The decision by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to order for two luxury bullet proof vehicles, worth Rs. 600 million will be taken up in Parliament, after the opposition, led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) voiced their disapproval over the Premier’s decision to go in for such a high-luxury vehicle, whilst slapping the public with new taxes.
Meanwhile, Minister of Law and Order, Sagala Ratnayaka in a statement said that the vehicles were ordered based on the threat assessment to the prime minister, which was communicated by the intelligence. “Since assuming office in 2015, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has mostly being using his private vehicles as he did not receive any official vehicles,” he said.
According to Ratnayaka, the cost for Wickremesinghe’s two new vehicles were Rs. 128 million only, however the balance Rs. 468 is the applicable government taxes for both vehicles. He added that the decision to order for the bullet proof vehicles were taken after a security assessment was given by the intelligence, which adviced the Prime Minister to travel in a bullet proof vehicle, owing to possible threats to his life, and hence a request was made to the treasury for the release of the funds to order the vehicles.
The Minister also said that the Prime Minister was issued with three vehicles from the Presidential Secretariat, which included a jeep which was manufactured in 2006, while one of the cars that was given for his use were manufactured in the year 2012, and the other vehicle was manufactured in 2008. “There were no importation related details in any of these vehicles, so it was not possible to get them registered. As the vehicles were not in good condition, since January 2015 to date more than Rs. 9.8 million has been spent to carry out various repairs on these vehicles. Under such a situation, Mr. Wickremesinghe often used his private vehicle and he never claimed for the cost incurred from the Prime Minister’s office for using his own vehicle,” Ratnayaka said.
Chief Opposition Whip, and Leader of the JVP, Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament mid this month that while the government was criticizing the former regime of wastage, even the Wickremesinghe led government were wasting money while slapping the public with a revised Value Added Tax.
“The government has requested for the release of Rs. 594 million to order for two vehicles for the Prime Minister. That is almost Rs. 300 million per vehicle. The government is slapping the people with taxes, the farmers can’t sell their crops, the rubber tappers are in crisis, but the Prime Minister has money to buy two vehicles for almost Rs. 600 million,” he told Parliament.