25th July, 2004 Volume 11, Issue 2
MPs busy globetrotting
the government has failed to hold regular parliamentary sessions as
required under the standing orders, ministers have been busy globetrotting
at state expense.
to available information, 21 ministers and deputies have made 21 overseas
trips within three months.
United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) came into office pledging to
control overseas travel of parliamentarians and particularly ministers in
a bid to ensure more accountability and curtailment of expenditure. They
were also critical of the United National Party (UNP) on the same score
during opposition days.
Sunday Leader is in possession of documentary evidence regarding the trips
of the ministers and deputy ministers and accordingly in the month of
April, just after the UPFA came into office, Ministers W.D.J. Seneviratne
and Jeevan Kumaratunga both have taken wing.
May, the new cabinet of ministers has undertaken considerable travelling.
Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, Anura Bandaranaike and A.H.M. Fowzie flew out
during the first week of May, followed by Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Dr.
Sarath Amunugama and Nimal Siripala de Silva. Kumara Welgama and Anura
Kumara Dissanayake both went overseas on May 19. A week later, Douglas
Devananda too has taken wing.
May 24, just days prior to resigning from parliament to contest provincial
hustings as the Sabaragamuwa chief ministerial candidate, Maheepala Herath
too travelled abroad. On May 29, Vijitha Herath and Athauda Seneviratne
travelled together. On May 30, Mahindananda Aluthgamage too left the
shores making the monthly ministerial travels some 13 tours.
June, Minister Athauda Senenviratne and Deputy Minister Bandula Basnayake
also travelled overseas. Ferial Ashraff, D.M. Jayaratne and Milroy
Fernando also went abroad during the latter part of June. Minister Anura
Bandaranaike made two trips during the month.
saw four exits. Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva left on July 6 and
M)inisters Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle were in New
Delhi in mid July at the time when Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse went
on his first official tour to meet the Indian leaders.
tours were made despite Presidential directives that the ministers should
ensure they undertake overseas trips only when compulsory.
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