CHOGM 2013: Why squander public funds on new super luxury vehicle fleet when…

Sajith Premadasa

UNP MP Sajith Premadasa says instead of acquiring a brand new fleet of super luxury vehicles for the use of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2013), the government should obtain them from those who owned such vehicles for the duration of the summit.

Hambantota District MP Premadasa said that the government shouldn’t be embarrassed to take every possible measure to limit summit expenditure scheduled to be held from Nov. 15 to 17.

The former UNP Deputy Leader said that a government struggling on the economic front couldn’t afford to squander public funds on a fleet of super luxury vehicles.

Asked whether the UNP opposed Sri Lanka hosting CHOGM 2013, Premadasa said that the main Opposition party couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was going on, though the decision making Working Committee had welcomed the November summit.

CHOGM is held every two years and is the Commonwealth’s highest consultative and policy-making body. Commonwealth leaders agreed on Sri Lanka as the 2013 host for the meeting when they met in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009.

They reaffirmed this decision at the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, Australia.

Recalling the controversy over the import of a fleet of bullet proof super luxury vehicles during Chandrika Kumaratunga’s presidency in the immediate aftermath of an abortive LTTE assassination, MP Premadasa said that government could earn the appreciation of all by taking a bold decision.

Premadasa said that those managing the economy couldn’t ignore a recent statement attributed to senior Minister D. E. W. Gunasekera that the country was in dire straits due to a sharp decline in the state revenue. Minister Gunasekera made that statement in his capacity as the Chairman of the parliamentary watchdog committee investigating the viability of state sector enterprises, MP Premadasa said.

The UNPer said that the economy was in bad shape due to waste, corruption and irregularities as well as the negligence on the part of those responsible for economic management.

While the vast majority of people were struggling to make ends meet, the government had hired an expensive foreign public relations firm to make representations to the US, Premadasa said, demanding that the government be held accountable for taxpayers’ money. Unless the government acted wisely at a time of acute economic difficulties, CHOGM 2013 would make the situation worse, he warned.

(Courtesy: The Island)