- Cabinet paper says threat to President’s life from drug traders, terrorists and extremists
- Says “special circumstances” require “special facilities”
The decision to allow outgoing President Maithripala Sirisena to retain the official residence he now occupies in Colombo-7 after retirement was taken disregarding a Supreme Court to the contrary due to “special circumstances” he has had to face while in office, the Cabinet paper submitted in this connection discloses.
“The Supreme Court (SC FR503/2005) in its judgement laid out the procedure for retirement benefits under the Presidents Entitlements Act of 1986 but despite this, due to ‘special circumstances’ that took place during the President’s term in office, the Government has taken measurers to provide ‘special facilities’ to him,” the Cabinet paper states.
The “special circumstances” referred to are threats to the President’s life.
It states that both local and international groups affiliated to the drug trade pose a threat to the President’s life due to the programs he has put in place to bring to book those involved in the illegal drug trade while such threats have widened further due to actions he has taken against terrorism and extremism in his capacity as the Minister of Defense.
The proposal brought to Cabinet by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera two weeks ago states that along with the residence at Mahagama Sekara Mawatha (formerly Paget Road), Colombo-7, the President will also be provided with security by the Special Task Force (STF) and as well as official vehicles and fuel in keeping with entitlements to former presidents.
Water, electricity and telephone bills in the official residence too will be borne by the State while two office assistants will also make up part of the retirement package.
Upon retirement, President Sirisena will be entitled to Rs. 97,500 monthly pensions, same as former presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The decision to give President Sirisena the exorbitant retirement package has drawn criticism from many sectors. Transparency international Sri Lanka (TISL) last week called for the Cabinet to immediately revoke its decision as it is in violation of the SC ruling of 2005 and stated that decisions pertaining to such entitlements should only be taken at such time that the sitting President ceases to hold office.