ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 34

Jumbo Cabinet to cost Govt. heavily

By Nalaka Nonis

The proposed Cabinet expansion to accommodate the UNP crossovers is set to cost the government a tidy sum to pay for the allowances of the new ministers and their staff and their additional perks, The Sunday Times learns.

Despite justification for the Cabinet expansion on the grounds that the Ministers would only be entitled to an MP’s salary, the new members would be entitled to vehicles, allowances and staff on the same level as that of a minister.

According to the recent salary revisions, the monthly salary of a Cabinet and non-Cabinet Minister had been increased to Rs. 65,500 – more than double the salary they were drawing earlier.

Other than the salary, ministers are entitled to a minimum of two duty free official vehicles and a personal staff of 15 in the case of a minister and 10 for his deputy and five phone lines and a fax machine for a minister and four phone lines and a fax machine for a deputy. The number of vehicles provided to a minister could be increased on the recommendation of the Defence Ministry.

Their other perks include a monthly fuel allowance and a telephone allowance. In addition they also receive an allowance for overseas trips amounting to Rs. 25,000 per trip while MPs are not entitled to this allowance.

Ministers and deputy ministers are given a fuel allowance ranging from Rs. 20,000 to 75,000 a month depending on their areas. They are also paid a monthly telephone allowance of Rs. 34,000 while their deputies are given Rs. 17,000.

A Minister or a deputy will be entitled to appoint a Private Secretary, Coordinating Secretaries, a Media Secretary, Public Relations Officer, Personal Assistant, Administrative Assistants, Office Assistant and drivers.

Some of the personal staff members including the private secretaries are entitled to five official vehicles while the staff of deputy ministers is permitted to use three vehicles. They also enjoy a monthly fuel allowance ranging from Rs. 13,200 to Rs. 19,400.Some staff members are also given separate telephone lines and phone allowances. Accordingly a Private Secretary of a minister receives a maximum of Rs. 5,250 while Rs. 4,000 each per month is paid to the Coordinating Secretary, Media Secretary and Public Relations Officer.

Ministerial staff also enjoys the benefit of full pensions if they work for five years.

The UPFA government has also failed to adhere to an election pledge that it would not allow ministers to recruit their relatives to their personal staff. A study by The Sunday Times found there were several ministries where recruitments have been made deviating from the pledge.

Some of them include Cultural Affairs and National Heritage, Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Home Affairs, Labour Relations and Foreign Employment, Parliamentary Affairs, Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development, Power and Energy, Provincial Councils and Local Government, Social Services and Social Welfare and also Deputy Ministry of Plan Implementation and also Environment.

Some ministers have employed their wives as Private Secretaries in ministries such as Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Parliamentary Affairs, Petroleum Resources, Power and Energy and also Deputy Ministry of Environment.

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.