With Sri Lanka moving into the Super Eight of the Cricket World Cup, a large group, including ministers and top officials had planned to go to the Caribbean Islands at a cost of some Rs. 20 million in public funds ? but President Mahinda Rajapaksa has intervened to stop it.
The Sunday Times learns the plan was for Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge, non-cabinet sports minister Bandula Basnayake, several provincial sports ministers Sri Lanka Cricket chief Jayantha Dharmadasa and other officials of the Cricket Board and Sports Ministry to go to the Caribbean.
Mr. Basnayake told The Sunday Times the President had given an order that only he and his ministry secretary could go at state expense. If Sri Lanka reached the semi final stage, Sports Minister Lokuge would be allowed to go.
Mr. Basnayake said others would not be allowed to go because of heavy expenditure.
Travel agents said the cost for each person would be at least one million rupees plus additional expenses for internal travel between nine countries in the Caribbean.
Mr. Basnayake said the others had been told they could go at their own expense but after obtaining approval.
The Sunday Times learns Sports Ministry Secretary S. Liyanagama was among those stopped from going but he claimed he was staying back because of the National New Year.
The Sunday Times learns that North Western Province Sports Minister Neranjan Wickremesinghe and other provincial sports ministers had also sought permission to go to the Caribbean Islands, but they were not allowed.
Four Sri Lanka Cricket officials including the Interim Committee Chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa have been officially invited for the World Cup matches.