Millions for ministers’ houses

By Chandani Kirinde

At least 40 ministers have their own residences though they claim the monthly housing allowance of Rs. 100, 000 from the government, according to information provided to parliament.

Some of these ministers get the privileges of having their high electricity and water bills paid by the state, it was revealed in answers to questions raised by JVP MP Ranaweera Pathirana.

By a circular issued in May last year, Ministers and Deputy Ministers who have not been provided official quarters are entailed to a monthly rent allowance of Rs. 100, 000 from the monies allocated to each ministry while the monthly water and electricity bills of those living in official quarters are paid for by the state. In answers submitted to Parliament, it was found that the Public Administration Ministry had spent over Rs 1.3 million to renovate the official residence of Transport Minister Dulles Allahaperuma last year while the electricity payments for his residence between September and December last year ranged from Rs 13,000 to Rs 36,000 a month.

The electricity bills paid for the official residence of Minister A.L.M. Athaullah in 2007 ranged from Rs. 18,000 to Rs 48,000 a month while the water bills in his residence from October to December 2007 were Rs. 10,000 a month.

The official residence given to Minister Felix Perera was renovated at the cost of more than Rs. 2.4 million in 2007 while the previous year Rs. 1.6 million had been spent on renovation work as well. Also the total amount paid by way of electricity bills for 2007 for the residence stood at more than Rs 1.39 million while the water bill for that year was over Rs. 88, 000.

Housing Minister Ferial Ashraff who has also been provided an official residence has had monthly water bills ranging from Rs. 11,000 to Rs. 22,000 paid for by the state while Constitutional Affairs Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera who availed himself the monthly rent allowance had a generator installed at a cost of more than Rs. 1.75 million. Parliament was told that between June 2004 and December 2007, Rs. 24.6 million was paid as rent allowance.

Among those who avail themselves of the monthly rent allowance are: M. H. Mohammed, Tissa Vitharana, Viswa Waranapala, Jeevan Kumaratunga, D.E.W. Gunasekera, P. Chandrasekeran, Gamini Lokuge, Rajitha Senaratne, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Susil Premjayanth, R. M. Dharmadasa Banda, Mahinda Wijesekera, Arumugam Thondaman, Jayatissa Ranaweera, H. R. Mithrapala, Najeeb Abdul Majeed, Rohana Dissanayake, Basheer Cegu Dawood, E. M. Jayaratne Herath, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, Kumar Welgama, Dr. Mervin Silva, S. M. Chandrasena, Mahinda Ratnatillake, Hemakumara Nanayakkara, Gunaratne Weerakoon, Faizal Caseem, M. M. Mustapha, K. A. Baiz, Chandrasiri Suriyaarachchi, Shanmugam Jegatheswaran, V. Puthrasigamani, Hussein Bhaila, Lionel Premasiri, Sarath Kumara Gunaratne, S. Nijamudeen, P. Radhakrishnan and Siripala Gamlath.

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