The UPFA-run Southern Provincial Council is to acquire a dozen vehicles at a cost of Rs. 41 million. The council recently called for tenders for the purchase of 11 motor cars, each valued at maximum Rs. 3.5 million and one worth Rs. 2.5 million.
The government has authorized the purchase of cars with engine capacity between 1300CC and 1800 CC on a priority basis. The UPFA holds power in the 55-seat council with 22 councillors while the UNP has 19 members.
A spokesperson for the 14-member JVP group at the council said that they were aware of the move.
The administration plans to hand over the vehicles to senior officials of the Southern Provincial Council. The Island learns that the government approved the allocation of funds for vehicles after the Southern administration made representations in this regard.
According to the sources, new vehicles are needed to replace the ageing fleet. `Some of the vehicles are about eight years old. We have no option but to replace them,` an official said. According to him, all other provincial councils too have the right to replace their old vehicles.
The hotly disputed moves come amidst an all round price hike after the government raised the price of diesel and petrol. With the fuel import bill expected to go further up along with defence expenditure as the war and resettlement of the internally displaced persons enter a decisive stage, the government is under heavy pressure to save funds. Officials acknowledged that water, electricity, gas and both bus and train fares are expected to be raised in the coming weeks.