The ruling Alliance-run Southern Provincial Council is in the process of acquiring a fleet of luxury vehicles for the provincial cabinet.
But the Alliance is sharply divided over the move. The JVP group had vehemently opposed this, but the SLFP and the UNP opposition are believed to be cooperating.
This comes hot on the heels of the alliance-run Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council acquiring six luxury vehicles for the Governor, Chief Minister and four ministers at a cost of Rs. 35 million. The Governor and the Chief Minister have chosen Volvos, while ministers got less expensive South Korean-built luxury cars.
The Sabaragamuwa heavyweights had claimed that they decided on luxury vehicles as the council last ordered vehicles in 1994.
The JVP haven`t accepted ministerial posts in any of the UPFA-administered provincial councils.
According to a Matara-based provincial council source, the council had initiated this before the recent tsunami devastated the southern coast plunging the council into a crisis. `We thought the tsunami would force the council big wigs to change their plan. Unfortunately they are going ahead with it,` he said.
The vast majority of tsunami victims are still languishing in temporary shelters along the coast.
The JVP had emphasised that the existing fleet of vehicles should be properly repaired. A Marxist party councillor acknowledged that the council?s heavyweights had simply ignored their protests. They had stressed that the available vehicles fleet wasn`t adequate to meet their demands.
According to the councillor, one of the ministers is believed to have already acquired a luxury vehicle at a cost of Rs, 8 million. `We are inquiring into this,` he said.
According to the councillor, apart from the provincial cabinet, several others including the Opposition Leader and some secretaries were likely to benefit.
The Sunday Island learns the council had secured the authorisation of the government to acquire the vehicles.