Need was for buses, but previous regime went for airbuses: FM | Daily News

Need was for buses, but previous regime went for airbuses: FM

At a time when the country needs more buses to streamline the services of the Sri Lanka Transport Board, it has to pay a heavy cost instead for super luxury airbuses that have been ordered by the previous regime, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.

The Minister pointed out that the country is compelled to face a heavy economic liability, as it is bound to import these expensive airbuses. Minister Karunanayake further said that such a heavy allocation of government money to import super luxury airbuses, could have been used to provide the necessary infrastructure facilities for the education sector, thereby providing school equipment, laboratories and other needs to uplift the entire education system of the country.

The minister expressed these views during a ceremony held to mark World Children’s Day held yesterday (October 02), at the Sanghabodi Maha Vidyalaya at Thotalanga. Minister Karunanayake donated some school equipment including a stock of sports gear to the Sanghabodhi Maha Vidyalaya during the ceremony.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake further expressing his views said: “We are currently busy in preparing Budget 2017. We had to face grave difficulties on how to offset the unnecessary expenditure incurred by certain authorities of the previous regime when allocating funds for education. We are paying a heavy price today for the arbitrary procurement for Sri Lankan Airline. The super luxury A350 airbuses will be reaching the island in the near future. These airbuses have been purchased at very high costs. So much so that we are compelled to pay a monthly installment of US$ 1400 million, but its real cost was US$ 950 million. These airbuses have been over vouched by 25% than its real value.

The authorities of the previous regime have followed a wrong tender procedure, therefore the country had to pay extra costs than the real cost of these aircraft. Not only are those A350 airbuses capable of flying nonstop over 17 hours, my question is that to what country in the world that the authorities of the previous regime wanted to fly by these airbuses. Do we have such an overseas destination?

Therefore, we have decided that we are unable to continue with this project. If we continue the project, we will have to incur a loss of US$ 890 million a month. Accordingly, as a measure to minimize such a huge loss, we requested the particular aircraft leasing company to hold the fleet of A350 aircraft.

However, we are still compelled to bear a loss of 19.6 billion.We could have invested this huge sum of money to uplift the education in the country. We could have provided children books, text books and other necessary school equipment and built school laboratories. We could have built another 100,000 or 200,000 houses for the needy. The procurement of A350 airbuses have been carried out completely arbitrarily and without any transparency. Unfortunately, we are compelled to pay the heavy price for the sins committed by them during the previous regime,” Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake explained.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake further said that the duty and responsibility of the media is to expose these types of corruption and malpractices. Ms. Mela Karunanayake and several former Colombo Municipal Councillors were also present at the event. 

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