Issues related to the costs and prices of heavily subsidised meals provided to the MPs in the Parliament canteen were raised afresh yesterday by SJB Colombo District MP SM Marikkar.
Raising a point of order MP Marikkar said that there were newspaper reports that a meal of an MP cost Rs 3,000. “People ask whether we eat gold here. The fish served this morning in the parliamentary canteen was not fresh. That is the quality of food served to the MPs here; we eat better at home, but in the meantime there are reports that the cost of meal of an MP is Rs 3,000. Someone has to correct this situation and tell the truth. This was mentioned at the orientation programme for MPs at the Parliamentary complex on Tuesday. The correct figures must be given. I am speaking on behalf of all 225 MPs. The impression the reports created is wrong. I hope the speaker would correct this.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: Were you there at the last session of the Tuesday’s workshop. There I gave the correct figures while making a statement on this matter.
MP Marikkar: The newspapers have not reported what you said. Hope if you correct it here so that it would be telecast live.
During the workshop on Tuesday Director (Finance) of Parliament A.S. Upananda stated that a meal that costs Rs 3,000 is given to an MP at a rate of Rs 200. He made that statement while speaking on the functions of food and catering and housekeeping departments of parliament. He stated that an MP was charged Rs 100 for breakfast, Rs 200 for lunch and snacks and tea at Rs 50.
Following the statement, young MPs protested.
State Minister Dr. Seetha Arambepola: We had those meals during the past couple of days. But I am sure that a single meal would not cost that much. The food given is not worth that much.
MPs shouted that the matter should be corrected and it was a shame to state that they eat at Rs 200 what was worth Rs 3,000.
Colombo District MP Premanath C. Dolawatte: I do not think that this meal costs Rs 3,000. We do not need your food. We could bring food from home.
State Minister Dr. Arambepola: I looked for where we would have access to Rs 3,000 buffet meal. There is no such thing. Do not publicise wrong facts. That is why people hate MPs.
Deputy Secretary General Neil Iddawela: What we meant here is the cost of a meal.
MPs shouted that the figures of the cost of a meal was wrong and volunteered to calculate the figure by themselves.
Deputy Secretary General Iddawela: In a day around 2,000 persons receive food from parliament and during budget debates the number of persons who took food is around 3,000.
An MP: Is everyone in Parliament given food?
Deputy Secretary General Iddawela: Yes. All working at Police, banks, post office, CEB are given food.
MPs said that it would be better if they brought food from home because there would be no blame on them.
Deputy Secretary General Iddawela: That we could decide in the future. I have just received correct figures from the Audit Branch. A meal with fish costs Rs 950 while a vegetable meal is Rs 629 for an MP.
(Source: The Island – By Saman Indrajith)