxury sedans with Toyota Avanzas for his cabinet members, as part of his austere style of governance. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)