*** The details were obtained through the Right to Information Commission directive
*** Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had deployed a personal staff of 2,578 from 2010 to 2014 at a cost of more than Rs.630 million
*** Former President Maithripala Sirisena had a personal staff of 1,317 from 2015 to 2019 at a cost of more than Rs.850 million
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had used 43 percent of the total expenditure of the Presidential allocation for his personal staff while former President Maithipala Sirisena has used 57 percent, according to accounts released by the office.
The details were obtained through the Right to Information Commission directive.
“Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had deployed a personal staff of 2,578 from 2010 to 2014 at a cost of more than Rs.630 million. (Rs.638, 107, 941. 84) and former President Maithripala Sirisena had a personal staff of 1,317 from 2015 to 2019 at a cost of more than Rs.850 million (Rs.850, 326,958.14).
Information provided by the Presidential Secretariat under the Right to Information Act has revealed that the two successive Presidents had spent more than Rs.1480 million (Rs.1488, 434.900.00) to maintain their personal staffs.
The particulars furnished by the Presidential Secretariat revealed that Former President Maithripala Sirisena who came to power, reiterating that he would refrain from misusing public funds, had outdone his predecessor in maintaining a personal staff at heavy cost.
Senior Researcher of the Centre for Policy Alternatives Lionel Guruge had requested for the relevant details in 2019 but the Presidential Secretariat had refused it.
However on the directive of the Commission for Right to Information that considered an appeal against the Presidential Secretariat’s decision, the authorities had on November 14, 2022 taken action to release the relevant details.
Researcher Lionel Guruge pointed out that any formation refused by government institutions could be obtained this way and that the people should be aware of it.
“The leaders are expected to be the guardians of national wealth but the majority of the people are not aware of the massive waste of public funds on maintaining jumbo personal staffs in this manner. However, we are hopeful that at least the future leaders will reduce such expenditure to the barest minimum, ” he said.
Wasteful government expenditure unavoidably has a direct impact on the downfall of the county’s economy. Although, it would not be felt instantly, its consequences would be experienced in a long run as evident from the dire economic crisis facing Sri Lanka today.
Particularly the Sri Lankan leaders who came to power often resorted to nepotism and appointed their political friends and relatives to key positions to perk them up, and with this in view maintained jumbo personal staffs at the cost of national wealth at their own will. (Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi)