The Justice and Law Reforms Ministry has placed an order for the purchase of 27 petrol-driven cars for High Court judges prior to receiving Cabinet approval.
This came to light when Mass Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told a post-Cabinet press briefing early this month of Justice and Law Reforms Minister Amarasiri Dodangoda s proposal.
Responding to our queries, Minister Dodangoda yesterday said that it was wrong to call for tenders before receiving Cabinet approval. But he acknowledged the possibility of his ministry placing the order in July but denied any manipulation on his part.
Dismissing the notion of impropriety, Justice and Law Reforms Secretary Suhada Gamlath told The Island that the funds for the acquisition of cars had been allocated in the last budget. There was no need to obtain Cabinet approval, he said, adding that the ministry had selected the lowest bidder and that fact was brought to the notice of the Cabinet.
The ministry has acquired 1600 CC cars. The petrol guzzlers were ordered close on the heels of Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardene assuring the country that the government would shortly introduce a set of guidelines to restrict the import of heavy fuel consuming vehicles. This pledge was made in Parliament shortly after the MEP leader assumed the post of the Chief Government Whip.