Contrary to assurances that the new ministers in the super-size Cabinet of President Mahinda Rajapaksa will only be drawing their salaries as parliamentarians and not be given any perks, a scramble for luxury vehicles by the new ministers has begun.
Early this week Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundera directed Director General Budget Sudharma Karunaratne to prepare a policy guideline circular on allocation of new vehicles.
Dr. Jayasundera, said that only four applications had been received so far and they were being approved on a case by case basis and provisions provided for through miscellaneous votes as these expenses were not envisaged in the last budget.
The Sunday Times however, learns that as many as 40 new luxury vehicles were likely to be ordered.
Unconfirmed reports said the vehicles were bullet proof BMWs like the one that saved the life of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse on December 1 and may cost about Rs. 80 million each.
It is also learnt that while the Treasury is merely approving and providing financial allocations, the actual procurement of vehicles is being done by the presidential secretariat.