The Sunday Leader

Public Funds Splashed For Mahinda’s Jumbo Delegations

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

The United Nations General Assembly is considered as one of the most prestigious events in the entire world, where almost all the nations gather to strengthen their relationships with each other as well as to discuss international issues.

However, the annual tour for the UN General Assembly has become quite a considerable expense to Sri Lanka in recent years.

According to accounts with the Foreign Ministry, the former government had spent more than 10 Million Rupees per person in its delegation to the UN General Assembly.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was under a cloud during his two terms in office as the human rights issue saw international pressure being exerted on the country.

Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was also critical of the developments in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war and even after that.Rajapaksa sought to counter allegations raised against his conduct of the war and took with him large delegations to the UN for the General Assembly and to attend side meetings he had with world leaders.

However, Foreign Ministry records show that public funds were also spent on members of the delegation who were mere passengers of the trip or were from the media.

Between the years 2005 to 2016, a total of 603 people have been part of the Sri Lankan delegation visiting the UN for the General Assembly and half of them, numbering 314, have been persons who are not members of the government.The official delegation to the UN General Assembly is headed by the President. The official delegation consists of the Minister for External Affairs, the first lady, MPs or Ministers and officials of the Foreign Ministry.

However during the Rajapaksa regime jumbo delegations, with members with no official capacity, accompanied him to the UN.According to data with the Foreign Ministry, the years 2005, 2015 and 2011 have been recorded as the years where the highest amount of public funds had been spent on a Sri Lankan delegation visiting the UN.It amounts to a staggering Rs. 169,124,899.30. It is roughly 160 Million Rupees. The delegations have included 98 people and 68 of them were non-related personnel. Accordingly each person has been taken in by spending 1.7 million Rupees.In 2010 Rs. 129,891,525 has been spent for a 105 member delegation to visit the UN and in 2013 Rs. 125,215,891 for 82 members. In 2010 a total of 65 officials have taken part in the tour and in 2013 42 of them were non-official personnel.

In 2010, the delegation included the then first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and Rajapaksa’s youngest son Rohitha.

In 2006, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa took with him his wife, Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Sripathi Suriyarachchi, Rishad Bathiudeen, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Gunarathna Weerakoon, Athawuda Senewiratne, Nimal Siripala De Silva, Dullus Alahapperuma, Nirmala Kothalawala, Douglus Devananda, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Susil Premjayanth, Arumugam Thondaman, Wishwa Warnapala, Geethanjana Gunawardhana and several other Ministers and MPs to the UN General Assembly at an expense of Rs. 494,464,601.

In 2007 the then President Rajapaksa repeated his tradition by taking a bunch of his allies in the UN ride including Rohitha Bogollagama, Douglas Devananda, Anura Yapa, T.B. Ekanayake, Champika Ranawaka and C.B. Rathnayake at a cost of over 60 Million. The grand expenditure on Sri Lankan delegations visiting the UN went beyond Rs. 120 Million and 160 Million in the years 2010 and 2011 respectively1. In 2012 and 2013 two groups visited New York under the leadership of then President Rajapaksa.

The lowest sum spent by the former government on these UN tours is Rs. 30,143,017 in 2012. The delegation had only consisted of 18 members when former Foreign Minister Professor G.L. Peiris led the delegation in Rajapaksa’s absence.While Rajapaksa took large delegations with him to the UN, he was unable to counter the allegations raised against him and his government.The UN and the international community continued to demand accountability over the war and this saw Sri Lanka making more enemies that friends.  Meanwhile Foreign Ministry records show that in 2005 then President Chandrika Kumarathunga led the Sri Lankan delegation to the UN General Assembly along with late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and Ministers Dew Gunasekera, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, and 7 other MPs at a cost of 20 Million Rupees.

In 2015 President Maithripala Sirisena took with him a 44 member delegation to the UN at a cost of Rs. 90 Million. Sirisena has promised to cut down on costs and therefore he does not charter a flight like Rajapaksa did for foreign tours.


11 Comments for “Public Funds Splashed For Mahinda’s Jumbo Delegations”

  1. kudson

    apparently sirisena is doing the same thing 90 million 44 member delegation
    same circus different clowns
    and the big clown ravi is raising taxes on the poor

  2. Sangaralingham

    Not a wise and useful way to spend resources in the schools lack facilities poor sanitation toilet facilities lack science equipment housing is not poorly supplied after war in no the east destroyed by defence forces unemployment among the young not solved

  3. nut

    There is a big uproar in the USA now about Obama’s vacation spending which is astounding. No other president had wasted so much of tax payers’ money. Once the first lady took daughters and her mother to China while Obama was attending a foreign meeting. Too many vacations in 8 years. MR was no better. Taking plane loads of friends to New York and accommodating them in luxury hotels, he wasted our money. He is responsible and must answer to these dumb misuses of our money. Why not call him after the former US ambassador?

    • anil

      Stupid , please don’t compare usa with sri lanka. Sri Lanka is just a dot in the world map.

  4. Kingsly

    Lack of accountability, transparency under the all powerful MR meant that he and his cronies like Sajin Vass used the wealth of Lanka as their private wealth. Limoursines, ultra superior hotels, expensive liquor, blue videos were part of their luxury. No wonder these ‘politico’ raised their hands to every thing the master said even to justify murder!
    Over Rs 16 billion simply wasted. Many new hospitals, vital drugs and equipment , school equipment and other public services or a salary increase to all Sri Lankans could have been done with this money!!!
    Lets call them the ROBBERS and the THIEVES of the nation !

  5. N.Wijeratne

    These are like VIP homeless characters-when they go to the UN they eat and live there-they also take others to eat and live with them-they eat everywhere-everything-a set of MOOSALYAS!

  6. Nimal

    This is the non caring way all the kings and rulers in the past lived, couldn’t careless for the people, except for their cronies until a breath of fresh air came to our lands with the colonials, who by then got rid of their own non caring leaders or rulers replaced by people who were accountable to the people. We need those colonial types back or follow their examples for the greater good of the country.

  7. Mike

    Isn’t there a single DECENT HONORABLE PATRIOTIC PERSON in SL to govern PROPERLY with transparency and honesty without any corruption? Shame on SL. Are the parents/schools of these crooks / thieves proud of their corrupted
    ways/behavior? THEY ALL OUGHT TO ROT ALIVE AND IN HELL for robbing the poor and doing this to our lovely country. Probably SL is full of fools who don’t care to do anything about it. Shame on us too for accepting these robbers and not doing anything about it.

  8. mr Rajapaska and president are not fit for politics, both of in same cabinet nothing has happened ,criminal are harbor present government, mr Ranil is have agreement with former president and mr Mahadran crimes and corruption ,srilanka is suffering from economic ,law and order, education ,young youth will be in arm

  9. mr Rajapaska visit to UN conference ,spent 19 miilion rupees with group of people ,he was free from arrest mr rsrisena and mR Ranil has supported mr Rajapaska

  10. Nimal

    Blue whiskey parties doesn’t come cheap and how dare people could spend the hardworking people’s taxed money?

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