Sri Lanka PM’s vehicle always breaking down; using private car

ECONOMYNEXT – The official vehicle assigned to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was a hand-me-down from ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s fleet, which was always breaking down, his chief of staff has said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was given a 10 year old jeep, an 8-year old car and another armoured vehicle made in 2012, Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake said in a statement.

He said the vehicles were breaking down often and over the past 15 months 9.8 million rupees had been spent on repairs.

As a result the PM was using his private vehicle on many occasions and had not claimed any money for that, Ratnayake said.

The vehicles were part of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s fleet. The best and the latest vehicles in the fleet were taken away by Rajapaksa when he left office in January 2015, the statement said.

President Maithripala Sirisena was using the second best ones left behind and the Prime Minister and ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga was using the left-over vehicles, he said.

He said the import data for the cars were also not available to register the vehicles and operate them on the roads legally.

It has been alleged that a large number of vehicles from the Presidential secretariat had gone missing. A fleet of abandoned luxury vehicles was also discovered in a suburb of the capital Colombo in 2015.

Ratnayake was responding to a statement made in parliament by Anura Dissanayake, leader of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuma, an opposition party that the PM was spending 596 million rupees (about 4.0 million US dollars) to by two armour plated official cars.

But Ratnayake said the cost of the two cars to the public was 128 million rupees (about 860,000 dollars or 430,000 dollars per car on average) and the balance 468 million was for tax, which would anyway go to the government.

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to use a BMW 760 car worth 50 million Indian rupees, or 750,000 US dollars. Whether this cost is with or without tax is not known.

In Sri Lanka in addition to official cars for ministers all members of the elected ruling gets to buy a tax free vehicle every five years.

Meanwhile the citizens they rule over, pay taxes through the nose ranging from 100 to 270 percent, even for motorcycles, like serfs in a modern-day feudal state run by a privileged aristocracy.

The ruling class is in fact becoming increasingly hereditary with their father mothers, uncles and aunts being members in the national assembly before them.

The parent and the offspring, sometimes two siblings are in the national assembly simultaneously. (Colombo/May15/2016)

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