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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Sri Lanka's ex-president awarded government minister's entitlements, could draw upto $ 925 per month

Colombo, 11 October, ( Sri Lanka's ex-President Chandrika Kumarathunga was today awarded a government minister's entitlements by the courts in Colombo. Appeal Court Judges K. Sripavan and Rohini Perera gave the order after considering a petition filed by the ex-president, alleging a breach of privileges and citing the Secretary to the President, Finance Secretary P.B. Jayasundara and several others as respondents.

Justice Sripavan observed that the former head of state should get official vehicles and other facilities on par with that of a cabinet minister. The Attorney General was ordered to make submissions regarding the charges mentioned in the petition on October 15th.

Informed sources said that as a result, she is now able to claim at least US $ 925 per month as her entitlements.

The courts decision comes as a result of Kumaratunga's fighting back to reclaim some of her post presidential entitlements removed by the Presidential Secretariat a few days ago.

The sum of $ 925 is worked out by financial entitlements ministers are currently entitled to sans their Rs. 65000 ($573) monthly salary. The cabinet ministerial monthly financial entitlements are the fuel incentive of Rs. 75,000 (US $ 661), incentive for the personal telephone Rs.20,000 ($ 176), mobile phone incentive Rs. 10,000 ($ 88), and unlimited amount of IDD and local calls from the official telephone each month.

Ministers are also entitled to employ 4 secretaries as media, personal, coordinating, and public relations. Vehicles, fuel incentives, telephone incentives and limited entertainment incentives are provided for all of them from the ministry. Since Kumaratunga has no ministry as such, she is not likely to be given the secretarial facilities.

Kumaratunga yesterday (Oct 9) filed a petition for a writ order against Sri Lanka's Presidential Secretary 'to quash the decision to remove her ex-presidential entitlements. It is in response to this appeal that the courts have awarded this 'relief.'

The government on September 20 had decided to withdraw 'some of the facilities given to her in her present capacity as former President. Kumaratunga was asked to vacate her official residence located at No: 27 Independence Avenue, Colombo 7 on the orders of the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the Presidential Secretariat delivered notice with the copy of a Supreme Court Judgment of May 3 delivered by a three judge bench.

After media speculations began on the eviction, the Presidentia Secretariat in a statement said that the "withdrawal of these facilities is being done wholly in keeping with the Supreme Court's determination on the related Fundamental Rights petition - vide S.C (F.R) Application No: 503/2005."

"It was the determination of the Supreme Court that the entitlements to former Presidents should strictly conform to the relevant provisions in the Presidents' Entitlement Act No. 4 of 1986. Accordingly, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's entitlement under section 2 of the relevant Act would be an appropriate residence free of rent, and where an appropriate residence is not available an entitlement to a monthly allowance of 1/3 of the monthly pension payable (to the former President)" the statement said.

"With regard to the premises at Independence Avenue, Colombo 7 now occupied as official residence by former President Kumaratunga, the Court had declared that "Premises No: 27, Independence Avenue Colombo 7, which has not been used as a residence cannot be considered as an appropriate residence for the purpose of section 2 of the Act" it added.

- Asian Tribune -

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