Far greater perks enjoyed by MPs in old parliament

Rajitha on taxpayers’ burden

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister and cabinet spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said that members of parliament had been served bacon, sausages, pork and provided a range of other services, including liquor in the past.

Members had got an opportunity to have a drink before joining the sessions, Dr. Senaratne told the post-Cabinet media briefing at the Information Department yesterday. The minister was responding to a query by The Island regarding the taxpayers having to spend as much as Rs. 4.6 mn for a single day’s parliamentary sittings.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Wednesday revealed in parliament that a single day’s parliamentary sittings cost Sri Lankan taxpayer Rs. 4.6 mn, and, therefore,

MPs should bear in mind their responsibilities. Parliament meets on eight days of every month.

The Island also pointed out that attendance among members of the ruling coalition as well as the Opposition was low in spite of such high expenditure incurred.

Minister Senaratne said that in addition to 225 members of parliament, there were parliamentary staff and welfare facilities provided to them, too, that cost public funds.

Minister Senaratne compared the food and other perks and privileges available to members in old parliament and parliament in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. The minister said that members of some foreign parliaments he had visited received far better food and they also had the opportunity to enjoy drinks during sittings unlike the parliament here. Some parliaments provided food almost free though in Sri Lanka subsidised food were made available.

Responding to another query, the minister acknowledged that the parliament here also served beef though he didn’t eat it.

The minister also revealed that President Maithripala Sirisena had recently inquired from him the unavailability of a certain drug at the dispensary in Parliament. According to Dr Senaratne, the President had intervened after the issue was raised at an SLFP parliamentary group meeting recently. The minister said that the House provided certain drugs and in case they weren’t available in the dispensary, action was taken to obtain items from Osu Sala. The Minister said that under no circumstances, Parliament was responsible for providing drugs not available at its dispensary or Osu Sala.

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