Five foreign visits undertaken by former Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last year cost the state exchequer over 40 million Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR), according to a report by Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror.
This report is based on details provided by the Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister's Office on a directive issued by the Right to Information Commission. Gotabaya and Mahinda, who were ousted from power after a large-scale uprising, spent a staggering LKR 44, 739,184.91 for five official visits abroad in 2021.
The Daily Mirror report said the initial request to the Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister's Office in January this year, under the Right to Information, Act was rejected.
Out of LKR 44 million, over LKR 36 million had been spent by former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for two visits abroad. Meanwhile, Mahinda's brother and former President Gotabaya had spent LKR 7 million for three official visits overseas.
According to the Sri Lankan publication, the cost of the former Prime Minister's official visits amounted to 83 per cent of the total expenditure.
The expenditure on Mahinda Rajapaksa's visits abroad had been much higher due to the large entourage that accompanied the former Sri Lankan PM overseas, including his family members and friends.
This report comes as Sri Lanka faces an economic crisis that has particularly impacted food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and health services.
This month, the United Nations (UN) team in Sri Lanka and non-governmental organizations revised and extended their joint Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan, which aims to provide life-saving assistance to 3.4 million people, amid the country's worst economic crisis since independence.
Governments and donor agencies have helped the humanitarian community reach over 1 million of the country's most vulnerable people with cash, food, school meals, medicine, protection, and livelihood support. (ANI)