No new vehicles will be purchased for ministries or government institutions until the end of this year.
President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed ministers at the Cabinet meeting held yesterday, not to purchase new vehicles considering the outcome of the adverse weather conditions, which caused havoc in the country, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said. Asked whether the vehicles which have already been approved by the Cabinet a few days ago, will be imported, the Minister said that he is not certain about it. The Cabinet has already approved several supplementary estimates presented to the Cabinet, to import vehicles for several Ministries.
“I am not certain whether vehicles will be imported through supplementary estimates, which have been already approved by Cabinet. But the President advised ministers not to import new vehicles until the end of this year” he added.
President Maithripala Sirisena has agreed to cancel all vehicle imports for ministers this year, Digital Infrastructure and Telecommunications Minister, Harin Fernando tweeted yesterday.
The import of luxury vehicles for ministers and MPs have been a strong point of debate among the public for over a year as legislators face public outcry over their decisions to purchase expensive vehicles.
Parliament took up the debate on a supplementary estimate last week which sought approval to spend more than Rs 360 million to purchase vehicles for some ministers and renovate official residences of others. The debate took place amid heavy rains wreaking havoc in many parts of the country.
The vehicle budget consisted of Rs. 154 million to purchase new vehicles for the Defence Ministry, Rs 120 million for vehicles for the Finance Ministry, Rs.43 million to purchase a vehicle for the Rural Economy Deputy Minister and Rs. 16 million to purchase a vehicle for the Development Strategies and International Trade Minister.
The government provides each cabinet, deputy and state minister with an official vehicle and two other vehicles as well as a vehicle permit. In addition, vehicles are also provided to the personal secretary, media secretary, the two coordinating secretaries and public relations officer of every minister.
Cabinet this year also approved a request made to increase the maximum price of a vehicle by eight million rupees and to provide funds for only one vehicle for a cabinet, state or deputy minister.
Earlier in March, the government had sought Parliamentary approval to spend Rs.288.2 million to purchase vehicles for several ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers.