While expressing his concern only over the cost of taxes that the government will incur from the vehicle allowance to be granted for 58 MPs, President Maithripala Sirisena appears to be attempting to score points by informally agreeing to ‘bribe’ Parliamentarians in his attempt to further secure their support.
According to a leaked letter, Sirisena’s has at no point vehemently objected to the allowance as a whole but had instead expressed his concern over the tax components in the allowance. The Rs. 590,000 allowance will increase to Rs. 700,000 a month per MP due to the VAT and NBT taxes. The total cost of the new allowance is expected to cost the country Rs. 2.4 billion.
Further, in the letter, Sirisena had highlighted that the proposal should be reconsidered specially as the taxes was high and as per the calculations the cost per kilometer was around the range of Rs. 250. Sirisena, however instructed that there should be transparency in such initiatives.
Citing the proposal by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Sirisena has said, “With regard to the above matter by the Finance Minister, the rent per month for each vehicle will be Rs. 590,000. When you add VAT and NBT, the approximate cost per each vehicle will be Rs. 700,000. This means that the approximate cost per each kilometer is Rs. 250 as per the total cost of the monthly allowance. I believe this is very high, therefore, I suggest that this proposal be submitted for deliberations to the Economic Affairs Ministry Committee,” he said in the letter.
Earlier, the Friday Forum in a statement issued reminded the President and the government that they were not elected to further their personal, political or other agendas which has nothing to with the voters or in the interest of the public. “Interests of political parties, or their individual members or supporters, must not be placed above the public interest, if commitments to good governance are to be taken seriously and fulfilled. The President and the government were not elected to further personal, political or other agendas which have nothing to do with voters or the public interest,” the statement said.