Each minister costs taxpayer an arm and a leg


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Central Bank Governor Dr. W.A. Wijewardena said that tangible measures were urgently needed to restrict taxpayers’ money being spent on members of cabinet.

Dr. Wijewardena said that the yahapalana administration experiencing severe difficulties on the economic front couldn’t afford to squander funds under any circumstances.

Responding to Joint Opposition spokesman MP Bandula Gunawardena’s declaration that lawmakers couldn’t be deprived of perks and privileges in spite of the prevailing economic crisis, the outspoken former official said that a recent study by him had revealed that the cost of maintaining a cabinet minister amounted to Rs 8.5 mn a month.

Gunawardena said that for want of an efficient system various ministers had been allowed to obtain funds and services from different ‘sources’ thereby at the expense of expenditure controls.

Dr. Wijewardena noted that the 19 Amendment was originally meant to restrict the number of ministers and deputy ministers though that couldn’t be achieved due to marriage of convenience between the UNP and the SLFP.

Referring to a recent reference made by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe as regards scheduled repayment of loans, Dr. Wijewardena said that the actual situation was far worse than it was made out to be by the UNP. As Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe hadn’t taken into consideration loans obtained by various state institutions over a period of time during the previous administration, it would be necessary to take a fresh look at the situation, the former Central Banker said.

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