External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has travelled in 17 countries since December 2010 to September, 2011, with an expenditure of Rs.15 million, Parliament was informed today. While his deputy had visited seven countries during the period.
Prof. Peiris placed this information before the House in response to a question by JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti.
The Minster said, “These are not picnics. We have to make a great deal of effort towards rigorous and vicious campaigns against Sri Lanka. I recently went to Paris where I spent only 40 hours. Before that I visited Kuwait for 24 hours and the United Arab of Emirate for 36 hours. Once I disembarked from the flight, I did not have even half an hour for a rest.”
The JVP MP responded that it was not wonder that a foreign minister needed global travelling.
“That is why, I chose not to raise supplementary questions. We can understand the need for such travels. Yet, there were foreign ministers in this country, who spent most of their time outside the country. They remained airborne all the time,” he said.
Prof. Peiris’ justification of his foreign visits came minutes after Transport Minister Kumar Welgama said that he set an example to everyone by visiting only two countries during the last one year period.
“This is an example for all concerned. I visited only two countries, once in every six months,” he said.
He also made these remarks in response to a question by Mr. Handunnetti. Mr. Handunnetti too hailed Mr. Welgama as an exemplary character in this regard. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)