Deputy Highways Minister Mervyn Silva has returned to the limelight and this time by getting himself a brand new Jaguar XJ luxury petrol car. The burdens of a rising cost of living, persons affected by floods and a war seem to be of no concern to certain members of the government.
The real value of the Jaguar is Rs. 18,418,969.00 (Rs. 18.4 million) inclusive of taxes amounting to Rs. 10,678,427.00 (Rs. 10.6 million).
However, the Deputy Minister’s vehicle in this instance has cost only Rs. 11,284,208.00 (Rs. 11.2 million) since it is free of several import duties. The taxes applied to Silva’s Jaguar amounts only to Rs. 3,543,208.00 (Rs. 3.5 million).
Silva’s vehicle has been imported into the country duty free and has been billed to the Highways Ministry located at the 9th floor, Sethsiripaya, Battaramulla.
The Highways Ministry is directly under the purview of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The LC for the vehicle has been issued by the International Division of the Bank of Ceylon under the reference number NU/G/SH/10/189.
A copy of the Sri Lanka Customs — Goods Declaration Form in the possession of The Sunday Leader states that Sam Koralage, Public Relations Officer to the Deputy Minister of Highways, has signed the document and endorsed the importing of the vehicle.
The Sunday Leader contacted the Highways Ministry to verify if Koralage was an official on Silva’s staff. The Ministry confirmed that Koralage is indeed Silva’s Public Relations Officer.
Silva’s Jaguar that is originally from Great Britain had been imported to the country from Port Klang in Malaysia on the vessel, MS Challenger that reached Colombo on November 6. The Jaguar, which is red in colour, bears the chassis number SAJAC22F3ALV04200 and engine number 10030908491508PN.
Interestingly, the Highways Ministry has spent over Rs. 11 million to purchase a brand new Jaguar for its Deputy Minster Silva just a few weeks prior to the swearing in of President Rajapaksa to his second term in office that is to take place this week.
It was initially believed that the President might do a Cabinet reshuffle following his swearing-in ceremony, which was later postponed.
During the period of uncertainty many ministers believed that they might lose their current portfolios in the reshuffle. Hence, many ministers started to act in haste to sort out ‘their’ matters while some have opted to lie low.
The Highways Ministry is one of the key ministries involved in many ambitious development programmes especially rebuilding the road network and new highways.
And throwing in a spanking new Jaguar XJ for its Deputy Minister appears to be mere chicken feed for the Ministry.